Going into the PPV, my thoughts:
I'm pretty sure there are very few people who haven't seen the match from which this show takes its name. However, I haven't really seen the whole show looked at with a critical eye, so here I am to do that very thing
Little Guido (w/ Tommy Rich and Tracy Smothers) vs Pablo Marquez - 3.75/10
Obnoxious pre-match introductions for the FBI, including Tracy Smothers being introduced as if he's wrestling in the match, and Rich screaming incomprehensibly into the mic. Two amazing things here, when Rich is being introduced, the crowd chants "You fat fuck" while, in the background, Pablo is pointing at Rich in time with the chants. Also, during Rich's aforementioned screaming session, he says something to insult Philly, and the sea of middle fingers that go up in view of the hard camera is an amazing visual. The match itself featured Guido mostly dominating with Pablo doing some abysmal looking offense, and Tommy Rich doing the world's worst sell/catch of a suicide dive I've ever seen. Smothers distracts the ref while Rich hits Pablo with the Italian flag.
This is clearly a home video rip, as we get ECW-style cuts between matches with entrances omitted. To be honest, I'd rather have this than a terrible dubbed theme. Hooray for Pioneer DVDs
Mikey Whipwreck vs Louie Spicoli - 6.75/10
Louie starts cockily throwing Mikey around, even going as far as to ask "Do you want to just raise my hand now?" brilliant stuff. Mikey fires up and throws around Spicoli in a sequence that ends in him being crotched on the ring post while laying on his belly in the ring. Then we get something I've genuinely never seen before which is Mikey sprinting out of the ring and stretching Louie's legs out, I guess amplifying the crotch pain. This momentum reverses rather quickly when Louie hits a stunner and shrugs about it like a douchebag. Mikey tries to fight back but Louie counters with an Enzuguri, which Mikey sold with such vigor I would've accepted that as the finish. Adding to my belief was the genuine 2 7/8 count the ref got after. More power moves and sloppy covers from Louie. Mikey gets a hope spot with a Frankenmikey, which the crowd pops for. He goes for diving Frankenmikey but Louie catches him with a gross looking powerbomb. Another feasible finish that got a very close 2 count. Mikey fights for control and gets a few spots in, including a suicide dive where Mikey about necks himself Louie grabs him, throws him in the ring and goes for another top rope move but Mikey counters with a Frankenmikey for the win. Would've been a 7 if the finish hadn't come so soon after Mikey appeared to knock himself out.
Okay, never mind what I said about the dubbing/cutting. We do get Spike's entrance for the next match, at such a volume where you can JUST tell Spike is coming out to "Highway to Hell" but there's a royalty free guitar track playing over it, which is hysterical and, in a way, fits Spike PERFECTLY
Spikey Dudley vs Bam Bam Bigelow - 8.5/10
According to Joey's commentary, Hardcore Heaven 1997 is nexr week, and Bam Bam Bigelow opponent for that show will be named after this match. This is given all the treatment of a Superstars squash match for Bam Bam. Bam Bam starts the match asking the crowd which section he should throw him into. Bam Bam throws Spike to another corner and Spike appeared to go feet into the air. Bam Bam has Spike up in the crowd position, and the crowd is going nuts....until Bam Bam just drops him. The crowd deflated like a group of children at a ruined birthday party. Joey makes an AMAZING point, that if Bam Bam just destroys Spike, no one will want to fight Bam Bam and he'll have no opponent. Spike is the ultimate fighter, demanding Pee Wee not stop the match and taking pot shots at Bam Bam. Bam Bam misses a top rope moonsault. Spike finally knocks Bam Bam down and barely gets 1, Spike knocks Bam Bam down again and gets a 2. Bam Bam counters the Dudley Dog with a gnarly looking back drop Bam Bam hoofs Spike into the corner after teasing a chokeslam. Spike does his headbutt. Spike counters a Powerbomb into a victory roll and wins! The crowd is absolutely jubilant, and Joey sells shock by double checking the result mid "HE GOT 'EM" and doing it again. GO OUT AND SEE THIS MATCH
"The Rookie" Chris Chetti vs Chris Candido - 4/10
I feel like the only reason why you should ever call a wrestler "The Rookie" is if they won a Tough Enough style competition. We're immediately introduced to the fact that Candido has a foreign object that the referee missed, and has put it in his tights Some great exchanges to start, but at one point Candido super noticeably took his own arm drag bump and Chetti grabs his arm on the way over. I was so impressed I can't even be mad about it. The technical stuff ends when Candido starts throwing punches, clearly throwing amateur wrestler Chetti off. However he fires back with his own brawling, fakes out Candido on the corner running fake out, Chetti screws up a springboard crossbody. Chetti puts Candido in an arm lock to which Candido yells to the ref "HE'S TRYING TO KILL ME"Eventually they take a Huricanrana spill onto the outside and Candido rams him head first into the corner post. The crowd start chanting "We want Taz" (Candido's opponent at Hardcore Heaven) which gets Candido angry, and he starts mocking Taz's poses) Chetti hits the world's worst German Suplex for his comeback. Chetti opts not to go for the pin after a powerslam, and misses a top rope somersault leg drop. . The match finally ends after a Top rope under hook suplex.
Shane Douglas promo( all over the place and bad) - He's complaining that, even though he has a match with Terry at Hardcore Heaven, they're having a Barbed Wire match for the title tonight. When the crowd pops he yells at them to calm down. Douglas wants a rematch from "The Night the Line was Crossed", a 3 way dance between himself, Funk and Sabu for the title Douglas calls it a bunch of words for multi-person sex. Lance Storm comes out and we get
Lance Storm vs Shane Douglas w/ Francine - 7.5/10
Shane complains of a hair-pull early on. Joey brings attention to the fact that Candido had done it in his match and said, "It must be a Triple Threat thing" awesome. I'm pretty sure this marks three matches that have either begun with, or had very early on, a throw out of the corner Lance Storm hits the super kick really quickly. Francine gets up on the apron and Shane teases accidentally hitting her a few times. Douglas hoofs Lance up onto the top rope, and, in a spot that, for all intents and purposes looked like it was supposed to be the payoff to the teases of hitting Francine, Francine very naturally ducks out of the way and, in doing so, causes Storm to get a stun gun on the top rope Douglas districts the ref as Francine goes over to choke Storm who's prone sitting in the corner. Really cool baseball slide to the groin by Shane Douglas mockingly puts Storm in the camel clutch while Francine throws two chairs in the ring. Shane suplexes storm on to both chairs once they've been unfolded. This made a hell of a sound This wasn't the finish for some reason. In a rare moment of genre savvy, Storm sets up a suplex on Shane. Francine makes a grab for Lance's foot, but Lance lets go and does a striking move to Douglas instead. Lance does some super fluid offense which has gotten me back into a match i was pissed off about, which says good things about Lance. Lots of quick roll up attempts. Lance counters the Belly to Belly into a DDT after he misses a top rope leg drop, which nets what I can only describe as a 2 and 9/10th count. The crowd apparently thought this was 3 too as they're chanting "bullshit". Shane catches Lance in the Belly to Belly out of nowhere and wins, and this part is important, while the crowd is still chanting "bullshit" from the last false finish, so it's implanted firmly in your mind how close Storm was to winning
ECW TV Title
Al Snow vs Taz (c) - 6.75/10
Bob Artese incorrectly announces Al's hometown as "Lime Ohio" which got a smile out of me. Al Snow gets on the mic and says he's not Lief Cassidy, he's Al (censored) Snow, and if we don't like it we can kiss his ass. Um, thanks Al, but you were announced as Al Snow, it's fine. He says the people cheering for him here were the same ones mocking him in the Spectrum so shut up. That's probably the most truthful thing anyone has ever said in a shoot promo. The bell rings, we get a "Taz is gonna kill you" chant, which Al jaw-jacks with the fans about. Al complains of oil on the body of Taz in the first lockup. This causes the crowd to hilariously chant, "Rockers" Taz and Al wrestle around for a bit. Approximately one guy starts a "We want Marty" chant which made me laugh. Hat Guy takes offense with Al's very existence out of nowhere and starts berating him during a wrist lock. More amateur wrestling and stalling happens until Taz hits a suplex, and Al Takes control with an inverted enzuguri. Al has control with standard wrestling stuff, with Taz getting a few take downs here and there. Finally Taz takes control with a Tazplex, and the carnal, bloodthirsty cheer from the audience is simply breathtaking. Al immediately follows up being hit with a Taz plex with a powerbomb.. Al has control again for a while until Taz hits a German Suplex. Al even blocks the Tazmission, but gets slapped in it anyway which picks up the win for Taz. Weirdly a good, competitive match
Joel Gertner introduces The Dudleyz - Meh, until Joel introduces himself as Joel "put your lipstick on my dipstick" Gertner. Bubba Ray (and I) corpses at this. The rest of the promo was pretty standard, ending with "send out the enhancement guys." Normally this would annoy me but because Gertner in kayfabe is a talent-less smart-ass, it makes sense.
The Dudleyz (Bubba and D-Von) w/ Big Dick and Joel Gertner vs The Chair Swinging Freaks
The Dudleyz have the titles because they put The Gangstas in the hospital, and if The Gangstas can't make it to Hardcore Heaven then they forfeit back to the Dudleyz. The story of the match is that Big Dick is cheating at every turn, and so the Freaks just walk out, only to bring back.....HACK MEYERS. And so we get
The Dudleyz (Big Dick, Bubba and D-Von) w/ Joel Gertner vs Axl Rotten, Balls Mahoney and Hack Meyers - 0.5/10
This immediately turns into a brawl, but we lose everyone except D-Von and Axel who actually go through the doors to the main arena. Balls joins us while Axl sells a chair shot and hits D-Von with a tombstone, and then a top rope leg drop Axl is fighting Bubba and hits the grossest chair shot I've ever heard in my life Hack gets a hold of Sign guy and D-Von body checks Hack with entirely too much vigor so it just looks like D-Von hit Sign Guy. Balls hits Big Dick with a chair shot so disgusting that Joey actually does the "laugh out of shock" laugh while saying "Oh my God" . Hack sets up his finisher but instead of seeing it countered we see Balls get chokeslammed by Big Dick through a table. Bubba and D-Von hit the 3-D to mercifully end it
Rob Van Dam w/ Bill Alphonso vs Tommy Dreamer w/ Beullah - 6.5/10
Bob Artese is super weird on the ring intros. He calls Bill Alfonso "the most desirable man in the arena tonight" I like to imagine Gertner gave somebody a stern talking to after the show. This even strikes Joey as weird, who asks "Did we take a secret ballot on this or something?" He also announces Beullah as "The stunning, electrifying Beullah McGillicutty" which sounds like how a heel manager would be introduced.
Anyway, the story of the match is that Dreamer hit a suicide dive early in the match and fucked his knee up, now RVD is one step ahead of him at nearly every opportunity . A really cool moment is when Tommy kicks out of a Five Star frog splash at 2. RVD looks shocked, but only for a brief second as he immediately composes himself. Dreamer fights back after RVD hits a split legged moonsault onto a chair. Dreamer even hits his own Van Daminator and Frog Splash. Alfonso goes in the ring but Beullah throws him down and starts banging his head against the turnbuckle. The crowd go apeshit for this. Dreamer goes to DDT Alfonso but RVD hits a Van Daminator. He goes for the Corkscrew leg drop but misses. Dreamer hits a DDT on RVD. Sabu shows up to interfere but gets clocked with the trashcan he brought to the ring. RVD hits another Van Daminator and Corkscrew leg drop to win. 6.5/10 for one Van Daminator/Corkscrew legdrop combos too many.
Post match - Awesome for the segment it set up. Sabu and RVD double team Dreamer, then the Triple Threat heads down to take out Dreamer, RVD, and Sabu. Then the locker room empties and a brawl erupts. One of the people in the brawl who I had no idea ever wrestled in ECW was Bobby Duncam Jr. For some reason The Dudleyz are left standing tall. Oh, it's because we have to sandwich the Chair Swinging Freaks/Dudleyz confrontation. The Dudleyz beat them up too. New Jack and Kronus showed up, and I popped because I figured it meant The Gangstanators started here. But no, its all a set up for the triumphant return of Perry Saturn who is hitting people with Diamond Cutters on one good leg. The crowd is overjoyed to see New Jack/The Eliminators Eventually the babyfaces are the ones to clear the ring. Even Gertner gets restrained and hit with a chair from new Jack, also taking a 450 from Kronus. The babyfaces all pose together and then go into the crowd to celebrate with fans to end the segment This segment was batshit insane in the best way, and must've been incredible live.
ECW Championship Barbed Wire Match
Terry Funk (c) vs Sabu w/ Bill Alfonso - Perfect 10/10
I have no words for this match. This is one of the first times I've been stunned silent by a match. The gruesomeness of the match itself, the way the match was put together, the way that it enhanced the image of both men forever, it's beyond words. In fact, it's so beyond the realm that even the typical ECW interference don't even shake this rating. I implore you to see this match for yourself, even if you're not a fan of hardcore/deathmatch style like me. I consider this required viewing
I would say this was a great show. A good undercard with more good than bad, with one (great) segment, and an amazing main event..