Heat Wave 1998 – This Is ECW’s Best Ever? Really?
Heat Wave 1998
Date: August 2, 1998
Location: Hara Arena, Dayton, Ohio
Commentator: Joey Styles
So apparently it’s ok to have no pay per views over the entire summer as it’s been three months since Wrestlepalooza. There are a few changes here. For one thing, guys like Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka are here now, bringing a completely new style to ECW which was needed. Shane is of course still world champion and not wrestling tonight for no adequately explained reason.
The main event is a street fight, which is an oxymoron in ECW, between the Dudleys and Dreamer, Sandman and Spike. There is also a rather famous tag match with Van Dam and Sabu who have FINALLY ended the Storm and Candido tag title reign against Hayabusa and Jinsei Shinzaki (Hakushi). This is considered a classic but I’m not so sure that Sabu and classic can go together so we’ll just see. Let’s get to it.
Oh hey the world champion is on commentary tonight. Also all seven matches are main event matches apparently. Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose or something?
Joey introduces Francine (holy goodness) and Shane to be his co-hosts. After talking about Taz because they have to keep building up the freaking thing for another 5 months, Francine shoves Joey’s face into her chest.
Cue theme song and opening video.
We have a more traditional ECW entrance ramp now with the hole in the brick wall that they would use forever.
Justin Credible vs. Jerry Lynn
These two had a best of 21 series over a summer. Justin has a mob with him more or less. Naturally we get a shot at Chyna as they say Bass is bigger. Joey says they should name her Russia. Considering there was a chick in WCW named Asya, that’s kind of funny. This is the final match of said best of 21 series. Lynn of course comes out alone.
Apparently they’re feeling each other out. What the heck? THIS IS THEIR TWENTY FIRST MATCH IN THREE MONTHS. That’s a match every FOUR DAYS. How much feeling out do you need? Lynn is freaking MOVING out there. The tombstone is reversed into a rollup. Shane of course runs down Flair and Shawn even though that has nothing to do with anything.
I love how one of his first jobs in mainstream wrestling was being half of the New Rockers when Shawn was hurt. We’ll ignore that though. The first chair is in 15 minutes into the show. Well at least they waited a bit. We’re on the floor now and in full brawl mode. At least we got some wrestling stuff first so it balances out. Justin takes a DDT on the chair which should knock him out but of course it doesn’t.
That’s followed up by a hurricanrana through a table. I get that this is the last of the series, but dang man could you be a bit less contrived? To be fair though, this is a big match and not just a random pairing. Lynn keeps using the Tiger Bomb for some reason. Did he not have the Cradle Piledriver yet? Chastity gets a tombstone and Joey is glad. After an odd sequence, a tombstone from the second rope ends this with Justin winning.
Rating: C-. The weapons were a turn off for me as was all of the interference, but anyone that can have a best of 21 series is pretty decent. That’s a good way to describe Justin actually. Lynn impressed me here far more as he was carrying this. That’s Justin’s problem I think: he doesn’t do much and his offense is REALLY limited. It’s punch, taunt, chair move, taunt, tombstone. That doesn’t make you a good wrestler or character, but Heyman thought he was I guess.
We recap Storm vs. Candido and how they lost the belts to Van Dam and Sabu. Tonight is the one on one match.
Lance Storm vs. Chris Candido
Sunny looks freaking HOT. Joey thinks that maybe they’re getting along again and this will be a nice wrestling match. Naturally that doesn’t happen and Joey says he knew it wouldn’t. It’s funnier than it sounds. They chop the heck out of each other. BLAST IT IT JOEY QUIT SAYING THE SAME THINGS I SAY!!! Candido gets a nice dive from the top rope to the floor. Freaking sweet looking.
Storm rolls Sunny in and then just lets her roll out again in a completely pointless sequence. This is a rather basic but intense match. Storm hits a SWEET springboard over the railing to crash into Candido. It’s a solid brawl but it’s really not that great. Storm gets another SWEET move with a spin kick off the middle rope.
We have our fifth Batista/Tiger Bomb (yes I know they’re different moves but Joey keeps saying it’s a Tiger Bomb so whatever) of the night. You don’t have to do the same move over and over again. Candido gets powder thrown in his own eyes but there goes the referee. Sunny crotches Storm on the top and the super powerbomb ends this. Oh and along the way Sunny got her top ripped off. Sunny needs to wear red more often. My freaking goodness!
Rating: C+. Not bad, but it felt like it ended all of a sudden. I mean there were some ok high spots here, but for the most part there just wasn’t a lot going on. It was about 11 minutes but it felt like five.
New Jack says he’s ready for whoever he’s fighting in a pretaped thing in the parking lot. A huge brawl breaks out and he curses way too much. They Dudleys and the Hardcore Chair Swinging Freaks were in there. Jack is hurt apparently. Aww there’s no weapons match tonight. FOR SHAME!
Sabu, Van Dam and Alfonso are ready. Van Dam is on the verge of a face turn.
Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka
These two feuded for the better part of ever and Tanaka usually would win if you can believe that. Awesome was just a freak of nature to say the least. In a little known bit of trivia, Awesome is the step nephew of one Hulk Hogan. Awesome could do just about everything and jumped all over the ring like Rey Mysterio, but he was the size of Test or so. And there he goes with a huge dive over the top rope.
Tanaka gets a running start with a chair to nail Awesome in the head. That looked painful. Basically all Tanaka can do is blast him with a chair. I’m not saying that’s all he’s capable of, but that that’s all he can get to work. A huge splash hits as this is rather physical. It’s not great but it’s far from bad as well. Tanaka takes a bunch of chair shots to the head but he Rises Up as the chair looks diseased.
The Awesome Bomb connects but Awesome wants to use a table instead. I hate those stupid things. A chair shot from the top which should have killed Tanaka connects and still no cover. Tanaka escapes twice despite likely being legally dead and power bombs Awesome through the table.
I’ve officially lost this match now, as there comes a point where disbelief can’t be suspended anymore. The Roaring Elbow connects for the second time but only the first time that it was either noticed or that Awesome sold it. A tornado DDT on a chair ends it.
Rating: C+. Well it was a good brawl but not much more. The amount of kickouts was just dumb near the end, as half of those bumps should have killed them. It certainly was exciting if nothing else though. The good thing is that the matches didn’t really get bad but they never really got better either. This was fun.
During the post match part, Shane mentions he can’t get back in the ring until November 1. So just to be clear, the world champion is out at bare minimum three months, not counting however long he’s been out already. And everybody is ok with this?
Taz says he’s better and means more than Austin and Goldberg. Oh that’s FUNNY.
Ad for November to Remember which is when Shane returns to the ring.
The Dudleys, all like nine of them say that they’re ready for tonight and their street fight. All of them say that and it takes forever.
Tag Titles: Hayabusa/Shinzaki vs. Rob Van Dam/Sabu
This is considered one of the gold standards of ECW so let’s see if it’s as good as I’ve been told that it is. The fans are into the Walk theme music for RVD and that’s an understatement. Van Dam is also the TV Champion. It’s amazing that he held it more or less until the company ended minus six months. The announcer butchers Shinzaki’s name to an extent that even I roll my eyes at it.
They say Sabu is from Bombay, Michigan and that never gets old. There’s no storyline here as they’ve just brought the guys in for a one off match. Ok then. Hayabusa and Van Dam start us off. We get a stall for a good while before we actually start. It’s an old Memphis tactic that I’ve always hated. They do a sloppy rollup/leg lock spot. Not a great starting point.
We get a you F’D chant off blown spot number two. We’re MAYBE two minutes into this by the way. Off a kick to the face (think Kofi’s Trouble in Paradise) Hayabusa misses Rob’s head by about 6 inches yet Van Dam sells it anyway. There’s been WAY too much walking around and doing nothing here. In what’s likely Shinzaki’s biggest move, he does a praying rope walk around the top rope like Taker but he goes around a corner.
Let me make sure I’ve got this straight. Van Dam is just holding onto him walking for about 8 seconds and has a free arm and two free feet, and we’re supposed to believe he’s just going to go quietly? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? When Taker does it it’s about 2 seconds on the ropes and nothing more. Not only is this sloppy, but it’s not making much sense.
And Sabu hasn’t even been in until now. He comes in for a cover. That makes sense. Nothing says high impact and cool looking offense like a chinlock! I think Hayabusa stole his attire from Hannibal from WCW/NWO Revenge. SUE HIM IMMEDIATELY!
Sabu shows some intelligence as he dropkicks the knee and then WORKS ON THE LEG! I’m stunned actually. After a LONG time of mat work etc we get to the high flying stuff that this is supposed to be about. Hayabusa is moving out there. We’re in the crowd now in case you were wondering. We’re out of the crowd now in case you were wondering.
Shinzaki and Sabu are in the ring while the other two are down on the floor. Van Dam puts Shinzaki in a bow and arrow so Sabu can hit him in the ribs with a chair. Again, WHY DO YOU NEED THE CHAIR??? The match was just starting to get good and we bring in a pointless chair because Sabu can’t work more than 5 minutes without a weapon. If you want to know what drives me the craziest about ECW, it’s THAT.
Sabu goes out, the chairs are taken out, and the match is instantly going up in value. Hayabusa going insane off the ropes is fun to watch. Why do we need chairs and weapons? Sabu hits a decent jumping hurricanrana. That wasn’t bad at all. See, if he tries, he could do some decent NON WEAPON RELATED stuff. Shinzaki hits what we would call a Pele kick on Van Dam. Hayabusa hits a 450 splash and this isn’t terrible.
Sabu hooks a Boston Crab so Van Dam can go up for a leg drop. This has lost anything resembling flow or actual tag wrestling and is just a mess anymore. If that’s the case, what was the point of the tagging thing earlier? We have a table and I more or less give up now. Shinzaki hits a WEIRD looking leg twist on Van Dam. It was cool looking if nothing else.
More chair use as Van Dam jumped from one side of the ring to another for kind of a Van Daminator. Sabu hurts his hand doing something. They break the table. Not break through it but just break it. So we get two more! Oh and a chair which is slammed over Hayabusa’s head. A Van Daminator takes down Shinzaki.
In the big spot of the match, both Japanese guys are on one table and the champions go up top and crash through both guys. That ends it. Seriously? It should be noted that in every replay, the champions use weapons and the challengers never do. That should tell you a few things.
Rating: D+. The first half of this was pretty good. It wasn’t great at all but I didn’t expect it to be. After about ten minutes though it’s your standard ECW tag match: weapons, ridiculous spots with zero transitions, and a complete lack of anything resembling tagging.
Also, the first half is made to look pointless as they tagged then but they don’t in the second half. BE CONSISTENT BLAST IT! It’s watchable I guess, but it’s nothing I’m going to remember in about a day or so. This is the best tag match ECW ever had? That explains a lot.
We recap Bigelow vs. Taz. More or less, Taz got put through the ring and he went after Shane and the Triple Threat, including Bigelow. This was the introduction of the FTW Title. This was really about setting up Shane vs. Taz but because the champion was injured for at least three months, we didn’t get the match for about another 6 months.
Yeah, because we couldn’t do that in November since we had to have a 6 man tag instead. I mean, it’s not like this hasn’t been going on for the last 4 months already or anything. Heyman makes my head hurt.
FTW Title: Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Taz
You know, for an unrecognized title, it certainly was recognized by the announcer. Oh this is a death match, meaning falls count anywhere. Bigelow is noticeably less fat. Shane says he won’t cheer lead. That’s rather amusing. First move of the match: Bigelow powerbombs Taz and it’s completely no sold. Give me a break. This isn’t your standard big man vs. little man match as Taz isn’t your typical little man.
Taz goes air (Evan) borne by jumping off the stage at Bigelow who catches him. That’s always been a move I get impressed by. They’re in the crowd here which at least makes sense in this case as it’s falls count anywhere. We get an armbar on the floor. Ok then. Shane of course takes credit for everything that Bigelow does. At least he’s being a heel. The lack of weight really does help him out I think. Taz is bleeding.
Back in the ring now and IT’S TABLE TIME! SO NEW! SO INNOVATIVE! OH YES!!! Taz goes through it and Bigelow is dominating. They exercise recycling as they have Bigelow go through the same table that Taz did. ECW is environmentally conscious if nothing else.
And then we go on the ramp and Taz reverses a DDT through the ramp to do the same big mindless spot that they did in the first match. Both guys of course come out of the hole and the Tazmission is on for the tap out. Shane’s reaction is great. I’d sell my G-Mod spot for a curses foiled again from him.
Rating: D+. Again just an overblown brawl. Thankfully this ended their feud but again it’s just another chapter in the Shane/Taz saga. It was all about one spot which is the smoke and mirrors booking that Heyman was notorious for. It’s ok to just wrestle. He needs to get that.
We recap the Dudleys vs. the faces which started when Beaulah had her neck broken by them. Joey goes on a rant against the Dudleys because of what they did. The heat on them was unreal.
Dudleys vs. Tommy Dreamer/Spike Dudley/Sandman
The Dudleys are Bubba, D-Von and Big Dick in case you were wondering. This is the show where everyone went off on the Dudleys that Bubba talked about on Rise and Fall of ECW if you remember. There’s a piece of plywood more or less over the hole in the ramp. We get a bunch of promos from every one of the heels. The Dudleys would be gone in about a year or so.
Joel gets his usual great promo in that makes me laugh. Oh and Sign Guy is hurt pretty badly due to a ton of beatings. Oh and there’s a Beaulah doll with them. Sandman’s entrance takes about ten minutes and we have a ladder for no apparent reason. It’s a Dudleyille Street Fight so of course we’re tagging in and out. Dreamer and D-Von start us off.
Something tells me this is going to be violent quickly. Spike comes in and of course gets the tar beaten out of him by Bubba. Quite a bit of the next three or four minutes is just Spike getting beaten up. Oh joy it’s Dick vs. Sandman. This isn’t going to be pretty at all. Screw it we’re on the floor now. If this turns into a regular tag team match again I’ll be AMAZED.
Tommy and D-Von are in the crowd now with the non African-American winning it. It’s ladder time and they just beat the heck out of each other with it with big spots followed by resting and then more brawling. D-Von’s overselling never gets old to me if nothing else. Bubba finally hits that back splash thing onto a ladder onto Tommy. That’s not dumb at all.
We have more weapons in the ring than people. The managers get beaten up. All three Dudleys and Gertner are tied to the Tree of Woe and the referee hit dropkicks onto chairs to them all. I give up man. Sandman whispers into Bubba’s ear before they set up a spot. Sandman takes a SICK chair shot to the head. Dreamer hits a DDT on Bubba onto a ladder for the pin. And here’s New Jack and Jack Victory who were supposed to have a match earlier to beat people up and we’re done.
Rating: F+ More brawling. That’s all this was. WHY DOES IT ALWAYS HAVE TO BE BRAWLING??? Look, I get that this is a hardcore company. I get that this was a big grudge match. I get that this was about revenge. I get all that, but WRESTLE FOR MORE THAN TWO MINUTES A MATCH!
This was the most violent match of the night, true. However, it COMPLETELY loses its appeal when there have been what, three other wild brawls already tonight? This is why I hate reviewing ECW: I get more wrestling on the hour long show that airs on Tuesdays than I do in the original three hour long PPVs. That’s unacceptable any way you look at it.
Overall Rating: D. This brawling stuff has got to freaking stop, but something tells me that simply isn’t going to happen at all. This was the sixth ECW PPV and while this was better than Wrestlepalooza, that’s not saying much. This just didn’t work for me as it was all about violence. ECW was supposed to have a balance but it just wasn’t there on this show at all and the show sucked as a result to me.
It’s not completely terrible, but it’s repetitive. By the end of the show I hated the thought of another chair or weapon shot and was just burnt out. That’s really bad and something tells me it’s not going to change. Also for the love of pizza stop comparing yourselves to WWF. They were 4 weeks away from tearing MSG down with Rock vs. HHH in the ladder match at Summerslam 98. You guys don’t deserve to be able to even talk about that company at this point. Stay clear of this one.