TAZ PROMO - When the opening match was starting something very weird happened. Taz somehow cut into the feed and was trying to film himself holding a camera backwards so the result was a horribly shaky view of about two thirds of Taz's head (cutting off at both the bottom and the sides) while he shouted into the camera. The content of his promo was very good and very important (I'll get to that in a moment), but the way they did it made the actual promo very hard to watch. My other issue with this was the presentation. The idea here was supposed to be that Taz stole a camera and was shooting from it backstage. Of course, this still doesn't explain how Taz was able to cut into the live feed... and, in fact, cutting into the live feed was an extremely remarkable accomplishment considering that THIS IS A TAPED SHOW SO THERE IS NO LIVE FEED. As a result, their presentation of this not only creates a logic issue, but did it in such a way that was doubly annoying because Taz "breaking into the live feed" prevented me from seeing the beginning of this match which Joey Styles just told me was between two top up-and-comers in wrestling.
The content of Taz's promo had two major interconnected points. The first was to confirm what had been widely speculated that it was he who leaked the secret to beating Sabu (work over his neck) to Rob Van Dam. The second was that Taz had apparently told Rob what his own secret weakness was and wanted Rob to go tell Sabu because Taz was so confident that he thought he could beat Sabu even if Sabu knew his secret weakness.
LOUIE SPICOLLI vs. DEVON STORM (w/Damien Kane & Lady Alexandra) - 4/10
The match was pretty good for the five minutes it got. They did a bit of high-flying to start off, then Spicolli took advantage of a distraction by Kane & Alexander (which was odd, but made sense in a moment) to destroy Storm's knee with a chair. He kept working on the knee, and Storm sold it very well... aside from the one spot where he needed to do a lot of running and jumping. Storm worked Spicolli's head over but Spicolli managed to hit the Death Valley Driver and get the win. The crowd gave them a standing ovation.
The fans weren't the only ones impressed with Spicolli, as Damien Kane said that Lady Alexandra (I think it's Alexandra because that's what the graphic said, but it sounded like Joey Styles and Bob Artese both said "Alexander") was also impressed with his performance, and thus Kane wanted him to join up with them so Lady Alexandra could manage him, too (read as: he wants Spicolli to be his tag team partner so he's willing to pimp out his manager). Spicolli accepted the handshake, but then shook his head and hit Kane with a Death Valley Driver (although I guess that name hadn't made its way to the US yet because Joey called it a "Fireman's Buster').
EWA EUROPEAN JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Mikey Whipreck(c) vs. Little Guido (w/the FBI) - 5.5/10
The two stories here were Guido working over Mikey's arm, and Mikey getting distracted by the FBI. They had one or two spots that didn't look so good, but weren't, like, phantom bumps or anything so they didn't really bother me. In fact, I thought the... whatever, exactly, that attempted Franken-Mikey wound up being... actually looked pretty impactful and was a great way to set up the finish.
AXL ROTTEN & DEVON DUDLEY vs. THE DUDLEYS (Big Dick Dudley & Buh-Buh Ray Dudley) (w/Sign Guy Dudley & Chubby Dudley)- 7.25/10
This started with Devon cutting the usual profanity-filled promo on the fans, getting excellent heat. Big Dick & Buh-Buh then came out to start brawling with them and kick off our match. That match turned out to be one hell of a nine-minute brawl all over the arena. They spent most of the match paired off as Buh-Buh vs. Devon and Big Dick vs. Axl, and the stuff between Buh-Buh and Devon in particular was excellent. This felt like a star-making performance for Buh-Buh, both with the impressive spots he got to do (all of which emphasized his size while also trying to make him seem agile for such a big man) and with amount of punishment he took and just kept on fighting. There were a lot of weapon shots to the head in this one, so if that makes you uncomfortable you might want to skip it, but otherwise you really should check it out.
CATFIGHT '96 (... OR NOT) SEGMENT - no rating, meh segment (but with storyline importance)
Up next was supposed to be "Catfight '96" between Missy Hyatt and Lori Fullington but Missy had broken her arm the night before. She was wearing some sort of cast-like thing, but my suspicion is that this was a work because this turned out to be her last show for ECW, and her abruptly leaving the promotion (the Observer says she was blamed for Kimona quitting because they're friends, and thus they stopped using her) would also explain why the rest of this segment was booked the way it was.
Gertner insulted Missy by saying things that were... well... actually mostly true (that she got a nose-job, collagen injections, lypo, and that she was a "non-wrestler"). We cut ahead a bit to Gertner propositioning Missy, so she grabbed Sandman's Singapore Cane and hit Gertner with it. She hit Gertner a few times but then sold her arm, so Sandman, chivalrous gentleman that he is, took the cane back and hit Gertner for her. We got another "static" cut, but this time no time appeared to have passed. That was odd. The Blue Meanie got into the ring and said Missy would have to go through him so she beat the sh*t out of him with the cane as well.
We got another cut and Stevie was now in the ring. He offered to drop his sexual harassment lawsuit against Missy if she would "denounce" The Sandman. Missy liked this offer, so she said that Sandman ejaculated prematurely due to his copious consumption of beer, then told him that her money is more important to her than he is. Missy attempted to leave but Sandman caned her... and I'm going to hope Missy just sold it really well because it looked like he nailed her right in the back of the head.
NO RULES BADSTREET MATCH:
Brian Lee vs. Terry Gordy - 3.75/10
This was a short brawl, but was pretty good for the time it got.
DOUG FURNAS vs. ROB VAN DAM - 6.75/10
The entrances for this match got cut. I'm beginning to suspect that they were editing this show down for time so that it could fit on just one tape. The story here was Furnas' power against RVD's athleticism and greater experience in a hardcore environment. Furnas began to acclimate and start using the chair well himself, but he made one mistake and RVD was able to capitalize and win. There were quite a couple of nasty chairshots to the head in here as well.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. RVD "uncharacteristically" (as Joey put it) extended his hand to Furnas in a show of respect (a courtesy which Joey reminded us that Rob refused to show Sabu), but Furnas assaulted him and Rob did a stretcher job.
TOMMY DREAMER (w/Beulah McGillicutty) vs. TAZ (Bill Alfonso & Team Taz) - 6/10
Before the match, Taz cut a promo telling everyone that they're not going to see any weapons or broken tables because he is just going outwrestle Tommy and keep it in the ring. Then, when Tommy got into the ring, Taz immediately threw him to the outside, slammed his head into the barricade a few times, then hit him with a chair. Theoretically this was heelish because he lied, but it's an ECW crowd so they just popped because they were getting to see weapons (even though they'd seen them in just about every match so far).
They wound up back in the ring and the first offense Dreamer got all match was ducking a strike from Taz with a drop toe hold. Tommy then did a hip toss, and the two of them just started to do some chain wrestling. I marked out.
This continued for a while until Taz just started to kick Dreamer in his taped-up ribs and took over that way. We didn't know that Dreamer's ribs were injured at first because the tape was underneath his shirt. Joey tried to tell us that Alfonso had been the one to find out and that he had let Taz in on the secret, just like with RVD and Sabu.
Taz worked over Tommy's ribs for a while but Tommy used a chair to make a comeback. He took out both Team Taz and Bill Alfonso, but this gave Taz enough time to recover and Taz cut him off again and did more damage to his ribs.
Then everything went to hell. It started when Taz tried to hit Tommy with a chair but the referee took it away from him. Apparently chairshots are no longer legal in this ECW match. If the ref thinks Tommy is too injured to defend himself then he should call for the bell and award Taz the match via referee stoppage.
Taz then suplexed the referee. He went after Tommy some more, and Tommy got in one brief hope spot (in the form of a low blow, which Taz shook off like it was any other kick) before Taz started to choke him out. Beulah got into the ring to plead with Taz to let Tommy go. Fonzie grabbed a chair and menaced Beulah so Terry Gordy came out to defend Beulah, but he got taken out by The Eliminators. Brian Lee came out and put the Asiatic Spike on Gordy. The Eliminators attacked a second referee who had come out. I have no idea why they attacked this referee other than to get a pop for Total Elimination. Then jobbers started coming out one at a time to get destroyed by Lee & The Eliminators. Then Buh-Buh Ray Dudley came out and he got to look good by taking it to The Eliminators before being dispatched by a Prime Time Slam from Lee. More babyfaces came out- first Sign Guy Dudley, then Hack Myers- still one at a time so the heels could take them out with ease. This mostly random group of heels then celebrated their victory of this even more random group of babyfaces. Our match had no finish. Joey put it best when he ended the segment by saying "what a mess."
SANDMAN PROMO - He needs a partner for tonight's Dog Collar Match because apparently some friends of Shane Douglas' put Pitbull #2 in the hospital at last night's show. He says he doesn't care because he doesn't have anything to live for anymore aside from being "the king of extreme" so he'll fight alone. He shouted for Raven to "come take my life!" a lot.
Stevie Richards and & The Blue Meanie came out and got caned. Shane Douglas and Raven (and Sandman's family) came out and the referee ordered that the bell be rung to start our Double Dog Collar Match even though only one of the participants has been locked into the eponymous dog collar and one of the wrestlers isn't even in the building yet.
TAG TEAM DOG COLLAR MATCH:
The Sandman & Pitbull #2 vs. Shane Douglas & Raven (w/Francine, Lori Fullington, Tyler Fullington, & Raven's Nest) - 5.75/10
Shane got caned. Raven used Tyler as a shield so that Lori could sneak up behind Sandman and cane him. Raven and Shane beat Sandman up for a while. At some point during all of this, Raven hooked himself up to Sandman via the dog collar, so at east we're getting some semblance of the advertised match. Sandman made a short comeback but got beaten down. Pitbull #2 then came out, apparently having just escaped/been released from the hospital, and he beats up the heels a bit before chaining himself to Shane via the other dog collar, so we actually got the advertised match. Hooray!
Anyway, these guys had a brawl. This one just had Dog Collars involved. Raven and Sandman's stuff together often looked bad. I also think I've hit the point of diminishing returns on brawls on this show. Pitbull#2 pinned Raven. Shane could have broken up the pin, but instead he left, continuing this year's theme of Shane's ultimate loyalty being to himself and himself alone. Pitbull #1- wearing his halo- came out to celebrate with Pitbull #2. That was a good moment.
STEEL CAGE WEAPONS MATCH FOR THE ECW WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES:
The Gangstas(c) vs. the Eliminators - 6.5/10
They hit each other with stuff and there were some dives off the top. At one point a masked man climbed to the top of the cage to hand New Jack a guitar but hit him with it instead. The man revealed himself to be Shane Douglas. Despite this, the Gangstas won anyway, and Saturn blamed Kronus (who got pinned after Saturn had bumped off the cage through a table on the outside) for the loss. Shane tried to make peace between them. I have no memory of any of this- Shane vs. New Jack, Saturn vs. Kronus, or Shane being pals with The Eliminators- going anywhere.
This was one of those ECW shows that just wound up being "too ECW" for its own good. A lot of it reminded me of watching a 93-94 ECW show where pretty much every match felt the same. That's not to say that there wasn't good stuff here (that Dudleys brawl particularly stands out, and parts of the opener, RVD vs. Furnas, Dreamer vs. Taz, Lee vs. Gordy, and the main event were good, but as the show wore on it wound up feeling like just a series of random brawls and the occasional random tease or turn, and it got quite old by the end.