ECW Cyberslam 1996 (2/17/1996)- Philadelphia, PA
DINO SANDOFF, DON E. ALLEN, & THE DIRTBIKE KID vs. JUDGE DREDD & THE BAD CREW (Dog & Rose)- squash.
The large men destroyed the small men. Then Sandman showed up and caned all of them.
EL PUERTO RICANO vs. SPIROS GEKKO- no rating, great squash
I don’t speak Spanish so maybe I’m mistaken here, but doesn’t “El Puerto Ricano” mean “the Puerto Rican?” So why is “El Puerto Ricano” billed as being from somewhere in Ecuador?
This definitely went on longer than it needed to, but I don’t think that going this long actually hurt the match because the crowd just plain HATED Gekko’s guts and were booing him the entire time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a squash where the crowd so despised the squasher.
JOEL HARTGOOD vs. TAZ (w/Bill Alfonso)- no rating, good segment.
This was another squash, although Hartgood was allowed to hit a sunset flip. Who would have thought that Joel Hartgood would get more offense on Taz in a match that didn’t even go two minutes than El Pureto Ricano got on Spiros Gekko in a match that went almost four and a half?
Taz destroyed Hartgood and he had to be stretchered out. Taz went to go beat him up some more but the jobbers from the opener came out to try to make the save, only to get obliterated themselves. Mikey Whipwreck then came out to try to make the save and a got in a dropkick and a Franken-Mikey, but Taz countered his attempt at the Whipper-Snapper with a Taz-plex and choked him out with the Taz-mission.
BRIAN PILLMAN SHOWS UP- Yeah, it’s this segment. Six days after “ruining” his match with Kevin Sullivan at WCW Superbrawl VI by quitting in a minute and a half and outing Kevin Sullivan as the “booker-man” in the process in a goofy worked-shoot that only someone living in the Monday Night War era would think was a good idea, Pillman now appears in ECW and cuts a promo on “Eric Jerkoff.” The fans liked this.
Then he turned on them and said that “Eric Bischoff is every single one of this f*cking smart marks rolled up into one giant piece of sh*t.” They didn’t like that so much. He continued to make fun of smart marks, and got into a chouting match with fans who were very proud of Sign Guy’s sign that said “Pillman- don’t work me.” What a coincidence that he had this sign when Pillman’s presence was going to be a huge surprise.
Pillman started to get wilder and wilder, and Joey began looking more and more uncomfortable and concerned (Pillman grabbing Joey’s hand to hold the mic up with a nice touch, pun intended). Then Pillman announced that he was about to pull his dick out and urinate. At this point Shane Douglas, Paul Heyman, and Tod Gordon all came out, with Tod and Paul telling Pillman “this wasn’t part of the deal.” Pillman said he could do whatever he wanted and started to shove Paul a bit and called him “booker-man.” Douglas jumped between them, Joey called for security, and Tod ordered security to get Pillman out of the building. Paul and Tod held Shane back while security wrangled Pillman, and Pillman was jawing with the fans on his way out.
Major credit where it is due: up until this point, this felt like it could have been very real, and plays out exactly how future situations that were legitimate shoots such as Piper’s infamous promo on Russo in TNA or Shane Douglas’ appearance in ROH could have wound up if things had gotten physical. Everyone played their roles perfectly, especially Pillman and Joey.
Then they lost all that when Pillman got free, dragged a fan who took a swing at him over the guardrail, got him into the ring and started beating on him with some sort of weapon he was holding. And somehow security seems to have conveniently disappeared until after Shane Douglas ran out to make the save. Heyman went to make sure the fan was okay while security dragged Pillman out and Shane cut a promo saying that if security didn’t get Pillman out of the ring, he would kick Pillman’s ass himself right here tonight.
As a segment intended to work everyone into thinking this was all “real,” I think this mostly worked well aside from that bit at the end. As a segment intended merely to introduce the new Brian Pillman character to ECW, it was excellent.
MR. HUGHES vs. BUH-BUH RAY DUDLEY (w/the Dudleys)- no rating.
We cut to the very end of this match. What we saw was Hughes hit Bub-Buh once, Hughes then hit Big Dick and went back to Buh-Buh but Big Dick absorbed the punch pretty well, hit Hughes in the back with a crutch, then Buh-Buh hit a rather ugly-looking top rope splash for the win. Why was this even on the DVD if all you’re going to show me is forty seconds?
MUSTAFA PROMO- yes, he is capable of doing more than just laughing. New Jack is apparently in jail (Joey joked that he “stormed CNN tower in the name of good wrestling.” Someone file that idea away for later) and thus won’t be able to team with Mustafa tonight as scheduled. This promo showed why Mustafa was rarely otherwise given the chance to talk. He said he would wrestle by himself tonight.
The ring announcer had to announce this TWICE. Then Damien Kane came out to offer Mustafa a way out: rather than wrestle Kane’s charges The Headhunter’s tonight, Mustafa could join their team and be their houseboy. Mustafa said he wanted a handjob, then once again reiterated that he would fight this match by himself. Kane kept rambling abut New Jack being in jail so Mustafa beat him up. The Headhunter’s came out to make the save for their manager and destroyed Mustafa. Kane cut a promo on Mustafa, then made an open challenge, which resulted in…
THE BRUISE BROTHERS vs. THE HEADHUNTERS (w/Damien Kane & Lady Alexandra)- 3.5/10
This was the Bruise Brothers return to ECW, fresh off of getting fired from WWF for beating Shawn Michaels up in the shower or something like that. They had a wild brawl that was also very short. The Bruise Brothers won when one of them pinned one of the Headhunters a split second before the other Headhunter pinned the other Bruise Brother.
RAVEN/DREAMER FEUD SEGMENT- GREAT!
Joey is in the ring with Tommy and Beulah. Tommy apologizes to the fans for not being able to wrestle tonight because he separated his shoulder in New York. Then Raven and his nest came out, prompting Shane Douglas and the Bruise Brothers to come out to back Tommy up. Douglas, who had been enlisted by Dreamer to protect Beulah, ushered Beulah to safety. Meanwhile, Raven cut a promo saying that for impregnating another man’s girlfriend, Dreamer deserved the choppy-choppy your peepee treatment. Then Raven gave the signal and the Bruise Brothers turned on Tommy Dreamer. Dreamer got beaten down and then crotched on the ringpost. Several times.
J.T. SMITH vs. AXL ROTTEN- 6/10
J.T. jumps Axl from behind during his entrance to start things off. J.T. had turned on Axl the last time ECW was in Philly, so this was a grudge match and these guys sure worked it like one. This was a violent, weapon-filled brawl with an extremely clever finish that was excellent for the time it got. We got a good post-match segment as well, which would set up a match between Hack Myers and J.T. Smith.
Two notes form the crowd during this match. The first is that they showed Leon Spinks in the crowd, and he looked incredibly unsure about what he was watching. Some internet research reveals that he was likely on something, as live reports claimed he fell asleep during the show and Foley said that he was vomiting at some point as well. The other note from the crowd was that there was a woman in the front row dressed up as a cheerleader. Not a “sexy cheerleader” costume but an actual cheerleading uniform that you’d see in an actual high school. I choose to interpret the big F on the front of her uniform as meaning that she is a huge Francine fan who has come to support her favorite wrestling personality for the first big match of her career, which was the …
TRIPLE DOG COLLAR MATCH: Francine & The Pit Bulls vs. Stevie Richards & The Eliminators- 6.75/10
Stevie superkicked Francine and knocked her out, then just took the dog collar off once the bell rung. Allowed the heels to not only have a three-on-two advantage, but also to have a man who was free to roam around as he pleased rather than tied to a member of the opposite team.
HOLY SH*T PIT BULL #1 JUST DID A FRANKENSTEINER!
As a brawl this was very good, but it really irked me that guys were able to slip out of the dog collars so easily. The finish saw each Eliminator take a Superbomb, then Stevie took what was essentially a Super Villiano-buster. It looked like he was realy hurt, and we immediately cut forward a bit in the match, so I’m guessing he was. We cut forward just in time to see the Eliminators choking the Pit Bulls with the chains, and while this happened, Francine crawled over and pinned the unmoving Stevie. After the match The Eliminators tried to hit Francine with Total Elimination. Each Pit Bull took a turn saving Franny, only to get hit with a Total Elimination himself, then The Eliminators hit Francine with Total Elimination anyway and posed with the belts.
ECW WORLD TV TITLE MATCH: Too Cold Scorpio(c) vs. Sabu- a PERFECT 10/10!
I believe it was Shinsuke Nakamura who once quipped “I have a black belt in pro wrestling.” Well this confrontation didn’t feel like a professional wrestling match so much as like two men using the techniques of that esteemed martial art to have a legitimate fight. Almost everything they did looked sickeningly stiff (including Scorpio punting Sabu in the testicles), and they were willing to do just about anything to win. While you did have a story in here (several actually- Scorpio’s arrogance costing him, Sabu hurting himself as much as Scorpio with many of his attempts at high-risk offense, and the general breaking down of every single part of Sabu’s body as the match wore on), the moves didn’t build that story in the traditional pro wrestling way of a guy “working a limb” so much as these guys were just hitting whatever move or slapping on whatever hold they happened to be able to apply at that moment in time, and the stories emerged as nonlinear consequences of those happenings. This is definitely the single best ECW match I’ve seen so far, and by a wide margin at that. Go watch this right now!
SHANE DOUGLAS vs. CACTUS JACK- 8/10
This was a crazy brawl with some really weird booking. Also weird is the fact that the referee, Brian Hildebrand, was not wearing anything that resembled a referee’s shirt, so I kept thinking he was a fan who had wandered into the ring and was just waiting for security to come get him.
At this point everyone knew that Foley was going to the WWF and the fans booed the hell out of him for it… and despite the fact that he was going to the WWF, he was still wearing his “Forgive me, Uncle Eric” shirt, with the big picture of Bischoff’s face on it. Shane jumped Foley from behind to start things off, and the story as Joey told it was that Shane was “bringing the hardcore back out of Cactus Jack” and getting him to be the old Cactus Jack again.
At one point Brian Hildebrand, the referee, slipped Shanea pair of handcuffs, which Shane hit Foley in the head with. Shane then handcuffed Foley’s hands behind his back and beat the living sh*t out of him with a chair. Foley kept calling out for his former tag team partner Mikey Whipwreck to come save him but Mikey wouldn’t come. Shane locked the handcuffed Foley in a Figure Four Leg Lock, at which point Mikey finally did come, armed with a steel chair… which he immediately hit Foley in the head with and knocked him out. Hildebrand then counted Mick’s shoulders down and declared Shane Douglas the winner. Shane still kept the hold locked in after the match was over, and even grabbed onto the ropes for illegal leverage.
This all sounds like a perfectly executed double-turn, except that there are two problems with that theory. First, before he was calling out for Mikey, Foley was calling out for “Vince” to save him, which is a heel move in ECW, especially from someone the fans are booing because he is leaving the company to go work for the aforementioned Vince. Also, if the idea was to turn Mick babyface on his way out, why would you do something like this that reminds fans that he is leaving, right in the middle of your big turn?
The second issue with this is that in every single other angle he’s in right now (and there are many of them), Shane Douglas is a babyface. He’s a babyface in the angle with Pillman, he’s a babyface in the angle with Raven and Dreamer by acting as Beulah’s bodyguard, and at the next big show, Just Another Night 1996, less than a week from now, he’s going to ally himself with the babyface Sandman in Sandman’s war with Raven as well, so turning Shane heel here makes no sense at all.
ECW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT MATCH: Raven(c) (w/Kimona Wanalaya, Stevie Richards, & The Blue Meanie) vs. The Sandman (w/Missy Hyatt)- 4.75/10
This was relatively short, and was also an overbooked mess. And I don’t just mean the expected Stevie/Meanie/Bruise Brothers interfering, catfight kind of way. The catfight was precipitated by a spot where Raven had Sandman beat but the referee didn’t count the pinfall because he was distracted by Missy. This would be the first of THREE visual pinfalls that Raven got in this match. The interference all does build into Shane’s offer to help Sandman fight off Raven’s during his quest for the world title if Sandman does the same for him (and whoever wins the belt first gives the other a shot at it) at the next show, but if anyone should have been getting visual pinfalls here, it was Sandman, not Raven.
This was a VERY ECW show, with lots of chaos, weapons everywhere, some great segments, some great wrestling, and some frustratingly messy wrestling. The first part of the show flies by pretty quickly, though, and between the perfect 10/10 match and the several vert memorable segments, this show is definitely recommended.
WCW, ECW, UPW, etc
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