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Last night was a nothing night. Came home, worked out, paid bills, deposited checks, played with rabbits, bid heavily on an original signed piece by Simon Bisely of Lobo and one of Kevin Maguire’s first drawing ever of Booster Gold, and mainly watched some ECW. REAL ECW. Although that will probably offend two people I know that read this. The real adjective, not the ECW watching.

See, yesterday WWE released ECW: Extreme Rules. A two disc collection showing great matches from the old and the new ECW. Now if you don’t know me, I grew up with ECW. I grew up on Philly. The ECW arena is a place I frequented a lot as a lad, mainly because I wasn’t old enough to get into Nocturne. I was never a WWE fan save for when a wrestler from the AWA or NWA popped over. My feds were those two, and for the brief period it was around while I was in single digits, the UWF.

Then came Eastern Championship Wrestling. They were constantly putting at matches at a higher degree of quality then say Junkyard Dog vs Big John Studd or Hulk Hogan vs. The Earthquake. Some of the matches were technical masterpieces. Nothing like Chi-Town Rumble Flair/Steamboat, but for an Indy fed it was high impressive. Some were spot fests with a lot of high flying moves you wouldn’t normally see outside of a Great Muta match at the time. And then of course were the violently bloody brawls. Little skill was required but you couldn’t help being impressed by the sheer level of fortitude these guys had to take sick bumps.

And then, literally overnight, it was EXTREME CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING. And I never looked back in the mid 1990’s. Honestly, would I rather watch some compelling and well written plots, or would I rather watch Mabel win the King of the Ring? Would I rather watch Tommy Dreamer die for his art or Sabu shatter his body and keep wrestling as if it was just a flesh wound, or would I rather watch Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake main event Starrcade in a complete insult to everything the NWA once represented to my circa 1989 self? ECW was at a level of quality the big two wouldn’t reach until they started raiding the ECW roster and plagarizing their storylines. The only real time I remember caring about wither WCW or the WWE in College was the formation of the nWo, which was very cool, and Degeneration X from October 1997 to March 1998. Other than that…they were to get my wrestling fix when ECW wasn’t on.

ECW and then Japanese guys like Muta, Chono, and Liger made me want to wrestle and take the craft seriously. In college I did several pro bouts and freaked Ronni out at some of the shit I did to my body. I’m lucky enough to have bled with Dreamer in an ECW right (well, more all over the place. Not so much IN the ring). I’ve gotten into two altercations with Raven, one on live WCW TV. I’ve been concussed by John Cena (who I can tell you was not a good worker in those early days, but is a hell of a great guy), and I’ve stayed casual contacts/acquaintances/kinda sorts friends with a few over the years. It’s also one of the reasons I have disdain for 95% of the IWC, because not a single one is in the shape to do most of the stuff they armchair quarterback, and if they got in the ring they’d make a Hell in the Kennel look like a classic. Oddly enough I have disdain for the IWC for the exact opposite reason I have disdain for Game reviewers. One is far too critical considering their lack of talent in the area, and the other is willing to give 9’s and 10’s to even the biggest piece of crap on the market. Is it that hard to be a critic these days? Oy.

Obviously I didn’t go into it professionally. And I’m glad because there’s no way I’d want to be trapped as an independent contractor having to pay for my own insurance and no real benefits thus watching my paycheck go towards things employers should pay for in the first place. Again, sorry if that offends a few of you, but it was a huge reason I didn’t go into the industry full time. I like comfort and money. Plus that swanton that fucked up my spine because the other guy flinched didn’t help make the case for the industry either.

Anyway, I only watched the first DVD last night simply because I had other things to do and I was watching it on and off. Here’s some quick thoughts on the content. I haven’t watched SE since 2001 save for the occasional time they come to MSP and when Widro paid me to review ONS2. Oh god was that ever awful. But I’m rambling…


1. Cactus Jack vs Sandman (Barbed Wire vs Singapor Cane match for the ECW World Title - 1995)

I’ve never been impressed with Mick Foley. I find his matches boring and repetative. It takes others to really carry his matches. Vader, HBK, UT, and so on. They made the matches. Foley was just willing to have his body mutilated by them. I will always take say, Sabu or Dreamer over Foley because they may be garbage wrestlers but Sabu at least has some cool spots and Dreamer mixed it up and had far better matches from a story telling PoV.

Anyway, Sandman makes this match. Even I normally think of Sandman as just a brawler so I was expecting this to be as poor as say HHH/Scott Stiener. In truth, it was decent. Sandman pulled a ton of stuff out of his ass including a Springboard Legdrop and a tope asada over the top rope to the guard rail. The man could work in the mid 1990’s and I think a lot of us have forgotten that. Alas, the match had a crappy ending with Shane Douglas showing his face in it. That was my big problem with ECW as a fan. I could never stand who they gave main event slots to. Shane Douglas? Justin Credible? Steve Corino? Yuck. But then, I could never stand Steve Austin and I don’t buy any of the three current world champions either.

Anyway, decent match. 5/10

 2. Gangstas vs Eliminators for the ECW World Tag Titles inside a Steel Cage - 1996

I remember this match. It was a week after my 19 birthday. This was another decent match. I watched this and was surprised because for once the Eliminators seemed out of it and the Gangstas were…wrestling? Like actually doing moves and working and not hitting people with weapons?  A steel cage match with little blood or using the cage as a weapon? Holy crap! It’s Bizarro world.  Decent match marred again by Shane Douglas interference, but at least New Jack won. Man, I love New Jack. 6/10

Story Digression time. I remember in college we had a group of 30 of us, 2/3rd guys that would chip in and we’d all get every PPV from the feds. Then when ECW started having PPV’s, I made us get those too. At first everyone was like “We don’t get that show out here. How we will know what’s going on.” But they relented since I was the only guy with a house big enough to do the PPV showings… After the first PPV everyone was like “Holy crap! This is awesome. After the second, I knew Girls with New Jack T shirts. New Jack = ratings.

3. Tommy Dreamer vs Brian Lee. Scaffold Match -1996

Horrible match but with an amazing ending that makes up for it. Tommy getting the win and throwing Lee about 30 feet to ground through a dozen stacked up titles is a defnite “OMG!” moment. Dreamer’s reaction afterwards and the massive fan celebration that followed is a perfect example of why I loved ECW growing up. 4/10 technically but 7/10 if you factor in the emotion and crowd reaction.

4. Sandman vs Sabu (Stairway to Hell Match -1998)

Oh holy crap. Do not watch this if you are squeemish. If you have never seen this match I will warn you of two things that occur. The first is that Sabu snaps his jaw pretty severely in this match and KEEPS wrestling for another 10-15 minutes. The other is that Sandman bleeds at a level of 1.0 Muta (That means a shitload) To the point where the guy nearly passes out twice from blood loss. It’s a gruesome sight but holy shit was this an amazing spotfest/garbage brawl. This is the sort of shit Vince needs to do to get the new ECW back on track. Give us quality matches dammit!

Anyway, Sandman got the surprise win here, and possibly because both guys were so injured, but holy crap was this possibly my favorite match on the DVD. 8.5/10 for storytelling, violence, and both men bringing their A game.

5. Dudley Boys and Big Dick Dudley vs Tommy Dreamer, Sandman, and Spike Dudley (1998)

Good six man tag match. I’ve always been a huge fan of these clusterfucks, probably due to Demolition and Freebird fanboyism as a lad. Decent brawl. I’ve always found all four dudleys to be a bit boring, but they kicked it up a notch here. Some nice spots, some mauling of Spike, and the end of the match is hilarious as New Jack and Jack Victory join post match to make it 4 on 4 with tons of weapon spots including New Jack beating Big Dickw itha  shopping cart and then doing a Honkey Tonk Man impression. New Jack is my favorite guy with four justifiable homicides on his record. 6/10

6. Sabu vs Taz for the ECW world title -1999

Excellent match. Pretty violent. Pretty insane. Little to no garbage wrestling. Taz went over clean although the crowd was firmly behind Sabu here. A great little match to show that ECW was more than weapons and blood; that they could have 20 minute wrestling clinics and the fans would be appreciative instead of chanting “boring.” 7.5/10

7. Mike Awesome vs Masato Tanaka for the ECW World Title -1999

Is it possible to put these two in the ring and not have an amazing match? Honestly? Their feud was by far the best over any world title in the late 1990’s. The story was incredible, the matches were sound, fun, and violent beyond words, and they were always a crowd pleasing team in the ring. Their match in 2005 at the first ONS was the match of the night and proved these two could still put on a better match than 99% of the current WWE roster. So of course neither got hired for the new ECW :-P

Brilliant match with a ton of plotting and story telling here. Pretty violent spot fest that was incredibly fun and I actually forgot who was going over here until it happened. Although it’s not my favorite match, it’s defintely the best on the on the collection. 8.5/10

8. Steve Corino vs Justin Credible vs the Sandman in a ladder match for the ECW title (2001)

This would be the second to last ECW world title match. Considering two of the guys in the ring are people I couldn’t stand to watch wrestle and the other was drunk before he got in the ring, you can imagine that this was not the best match. Francine and Sandman made the match though, especially with how Sandman won it. Credible and Corino just were beating the crap out of each other and went through a table. Sandman just got up and nonchalantly climbed the ladder and grabbed the belt. Cute ending to a mediocre match. It wasn’t bad, but I did fast forward through parts simply because Corino and Credible bore the shit out of me. 5/10

Overall a 6.3 from me.  I’ll drop it to a six even because of the editing out of the classic ECW music and the fact that went Sandman comes out the WWE editors removed all the background noise because god forbid we can’t show the fans listening to Enter Sandman and Vince will pay Motorhead a shitload of money for songs by them, but won’t give Metallica the money they want for “Enter Sandman” to be used as Sandman’s enterance theme. Grr.

Above average collection of matches that was worth the $15 I spent on the two DVD’s in the set. I still have to watch the NEW ECW disc, but something tells me I’ll only enjoy the Big Show/Flair match because I was there live for it and I want to see if you can hear me heckling the shit out of wrestler and other audience members. As Summer and Chris can tell you, I had more heel heat that a lot of the Smackdown roster…


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