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Reviews from Across the Pond – ECW Hardcore Heaven 1997

August 3, 2011 | Posted by Jack Stevenson
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Reviews from Across the Pond – ECW Hardcore Heaven 1997  

ECW HARDCORE HEAVEN 1997

Hi, I’m Jack Stevenson, and I’m a new addition to the 411 Reviewing Roster. I’m from England, and I love pro wrestling in all it’s many forms. I love the WWE, WCW, ROH, PWG and many promotions on the highly underrated British wrestling scene, among others. I tried for a fair amount of time to decide on some sort of concept for these reviews, but, having failed to come up with one I was satisfied with, I’m going to just review whatever I can get my hands on. As a final note, being as I’m from England there may be occasional instances where I spell words differently to how they’re spelled in America (colour/color) for example. I’m trying to Americanize the reviews the best I can, but things may slip through, so bear with me for a little while.

Being a big WCW fan, obviously I’m not as enamored with ECW as others are, but I won’t deny that, from 1995 to 1999, they put on some quality pro wrestling. With this, their second PPV, falling right in the middle of that time period, hopefully there’s a fair amount to enjoy.

Loud ECW chants welcome us to the show! We are live (well, we were) from the War Memorial in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Your host is Joey Styles. Tonight, a 3-Way Dance for the ECW Championship pits Shane Douglas and Terry Funk against the champion, Sabu. Plus, Jerry Lawler defends the WWF against Tommy Dreamer! Styles’ hype is interrupted by the appearance of, of all people, Rick Rude!

Rude demands the music is cut. Styles is well aware that Rick Rude could kick his ass, but he still brings up that he turned his back on ECW and joined up with DX in the WWF. But he’s Rick Rude, he can do what he want, so he can take the microphone. Styles refuses to conduct the interview though. I love how Styles was so openly a coward and the blood-thirsty ECW crowd still loved him. Obviously, Styles has mistaken Rude for someone who gives a crap! What Rude would like now is for all the fat, out of shape, Lauderdale losers to give their utmost respect to the next ECW Television Champion, Chris Candido! Candido is followed to the ring by Tod Gordon, who is here to verbally accost the Ravishing one. Rick threw away a two year contract as a commentator so he could be a gun for hire. What he does outside of ECW is his own business, but it’s very much Tod’s business what he does inside of the company. He does not have a manager’s license, and has a count of ten to leave the ring, else Candido will forfeit the match!

Rick says that when he was Mr. Nice Guy, he was allowed to do whatever he wanted, but now he’s being himself, people are jerking him around. Gordon ignores the argument and starts the count, and despite protests and a “Fuck You Gordon” from Rude, he does leave the ringside area. This means we can get our TV Title match underway… after the opening video.

MATCH 1- ECW TV TITLE- TAZ VS CHRIS CANDIDO

I should note now the production values aren’t great, even for ECW. The arena is really dark.

Taz psyches out Candido by standing motionless in the corner even after the bell rings. Chris decides to slap him in the face and spit at him. That’s a fantastic move. Taz no-sells a clothesline but stays down on a second one. A Candido leapfrog is countered by a punt to the groin, and it’s time to break out the suplexes! A pump handle suplex starts us off, and Chris bails to the floor. Back in and Chris gets taken down with ease several times. He gets locked in the cross-arm-breaker, but makes the ropes. Candido finally gets some offence with a hard powerbomb, Taz fires back and gets a Northern Lights suplex for two.

Candido nails an enzuiguri and drops the leg for a one count. Another pair follow a vertical suplex. He backs Taz into a corner and charges but gets back-dropped to the floor. The champ hammers away but an Irish whip is reversed and Taz crashes into the fan barricade. Back in, and it’s a nice top rope huracanrana from the challenger. Swandive headbutt gets two. Taz comes back with a clothesline and locks in a bow and arrow submission. Candido escapes and connects with another powerbomb. Joey Styles is desperately trying to put over the fact that both men have had serious neck injuries in the past, but neither wrestler is really selling it, so it doesn’t work.

Candido takes Taz up top and tries for the Blonde Bombshell, but Taz won’t budge. Belly to belly suplex off the top rope! Both men are down. But not for long. The Suplex Machine shows off his credentials with a German and T-Bone suplex. Chris is able to get a powerslam out of the corner. Once again Taz is taken up top, but turns to play to the crowd. He doesn’t realise that the champion has recovered, and backs right into the Tazmission for the tap-out!

Rating- ** ¼- Inauspicious start to the show. The action was pretty good, but it felt like both guys were just going through the motions and the crowd didn’t seem interested.

Before the show went on the air, the Insane Clown Posse came to the ring to perform, but Rob Van Dam laid out both of them. Sabu hit the ring to join in the fun.

MATCH 2- SPIKE DUDLEY VS BAM BAM BIGELOW

Dudley is…fired up. He looks like a demented cross between a Bushwhacker and Jamison from the Bobby Heenan show.

Spike goes right on the attack but is easy enough to take off his feet. Bam Bam hip tosses him through the air like a rag doll. Big splash in the corner! The crowd want Spike hurled into them. Instead, Dudley hits some sort of a weird Crucifix thing, the Dudley Dogg, and a dropkick to the back of the head. He tries for a huracanrana, which isn’t the wisest move, and instead gets driven down to the mat with a powerbomb. Press slam onto the ring post and down to the floor! That’s painful. Back in, it’s another press slam, this time right into the crowd! And unfortunately for Spike, there’s no crowd-surfing for him tonight. Bam busts out a celebratory cartwheel. Spike returns to the ring and gets dumped with a shoulder-breaker into a piledriver. Moonsault (ish) and Bam Bam picks up the academic pinfall.

Rating- **- Like David Vs Goliath, only in this case Goliath won and everyone hated David. I can’t give it over two stars in good conscience because it was so one-sided, but it was inhumane fun.

We return to Van Dam and Sabu’s attack on the ICP, and now see the aftermath, with the Sandman trying to make the save. Instead, he gets his skull caved in with some vile chair shots. All this over the Insane Clown Posse? Sandman has to be taken out in an ambulance.

MATCH 3- “MONDAY NIGHT WRESTLING RULES”- ROB VAN DAM VS AL SNOW

Monday Night Wrestling rules are presumably regular rules, rather than the lax version ECW were prone to use. It’s funny to hear Joey Styles spout rhetoric about how Al Snow is a wrestler’s wrestler and is being misused in the WWF, when about a year later they’d have him talking to a mannequin head in the most successful gimmick of his career. Snow looks decidedly grumpy tonight.

Van Dam takes control early with a trio of kicks. Snow comes back with a Wheelbarrow suplex. He charges into a boot in the corner, allowing Van Dam to hit a monkey flip. Mr Monday Night goes up top to celebrate, and Snow takes advantage to dropkick Rob down to the floor. Slingshot crossbody! Snow keeps things on the outside, slamming RVD down. He then decides to leave. Oh wait, he doesn’t! Instead, he races down the entrance ramp and clotheslines reefer addled Rob. Van Dam finally comes back by driving Snow into the ring post.

Back in, RVD connects with an inverted atomic drop that sends Snow to the floor. He dodges a baseball slide though, and the action returns to the floor, where RVD hits an impressive moonsault press off the barricade onto Al! Van Dam then returns to the ring, only to sky out with a tope con hilo!

Once again we return to the ring, where Snow crotches Rob on the top turnbuckle. Al decides to join him there, and connects with a superplex. Then, he returns Van Dam to the top rope. However, this time Rob fires back and pushes Snow back to the mat. Leaping side kick to the face! Standing moonsault! One, two, but not three! Back up top again for RVD, and the frog splash! Again only two though! He tries for a huracanrana, but Snow counters into a flapjack. Clothesline, leg-drop, and a standing moonsault of his own! Michinoku driver! That gets a two count! Next up is a really nice sequence that ends with Snow dropkicking Van Dam off the top to the floor again. Snow gets frustrated and decimates RVD with five chairshots! As Joey puts it, so much for Monday Night rules! He tries for his running clothesline again, but this time Van Dam gets the chair up and slams it into the face of Snow! Al gets crotched on the barricade, and Alfonso assists with a Van Daminator!

It’s back to the ring again, where a corkscrew legdrop gets two for Van Dam. Snow is able to fight back with an inverted atomic drop and a DDT, rendering both men helpless on the mat. Al recovers the quickest and covers for two. Out of nowhere Alfonso throws a chair into the ring, and Van Dam connects with the Van Daminator! One, two, three!

Rating- ** ¾- Really good action in places, but there was also a lot of repetition and an abrupt finish.

Sandman has apparently commandeered the ambulance and is driving confused and lost around Florida. Thankfully, ECW had a helicopter ready, apparently deeming this bizarre event quite likely to happen. We’re promised updates throughout the night. Yay.

Jerry Lawler says this is the darkest day in his life, to be stuck in this dump with ECW fans. However, Vince McMahon has apparently commended him on his intestinal fortitude to appear here tonight. But he’s not by himself. The WWF superstars are with him in spirit, and in fact it was only last night the Undertaker told him he wanted to see Tommy Dreamer rest in peace. Bret Hart rang him up to tell him he wanted Dreamer tapping out with the Sharpshooter. And, in fact, Steve Austin gave the King his consent to unleash the biggest can of whoop ass ever seen on Tommy Dreamer, and he’s decided that’s exactly what he’s going to do. Jerry Lawler is just tremendous here, and it’s sad that he would descend into self-parody and then neutered fan-favourite in later years.

Joel Gertner joins us to introduce Jenna Jameson, ‘extreme porn star.’ Also, the Dudleys.

MATCH 4- THE DUDLEY BOYS/BOYZ VS PG-13

Representing the family are Bubba and D-Von. Because the Gangstas are unavailable, Gertner takes the opportunity to crown his boys the new ECW Tag Team Champions. PG-13 brand Mama Dudley a ho and make fat jokes, infuriating their opponents.

PG-13 start the match off with this inverted atomic drop double team that seems botched on JC Ice’s end. JC then forces a kiss onto Jenna Jameson, drawing a massive pop. We switch to Wolfie D and Bubba Ray, with Wolfie nailing a huracanrana and snapping off some jabs. D misses with a high crossbody though, giving Bubba a chance to take control. That he does. Nothing much happens for a while. D-Von inexplicably starts working over the arm of Bubba because his back’s turned and he doesn’t see whose arm he’s wrenching. This is despite the fact Bubba is screaming and complaining. Dumb spot. He atones for it somewhat with a nice flying back elbow.

Jenna Jameson trips up JC Ice as he starts to build some momentum. Bubba dumps Ice down, and D-Von flies off the second turnbuckle with a legdrop. Side slam, and the Dudleys are firmly in control. Bubba nails a tilt-a-whirl powerslam, and D-Von follows up with an elbow drop. Ice fires back with a punt to the groin of Ray and a DDT to his brother. Mild tag to Wolfie D! Noggin knocker doesn’t work, but a dual dropkick does. Sit-out powerbomb gets two before Bubba breaks the pin up. JC assists as Wolfie connects with a top rope facebuster onto Bubba. They then both sky over the top rope onto D-Von. However, Ice gets taken out by Ray on the floor, who then proceeds to hurtle into the ring and assist D-Von in the 3-D to a helpless Wolfie! That gets the win.

Rating- * ¼- Tepid and uninteresting in the early stages, with the crowd more interested in the antics of Jenna Jameson on the outside. It seemed to be heating up down the stretch, but then it just ended out of nowhere.

Meanwhile, the Sandman continues to drive around Florida in an ambulance. Apparently, the main concern is that he can’t get to the building, not the fact that he’s presumably assaulted an innocent medic and is driving wildly around the state in a medical vehicle.

The lights go out, and when they come back on Jerry Lawler is in the ring! Lawler says he’s here despite the doubts of the ECW fans. He wants to talk not to the fans, but the people watching on PPV. He invites us all to watch Ground Zero on September 7th, featuring Bret Hart, the Undertaker and Steve Austin, not dope-headed derelicts like in ECW. Now he’ll talk to the fans in the arena. Before he left the WWF, everyone of the superstars came up to show their support. They’re all with him in spirit. He pretty much repeats his promo from earlier verbatim actually, then challenges Tommy Dreamer to get his ass out here!

MATCH 5- TOMMY DREAMER VS JERRY LAWLER

Beulah accompanies the Innovator of Violence to the ring, and Lawler bails to the floor. We have a chase, the action ends up in the ring, and the match is underway!

Dreamer slugs away on Jerry and uses weaponry to send Jerry to the floor. Already the King is bleeding. Tommy dumps a beer over Lawler’s head and crotches him on the fan barricade. Hamburger to the head! THIS IS EXTREME! The action goes deep into the fans, involving wandering around with the occasional punch. Things become slightly more varied when Dreamer whips the King with a belt and strangles him to pulsating ECW chants! Eventually the action returns to ringside and then the ring.

Tommy grabs a chair and heads to the top rope, but Lawler runs into the ropes and crotches him, before dumping Tommy off the top rope and right into the chair. Shot to the back, and then Dreamer is sent face first into the chair, propped up against the bottom rope. Again the action goes to the floor, where Jerry sends Tommy into the barricade and again drives the chair into the back and head. Now it’s Dreamer’s turn to go crotch-first into the barricade. The King has the strap, and he lands a shot to the mouth with the buckle. Whipping and strangling ensues.

In the ring, Dreamer gets dumped with the piledriver. One, two, not three. Lawler tears the shirt off of Dreamer and wipes his armpit and posterior with it. But Tommy has his second wind! Flair flop from the Memphis Maestro! Lawler goes back with a low blow. In fact, he comes back with five low blows. The ref gets bumped, and Lawler puts an exclamation point on it by DDT-ing him. He then tries to crotch Tommy on the ring post, but the hardcore icon switches the momentum and sends the King face first into it. Tommy tries to crotch Lawler himself, but the lights are out… and it’s Rick Rude! Trash can shot to the head of Dreamer! And another! Rick sends Tommy into the ring before strolling to the back. Cover. One, two, but not three from the dazed referee! Lawler responds with another stomp to the referee!

Dreamer catches Lawler as he bends down for a back body drop, but again it’s lights out. And Jake Roberts lariats Dreamer! The crowd shows their true colours by calling for a DDT, and the Snake happily obliges. But then he clotheslines Lawler as well! Jerry falls on top of Tommy, but the cover only gets two again. Jerry decides to go for a steel chair, but then he just drops it casually on the mat. I wonder if that will figure in anywhere. Tommy slips out the backdoor of a slam and goes for a DDT. You can guess what happens next. When the lights come back on, it’s Sunny! To spray Tommy in the eyes with hairspray! Beulah attacks Sunny, and we have a catfight! Jerry grabs Beulah. Joey and the crowd try desperately to pretend they wouldn’t love it if a woman got spiked into the mat. Tommy Dreamer tries to make the save with a chair, but Lawler pulls Beulah in the way. Beulah counters with a low blow, and Tommy takes the initiative. DDT! One, two, three!

Rating- *- For one, the psychology of this didn’t really work, because Lawler had been complaining about how ECW was full of violent freaks, and then gets beaten in a violent match by one of the violent freaks. How does that change anything? For Lawler to get his comeuppance, they should have put him in there with someone like Taz who could out-wrestle him. Secondly, this wasn’t so good. It was really boring until the lights started to go out, and even then doing it three times was overkill. The crowd didn’t actually seem to be that bothered about the match either, more concerned with intermittently chanting ECW or claiming that Lawler was a homosexual (and, of all the things you can say about Lawler, he’s definitely not that.) The effort and intensity was there, but things just didn’t turn out right on the night.

Hype package for the main event, interrupted by some technical difficulties.

Yay, an update on the Sandman! He’s made it to the War Memorial. Police try and apprehend him, but get caned instead.

MATCH 6- ECW CHAMPIONSHIP- SABU VS SHANE DOUGLAS VS TERRY FUNK

This is the rematch from the immensely overrated bout at “The Night the Line was Crossed.” Douglas is first out, and demands the music is cut, so he can demand the match starts right now. That seems a bit pointless. Francine tries to pay Funk to work with Shane Douglas, but by god he’s Terry Funk! This will be an elimination match.

Sabu nails a flying shoulder-block on Douglas as Funk stands on the ring apron. Shane wants Funk in the ring, but instead they all decide to brawl on the floor. Sabu and Douglas team up to whip Funk into the barricade. Sabu contributes with a trash can to the face, and Shane gives him one as well. Back in the ring, Shane slams Funk and suplexes Sabu on top for two. The Insane Indian then connects with a slingshot leg drop for two. Funk threatens a fightback, so Douglas hits an inverted atomic drop and Sabu adds a flying clothesline…for two. This is a horrendously dull heat segment. No atmosphere from the Florida crowd. Air Sabu gets two. And another for another two… because Shane hits Sabu with a chair!

Douglas tries for a suplex but Sabu slips out and hits a German suplex. He baseball slides Shane to the floor and throws him into the crowd. The Arabian then returns to the ring and springboards off the chair, onto the ropes and into the crowd onto the Franchise! OK, that was pretty cool. Sabu returns to the ring with a high crossbody to Funk for two. Terry heads to the floor and is caught by a slick Asai Moonsault. Hey, whisper it quietly, but Sabu hasn’t botched anything yet.

In the ring, Douglas has recovered enough to hit a spinning stalling suplex on Sabu for two. Funk sets up a couple of chairs, and teams up with Shane to hit a double neckbreaker right onto the steel surface! That gets two. Sabu comes back and nails both challengers with chairs, but Funk no sells. He does sell a dropkick to the knee from Douglas though. Go figure. Things happen of little interest, and then Funk spikes Sabu for a piledriver for two. The crowd are just dead.

Shane Douglas throws some guardrail into the ring, but Funk and Sabu commandeer it, set it up in the corner and dump Shane into it, whipping him in and backdropping him onto it. Funk goes for a cover, but Sabu puts the guardrail onto them and leg drops. Two covers, two kick outs. Douglas takes control with a flurry of clotheslines and a belly to belly suplex to Sabu. And one for Funk as well. We have a three-way sleeper spot! Sabu hits the triple-jump moonsault on Douglas for two. AND SABU BOTCHES A SECOND ONE! I AM SHOCKED! He misses it as well on Terry Funk. He recovers with a dual triple jump for two on both.

Alfonso provides a table for Sabu to set up. He lays Shane Douglas on it, and Terry becomes a pain in the ass by jerking him off… the table. Sabu hits Funk with a chair and puts him on, but Tod Gordon comes in and attacks Bill. Douglas inexplicably makes the save. He puts Gordon on the table, but with Sabu’s back turned Terry places Bill alongside him, and both authority figures are put through to the biggest reaction of the match! Sabu retaliates by taking out both wrestlers with a ladder, and tries to use it for another attack. But here’s the Sandman! Slingshot Senton drives the ladder onto Sabu! As the police drag Sandy away, Funk and Douglas both pin the champ to eliminate him. That isn’t the primary concern of Sabu though, as he dives to the outside to wipe out Sandman and the police force!

Meanwhile, Funk and Douglas have a title match going on. Terry batters Shane from pillar to post with the trashcan. The locker room empties to watch the match. A slugfest develops in the ring, and a wild swing from Funk allows Douglas to hit the belly to belly suplex for two. Piledriver, and Shane decides to search for more weaponry. He settles on a table. Out of the blue, Dory Funk Jr decides to hit the ring and attack Shane! That was unexpected. Funk rolls up Douglas for two. Spinning toe hold is countered, and a weird back suplex is hit by the Franchise. Douglas tries for a piledriver off the apron through the table, but Funk fires back and they both kind of just fall through. Just as it looked like things might get kind of good, Funk and Douglas have became infuriatingly sloppy.

Back in the ring, Douglas nails a pair of belly to belly suplexes for two. He tries for a third, but Funk rolls into an inside cradle for two. Shane comes right back with another belly to belly, and Shane picks up the belt!

Rating- **- When all three men were in the ring, it resembled a match you’d find if you were playing a video game and got the computer to sim a match. Listless crowd, and random exchanges of barely connected moves. Things improved when it came to Terry and the Franchise, but not enough.

Post match, Shane attacks Terry Funk until Joel Gertner hits the ring with the Dudleys. As Bubba and D-Von stomp on Terry, Gertner awkwardly asks if Shane wants to join up with the Dudleys. Douglas ponders, but Candido and Bam Bam, Shane’s stablemates, hit the ring, and we have a pier six brawl as the locker room hits the ring to try and break it up. In the end, the Triple Threat bail, and the Dudleys take out everyone as we go off the air.

The 411: Ehh. Very little of this was actively bad, but there was nothing really good either. Taz-Candido and RVD-Snow were reasonable, but far from good enough to drag this into a recommendation. Aside from mentioning the horrible crowd, the star ratings really tell the story- bottoming out at *, but peaking at ** ¾. In short, it’s an inoffensive time-waster, but not worth spending money on.
 
Final Score:  5.0   [ Not So Good ]  legend

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