Well Anarchy Rulz 99 is now in the books, so this week’s episode of Hardcore TV will most likely be lots of recaps and little in the way of new content. As a result, I’ve decided to add a special section at the bottom of the review where I try to calibrate who the overall best wrestler was at this exact period in time. So read on for that if nothing else.
As always, you can read a recap of the previous episode of ECW on TNN from Mr. Scott Keith by clicking right HERE!
So with all that dealt with, let’s order ourselves a pizza, stick it on top of a flaming table and once again take things to The Extreme!!!
Today’s matches were from other shows
Calling the action is Joel Gertner
Joel Gertner is in front of the ECW Banner, where he says he’s filling in for a sick Joey Styles, who threw his voice out during the TNN taping. Joel recaps what happened at Anarchy Rulz, where Taz lost the ECW Title to a surprise competitor and then run downs what else we’ll see tonight.
The Show Intro follows next. This week’s tagline: “It’s Not Just Hardcore, It’s Not Just Extreme, It’s EC F’N W!”
Paul Heyman recaps the bout between Justin Credible and Sabu at Anarchy Rulz, where Credible managed to pull off a semi-clean win over Sabu following a Tombstone Piledriver on a chair.
Joel is back in front of the ECW Banner, where he says Justin has won the biggest match of his career, but that Sabu will most surely be out looking for payback.
Joel is back in front of the ECW Banner, where he sends to the entire closing segment from last week’s Hardcore TV Show, where Jerry Lynn and Rob Van Dam had an absolute banger for the ECW TV Title. Apparently bad weather meant that a lot of the syndicated networks didn’t show last week’s Hardcore TV, so they’re showing it again this week for everyone that missed it. I’ll just re-post what I put last week.
ECW TV Title
Champ: Rob Van Dam w/ Bill Alfonso Vs Jerry Lynn
The fight is on right from the off, as Lynn tries to defeat RVD as quickly as possible due to his injured ribs, which are adorned with tape. A double line sends both men down, but RVD is up first with a leg drop for two. Lynn fights back with a cross body that sends both men tumbling to the floor, but RVD throws him into the crowd out there and then tries to follow with a Van Daminator, but Lynn throws the chair right back at him. I believe that counter was first used in the epic battle between “Farmer” Robinson and Jack Jonathon Jackson way back in 1927, which saw them fighting on the back of a whale just off the coast of Manhattan Island.
Anyway, Lynn bulldogs RVD onto another chair in the crowd, but makes the mistake of picking up another chair and leaves himself open to the Van Daminator from RVD, which sends him flying back to ringside in a fantastic spot. RVD sends Lynn into the ring post following that and then sends Lynn back inside for a cover, which gets two. Lynn dodges a somersault leg drop, but gets a leg sweep and then follows up with a split legged moonsault for two. RVD gets a flying kick from the top rope next, but Lynn kicks out at two once more. RVD tries to monkey flip Lynn onto a chair, but Lynn counters it and ends up powerbombing RVD onto the chair for two. Lynn slips out of an RVD suplex next and delivers a German Suplex, which gets another two from the referee.
Lynn gets up and overed onto the apron next and ends up getting knocked off by RVD through a ringside table, which would appear to be as far as the medical personnel are going to allow him to continue. Lynn decides he doesn’t want that to be it though and limps back into the ring, where RVD shows him no mercy and suplexes him back inside for two. RVD takes his time flipping into picking up a chair, which allows Lynn to get his own Van Daminator for a nail biting two count. The fans completely bought that near fall there and it was excellently done. Lynn goes for the Cradle Piledriver next, but RVD back body drops out of it and goes for a Northern Lights Suplex, but Lynn counters that in mid-air into a DDT for another two, as the ECW Arena crowd is now fully behind him.
RVD heads up top but Lynn crotches him and then brings him down with a big superplex, but that hurts him as much as it does RVD and it delays him in making a cover, which means RVD can kick out at two. Both men trade pin attempts, which leads to Fonzie hitting Jerry with a chair. RVD heads up top for the Five Star Frogsplash, but Lynn moves and then gets a roll up for another fantastic near fall. The ECW Arena crowd are utterly losing their minds at the near falls here and it’s brilliant to watch. Lynn grabs a chair in desperation but RVD catches him with an even more desperate Van Daminator to pick up the last gasp win.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: ROB VAN DAM
This to me is the best RVD Vs Lynn match ever, as it was all about Lynn desperately trying to put RVD away due to his injuries meaning he couldn’t work his usual match, which meant this one felt fresh and different. It’s amazing how RVD and Lynn were able to wrestle each other so many times but still manage to make every match they had feel different. This match was a good example of that, as they toyed with people’s expectations and ended up giving the crowd palpitations with the near falls.
Should Lynn have won here? Maybe, but I feel similar to this the way I felt about Okada beating Naito at the Tokyo Dome. Like Okada, RVD was clearly the top guy in the company at this stage and regardless of how over Naito/Lynn was, sometimes you just need your top guy to be the top guy, and that means they win. Obviously the way RVD’s TV Title reign ended means that with the benefit of hindsight this would have been a good place to have Lynn win, but had they managed to get the ECW Title on RVD as planned, they would have had a ready-made story they could do of Lynn winning the now vacant TV Title but getting gradually more jealous that he never got to pin RVD for it, meaning you could do another big Champion Vs Champion match down the line.
Joel is back in front of the ECW Banner, where he puts over the match we just saw and then encourages people to go a see an ECW live event.
Paul Heyman narrates over clips of Lance Storm Vs Jerry Lynn at Anarchy Rulz 99. Lynn came in with injured ribs and that ultimately proved to be his undoing, as Storm was able to catch him with a three quarter nelson out of nowhere to pick up a flash pin fall victory after a long and bruising bout.
We get clips from before the Anarchy Rulz 99 pay-per-view, where Judge Jeff Jones accosted Masato Tanaka in the car park and ended up getting shoved into a car for his troubles. Jones stated that Tanaka would pay an “Awesome” price for it.
Joel is in front of the ECW Banner and says that after the break we’ll get an explanation of how Taz lost the ECW Title.
Back from the break, we get clips from Anarchy Rulz 99, where prior to the match between Taz and Masato Tanaka for the ECW Title, Mike Awesome came through the crowd wanting a piece of Tanaka. This led to Taz demanding Awesome be added to the match, which Paul Heyman reluctantly agreed to, thus leading to a non-announced three way dance. This led to Tanaka and Awesome dogpiling on Taz in WWF Wrestle Fest style, which led to Taz being eliminated early doors. Thus Awesome and Tanaka were left to have another one of their classic matches, this time to decide the new ECW Champion.
We cut back to Joel in front of the ECW Banner, where he states that Tanaka and Awesome destroyed one another and then sends to footage of a victorious Awesome standing in the ring, which leads to Taz handing him the ECW Title and raising his hand as a way of giving him the rub.
We get a video package showing highlights from Anarchy Rulz 99 and that’s the show.
Not much in the way of new content this week, but Gertner did an excellent job as host, so kudos to him.
Anyway, as promised here is a completely subjective way of working out who ECW’s best overall wrestler was during this period in time. I’ll be listing all the top wrestlers in the company and grading them out of 10 in three areas; In ring ability, Look and Promo skills. The person with the highest score will be unofficially declared ECW’s best wrestler of September 1999. I’ll keep revisiting this as and when people join/leave the company.
So let’s start out with the company’s top star, Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam (ECW TV Champion)
In Ring: 7. There’s no doubt that 1999 RVD can have tremendously exciting matches with top workers like Jerry Lynn, but he can also be very spotty in the ring if he doesn’t have someone in there to help the match flow. When it comes to spectacular moves, RVD is your man, but when it comes to things like transitions and storytelling he can sometimes be lacking. Who knows, maybe this is something he can improve on as 1999 rolls into 2000?
Look: 7. RVD is not a bad looking dude in the least, with his resemblance to JCVD quite literally giving him “movie-star” looks. Physically RVD is in excellent shape and certainly looks the part when it comes to portraying an acrobatic martial artist. He lacks a little bit of size compared to the top guys in the WWF like The Rock, but his cool airbrushed singlets look fantastic and he looks like an athlete.
Promo Skills: 6. RVD’s cool dude promos are not without their charm, but they can also be a bit stilted now and then. For the character he plays the promos work, but it’s by no means the strongest facet of his game.
Total Score: 20. RVD scores reasonably well, with a grand total of 20 to go to his name. Strangely he’s pretty much the Denis Irwin of the ECW Roster, which is funny when you consider he couldn’t be more different from the much vaunted Man United left back when it comes to personality.
In Ring: 9. Lynn is one of the best in ring competitors ECW has, as he can seemingly have a good match with pretty much anybody and he’s great at telling a story in the ring thanks to his ability to sell big, especially when carrying an injury. His wrestling itself is smoothly executed, with the only real blot in his copybook being the horrible way he hits the ropes. Aside from that Lynn brings a high level of ability when it comes to working a match and there are few in ECW who can match him.
Look: 6. Lynn is definitely in shape and is both lean and very athletic. Obviously he doesn’t have the size of most of the top wrestlers in the “Big Two”, but he looks like an athletic man who fights for a living. What lets Lynn down is how he dresses outside of the ring, with big John Lennon glasses and scraggy clothes making him look like the world’s most Extreme science teacher. Overall though Lynn looks good in the ring and some extra touches to his overall look could make him look even better.
Promo Skills: 5. This is sadly where Lynn lets himself down a little bit. Despite once being coined “Dynamic” as a ring name, Lynn’s promos are anything but. He can get the story across and can show some intensity, but there’s just nothing that really grips you when it comes to him in front of a mic. He’s just about average.
Total Score: 20. Lynn’s excellent in ring work is offset somewhat by weaker scores in other categories, but he still scores a respectable 20 overall.
Mike Awesome (ECW Champion)
In Ring: 7. Similar to RVD, Awesome tends to struggle in matches when he’s not in there with a super worker to keep things flowing. There’s no doubt that he can perform incredible moves for a man his size, but his actual work in the ring is spotty. He’s by no means awful, but he tends to match the level of the person he’s working, which is great when it’s Masato Tanaka but less so when it’s someone not as talented.
Look: 8. Awesome is both tall and muscular, with an impressive looking physique. He looks like someone who could mow down your average man on the street quite easily. What lets him down is his frankly horrendous haircut, which is right out an 80’s WWF Superstars taping. It’s pretty much a dead ringer for a hairdo that an enhancement talent like Barry Horrowitz would have had back in the day. Aside from that, Awesome looks good, although he’s more of a “Big for ECW” kind of big than an actual “Really Big for Wrestling” sense, as I doubt he’d look quite as impressive when put up against the likes of Test, Albert and Bull Buchanan in the WWF.
Promo: 3. Awesome’s hair isn’t the only thing straight out of the 80’s, as his bellowing shouty promo style feels like a relic from a bygone age as well. It doesn’t help that he’s managed by a man dressed like a Judge, who himself cuts old school manager style promos but doesn’t really have the charisma or talent to make them work. Definitely the weakest facet of Awesome’s game.
Total Score: 18. Awesome’s association with Jones and his rubbish promo skills sadly knocks down what otherwise would have been a decent score.
In Ring: 10. I think when it comes to in ring abilities there is no one in ECW who comes to Tanaka’s level. An “elite worker” in every sense of the word, Tanaka can sell, tell a story in the ring and hit hot moves with the best of them. He raises the level of everyone he wrestles with and always manages to get over in front of a crowd once the bell rings.
Look: 6. Tanaka isn’t very tall, but he looks squat and muscular, with scars over his body that highlight the wars he’s been in. He looks like a man who fights for a living, which is most of the battle. He looks a tad unassuming out of the ring, and that marks him down a bit, but overall he looks like a fighter.
Promo: 0. It’s kind of hard to cut promos when you don’t speak the language.
Total Score: 16. Sadly for Tanaka his lack of promo ability really cuts down his overall score, even though his in ring ability is superb.
In Ring: 8. Storm not only is a good technical wrestler but he can also do some high flying if required and even had some fun hardcore battles with Tommy Dreamer as well. He’s a solid worker who can pretty much have a match with anyone, but you also feel like there’s a higher gear that he could possibly kick into as well.
Look: 7. Storm is in great shape, has decent enough height and looks like a top level athlete (probably because he is). He’s notably never done steroids, which makes his body look even more impressive when you consider he did it all clean, and he’s not a bad looking dude either (Even though my friend always referred to him as having a facial expression that made him look like “a turkey waiting to be stuffed”). Overall the only thing kind of lacking for Storm is that he doesn’t look especially mean or imposing. He looks like a great athlete who could out wrestle you, which is perfectly fine, but he doesn’t really instil fear in you either which, considering some of the insane guys he has to wrestle in this wacky company, kind of works against him somewhat.
Promo: 7. Storm is competent on the mic and can deliver promos to a decent stand, with his “Calgary *Dramatic Pause* Alberta, Canada” being one of the better go home lines in the company. Storm lacks charisma to a certain degree, but he’s a steady promo who can get points across well. Having Dawn Marie alongside him definitely helps on this front, as they play off each other well and it’s a great act.
Total Score: 22. Storm scores well in all categories and is a good all-rounder, which is usually what you need to be in competitions like this.
In Ring: 7. Years of working in the WWF as enhancement talent have helped Credible become a solid worker, as he can sell and also structure a match reasonably well. What hurts him is that he doesn’t really have the pizzazz of other workers in the company, with his in ring style lacking that something special to really make him stand out. His standing Tornado DDT and Beat Down Buckle Bomb moves look kind of sloppy a lot of the time, although they’re cool moves in theory, but his twisting Tombstone Piledriver looks good and is a solid finisher. Credible is solid enough in the ring and can work with basically anyone, but he doesn’t often “wow” unless he’s in there with a super worker like Jerry Lynn.
Look: 6. There’s just something about Credible’s look that doesn’t feel authentic, with the John Cena like jean-shorts and surly demeanour making it really feel like he’s playing a character. He’s not in bad shape or anything like that and he’s clearly athletic if you watch him wrestle, but he just doesn’t really seem to exude the kind of charisma that his character requires him to do, so his look feels phony.
Promo: 6. Credible’s promos feel like watching someone do a Triple H impression, as he tries to do all the dramatic delivery but it just doesn’t sound right. He gets his point across and he’s not terrible, but once again it just doesn’t feel that authentic.
Total Score: 19. Justin Credible is a solid enough performer, but he just feels like a guy who has been shoehorned into playing a particular part that isn’t right for him. He can wrestle and he’s not in bad shape either, but there’s just something about his overall package that doesn’t click for me.
Raven (ECW Tag Team Champion)
In Ring: 2. I don’t think Raven has done a match any longer than two minutes since he came back to ECW, mostly owing to him just not being in the shape to do so. This score than definitely improve if we come back to it, but as of September 1999, Raven is a shell of his former self.
Look: 8. Raven has always had an interesting look, and that hasn’t changed upon his return to ECW. There’s no doubt that the man oozes star appeal, even if some of the muscle definition from a couple of years ago has faded a little. He can still be Raven, of that there’s no doubt, and Raven has always been an interesting guy to gawp at, if nothing else.
Promo: 8. We’ve yet to have some proper prime Raven promos yet since he’s returned, with really only the promo package from the TNN Show to go off, but Raven still seems to have the goods in this department. Hopefully we can get some more promos from him in time and he can get even higher in this category.
Total Score: 18. Raven’s physical limitations hinder him from what might have been an easy win, as does his lack of time in front of a microphone. As it is he’s got something to build on should he start finding his way in the ring again.
Tommy Dreamer (ECW Tag Team Champion)
In Ring: 3. Like his partner Raven, Dreamer’s physical issues have reduced him to barely getting by, as it looks increasingly like he just shouldn’t be wrestling. Without his litany of injuries, Dreamer would score much higher in this category, as his selling and storytelling in the ring when healthy are generally good, but right now he’s struggling and it’s hard to watch.
Look: 5. Being so banged up hasn’t helped Dreamer in this category, as he’s moving terribly and doesn’t really look in shape at all. Facially he’s not a bad looking guy in the least, but his body is riddled with injuries and it’s showing.
Promo: 8. Tommy Dreamer is a darn good babyface in the mic, as he’s able to convey emotion, get a story over and always keep the live crowd on side. People listen to him and care about what he has to say and his delivery feels genuine and authentic.
Total Score: 16. Like Raven, Dreamer’s physical condition hurts him big time here, but if he can somehow get over that hump then his score could improve in time.
In Ring: 0. The next wrestling move New Jack does will be his first.
Look: 8. New Jack looks like a scary man who will cut you, which isn’t surprising as he’s a scary man who will happily cut you if you make him angry. He looks exactly how he needs to look for his “Original Gangsta” gimmick to work.
Promo: 10. Say what you want about New Jack, but then man knows his way around a promo segment. Once again, everything New Jack says and the way he delivers is perfect for his character, probably because playing such a character isn’t much of a stretch for him considering he has something like six justifiable homicides to his name.
Total Score: 18. New Jack is a great character but not much of a wrestler (Although a guy with his gimmick kind of doesn’t need to be a good wrestler. That’s not really what he’s there for)
I’ll omit Taz, because he’s basically done in ECW barring a few more shots.
In Ring: 6. Sabu isn’t close to the worker he once was, owing mostly to injuries like a lot of the other wrestlers in ECW. He can still elicit a reaction during his matches and can still on occasion hit the flashy moves that made him a star in the first place, but his wrestling style is spotty at best and most of the time is pretty sloppy. When he’s motivated and in there with the right opponent, he can still give you something, but aside from that he’s a shell of his former self.
Look: 8. Sabu’s collection of scars across his body make him look like a dangerous man who you do not want to trifle with. He can still carry himself as an unstable nutter who can lose it any moment and still very much looks the part for his gimmick.
Promo: 0. Sabu hardly ever speaks, if at all, so this kind of has to be 0 by default.
Total Score: 14. Sabu may not be what he once was in the ring but he still looks like a madman and can occasionally still wrestle like one too.
In Ring: 7. I think Bryan Alvarez once referred to Candido as “the world’s greatest wrestling robot”, and I kind of get what he means. There’s an almost overly mechanical way to how Candido approaches matches sometimes. Overall Candido is solid in the ring and knows what he’s doing, but his work just doesn’t have the “oomph” that others in ECW have. There’s just something missing with him.
Look: 6. Candido looks kind of ridiculous, almost like he’s been pumped full of air. His body looks completely unnatural and swollen, and it makes him look like he can barely move sometimes, let alone wrestle. His lack of height hurts him a bit as well, as he doesn’t have the sort of physique to compensate for it. He looks like a dude with small man syndrome who lifts weights to make himself feel better, not like a fighter who could beat someone up or out wrestle them.
Promo: 6. Candido can sometimes let the “talk in a high pitched voice really quickly like Scrappy Doo” overwhelm his promos, which is a shame because he isn’t too bad on the mic and can sometimes be pretty funny with it. Overall he’s not an especially strong promo, but he’s decent enough and can get storylines across.
Total Score: 19. Candido is a solid mid card player who can be entertaining if used in the right manner, but that’s about as high as he should be. His role of being “Lackey to the main eventer” that he had in the Triple Threat was a good one for him and he played it well.
So our overall winner is Lance Storm, with a total of 22 points to his name. Do you agree or disagree with any of my ratings? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments below. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but I hope this has added something a bit more interesting onto what would have been a rather by the numbers write up.