Happy Extreme Saturday Everyone!
I decided to dip back into my ECW collection this week, seeing as I haven’t watched this one in a while and it was ECW’s last big Arena show before their March 1998 pay per view Living Dangerously (Which I’ve reviewed on here before).
The Main Event is Rob Van Dam and Sabu taking on Bam Bam Bigelow and Shane Douglas, which could be fun if all the moving pieces fall into place correctly. No guarantee of that though. On the under card we’ve got continuation of the Credible/Dreamer and Candido/Storm feuds, along with Taz taking on Brakus from the WWF.
This event is emanating from The Arena in Philly on the 21st of February 1998
Calling the action is Joey Styles
We open with a 10 bell salute for Louie Spicolli as he had recently passed away and had worked quite a bit for ECW over the previous couple of years. Hat Guy even takes his hat off for it.
Danny Doring w/ Roadkill Vs Jerry Lynn
Doring already has “Super Bon Bon” by Soul Coughing as his entrance theme here, whilst Jerry Lynn has already started using “Scapegoat” by Fear Factory, which remains one of the best entrance themes in ECW history in my own humble opinion.
This is a decent opening match, with Lynn holding things together well and Doring getting a healthy amount of offence in. Doring was still quite new at this stage in his career, but he works well as a cocky Heel and is mechanically solid, so Lynn has something to work with and the action on display is good. Roadkill gets involved at certain points as well, so he’s not just out there taking up space.
Lynn gets an extended babyface shine to start us out, with Doring bumping all over for him, but eventually Lynn misses a head butt off the second rope and that allows Doring to take over, with Roadkill getting in the occasional cheap shot for good measure. Lynn sells the heat segment well of course, and then sends the Heels into the front row following some miscommunication before following them with a running dive off a table onto them. That looked fantastic.
Lynn gets yet another dive out onto the Heels, this time from the top rope to the floor, and that gets him a chant of “Jerry” from the crowd. Lynn gets a sit out powerbomb (his finisher at the time) but it only gets him a two, leading to Doring playing possum to distract the ref so that Roadkill can come in with a big elbow drop off the top rope. The ref not noticing that was going on stretched the boundaries of credibility just a bit.
Doring stupidly makes a cocky cover off that though and that allows Lynn to kick out at two, which protects Roadkill’s big move at least. Lynn keeps coming though and gets a sunset flip powerbomb off the top rope when Doring tries for a superplex to pick up the three count.
WINNER: JERRY LYNN
Solid opening match with the occasional silly moment
Lynn makes sure not to stick around for Roadkill to get some vengeance following that.
Tracy Smothers w/ Little Guido and Tommy Rich Vs Al Snow w/ Head
Would this be a Smokey Mountain Wrestling reunion between these two? I know they both worked SMW during their careers but did they ever work it at the same time? Snow already has his rave inspired entrance here, complete with the crowd having Styrofoam heads that they promptly fling into the ring whilst the Heels stooge around for them in a funny bit. This entrance was of course incredible for the time and was another example of ECW tapping into the sorts of things that the other two companies weren’t really doing at the time.
The match can’t remotely hold up to the entrance that preceded it of course, even though Smothers and Snow are both good workers. The crowd sees it more as chance to just have a party, so both men spend most of the match stalling and doing character work. The ring gets covered in smoke at one stage, possibly as a side effect of Snow’s entrance, which just adds to the overall wacky feeling that this match has had thus far. I half expect Pyramid Head to run out of the fog to do a run-in or something.
Rich and Guido both get involved at points, allowing Smothers to eventually cut Snow off and work some heat. The crowd sticks with Snow during this and he takes some nice bumps for Smothers, including tumbling over the railing into the front row off an Irish Whip. This has been a pretty basic match, but it’s had some tremendous crowd reactions for the most part, which is a testament to just how over this bizarre gimmick was in ECW. It was even pretty over in the WWF as well.
Snow tries to make the occasional comeback but one of Smothers’ seconds always gets involved again to put a stop to it. The work in this has been fine in this, but I think they’ve probably gone for too long and the match has started to drag a bit as a result. No offence to Smothers, but ECW was looking at putting Snow in the World Title picture at Living Dangerously, so him taking this long to defeat one half of a lower card comedy tag team like this was probably not the best of ideas.
Snow does eventually make the comeback, getting a big Moonsault onto all three members of The FBI, only for Rich to lead him into a Smothers cheap shot. The referee ends up taking a bump following that, leading to all three Heels putting the boots to snow. Heel ref Jeff Jones joins us and is happy to let that go on, due to being a corrupt jerk. All four Heels stop to mug for the camera though, which allows Snow to take them all out with Head. Rich even does a blade job following that, which I think is the only time someone has bladed from a mannequin head. With all the Heels taken out, Snow heads up top (no pun intended) and drives the Head right into Smothers’ spicy meatballs for the three count.
WINNER: AL SNOW
This was WAY overbooked for a Tracy Smothers Vs Al Snow match second on the card. The crowd mostly liked it, but it really dragged for me after a certain point and the ending sequence was just ridiculous
Snow celebrates in the crowd following that whilst the Heels continue to trip over all of the heads inside the ring.
Doug Furnas w/ Lance Wright Vs Chris Chetti
Wright was playing the role of Vince McMahon’s personal errand boy here, although the WWF Vs ECW feud had long since run out of steam by this stage. Furnas does at least come out to “Sad But True” here, which is awesome entrance music. Chetti has the gimmick of “Extreme Rookie” at this stage, which always seemed kind of out of place in a company like ECW and his Ricky Martin inspired gimmick in 99 suited him and ECW much better.
Styles does an excellent job putting Furnas over on commentary, listing his achievements and stating how just being in the ring with a guy like this will be a good learning experience for Chetti regardless of the result. This is a lot like an established guy against a Young Lion in Japan actually, with Furnas taking most of the match but Chetti being game and attempting to fight back whenever an opportunity presents itself.
Furnas’ offence looks decent and Chetti does a good job selling and bumping for it, with Furnas working through a lot of big suplexes and whatnot and Chetti gamely fighting back. Furnas gets a Franken-Steiner at one stage and that looks to be all, but Chetti actually kicks out at two and ends up catching Furnas with a DDT before following up with a Moonsault for the surprise three count.
WINNER: CHRIS CHETTI
They didn’t get a lot of time here but the match was fine for what it was
Chetti’s win doesn’t get an especially big pop despite it being an upset. Wright chastises Furnas following the match, but Furnas defies him and shakes Chetti’s hand.
Joey Styles is in the ring for the Hardcore TV opening. He hypes up the Main Event of Living Dangerously, which will be Chris Candido and Shane Douglas Vs Lance Storm and a Mystery Partner. This leads to Douglas, Candido, Bam Bam Bigelow, Francine and Tammy Sytch joining us for some promo time. Douglas hypes up the Triple Threat faction whilst the fans chant obscene things at Francine. Douglas wants an answer as to who Storm will be teaming with, which leads to Tammy saying she knows who the partner. She refuses to tell Douglas and Candido though, saying that Candido can’t handle her secrets (Oh boy was she right about that one). This leads to Tammy slapping Candido and then getting into an attempted CAT FIGHT with Francine that gets broken up. The tease of Francine and Tammy fighting got the biggest crowd reaction of the entire segment. This was fine as a pay per view hype segment.
ECW Tag Team Champion Chris Candido Vs ECW Tag Team Champion Lance Storm
This was one of Paul Heyman’s favourite booking tropes, as Candido and Storm were enemies but also ended up winning the Tag Team Titles despite this and somehow managed to keep retaining the belts. They start this one hot, with Storm diving out onto Candido in the crowd, taking out the original sign guy in the process (the bloke who pissed off Mick Foley with the “Cane Dewey” sign).
Candido gives Storm a hot shot into the turnbuckle back inside though (although Storm almost didn’t make it) and that leads to Candido working some heat. Storm sells that well and Candido delivers some nice offence. This is the best match on the show thus far, with it having a built up story coming into it and both men working well together.
Storm looks great here, with his offence being on point and the crowd getting into his flashier moves when he makes a comeback (including a fantastic dropkick). They don’t go near fall crazy towards the end, with them keeping it to a couple of big moves, including a rana off the top from Candido. When Candido tries a superplex however Storm is able to fight Candido off and bring him down with his own Blond Bombshell Powerbomb move for three and a big pop.
WINNER: LANCE STORM
Good match there, as was usually the case between these two
Joey Styles pushes that Candido will be furious that Storm defeated him with the move Candido named after Tammy.
ECW World Television Title
Champ: Taz Vs Brakus w/ Droz, Doug Furnas and Lance Wright
Brakus was a big dude from Europe that got signed to the WWF thanks to his impressive physique but he never really got anywhere there. I think his only televised WWF appearance was in the Brawl 4 All. He did work the Mayhem in Manchester UK show in March 1998, and made it onto the video release in highlight form for his match with Jeff Jarrett. The WWF and ECW were working together at the time, meaning that the WWF would sometimes send guys over in order to get more experience. I can only imagine the telephone conversation between Vince McMahon and Paul Heyman;
“Hey Vince, any chance we can trade talent?”
“Sure thing Paul, I have just the guy for you”
“Oh great, I think our fans would love it if we could get some of your top guys in…”
“Yeah yeah yeah, whatever. I’m going to send you a bonafide megastar. The FUTURE of the WWF”
“You’re letting us have The Rock?!?!”
“That….isn’t remotely what you described to me”
“Ho ho ho, sorry Pal, I’ve got to go eat my steak wrap so we’ll finish this talk later. Brakus is already on his way though so I hope you have something good for him to do. Maybe have him fight that Tazmania guy”
“You want me to book Brakus against Taz?”
“That’s the one! He’ll make Brakus look like a Giant. Like ANDRE THE GIANT!!”
Brakus can do a powerbomb and not much else, so he gets a couple of those and then tries to put Taz through a table in the corner. Taz fights that off though and suplexes Brakus through his own table (I wonder what hurt more, the suplex or the irony?) and then adds a German Suplex for good measure before locking in the Tazmission for the clean win.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: TAZ
Too short to rate, with it bordering on being a squash at points. Taz got a good pop for his win at least
Taz yells into the camera to hype his match with Bam Bam Bigelow at Living Dangerously.
Justin Credible w/ Jason and Nicole Bass Vs Tommy Dreamer w/ Beulah
Credible interrupted a ten bell salute for Dreamer’s grandfather to set this one up and they’d wrestle again at Living Dangerously. Credible still had the Prong version of “Snap Your Finger, Snap Your Neck” at this stage, and I must say that it’s probably my favourite version of the song these days. Dreamer clobbers Credible to start, with Credible bumping all over the place to make him look good. We of course get some brawling outside the ring, as Dreamer hits Credible with all the plunder he can find in an effort to open him open up.
Jason eventually distracts Dreamer and that allows Credible to cut Dreamer off and work some heat. Dreamer gets thrown face first into a chair a few times, but he doesn’t come up bleeding from it. Dreamer does a good job selling all of Credible’s offence, with Credible looking good as well. This has been a decent match overall to be honest, with it having the feel of a heated match between two guys who really don’t like one another.
Jason and Beulah look to go at it, with Jason hiding behind Bass in a funny bit of Heel cowardice, which leads to Beulah hitting the ref with a road sign for some reason. Dreamer of course busts out the Spicolli Driver, and he would keep it as a regular part of his move set going forward. Some barbed wire gets introduced to proceedings, with Dreamer wrapping it around himself before heading to the top rope for a splash. That spot didn’t make a lot of sense but it got across how much Dreamer hates Credible at least.
Dreamer gets a metal bin next, but Rob Van Dam runs in to kick the bin into Dreamer’s face (they had also been feuding at the time). RVD rakes at Dreamer’s face with the barbed wire, which is enough to draw blood, although Credible also gets to hit Dreamer with the bin as well so he can claim it was the bin shot that did it rather than just RVD’s wire antics. Beulah isn’t happy about this and comes in to yell at Credible, earning herself a Tombstone Piledriver from Credible. Dreamer goes after Credible following that, but another referee runs in and sees the blood.
WINNER: JUSTIN CREDIBLE
Credible didn’t gain a lot from the screwy finish, but they did at least leave it a little ambiguous as to who actually busted Dreamer open so that Credible could claim responsibility. The match up to the silliness at the end was actually a good heated brawl, with Dreamer showing off some good intensity and Credible being an excellent bump machine for him
Credible gets dragged to safety by Bass whilst Dreamer gets his heat back by battering Jason with the metal bin and barbed wire. Jason blades from that, and he made sure to wear a white shirt to extenuate it.
Nine Man Triangle Team Match
The Dudley Boyz (D-Von, Buh-Buh Ray and Big Dick) w/ Joel Gertner and Sign Guy Vs The Sandman, Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten Vs New Jack, Kronus and Little Spike Dudley
Joel Gertner gets in a funny line about how The Dudleyz have just returned from the winter Olympics in Nagano, where they won gold in the Ice Wrestling competition. He also says that D-Von is “getting jiggy with it before your very eyes”, which caused me to exclaim all by myself in my gaff. The collective ring introductions and entrances eat up about 15 minutes here, although with Sandman that was the best part of his act so you can understand them dedicating some time to it.
New Jack, Kronus and Spike are fashionably late, another trope Paul Heyman liked to indulge in, leaving the other two teams to brawl, and its decent action. No pure wrestling awards are going to be handed out, but it’s entertaining enough to see six crazy dudes clobber one another both inside and outside the ring. Buh-Buh teases diving off the stage, which is finally the cue for New Jack to show up behind him. New Jack takes out Buh-Buh and then steals his dive spot, putting Balls through a table with a splash. That was very slickly done I must say.
It’s interesting seeing Spike work spots with Sandman, as I don’t think I’ve ever seen them wrestle one another before. Lots of claret is soon flowing, as you would expect. There’s lots of anarchic wild action going on with nine guys all in there, so the match is never boring at least, but I could see some not enjoying it if blood and brawls aren’t their personal jam. Eventually Axl Rotten gets the Saving Grace on Spike to eliminate his team, deflating the crowd in the process as it means the music stops as well. I never got why they’d do that in one of these matches. It’s not like the result matters anyway, just let New Jack’s wacky team win to pop the crowd. Sandman quickly pins Buh-Buh with a Stun Gun onto a chair soon after for the somewhat anticlimactic final elimination.
WINNERS: SANDMAN, BALLS & AXL
RATING: NEW JACK MATCH
You know what you’re getting in one of these, so whether you’ll enjoy it or not will be based on your personal tolerance for this style of wrestling. I personally got a kick out of it, but I would have put New Jack’s team over if it were up to me
Team Sandman celebrates following that, with Balls and Axl both bleeding like stuck pigs.
Shane Douglas and Bam Bam Bigelow w/ Francine Vs Rob Van Dam and Sabu w/ Bill Alfonso
Sabu didn’t have Huka Blues yet and was still using “Little Crazy” by Fight as entrance music. Honestly I like that as entrance music but I don’t think it really suits Sabu if that makes sense? His more Arabian sounding Huka Blues theme suited him more I feel. Everyone in this one is a Heel, but I guess Sabu and RVD are ever so slightly less heelish so they will be the de facto babyfaces tonight?
There’s some serious echo on the in-ring action here for whatever reason. Douglas and RVD do a reasonable bit of technical wrestling with one another, although Douglas does struggle to keep up a bit at points. RVD is the best guy in the match really, with his stuff having a nice snap to it and the crowd being into his act. Sabu doesn’t look that great, whilst Douglas is mostly fine and does a good job selling for RVD and Sabu’s offence.
It’s a pretty flat atmosphere for what is supposed to be the Main Event, which makes me think they probably should have switched this and the Semi-Main around. Bammer doesn’t even officially tag in for ages, with RVD and Sabu either doing an elongated shine or a straight up heat segment depending on how you want to view it. Bigelow does eventually get tagged in and looks good, with some nice power moves that RVD bumps and feeds for really well.
Bigelow and RVD actually had a really good match around this time (April 1998 I think) and they show some decent chemistry here when they work spots together. The match just kind of meanders following that, with both teams having chances to control things and the crowd continuing to not really care. Things do eventually break down into more of a brawl, with RVD and Sabu working over Douglas in the ring whilst Bigelow keeps trying to get back in to help his partner.
It’s pretty sloppy and the crowd continues to not really care. There are some difficulties with a table, as Bigelow tries to break it twice but it isn’t having any of it, as this match is really starting to go off the rails now. I could post the “I AM THE TABLE” thing, but Maffew’s legal team have told me that if I do that anymore then I’ll be sued so hard that I’ll be lucky to afford a single bottle of Newcastle Brown once they’re through with me, so I’ll refrain for the time being.
Bigelow decides that someone is going through a table tonight, and it ends up being himself when Sabu gives him a modified bulldog through one for two. That spot did wake the crowd up a bit at least. Douglas takes a Van Daminator following that, but he kicks out as well. Another table gets involved, but this one is the opposite of the previous one and collapses under Douglas’ weight, drawing boos in the process, so another sturdier table needs to be introduced instead.
Douglas gets driven through that one in the corner, but Bigelow breaks up the pin fall attempt, leading us into both teams getting some near falls. Bammer goes after Fonzie and then catches RVD with Greetings From Asbury Park OUTTA NOWHERE to pick up the three count.
WINNERS: DOUGLAS & BIGELOW
This fell apart once it hit the half way mark and they never got it back
Bigelow helps a beaten down Douglas to the back following that. RVD would end up getting revenge on Bigelow in that match in April, but he argues with Sabu following the match for now. It looks like RVD and Sabu might even go at it, but they eventually decide against it.
Scott Keith HATED this show when he reviewed it back in the day, but I didn’t think it was too bad outside of a couple of notable matches. There was some decent stuff on here and it worked well enough as a go-home show for Living Dangerously. I don’t think you need to go out of your way to see it, but there is some good wrestling on here mixed in with a couple of decent wild brawls, and the general madhouse vibe that made ECW entertaining is on display as well, especially with stuff like Snow’s wacky gimmick and entrance.
Not a recommended show, but it’s not horrible or anything either.