BRM Reviews ECW Gangsta's Paradise (historic)

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Big Red Machine
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BRM Reviews ECW Gangsta's Paradise (historic)

Post by Big Red Machine » Aug 3rd, '18, 06:40

ECW Gangsta’s Paradise (9/16/1995)- Philadelphia, PA

These guys had a shockingly good little brawl. The crowd, of course, would intermittently crap all over it by chanting “YOU BOTH SUCK!” in between cheering for their big bumps and chairshots and other such things.

Joey Styles kept encouraging us to count the number of broken tables on tonight’s show, so I figured I’d take him up on that offer. TABLES BROKEN: 1

CHAD AUSTIN & DON E. ALLEN vs. THE DUDLEYS (Dudley Dudley & Dances With Dudley) (w/the Dudleys)- squash
Two matches; two broken timekeeper’s tables.

J.T. SMITH vs. HACK MYERS- no rating
This was heavily clipped. The goal seemed to be to show us that J.T. kept getting distracted by arguing with the fans, which featured in just about every clip. Most of the clips also had J.T. taking very not-fun-looking bumps. He eventually lost when he was on the outside for too long (even though he and Hack and previously brawled to the back of bleachers), with Joey calling it a count-out (in ECW!) and the ring announcer calling it a DQ (again… in ECW!), so who the hell knows what happened.

Apparently this was originally supposed to be The Eliminators and 2 Cold Scorpio but Jason offered to take Scorpio’s place right before the match. This was all a set-up, as when he went to exit the ring, Scorpio positioned himself right behind Taz and knocked him down with a cheap shot. Jason then started to work over Taz’s neck, which Joey told us was so injured that “Taz shouldn’t even be in the ring.”
This, too, was heavily clipped. Even more heavily than the last one. Can someone please tell Paul that if you only have a certain amount of time on your video tape then you might want to consider just cutting out the entire eight minutes of the pointless Bull Pain vs Broad Street Bully match rather than cutting time from a big match like this?
The finish was Taz beating on Jason until Scorpio came back and kicked Taz in the head/back of the neck, then put Jason on top of him for the pin.

Stevie didn’t come out for the match. Meanwhile, this also wasn’t supposed to be 2 out of 3 falls, but Beulah claimed that because Stevie broke his arm last night (Joey Styles assured us that this was false) that making it 2 out of 3 falls would somehow make it more fair to Raven. How?
The Pit Bulls agreed and Raven charged at one of them, so we’re starting out big title match off with the heel at a disadvantage. Pit Bull #2 was the one connected to Raven so he fought Raven while Pit Bull #1 went backstage, so at least we know the Pit Bulls are gentlemanly. That’s probably the only time that phrase has ever been typed.
Pitbull #1 reemerged a few moments later, connected by a dog collar to Stevie Richards… so what was the point of the whole “Stevie won’t come out” thing then? The only possible explanation would be that Raven would be outraged by Stevie’s cowardice to leads to some sort of a turn, but we know that that never really comes, so what was the point of this?
Soon thereafter, Raven piledrove Pit Bull #2 through a table and pinned him. This happened at the 2:10 mark. Just over two minutes later, the Pit Bulls gave Stevie a Superbomb through a table and pinned him. What was the point of even having a 2 out of 3 falls stip if you are just going to rush through the first two and turn it into a one-fall match anyway?
They interrupted the match to show us replays of the two falls we had just seen, which makes me suspect that this match has been clipped as well. We then got a ref bump so the Dudleys could interfere… even though this is ECW and therefore no DQs so why didn’t they just interfere anyway? They helped Raven and Stevie give the Pit Bulls stereo Superbombs. Then, when the heels were all celebrating, the Pit Bulls just stood up, no-selling their own finisher. Morons. They laid the heels out with a pair of double-DDTs, then hit the interloping Dudleys with Superbombs. They made zero effort to protect their opponents, too. Compare this to how Bubba Ray Dudley does the same move and it’s night and day.
They then gave Raven a Superbomb that was supposed to be through a table but they didn’t go far enough so Raven hit his back on the side of the table, knocking it over, then landing on the ring. Ouch. This set up a nearfall where the referee was too groggy to make the pin for a while, allowing Raven to kick out.
More stuff happened, including Raven apparently putting Pit Bull #2 out with ether. Rather than roll him into the ring to try to pin him, he set Pit Bull #2 up on two stacked up tables on the outside and hit him with a leg drop from the top rope. Only one of the tables broke, and that one only barely. Raven, not happy with the “YOU F*CKED UP!” chant, put Pit Bull #2 through the bottom table with an elbow drop.
Back in the ring, Stevie (who had been pretty bloodied up), got crotched on the ropes seemingly rather hard, then suplexed through yet another table for a nearfall but Raven broke it up with some sort of weapon-shot to the head.
At this point Beulah got into the ring, which signaled Francine to come out and attack her… and like with the Dudleys, I am forced to ask why she waited so long. It’s not like Beulah had actually affected the match in any way that would make Franny coming out to attack her now a matter of evening the odds. If she hates Beulah so much, why didn’t she attack her earlier? Anyway, this predictably set up a cat-fight, which ended with an equally predictable Raven pulling Franny off of Beulah and giving her a DDT.
At this point they showed us Pit Bull #2 being stretchered off by paramedics, which made me realize that he was no longer chained to Raven via the eponymous dog collar of the Dog Collar Match. Shouldn’t this cause the match to be called off and the Pit Bulls to lose because it was one of them who was injured to the point where the dog collar had to be removed?
Instead, Tommy Dreamer came out and he is apparently allowed to just insert himself into the match as a substitute. That hardly seems fair. Dreamer then hit Raven with a DDT and pinned him to win the titles. You read that correctly: Tommy Dreamer pinned Raven in the middle of the ring in 1995.
Bob Artise announced that we had new ECW World Tag Team Champions, but thankfully, Bill Alfonso came out to avert this travesty of justice, scrubbing Dreamer’s pin of Raven from the record books and saying that the Pit Bulls lose this match because one of their members can’t continue. Heyman clearly intends for me to view Fonzie as the heel here, but that’s pretty darn hard to do when everything he’s saying seems perfectly sensible to me.
Tod Gordon comes out and orders the match restarted, seemingly for no other reason than he doesn’t like Fonzie’s role as an overseer from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission. He shoves Fonzie so Fonzie sucker-punches him. Big Dick Dudley then chokeslams Dreamer, so Fonzie declares the move legal for tonight. Now I’m totally confused:
1. Changing the law to make the move legal ex post facto shouldn’t protect Big Dick from whatever fine/suspension/other punishment the commission sees fit to lay upon him for knowingly and willfully performing a maneuver that was illegal at the time he performed it.
2. Ditto for any disqualification that might be required due to the use of the chokeslam on Dreamer if he is, in fact, a legal participant in the now-restarted match (though personally I think it would make sense for the DQ in case of illegal move to only apply if someone in the match performed the move).
3. If Dreamer isn’t in the match and the ex post facto thing applies (which we can assume it does because the ban on chokeslams is a ruling of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission and thus we can extrapolate from Article I, Section 10 of US Constitution combined with the executive’s power of clemency being the usual source by which people in the inverse situation from there- which is what this is- are usually absolved of their crimes) then why does Fonzie have to un-ban the chokeslam at all? Big Dick will still get fined and it will have no effect on the match, so why do it?
This all predictably led to 911 coming out and chokeslamming Fonzie, which just makes me wonder why he didn’t just declare the move banned again? If all it takes is his say-so to unban it, then shouldn’t it take his mere say-so to re-ban it? Then again… if the chokeslam has been banned, why hasn’t 911 ever just punched Fonzie in the face or hit him with some other move? And you’d think there would still be some harsh fine against assaulting an employee of the state athletic commission? Even if the other referees don’t mind ignoring, Fonzie certainly seems like the kind of guy who would make sure you get punished for it. None of this stuff makes ANY sense.
Pit Bull #2 then came back out, and the babyfaces set Raven and Stevie up to take a Superbomb at the same time (which looked very not fun to take), and Tod Gordon and Tommy Dreamer both counted the pin.

This whole thing was a giant f*cking mess. I’ve already discussed all of the logical issues with the situation, but they also managed to make both gimmick match stipulations feel totally irrelevant, and left me feeling that the heels got totally screwed here. The action in the match was really nothing but a series of table spots and the occasional run-in, and watching the Pit Bulls seemingly throw people around recklessly and sell as little as possible when it wasn’t a spot where they were basically directed to by the booker was quite annoying.
The whole deal with Dreamer pinning Raven here also feels like a huge misstep to me. Personally, I thought it was bullsh*t that Tommy was able to do that, but the feeling the booker was trying to convey with this was that the pin was legitimate and Fonzie was screwing Dreamer out of this pin by expunging it from the record books. The problem with that is that if we fans are supposed to believe that the pin was legitimate, it waters down the whole “Dreamer has never pinned Raven” thing that they would push for almost the next two years because Tommy did pin Raven legitimately but it just didn’t count because of evil heel referee Fonzie. There is thus nothing left for Tommy to prove that he can do because we all know he has pinned Raven legitimately, and thus the feud is actually just this big cycle of revenge… which is fine, except that it becomes heavily unsatisfying when the big payoff is that “Dreamer pins Raven for official realsies” rather than “Dreamer beats Raven so bad he chases him out of ECW” or something along those lines that feels more final.


As a historical note: here at this show in September of 1995, an entire week before Steve Austin even debuted in ECW, Sign Guy Dudley is in the crowd with a sign that reads “Dudley 3:16.”

This was both men’s ECW debut, and almost certainly one of their first matches in the US as well. As a result, much of the hype and excitement around matches like this can often be from the fact that this was stuff being seen for the first time; stuff that was mind-blowing at the time, but when you go back and watch it years later it feels relatively routine because in the intervening years the style that was created or introduced to a new region in the match has been proliferated for years. As a result, such matches- while still very good- can often be relatively disappointing. AS the colloquialism goes, they “don’t hold up.”
This one does. Most of what they did was still mind-blowing; in some cases more for its fluidity than a feeling or originality, but it is still mind-blowing nonetheless. And with that being said, there was at least one really cool spot in here that I had never seen before.
Between the horns, the hair, the fact that he was standing next to Rey, Psicosis looked like a GIANT. That visual meshed well with their story, in which Psicosis tried to use his size and power advantage to defeat Rey and Rey had to rely on his quickness and leverage-based or momentum-based Lucha moves to get the upper hand on Psicosis. That isn’t to say that Psicosis didn’t get the chance to fly (he sure as hell did), but he often regretted it, including one terrifying bump onto the guardrail. The only negatives here were the short length of the match (it goes on my “favorite matches under 10:30 list) and the abruptness of the finish.

THERE’S A TUMULT IN THE LOCKER ROOM- it’s between The Public Enemy, New Jack, and 2 Cold Scorpio. New Jack punched out the first camera and someone from TPE punched out the second so Joey and Charlie The Cameraman had to run down to the locker room from Joey’s position, and got their just in time to see everyone get separated.
Then Joey’s attention is caught by someone wildly gesticulating in the background and dressed up like Hulk Hogan…

“IT’S STEVE AUSTIN!”- Austin informs Joey that he’s wrong because “Steve Austin didn’t have what it takes to make it in the WCW, brother.” You’ve all seen the promo. This was quite an… interesting debut for Austin in ECW. There’s even a wacky plant who runs by (odd, because they’re supposedly in the locker room) shouting about “STEVE-A-MANIA!” The promo was great, but this sure was an awkward way to get the camera to him for it.

MIKEY WHIPWRECK STEALS BOB ARTISE’S WALLET AND WATCH- Public Enemy congratulated him for this. I assume this means that New Jack, Sandman, and Scorpio are the babyfaces, right?

STEEL CAGE MATCH: Mikey Whipwreck & The Public Enemy vs. New Jack, 2 Cold Scorpio, & The Sandman (w/Woman)- 9/10
Joey made a point of telling us that New Jack was very unhappy that Mustafa wasn’t here. I don’t know if this was part of an angle or if Mustafa just no-showed and this was Heyman using Joey to project his own feelings onto New Jack. I guess that's why the apostrophe is before the s in "Gangsta's" and not after it; to indicate that there is only one Gangsta present to enjoy the paradise.

HOLY F*CKING SH*T! Rocco Rock just did a f*cking QUEBRADA INTO A RUSSIAN LEG SWEEP on The Sandman and it looked just as beautifully fluid as anything in the Rey vs. Psicosis match! I swear I’m not making this up.
New Jack and Johnny Grunge wound up on going through the door with very little trouble. What a sh*tty cage. They wound up in front of Joey and did a bunch of crazy sh*t on that secondary platform below the crow’s nests and probably hurt like a motherf*cker for several days afterwards. They brawled off the platform and Grunge tried to choke New Jack to death with some sort of cable. Meanwhile, in the ring, Sandman picked up a table and essentially gave the table a flapjack down onto Rocco Rock. He would later get up on the top rope and do the same thing. If you’re wondering how the tables are getting into the ring, some unknown person is just passing them Rocco through the open door. Johnny Grunge got back into the ring with Scorpio and brawled with him. Meanwhile, Sandman did his table flapjack thing onto both Rocco and Mikey.
Sandman then got tossed into the open cage door and went through it, but got stuck and was hanging by his legs... but not in the usual way where he’s in control of everything and he’s using his feet to purposely hold himself up. One foot got wedged on one side of the door seemingly between two panels of the cage, and the other ankle was caught on the door opening. If he was able to do this on purpose then he deserves a lot more credit as a worker than he gets.
New Jack was also sent out of the cage, leaving Scorpio alone with all three opponents. Mikey and TPE then proceeded to set up three tables, stacked up one on top of the other. This was as tall as the cage itself… and I immediately shouted “how the hell are you going to get someone up there?” The answer to that was to climb up the tables themselves, and from there climb to the top of the cage. While they were trying to position themselves on top of that cage while still making it look like they were fighting, I was more scared that someone would fall and die than just about any other time while I have been watching wrestling.
When they finally jumped it was clearly one of those “grab each other and go on three” kind of jumps, but all thought of that immediately disappeared from my head while watching these guys crash through these tables (somehow without seemingly to lose any momentum), and with the way they landed, I’m certain that at least one of them landed on their head. It was quite terrifying.
A member of TPE went for the pin but Sandman picked up a large piece of broken table and once again did his flapjack with the table to break it up. What is up with that? I’m pretty sure at this point that Sandman is… maybe not in the best mindset right now. Scorpio got pitched through the door while Sandman picked up his piece of the table… and got dropkicked in the back and wound up going through that large section of table when it bounced back off the ropes while he was still moving forward. That was new.
TPE picked Sandman up for a vertical suplex and Mikey came off the top turnbuckle with a crossbody (A.K.A. the only triple-team move in the early Smackdown games) for a really good false finish. Mikey went to the top of the cage but Sandman followed him up and went for a powerbomb but Mikey countered with a Franken-Mikey from the top for another great false finish. Mikey then came off the top of the cage with a Superfly Splash for the pin on the ECW World Heavyweight Champion. HOLY SH*T WAS THIS MATCH CRAZY. Watch this match!


Remember how I was complaining that so many of the earlier matches were clipped? While the main event ended at about the 1:35:00 mark.
Woman managed to somehow “lock the cage door,” which was weird because I had figured it was locked shut at the beginning of the match and that the lock was broken by guys being thrown into the door so hard or whatever, resulting in New Jack and Johnny Grunge spilling to the outside. Maybe Woman brought an extra lock with her just in case? Who knows?
Anyway, Woman climbed the cage and passed Sandman his Singapore Cane. You’d think he would have taken it into the cage with him for the match but he didn’t. You’d also think that Mikey would have been up well before Sandman, seeing as how the last three spots of the match were Mikey hitting big moves on Sandman and then pinning him, but apparently Sandman still recovered quicker. The door swung open again even though Woman had “locked” it, so Sandman stuck his cane in the door and an adjacent wall to actually lace it shut. Then he stood on the cane and leaped off of it to hit Mikey with a diving leg drop. The cane, predictably, buckled while Sandman was standing on it, and it’s a miracle he managed to make his jump in time. Sandman lit a cigarette but TPE managed to scale the cage and chase him off before he could burn Mikey’s eye or do some other nefarious thing with it.
Sandman and Woman went to the back and TPE’s music played, with Johnny Grunge even interrupting the music to cut a promo putting Mikey over as the next ECW World Heavyweight Champion. The music resumed, as did the dancing. Sandman and Scorpio came back out and tried to scale the cage but Mikey knocked Sandman down and superplexed Scorpio down into the cage. Next thing you know New Jack has pulled Johnny Grunge out of the ring and he and Sandman are beating up on Johnny until Mikey comes over and starts caning Sandman in the head. Didn’t the match end?
They all randomly brawled to the back. All of this post-match stuff felt completely and totally pointless. They took what should have been a big moment in Mikey pinning Sandman and then did stuff to paper over it, with everyone being in the same spot at the end, all still up and fighting, instead of sticking with the one victorious trio and one losing trio and the happy celebration after a hard-fought win. Joey signed off and we got the title card again at the 1:40:30 mark… so why the f*ck were all of those matches clipped, guys?

This was an odd show to watch, in a lot of ways. The beginning of it was extremely frustrating due to how clipped things were, to the point where I was beginning to feel ripped off, but the final two matches definitely saved the show. The tag title match was pure sh*t but was still a title change, and between that, Austin’s debut, and the debuts of Rey and Psicosis in their awesome match, this show definitely has a lot of historical importance as well. Give the last fifty minutes or so a watch, but know what you’re getting into with the first half.

Hold #712: ARM BAR!

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Re: BRM Reviews ECW Gangsta's Paradise (historic)

Post by Bob-O » Aug 3rd, '18, 07:37

Big Red Machine wrote:
Aug 3rd, '18, 06:40
As a historical note: here at this show in September of 1995, an entire week before Steve Austin even debuted in ECW, Sign Guy Dudley is in the crowd with a sign that reads “Dudley 3:16.”
It might seem significant today, but it was a 'thing' back then. EVERYTHING was "3:16", Austin was just the first one to market it.

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