Happy Extreme Saturday Everyone!
I’ve never watched CyberSlam 1997 before, but it’s on WWE Network/Peacock, so I decided to give it a viewing seeing as it takes place in that interesting period between Mass Transit and Barley Legal, where the whole company was based around the desperate pursuit of making it onto pay per view in the hope that it would finally allow them to kick on.
You can view the card by clicking below;
The event is emanating from The Arena in Philly on the 22nd of February 1997
Calling the action is Joey Styles
Tables and Ladders Bout for the ECW World Tag Team Titles
Champs: The Eliminators (Saturn and Kronus) Vs Rob Van Dam and Sabu
Heck of a star-studded opener! This one came about due to both teams having some unsatisfying finishes, so this match was put together where Tables and Ladders are legal and can be used. It’s still pin fall or submission, but the weapons are in handy reaching distance in case you’d like to use them. These two teams usually had some high spot heavy bouts, so adding weapons into the equation will probably take that to another level.
Saturn cuts a pro-ECW promo before the match, seeing as this was the weekend before ECW “invaded” Raw at the Manhattan Centre. Interestingly I think they’d pretty much been Heels prior to that so I guess that was the official Face turn if it hadn’t happened already. Saturn demands that the losers shake the hands of the winners at the end of the bout, seeing as the winners will be the best Tag Team in the world and all.
They do some actual wrestling to start, which is clearly just going to be the calm before the storm, but I guess they couldn’t go straight to the fireworks factory if they’re expected to put some time in. The wrestling sections to start aren’t bad, but you can tell it isn’t really everyone’s forte aside perhaps from Saturn. They all can do it, but it’s not their strongest suite either. Saturn and RVD go first and then Kronus and Sabu get to do a bit. It’s nice to be reminded that Sabu could kind of wrestle when he wanted to at least.
Things do eventually breakdown into the inevitable brawl, with everyone fighting outside the ring and into the crowd before coming back to the ring for some ladder antics. It’s quite sloppy stuff, but it’s also reasonably entertaining and the crowd seems to enjoy it, so it works for what they’re going for. They continue working tags interestingly, rather than just making it into a Tornado styled match, which seems kind of out of place when ladders and tables are getting involved in the match.
Some of the selling is really spotty as well, with guys recovering far quicker than they should be because it’s time for the next spot. The spots themselves are entertaining for the most part, but it’s at the expense of the psychology, which makes me think they should have just gone straight to a spot fest with all four wrestlers going at it rather than actually trying to keep the tag rules in place.
Sabu gets a spectacular dive out onto Saturn at one stage, but Saturn is back up and fighting him in the ring something like 30 seconds later, which is frankly ridiculous. RVD and Sabu could have easily thrown Kronus into the ring and worked over him for a bit whilst Saturn sold the dive for a bit and it would have made the move mean more whilst also creating some jeopardy as to whether the belts might change hands as Kronus would be having to go it alone.
There are a few moments where moves don’t quite go how they’d like, with RVD trying the Split-Legged Moonsault onto Saturn whilst Saturn is on a ladder perched on the top rope, but there isn’t enough room for RVD to complete the flip so he just kind of lands on Saturn and the two fall to the mat in a heap. It looks unpleasant enough that the fans still pop, but it clearly wasn’t how they planned it. Eventually RVD and Sabu have a brief miscommunication, leading to The Elims hitting RVD with TOTAL ELIMINATION twice in order to pick up the win.
WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: THE ELIMINATORS
Thoughts: This had some good moments, but it was quite messy overall and they couldn’t seem to decide on what they wanted it to be. It needed to be either a straight match or a wild spot fest, but they decided to try and bridge the two and it didn’t work
We get the post-match handshake from Sabu as promised, but RVD doesn’t want to partake in the showing of respect, leading to the challengers having one of their trademark arguments.
Joey Styles is in the ring and invites The Pit Bull’s (#1 and #2) down to the ring for some promo time. They had been feuding with Shane Douglas at the time, so it’s not shock that he is the target of their ire in this promo segment. #1 had his neck injured by Douglas, but he says that his neck is healed up and he’s ready to kick some Franchise derriere. #1 even goes to the extent of pushing the Shawn Michaels button in order to agitate Douglas’ onions, which brings Douglas out onto the stage area alongside Francine. Douglas challenges The Pit Bull’s to come up there and fight him, and they of course take him up on the obvious trap because they’re dumb babyfaces, leading to Chris Candido and Brian Lee ambushing The Pit Bull’s and laying them out.
Little Guido w/ Wildfire Tommy Rich Vs The Extreme Rookie Chris Chetti
Guido was still a mid-card comedy wrestler at this stage, whilst Chetti was playing a fresh faced youngster who had graduated from the ECW Wrestling School. Normally that would be death for someone in ECW, but Chetti was a relative of Taz and that meant the crowd were willing to show a little bit more patience towards him.
Rich cuts a promo before the match starts, revealing that he has dubious Italian lineage, meaning he’s now going to be part of The Full Blooded Italian faction. The joke of course being that no one in the group aside from Guido is actually Italian. Amazingly they got a heck of a lot of mileage out of this running gag. Rich does a good job riling up the crowd in his usual abrasive Heel manner and manages to translate some of that onto Guido ahead of the match.
They do a standard undercard match here, and its fine, if not especially exciting. Guido was a solid mechanic in the ring and Chetti was still green but had good athletic ability, so the actual wrestling is decent, but there’s not a lot of crowd interest outside of some of them jawing with Rich and occasionally booing Guido. Guido is happy to play the Heel at least, doing things like eye gouges and what-have-you in order to maintain control, with Rich helping out when he can with cheap shots.
Chetti does a good job selling Guido’s offence and gets the occasional move to show he’s still alive in the bout, but he spends most of the match on the defensive. Rich demands that Guido head all the way up to the top rope for a big move though and Guido misses, leading to Chetti getting a roll-up OUTTA NOWHERE for the upset three count, which the crowd actually responds quite well to.
WINNER: CHRIS CHETTI
Thoughts: This was a solid undercard bout and the crowd gave Chetti a good pop for his victory, showing that Guido did a good job as a Heel setting up the eventual result
The fans want Guido to beat up Rich following that, but Rich manages to talk him down and the two Italians live to fight another day.
Balls Mahoney Vs Big Stevie Cool w/ the Blue World Order
I believe Balls’ original gimmick was supposed to be that he was a sadistic gay biker who liked beating people up, hence why he’s wearing leather biking gear for his entrance here. However, they would soon change that to him just being a hardcore guy who liked to wear leather. Stevie was enjoying the best run of his career up to this point by doing an nWo spoof, which Joey gleefully pointed out later on that they couldn’t be sued for because it was a parody, which I bet just really wound up Eric Bischoff all the more.
They have a serviceable match here, although the crowd seems more interested in someone taking their top off elsewhere in the building. Neither wrestler really plays Heel so they’re just kind of doing stuff and trading the momentum. Stevie does some nice work on the arm of Balls actually, getting some arm drags and arm bars before going to the 10 punch in the corner and then giving Balls a stink face. This angers Balls and he gives Stevie a big clothesline before taking over.
Well, we’ve got our Heel in the match at least, as Balls is starting to jaw with the crowd a bit and is being way more aggressive than Stevie was when he had his period of control in the bout. I do have to say that Nutley, New Jersey is a great gimmick hometown for Balls, although apparently it’s the real hometown of Anthony Bowens, and Martha Stewart of all people. Balls eventually misses the New Jersey Jam and that gives Stevie a window to fight back, leading to him getting a Stunner (called as such by Joey).
Balls catches Stevie with a Blockbuster Slam though and then preps for the Razor’s Edge, complete with Scott Hall taunt, but Stevie slips out of it and catches Balls right in his Nestle Clusters and follows up with the Stevie Kick for the three count. I’m surprised that Joey didn’t clock on Balls going for The Edge there as he did all of the mannerisms and it totally made sense that he’d try to win with that considering Stevie’s gimmick.
WINNER: BIG STEVIE COOL
Thoughts: This one started a bit blandly but it ended up becoming a decent little match once Balls started taking a clearer Heel role and they built it well following that. I think I’m in the minority on that one though as most other reviewers tend to hate this match. What can I say, I didn’t hate it. I guess my taste is questionable!
A groupie tries to pull Stevie’s pants off following that but security escorts her away before the ECW Arena could be graced with Stevie’s meat and two veg.
Axl Rotten Vs Little Spike Dudley
The “Highway to Hell” cover theme they dub in for Spike is genuinely really good and is basically the real song without the lyrics, which makes me wonder why they feel comfortable using this but are so scared of keeping Jericho’s Evenflow knock-off theme on the WCW shows? I’m guessing Pearl Jam is more litigious than AC/DC are?
They start the fight for this one outside the ring, which leads to Spike being on the defensive early doors, as most of his gimmick was built around getting clobbered. Spike of course sells it all really well, with the crowd being more into Axl than him, perhaps because The Dudley Boyz had gone Heel recently and Spike was getting some hate for it as well even though he’d remained babyface?
Spike does eventually make a comeback, getting a nice rolling cannonball splash off the apron and then following that up with a big cross body block out onto the floor from the top rope. Spike Dudley was way more talented than he often gets credit for and he would have NEVER made it as far as he did in the wrestling business without that talent considering his size.
Spike gets another cross body inside the ring for a two count, but Axl catches him with a lariat on the way down when he tries it again and then goes for a bulldog. Spike counters that though and gets the Acid Drop to seemingly get the pin. Buh-Buh Ray and D-Von run down to cost Spike the match though and Axl follows up with The Dominator for the three count.
WINNER: AXL ROTTEN
Thoughts: This was too short to be rated any higher, but what we got was fine
Spike gets beaten up further by his half-brothers following that, with Axl helping out until Da Gangsta’s show up for some weapons based fun leading into the next match.
The Dudley Boyz (Buh-Buh Ray and D-Von) w/ Sign Guy Dudley Vs Da Gangstas (New Jack and Mustafa)
Buh-Buh and D-Von had only recently aligned at the Crossing The Line…Again show, and it would lead to them becoming one of the most iconic acts in ECW history. Axl sticks around here and gets beaten up as well. This is every New Jack match you’ve ever seen, as he and Mustafa swing weapons blindly at all who get in their way whilst Natural Born Killaz plays over the sound system. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy then you’ll probably enjoy this match.
There is a notable botch where Buh-Buh tries to splash New Jack through a table in the corner but Buh-Buh just bounces off him and then ends up collapsing the table himself when he falls on it, which gets cries of derision from the fans. Someone needs to send that one to Maffew actually as works for about three of the ongoing running jokes in Botchamania (which is a great YouTube show that all of you should be watching).
New Jack eventually tries to Splash D-Von through a table by jumping off the stage area, but he ends up grazing D-Von at most. Thankfully most of the building didn’t see that and just saw a dude leap off something high, so it gets a nice pop even though the move itself was completely botched. Oh New Jack, you were truly a violent, dangerous, immoral and ludicrously entertaining candle in the wind. New Jack tries to pin D-Von back in the ring, but Axl Rotten breaks that up, leading to D-Von getting a near fall courtesy of an Axl chair shot. Buh-Buh catches New Jack with a Buh-Buh Cutter OUTTA NOWHERE not soon after though and that’s the three count.
WINNERS: THE DUDLEY BOYZ
RATING: NEW JACK MATCH
Thoughts: I think this went on for too long to be honest. They could have probably given a bit more time to Axl Vs Spike and cut some time out of this one. It had the usual New Jack spots and some hilarious botches, so it certainly wasn’t dull, but it wasn’t remotely close to being a good match either. The result was important though as it established The Dudley Boyz as a genuine threat in the tag ranks and they’d soon be holding the tag belts
Tracy Smothers Vs The Human Suplex Machine Taz w/ Bill Alfonso and Team Taz
This was Smothers’ first appearance in the ECW Arena and he hadn’t joined The FBI yet. Fonzie’s whistle quickly becomes “go-away heat” for me, as he just blows it incessantly and it hampers the enjoyment of the match itself, which is actually quite decent as Smothers was a good worker and Taz was on a bit of role during this stage of his career.
Smothers gets to hit some moves on Taz and even gets an elbow off the top for a near fall, but ultimately he’s here to put Taz over and that’s what happens when Taz unleashes a series of suplexes onto him before locking in the REDRUM for the submission victory.
Thoughts: Too short to have a higher rating, but it was a good showcase for Smothers before it was time for Taz to choke him out
Bulldozer Brian Lee and ECW World Champ Raven Vs Terry Funk and Tommy Dreamer w/ Beulah McGillicutty
Brian Lee had been brought in originally as a hired gun for Raven during his feud with Dreamer, which saw Lee and Dreamer compete in numerous brutal matches. Funk was having yet another “one last run” in a series of them, with it eventually leading to him winning the ECW Title at ECW’s inaugural pay per view event.
The story here is that if Funk can pin Raven then he gets a shot at Barely Legal, so Raven lays down and goads Dreamer to pin him in order to cost Funk the Title shot. Dreamer refuses though and starts beating Raven up. Raven was superb on the mic there, being the biggest jerk in the building in trying to tempt Dreamer to take the easy pin after years of not being able to beat Raven.
There is a great spot where Dreamer gets the DDT on Raven and then tags out to Funk, leading to Funk getting a series of pin attempts on Raven whilst Raven desperately tries to escape the ring and tag back out to Lee. They worked that great and really got across the desperation of both wrestlers perfectly. Raven continues to avoid getting in whenever Funk is legal in an effort to avoid getting pinned by The Funkster.
The fight eventually spills out to the floor, leading to all four wrestlers fighting in the crowd. It’s the usual wild anarchic ECW action, and it’s good fun for the most part. Raven is soon bleeding and locked in Funk’s spinning toe-hold in the middle of the ring. Raven actually taps out but the referee is distracted by Lee and Dreamer brawling outside of the ring and misses it, meaning Lee can then break up the hold with some metal bin attacks.
Lee destroys Funk with the bin, with the idea being that he’s threatening Funk’s career with such a brutal attack. Dreamer crawls back into the ring in an effort to rescue his mentor, but he is unsuccessful and both babyfaces end up getting destroyed by Lee. Funk refuses to stay down though and keeps coming, leading to some great drama where Funk tries to pull himself to his feet whilst Raven mocks him.
The medical team and an extra referee come down to the ring, seemingly bringing the match to a close. Funk is eventually carried out, leading to Big Stevie Cool running down to attack Raven, only for Lee to attack Stevie. This brings Sandman’s wife Lori Fullington and her son Tyler down to the ring, with Lori trying to stop Raven attacking Stevie, causing Raven to DDT her. In storyline Raven had stolen Sandman’s family from him by getting Lori on board, but by attacking Lori he’s lost control of Tyler, leading to Tyler bringing his Dad out for the save.
Sandman runs wild on the Heels with his Singapore Cane and catches Raven with a DDT to pick up the three count and seemingly win the match, even though he wasn’t officially in the match to begin with. Ah, ECW.
WINNERS: SANDMAN(?) & TOMMY DREAMER
Thoughts: The wrestling wasn’t great here but the storytelling was on point and there was great drama. Funk, Stevie and Sandman would all eventually end up fighting one another to decide who would get the shot at Raven, with Funk ultimately prevailing
Sandmanleaves the building victorious with his son whilst Dreamer buries the hatchet with Stevie and offers him a handshake, possibly because Stevie openly defied Raven.
Mr. No Gimmicks Needed Chris Candido Vs Sabu
Candido cuts a good promo prior to the match saying that he’s being looked over here as Sabu’s big match at the pay per view will be with Taz. He also adds that Sabu can break tables but tables don’t fight back, which is a great line. This match is actually a lot of fun, as Sabu is still quite spotty but Candido does a good job of holding things together and it ends up being an entertaining outing, with both wrestlers doing dives into the crowd at different points in the early stages.
This isn’t a “weak” Main Event as such, but it’s also probably an especially strong one either, so I think both wrestlers are upping the effort levels in order to make it feel Main Event worthy and it shows in the match quality, as this is better than it probably would be otherwise. There’s a good intensity to it actually, as Candido does a good job of getting across how he feels slighted and adding that distaste into his performance.
Being that this is a Sabu match, a table of course gets involved, with Candido getting put onto it and Sabu trying to follow with a leg drop, only for Candido to move out of the way at the last moment. Candido starts talking smack to Sabu on the mic at one stage whilst working him over, which again adds to the overall intensity of the bout. Candido has shown some real fire in this one, which wasn’t always the case as sometimes he could be a bit robotic in how he carried himself like he was going through the motions, whereas here it feels like he’s in a fight and he really hates his opponent.
Sabu does eventually fight back, getting a nice rana out of the corner after first using a chair for a running boost. We head into the finishing stretch following that, with Candido getting a nice suplex counter to a flying Sabu attack at one stage. Candido actually starts getting some chants at one point after hanging with Sabu so competitively, although a vocal part of the crowd still doesn’t like him. Sabu eventually manages to catch Candido with a Triple Jump Leg Drop kind of against the run of play and that’s enough to hold Candido down for three after a game effort.
Thoughts: They made this one a good match by sheer force of will, especially as coming in it didn’t feel like a big Main Event match. It’s not a match you desperately need to go out of your way to watch or anything, but it was a fun outing and a decent close to the show
Candido puts Sabu over on the mic following that and says that Sabu should focus on wrestling more than weapon spots.
Considering that CyberSlam was supposed to be one of ECW’s bigger yearly events and the fact they had a pay per view in April to hype, CyberSlam 1997 was kind of a nothing card in all honesty outside of the Tag Title match and the Raven/Lee Vs Funk/Dreamer outing. Even though it ended up being a good match, Sabu Vs Candido didn’t really feel like a Main Event level bout, even though both were stars by ECW standards. Really nothing was following Sandman getting Tyler back and that should have probably been the closing image of the show.
The rest of the card was mostly shorter matches that didn’t really have any storyline stuff going on and existed mostly to build some folks up with wins. That’s not really an issue because it meant that Chetti and The Dudley Boyz benefitted from some upset wins, whilst Taz and Stevie were able to pad their won/loss records, but it meant the show quite flat and unimportant as a result.
CyberSlam 1997 is a maintenance show really, with all of the focus being on the Raw invasion and the pay per view in April, meaning that you really didn’t gain much from watching this show as the storyline advancement was minimal and there weren’t any truly awesome matches to make up for that. Candido Vs Sabu was good but not something you’re going to want to go out of your way to see. As a result it’s a thumbs in the middle show at best and I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to watch.
Not a recommended show