wrestling / Columns

The Professional 3 7.21.13 ECW on TNN Moments from Hammerstein Ballroom in August 2000

July 21, 2013 | Posted by Jon Harder


Welcome to another edition of the Professional 3 on 411wrestling.com! I’m Jon Harder and what a memorable week of TV. Big angles, new champions, and just cutting edge television. Whether it’s on Monday, Thursday, or Friday; great television all around. However, for this week’s P3, it will be a throwback of sorts to when episodic television was truly EXTREME.

Before we go any further, check out this week’s

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Now with that said, I do want to state that I’ve really enjoyed the finer aspects of televised wrestling as of late. Not so much the wrestling aspect (which bell-to-bell is fantastic), but the little nuances that really take a show and make them better. Whether it is the pacing of the show, the stories from week-to-week, or even the crowd reactions that come through the television screen, WWE and TNA programming have been on point the past several weeks. Is it among my all-time favorite television programming when it comes to pro wrestling? Possibly, but it isn’t number one. ECW on TNN will always hold that spot near and dear to it.

Although ECW Hardcore TV was the cutting edge program that took pro wrestling by storm in the mid 1990s with its gritty, revolutionary style, it was ECW on TNN that truly showed what ECW was all about. Debuting on August 27, 1999, ECW, on national TV, showed that the little engine that could would thrive and survive on The Nashville Network. Despite picking up on production with state-of-the-art cameras and graphics, the same fundamentals that Paul Heyman preached when producing Hardcore TV came into play: “the bare bones” approach.

The “bare bones” approach is what made ECW innovative. Unlike the big two at the time (WWF and WCW), ECW was the alternative to mainstream wrestling. You needed to have that style to stand out and be different. The 1990s was the perfect time and place for ECW with its bare essential look. Sometimes, I ponder on if wrestling needs that particular view now when it comes to independent wrestling products.

Regardless, ECW on TNN, for 13 months, was my dream come true. A mix of the ECW regulars from that time period combined with Paul Heyman’s ability to create stars (even in a much speculated burnout period) made for great television. Obviously, with a national TV audience, the violence had to be turned down a notch, but it made for greater storytelling and more character development. Some big moments transpired on TNN, from Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka trading the ECW championship in December 1999, Justin Credible throwing down the ECW Tag Team Titles, en route to winning the ECW World Title minutes after Tommy Dreamer defeated Taz for the gold mere moments earlier, even the ill-fated Raven/Sinister Minister/Paul Heyman angle, with the great back-and-forth interviews. ECW packed a lot into an hour show every week.

Although it was great TV, nothing will ever match the August 25 and 26 ECW TV tapings in New York City, in my humble opinion. These tapings changed the way I viewed televised wrestling. As a 14 year old at the time, there were so many little intangibles you can’t forget. First, it was in the famed Hammerstein Ballroom, which is as beautiful a venue as I’ve ever seen. The crowd that packed the Hammerstein was in a word RACCOUS. I’ve never seen a crowd before or since on a televised wrestling show BUZZ as much as those television tapings. Controversial? Knowing me, it is. Lastly, it was the building blocks for the last gasp of breath into the lungs of ECW, as by this point, the company was on its last legs.

These television tapings molded my views on what a wrestling show should be about. And hopefully, you get to witness that in this week’s column as I hope to sway you towards my personal feelings on this time period. Yes, it is ANOTHER ECW column, but unlike other pieces on its entire past and history, this is just from two days of ECW’s illustrious history. Hope you enjoy it. Without further hesitation…

THE PROFESSIONAL 3: The Top 3 Moments from the ECW on TNN Tapings on August 25-26, 2000


Throughout the entire ECW on TNN saga to this point, Steve Corino had completely changed his image. From an anti-hardcore wrestler to a bloody bunkhouse brawler with wars against Tajiri and Dusty Rhodes, “the King of Old School” grew a pair of guts a mile wide. However, it was not until these tapings where Corino finally got the fans’ full approval. Coming out to the ring to open the August 25 tapings with Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins fame playing “New York, New York”, Corino discussed with Joey Styles becoming the #1 contender to the ECW World title. After a distraction from Lou E. Dangerously, ECW World champion Justin Credible caned the holy Hell out of Corino, setting up for the next day’s ECW championship match.

Although Corino did not win the championship at that time, the New York audience turned “the King of Old School” into the next main eventer. If you could make it in New York, you could make it anywhere. Steve Corino took his toughness to the final level in the Hammerstein. Two months later, he became ECW champion at November to Remember. On a side note, Jack Victory and Steve Corino were QUITE the pair. Most underrated 1-2 combination in wrestling history. Could that be a future Professional 3 column? Hmmm…


The header for #2 will definitely get people discussing this one. On August 26, 2000, Joey Styles and Joel Gertner kicked off Day 2 of the ECW on TNN tapings by hyping up the crowd as they always had. After a very raunchy “Quintessential Stud Muffin” limerick, TNN executive Cyrus came out and “cancelled” ECW on TNN. (Realistically, that would happen only a few weeks after these tapings.) After belittling New York and its “gutless” people, Paul Heyman came out and cracked Cyrus HARD in the back of the head with his old school cell phone. Rhino, the Network’s muscle, then GORED the ECW owner through a table, fought a fan, GORED a cop as they were taking the fan out of the ring, and proceeded to start a full roster in-ring riot. Kid Kash, who was scheduled to face Rhino for the ECW Television championship, was then crowd surfed by all the wrestlers in the ring to get to Rhino. After the ring cleared and Rhino stood tall pounding Kid Kash, the Sandman came through the crowd, feeding the fans barley and hops (my weird term for beer), and caned Rhino 8 times in the head with the Singapore Cane. Not even going down once, Rhino proceeded to GORE Sandman. Rhino and Sandman went to the floor with the rest of the ECW locker room and went down like a stack of dominos due to a Kash springboard somersault plancha to the floor. Once the mess was cleared, Kash hit a double jump Frankensteiner on Rhino in the ring. Rhino immediately showed FIGHTING SPIRIT and GORED Kid Kash. As “the Big F’N Deal” stood over the challenger, ROB VAN DAM came out to the ring and Van Daminator’d Rhino. One Van Terminator later, Kash and RVD hit a sweet double team maneuver to a prone Television champion. One 3-count later, and we had a BRAND NEW ECW World TV champion – KID KASH!

Let’s be honest, with the rabid fan base that exists now on the internet, there is NO WAY that this would really get over as a great angle. So much calamity within a 15 minute period, plus a title match in the midst of all that was going on. Fans would truly dump on it. Yet somehow, the hot crowd in Hammerstein Ballroom MADE this segment. The emotion from the fans got this segment over. That was the BEAUTY of the ECW product. The sheer emotion of the die-hards put all of this to another tier of greatness. Say what you will, but this clip got a LOT over. It got Cyrus over as the #1 heel. Rhino looked like an unstoppable monster. Kid Kash became the #1 daredevil. Most of all, the ECW locker room came together to defend the company from the evil Network. Phenomenal stuff for television, in my view.


On August 25, 2000, ECW held the World Tag Team Championship Tournament to crown new Tag Team champions, after Justin Credible threw down the belts, as I alluded to earlier, at Cyberslam 2000. The Tag Team division in ECW was always spectacular, and with the new champions being crowned in the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, you knew the emphasis would be put on the division once again. Although the full tournament would be released on VHS, the best matches were put on TNN. The final three teams (Mikey Whipwreck and Tajiri, Simon Diamond and Swinger, & Tommy Dreamer and Jerry Lynn) would fight in the finals for the gold. In the end, Mikey and Tajiri would overcome the Cinderella team of Diamond and Swinger to win the tournament and the belts. Some stability for the ECW Tag Team championships would be in the Sinister Minister’s Unholy Alliance, right? Wrong.

The next night, in a rematch from the night before, Mikey and Tajiri’s first defense would be against Little Guido Maritato and Tony Mamaluke of the Full Blooded Italians in a Title vs. Team match. If the FBI lost, they would break up as a tag team. On this night, the FBI shocked the world, as with Big Sal E. Graziano’s assistance, the FBI would become the ECW Tag Team champions! With ECW’s unpredictability on full display, Maritato and Mamaluke would be the stable team the ECW tag team scene needed and deserved. Most of all, it is what I loved about ECW. Plus, the Hammerstein Ballroom audience loved every minute of it.

These tapings might not necessarily be the greatest of all time, but it made me a lifelong fan of the ECW product. The company died over a decade ago, but it will always live on fondly. These tapings built the last generation of ECW stars. The Hammerstein Ballroom was the place to do it. The fans of ECW that were in attendance were the fans that MADE it happen. And the wrestlers who performed for the cult-like leader Paul Heyman took things to the EXTREME. ECW on TNN was my all-time favorite wrestling televised product. These tapings are why.


Jon Harder

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