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Rated R Reviews: ECW: The Night the Line Was Crossed – 2/5/94

July 9, 2012 | Posted by Mike Campbell
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Rated R Reviews: ECW: The Night the Line Was Crossed – 2/5/94  

THE NIGHT THE LINE WAS CROSSED
February 5, 1994

It’s only been four months since Ultra-Clash and the changes to the promotion are staggering. The set up of the arena and the lighting is different, and the roster has been overhauled. Goodbye Super Destroyers and Headhunters. Hello Sabu, Taz, and Tommy Dreamer!

Public Enemy . . . does next to nothing other than get the snot beaten out of them, but still wins.
J.T. Smith . . . cheats forced retirement for the second time!
Sabu . . . shows some real promise for fifteen minutes, but then crashes back to earth.

SALVATORE BELLOMO vs. Mr. HUGHES
There isn’t anything offensive here, but it’s awfully simplistic, both the wrestling and the story. Hughes uses his size and strength to his advantage, but tries too much with a second corner charge and misses. Sal fires off several forearm shots and shoulder tackles to almost drop the big guy, but Jason trips him up. Sal goes after Jason, and Hughes takes advantage of the distraction and finishes Sal with a sidewalk slam. Their selling was actually really good, considering there wasn’t much real offense.

THE SANDMAN/TOMMY CAIRO vs. ROCKIN’ REBEL/THE PITBULL (Double Dog Collar Match)
The finish is good, Cairo catches Pitbull with a belly to belly suplex (yes, a wrestling move), and Sandman uses the chain to tie up his legs so Pitbull can’t kick out. Before the finish, this is your typical ECW brawl with all four brawling all over the arena. Sandman isn’t shy about taking big bumps, including both a back drop and a piledriver on a table. There’s a lot of punching, kicking, and using the chain, Pitbull uses the chain to beale toss Cairo at one point. They get crossed up when heels seem to be setting up to whip the babyfaces into each other, but either Sandman forgets or Pitbull and Cairo aren’t ready, because Sandman suddenly walks away, and they do it again a minute later. This is awfully short, considering the gimmick, but the good finish, and the fact that it’s relatively inoffensive are enough to make it come off well as a whole.

ROCCO ROCK/JOHNNY GRUNGE vs. DON HARRIS/RON HARRIS
We’re now two for two in the wild brawl department. The Harris boys more or less kick PE’s ass all over the arena. It’s mostly fists, but some chairs and tables come into play too, including Rocco getting body slammed right through the announce table. The booking here is very similar to the booking of Raven a couple years later, PE gets their comeuppance in the form of a major ass kicking, but wind up winning anyway. After the can of the ass-whip that gets opened up on them, Grunge blinds one Harris with powder and then hits the other with a weak 2X4 shot to steal the win.

JIMMY SNUKA vs. TOMMY DREAMER
This is basically a three minute match packed into ten minutes, with tons of stalling from Snuka, and crowd play from both. Watching this with the benefit of hindsight shows that Dreamer was clearly being prepped to be a top babyface down the line, with him getting the rub of supposedly being the first person to ever kick out of a Superfly splash. Snuka just gives him two more to keep him down (with Dreamer bleeding from the mouth) and Snuka keeps on beating him up afterward to heap the sympathy on Dreamer. The match itself is essentially a squash, Dreamer misses a dive and Snuka takes advantage, there’s not even any hope spots from Dreamer aside from the Superfly kickout.

KEVIN SULLIVAN/THE TAZMANIAC vs. THE SHEIK/PAT TANAKA
The Sheik was pushing 70 at this point, so there’s nothing to really expect from him. He and Sullivan brawl and bleed on the floor, while Taz tries to make Tanaka submit to various leg submissions. Sheik gets enough distance from Sullivan to throw a fireball at Taz, and Tanaka pins him. That’s the whole match.

MIKE AWESOME vs. J. T. SMITH
Between the fall in September and the guardrail bump here, J. T. was definitely on the fast track to early retirement. Like the previous tag match it’s short and to the point. Awesome turns J. T. inside out with a couple of big lariats, and then almost kills J. T. with the dive into the guardrail. Mike looks to finish him off with the powerbomb but J. T. slips out and cradles Mike for the upset. Mike beats on the ref to get his heat back, but then the top rope breaks from underneath him and it’s gone again. You should have quit while you were ahead, Mike.

TERRY FUNK © vs. SABU vs. SHANE DOUGLAS (ECW Heavyweight Title)
The first fifteen minutes, before Funk enters the match, are actually pretty good. Shane is apparently coming into the match with a bad arm, and Sabu is really good at working it over even busting out a couple of nice armbars, and Shane reciprocates with some great selling. With the fifteen minute mark coming closer and closer, and Sabu unable to put Shane away, Sabu goes for broke, with a moonsault through a table, and comes up short. Once Terry gets involved, and essentially replaces Sabu, is where this starts to fall apart. You’d think a longtime veteran like Funk would try to pick up where Sabu left off and keep on attacking Shane’s bad arm, but instead Shane and Terry mostly trade fists. Terry brings in some chairs and gives Shane a DDT, and winds up hurting his back. You’d also think that a jerk like Shane would take advantage of this and work over Funk’s back, but no, it’s just more trading fists, and the selling all but disappears.

Sabu’s return after another fifteen minutes, actually improves this. Sabu’s leg is hurt from the table bump and both Shane and Terry try to take advantage of that, including a smart near fall from Shane with a fisherman suplex, and Terry digging out the Funk spinning toehold. They also come up with some creative spots involving all three such as Terry trying to pin Sabu while Shane has him in a leg grapevine, and a triple sleeper spot before it was cliche and overdone. There’s a not-bad moment when Sabu hits Shane with a moonsault and Funk tries to steal the pin, and another good one when Shane suplexes Sabu onto Funk and tries for a pin. However, it’s still abundantly clear that they don’t have enough in the tank (or the brain) to go the full sixty and make it work, illustrated b y how often Sabu and Terry take an extended breather, several ref bumps, and the constant run-ins by Sherri, Dangerously, and later the Rotten bros. Sabu also blows a fair number of spots, with one really exposing moment when he can’t pull off a springboard moonsault, so he opts to go to the corner and Funk has to roll into position for Sabu to pull it off.

It’s easy to see why this has the reputation that it does, sixty-minute draws weren’t very common in the U.S. at the time, and three-way matches were completely unheard of. Throw in the contrast of styles, the old school wrestler in Funk, the traditional 1990’s wrestler in Shane, and the crazy man in Sabu, and this has plenty of reasons to stick out to people. But, the actual work leaves a lot to be desired. There’s enough good stuff here to stand out compared to the rest of the card, but that’s the highest compliment that I can give the match.

The 411: A mediocre undercard plus an underwhelming main event equals taking a pass on this one.
 
Final Score:  4.0   [ Poor ]  legend

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