Happy Extreme Saturday Everyone!
Back with some classic ECW today with the Double Tables show from 1995, Main Evented by The Public Enemy taking on Taz and Sabu. We’ve also got Chris Benoit Vs Al Snow on the under card, which should be fun.
The card can be viewed below;
The event is emanating from The Arena in Philly on the 4th of February 1995
Calling the action is Joey Styles
Joey Styles does the show opening by welcoming Jason Knight down to ringside for a promo, where Knight introduces The Pitbulls and declares them to be the next ECW World Tag Champs. He also introduces Jason The Terrible as his new client. This was a by-the-numbers promo from Jason that showed why he never really made it out of ECW. He was fine at this level, especially as he could wrestle a bit and thus you could payoff angles by having the babyfaces beat him up, but he wasn’t the calibre of manager that would make it in WCW or the WWF.
Jason The Terrible and The Pitbulls (#1 and #2) w/ Jason Knight Vs Hack Myers and The Young Dragons (#1 and #2)
Jason is a Puerto Rican wrestler who is dressed up like the killer from the Friday The 13th movies(or the protagonist from the Splatthouse games if you prefer) and often wrestled in hardcore Japanese companies like FMW, Big Japan and W*ING. Myers is a burly brawler who is mostly known for fans chanting “Shah” when he hits people. The Young Dragons are Paul Lauria and Mikey Whipwreck doing double duty according to CageMatch, but then one of them gets unmasked and it’s clearly neither of them so I’m not sure CageMatch has that correct.
This one is pretty rough, with Pitbull #2 almost killing one of the Dragons early doors by delivering a botched vertical suplex. Myers comes in with his punches in order to give the fans something to chant, but this one is mostly a showcase for Jason’s team and he gets cut off soon after. Jason’s offence is pretty basic, mostly being things like head butts, whilst The Pitbull’s alternate between doing some good power stuff and some clumsy sloppy spots.
The Young Dragons barely do anything, with it essentially coming down to the Heels working over Myers in a 3 on 1 setting until Jason gets an assisted big splash with the help of his partners for the three count to finally end the battering.
WINNERS: TEAM JASON
Jason and, err, Jason, join Joey Styles for some post-match promo time whilst Myers goes nuts in the ring and beats up his useless partners in order to get his heat back. There was a lot going on there but that was the norm in ECW and probably a good example of why it seemed so fresh and exciting in comparison to what the Big Two were doing at the time. Myers eventually sends The Pitbull’s packing with a chair and then beats up Jason the manager for good measure. That was a reasonably fun anarchic segment. Myers also beats up a woman in a wedding dress called Angel, which brings things down somewhat. I can handle some of the extreme violence from ECW but the rampant misogyny is the one thing I really struggle with and it lessens the enjoyment considerably.
Stevie Richards w/ Raven Vs Tommy Dreamer
Dreamer was still dressing like a wrestler at this stage, as he hadn’t embraced being fully hardcore yet. Both men quickly head to the floor, where Stevie hits him with a chair and then clubs away with forearms. Dreamer actually has his shirt taken off at one stage, and he doesn’t look too bad from a body standpoint. I think all the injuries he suffered led to him wrestling in a shirt more often as he was too banged up to stay in the shape he was here.
Dreamer fights back with a nice swinging neck breaker in the ring and we head outside following that, where Dreamer has the fans hold up chairs so that he can fling Stevie into them before adding some shots with a frying pan. The crowd seems to appreciate Dreamer using the weapons and getting a little hardcore. Stevie fights back, but Dreamer gets a nice swinging DDT to put a stop to that.
Raven comes into the ring and holds Dreamer so that Stevie can deliver a Stevie Kick. Stevie doesn’t go for a pin though and instead pulls Dreamer to his feet, which allows Dreamer to duck another Stevie Kick and punch Stevie right in his Big Stevie Cool’s before getting a roll up for the three count.
WINNER: TOMMY DREAMER
This was a decent match, with both men getting their fair share of offence in and Dreamer getting to look resourceful in the finish
Dreamer cuts an anti-WWF promo following the match in order to get a cheap pop from the crowd whilst Joey insults the WWF commentators.
Paul Lauria w/ Jason Knight Vs Mikey Whipwreck
Lauria and Mikey used to be a tag team but Lauria has gone Heel and now the two are feuding. This match is really sloppy as both of these guys were still very green at this stage. It has very good energy though as they are both working very hard to have as good a match as they can and the crowd is pretty patient with them and react to the match with quite a bit of generosity, which was kind of out of character for the ECW Arena.
Lauria is nicknamed “The Giant”, even though he’s shorter than Mikey. Things get really rough at points in this one, and I’m kind of amazed they don’t get more of a negative reaction from the crowd. I think it’s because the crowd can tell that they’re trying really hard and they both take some big bumps in this one, including Mikey missing a body press to the floor and splatting on the concrete as a result, which leads to Lauria working some heat.
Jason does a decent job at ringside as Heel manager, suplexing Mikey through a table at one stage and then mugging for the camera afterwards. Mikey comes up bleeding from the mouth at one stage, which might have happened when Jason attacked him or when Lauria bonked him in the face with a chair at one stage. It might also be fake blood of course and Mikey just chowed down on a condom that had some red liquid in it.
Mikey manages to fight back, getting a bulldog off the top rope but Jason breaks up the count at two by pulling Mikey out of the ring. Mikey clocks Jason with a punch following that, before heading back into the ring to pin Lauria with a backslide to a pretty big pop from the crowd.
WINNER: MIKEY WHIPWRECK
I’m honestly amazed at how generous the crowd was for that one as the match was sloppy as all heck for the vast majority. I guess they just really liked Mikey and were happy he won? It’s not like that’s uncommon, it’s just weird to think of the too cool for school ECW Arena crowd reacting like that instead of slamming a so-so match. The lads were working really hard and it did pick up a bit in the closing stages. The clean finish was also appreciated
Ian Rotten Vs Axl Rotten
Ian and Axl used to team, but they had to break up after losing to The Pitbull’s and now they’re feuding. This one is a brawl right from the off, as Axl clobbers Ian with some chairs to bust him open and then drags him into the bleachers in order to continue the beat down. It’s a violent and bloody match, with Axl controlling most of it both outside and inside of the ring, with Ian bleeding a gusher and Axl digging the ring bell into his shoulder at one stage.
I’m thinking Axl is supposed to be the babyface, but Ian is also kind of brave in the way he survives all the blood loss and keeps fighting, so maybe neither one is really the Heel and they’re both just angry dudes doing violent stuff that we’re supposed to like? As I type that though, Ian starts begging off in the ring, which is a clear Heel tactic, especially in ECW. Axl keeps punching away but this allows Ian to get a double leg and rope assisted pin for the three count.
WINNER: IAN ROTTEN
This was part brawl/part storyline advancement, and it worked well in that capacity as they got across the hatred between the two and also gave Ian a win whilst continuing the feud.
The fights picks up again following the match, with Axl getting the better of it
Chris Benoit Vs Al Snow
Benoit was coming off breaking Sabu’s neck back in November, whilst Al Snow was one of the hottest properties on the independent scene and thus his coming to ECW was considered a pretty big deal. This one has some excellent technical wrestling in it and the crowd responds well to it as well, which wasn’t always guaranteed with ECW crowds as they sometimes preferred to see blokes leather one another with weapons above seeing some nice crisp holds and counter holds.
Joey does a really good job calling it as well, giving it more of the feeling of a contest in a way that only really Jim Ross was capable of doing in the other two American companies at the time. Eric Bischoff would have been completely lost calling this and Vince McMahon would have probably struggled as well just because he’s more of a characters and storylines guy and this one is more about whom the better actual wrestler is and that wasn’t really Vince’s forte as a commentator.
Benoit of course throws some stiff chops at one stage, but that only serves to fire Snow (oxymoron unintended) up and he gets a nice springboard dropkick to a big pop from the crowd. Seeing the crowd be so into this has warmed my heart actually, as they’ve been into a lot of the action so far tonight and it’s really added to the show. Benoit and Show have some really good chemistry together as well, as a lot of the wrestling between them has been seamless.
Snow eventually misses another dropkick, this time off the top turnbuckle, and that allows Benoit to cut Snow off and work some heat. Benoit actually shows some good Heel personality during the match, which was something he was often accused of not having. Benoit was a better character and promo than he got credit for a lot of the time; it’s just that there were a lot of bombastic people in wrestling during his Era and it often made him look bland by comparison.
Snow sells the Benoit beat down really well, getting the odd attempted attack in to show that he’s not totally out of the fight yet, which is always an important touch when you’re a babyface on the defensive like this. Snow eventually manages to catch Benoit with a wheelbarrow suplex for a double down and then gets a big release German Suplex before making the comeback. Benoit bumps and feeds for that great, with Snow getting some great suplexes for near falls. Benoit survives those pin attempts though and manages to get a nice looking Dragon Suplex for the three count.
WINNER: CHRIS BENOIT
This was sensational, with some great wrestling and some solid character work from Benoit, with the responsive crowd making it all the better.
Benoit lays out Snow with a powerbomb post-match and Snow has to be helped to the back, thus continuing Benoit’s streak of crippling people in storyline.
ECW World Title
Champ: Shane Douglas Vs Tully Blanchard
These two had competed in a universally panned match together that the ECW Arena crowd turned on viciously, but I think this is a different one to that. Tully controls things in the early going, with his offence looking decent, and Douglas does a good job bumping for and selling it all. It’s a decent match all in all, although you can’t help but feel that the two might have been miscast a bit here, as Tully is supposed to be a babyface and Douglas is supposed to be a Heel.
Douglas eventually takes the fight to the floor, where he finally gets some offence in, but Tully soon regains control and continues his elongated babyface shine. Tully does a decent job selling and bumping for Douglas when it’s time for him to be on the defensive, but it’s just hard to feel sympathy for Tully when he spent so much of his career playing a devious Heel who you wanted to see get his block knocked off.
The crowd boos at one stage when Douglas gets a near fall, as I think they want Douglas to win even though he’s supposed to be the Heel here and were annoyed Tully kicked out. The fight spills to the floor again, with Tully flinging Douglas into the front row and then grinding the sole of his boot into Douglas’ face for good measure. Both men have done a good job here of getting across the idea that they don’t like one another, with the match having some good intensity, from Tully especially.
Douglas ends up winning but it’s presented as a mixture of a fluke and a case of Douglas being resourceful, as Tully tries to suplex Douglas back into the ring at one stage and Douglas shifts his weight a bit to land on top and pick up the flash three count. That finish might have benefitted from Douglas clearly doing something a bit nefarious like grabbing the ropes whilst coming in rather than just having Tully “botch” the move and then be unable to kick out from it, which is how it came across for the most part the way they did it.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: SHANE DOUGLAS
This was a decent outing, as they went about 10 minutes and mostly had a match where Tully dominated and Douglas sold. Tully was much better as a Heel than a babyface, but this was still a fun outing for the most part. Douglas kind of worked like a Flair styled World Champ here actually, which is ironic considering he was wrestling a former Flair ally in Tully and also because he famously hates Flair so much
Texas Death Match
The Sandman w/ Woman Vs Cactus Jack
These two were natural opponents, with the rules being here that you have to get a three count and then your opponent has ten seconds to get back to their feet to remain in the contest. This one is probably best known for Sandman getting legitimately knocked out at one stage, meaning that he doesn’t know where he is and thus keeps getting up even though he’s supposed to be staying down. It makes the match both exceedingly worrying to watch but also strangely engrossing because it starts straying into the realm of farce after a certain point.
Up until Sandman getting sent to dream street though (no pun intended), this is a good intense brawl between two guys who know how to work that style and had credibility with the ECW audience for doing so. They have some decent psychology in it at a certain point as well, as Cactus misses a leg drop on the floor and comes up selling the appendage, leading to Sandman and Woman working it over. Cactus does a good job selling that and Sandman is decent on offence for most part.
Things do start unravelling once Sandman gets knocked out though, and they probably wouldn’t let the match keep going if this happened today because he’s clearly on another planet and Cactus gets increasingly frustrated that Sandman keeps getting up. Sandman even keeps sitting up like The Undertaker at one stage, which causes Joey to make some cheap comments at Taker’s expense on commentary. Cactus eventually gets a slew of DDT’s on the floor on Sandman and Sandman mercifully stays down, and hopefully got taken straight to a hospital.
WINNER: CACTUS JACK
I can’t really rate that because it stopped being a match after a certain point and really should have been stopped. It had that car crash appeal where I just couldn’t take my eyes off it though, so I’ll give it that, but seeing a clearly knocked out Sandman keep wrestling and take some brutal shots to the head and neck was not pleasant viewing
Double Tables for the ECW World Tag Team Titles
Champs: The Public Enemy (Flyboy Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge) Vs The Tazmaniac and Sabu w/ Paul E. Dangerously and 911
TPE had held the belts a few times at this stage, and had been one of the first acts that Paul Heyman had featured since taking over control of booking in September 1993. Their big spot was putting people through tables, so we’ve got a match here where you have to put both of your opponents through tables in order to win the belts.
They don’t even bother with doing tags here and quickly pick up the brawl, with all four wrestlers fighting all over the building. It’s possibly one brawl too many on a show with quite a few of them, but it’s still entertaining due to all four working hard and the match having good energy. You can’t really do near falls as such in a match like this, but there are some good teases of people going through the tables.
Grunge lays Taz on a table at one stage but he stops to taunt on the top rope and that allows Taz to slam him down through the table. However, because Taz went through it with him as well, it’s counted as both men getting tabled, meaning that the next one of Rock or Sabu to go through a table loses. Rocco Rock does put Sabu through a table, but the referee misses it, allowing Sabu to then put Rock through a table outside the ring for the victory. The finish gives TPE a reason for a rematch though.
WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: TAZ & SABU
Dave Meltzer gave this one ****+ at the time, possibly because ECW was the new hotness and there hadn’t really been a stipulation like this before. I didn’t think it was that good, but it was still a fun wild brawl with some good table teases. I didn’t mind the finish either, as it left the door open for more matches as TPE could claim they were the rightful winners
Chris Benoit attacks Sabu post-match and then powerbombs Sabu through a table whilst Rocco Rock is lying on it, thus hurting them both and setting the table for a three way feud between TPE, Sabu/Taz and Benoit/Dean Malenko.
Benoit Vs Snow is good enough to pretty much automatically make this one a thumbs up all by itself, but the rest of the show is mostly enjoyable as well, with some decent wrestling and some solid story telling spread out across the event. 1995 was a good year for ECW in general, with quite a few of the shows being good, and Double Tables was another event that hit the spot.
Just beware the Sandman/Cactus match if you’re squeamish.