DOUG FURNAS vs. LOUIS SPICOLLI - 2.5/10
They got exactly the time they needed to tell their story and that was about it, so this rating isn't a reflection of a poor quality of work, but rather just on the pure entertainment level, which was limited by the short time they were given to tell their simple story. Said story was Spicolli as the underdog babyface to the big strong heel Furnas, with Furnas dominating but eventually getting too cocky and allowing Spicolli an opening to hit his finisher get the upset victory.
MIKEY WHIPWRECK vs. J.T. SMITH (w/Little Guido, Devon Storm, Bad Crew, & Damien Kane) - 5.75/10
Guido, Storm, and Bad Crew beat Mikey up before the match. Guido because he's buddies with J.T. and the other three on the orders of Damien Kane for unknown reasons. I know Kane had been using the "Godfather" nickname before this, but I didn't realize they had hooked the FBI up with him.
Mikey was his usual good underdog self. He caused a disagreement between Storm and Guido on the outside, which was only exacerbated when a J.T. Smith baseball slide meant for Mikey hit Storm instead, causing an argument between the groups, with Kane trying to play peacemaker between his two sets of charges.
The story of the match became the heels' interference always preventing Mikey from winning until Mikey was finally over to overcome all of it and get the win. The specific finish saw J.T. get to the top rope but get knocked off balance. The other heels ran in and Mikey took them out one at a time, with the final one (Storm, if my memory serves me) being sent stumbling into the ropes just as J.T. had regained his balance, allowing Mikey to hit top-rope Franken-Mikey for the win. The specificity of this finish seems like it should have led to more arguing between the two groups of heels, but we cut to the next match without seeing any of that.
SUBMISSIONS MATCH: Johnny Smith vs. Taz (w/Bill Alfonso & Team Taz) - 4.5/10
Joey Styles said "hopefully the next time our cameraman bumps into Bill Alfonso, he'll be driving the production truck. About sixty miles an hour would be nice."
*GASP!* JOEY! I know Fonzie's annoying, but that's a little mean, don't you think?
Smith worked the arm. Taz did Taz stuff until he won with the Taz-mission. Joey made a big deal out of Taz busting out an Ocean Cyclone Suplex. The match went about three or four minutes longer than it needed to.
BILL ALFONSO & TAZ PROMO - Fine. Taz is on a "path of rage" which they insist no one can stop.
THE ELIMINATORS vs. THE SAMOAN GANGSTA PARTY (Mack Daddy Kane & Sammy Silk) - 2/10
The Samoans jump the bell on the Eliminators. They trade moves for about three minutes. The Samoans thought they had the Eliminators down so they got overconfident and went for a victory hug, resulting in them both getting hit with the same Total Elimination. This was a nothing match with a clever finish.
STEVIE RICHARDS & THE BLUE MEANIE PROMO - Tasteless, then good. Stevie & the Meanie came out parodying Public Enemy and referring to each other as "champ" because TPE had recently won the WCW World Tag Team Titles. Unfortunately this wasn't as timely as Heyman probably intended it to be because TPE had last the titles earlier in the week at a taping of the episode of WCW Saturday Night that would air the same night as this. They made fun of Johnny Grunge's weight and drug problems. Joey made a comment about Johnny Grunge stealing a production truck. The fans enjoyed this. In fact, they enjoyed it so much that they cheered Stevie & the Meanie when they dropped the act, called out the Gangastas, and challenged them to an...
ECW WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Gangstas(c) vs. Raven's Nest (Stevie Richards & the Blue Meanie) - no rating, VERY odd segment/quality control issue?
The Gangstas came out and your usual Gangstas match started. The fans were into it, cheering on Stevie as if he were Rocco Rock. Then the Eliminators came out and attacked everyone, and then cut a promo saying they had warned everyone that they were coming for the titles. Then we cut to the Eliminators coming down the ramp just like they had for their earlier match with Joey giving an almost identical intro, talking about how the Elimisntors were heading into "the biggest match of their careers" on October 26th when they faced Terry Gordy & Steve Williams, but rather than saying they first needed to dispatch the Samoan Gangsta Party, Joey instead told us that they were looking to go into the match as ECW World Tag Team Champions. Then the Gangstas came out to have a match with them, during which Joey made no mention of any of what we just saw, so my guess is that this was supposed to be edited off the tape but wasn't.
ECW WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Gangstas(c) vs. the Eliminators - DUD!
Kronus was running wild and getting all fired up and swinging a garbage can around excitedly... and tripped on the ropes, causing the entire arena to laugh at him. Kronus then shouted something at the crowd in response to a "YOU F*CKED UP!" chant that ECW decided needed to be bleeped and caused Joey to let out an uncomfortable "uhh... okay." Then all of a sudden we had a static cut to later in the match and New Jack is bleeding. Mustafa hit a powerslam on Saturn for a nearfall as Kronus punched New Jack... and then we got yet another static cut, the Gangstas hit Saturn with a powerslam and then an elbow drop with the chair and got the win. Between this match being clipped to hell and the awkwardness of the previous segments in conjunction with this one, I'm just going to go ahead and give this a DUD.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Meh. The Eliminators beat the Gangstas up with weapons. Each Gangsta received a diving elbow drop off of a ladder set up on a table that was balanced on the ropes. It was very scary. This would have been a good beat-down if I didn't feel like I had seen a million weapon shots in the past ten minutes.
BAM BAM BIGELOW vs. TERRY "BAM BAM" GORDY - 6/10
Yes, this is the famed "Battle of the Bam Bams." It was... fine. They went for about ten minutes and were building well. Joey Styles actually made the big rest-hold spot feel exciting. Then Bigelow got the win when the Eliminators interfered on his behalf for unexplained reasons.
DEVON DUDLEY (w/Axl Rotten) vs. BUH-BUH RAY DUDLEY (w/the Dudleys) - DUD
This, too, was extremely clipped. In fact, it was pretty much just three short clips. One of a few chairshots to Bub-Buh's head, one of him doing a plancha onto Devon, and one of another chairshot for the finish. Then we cut to Axl beating Spike with a chair. Big Dick Dudley came over so Axl hit him in the head with a chair but he no-sold it. Then ewe cut away and all of a sudden Axl is on the ground and Big Dick is going up to the top rope and hitting a moonsault. This was yet another match that was rendered completely unenjoyable by clipping which removed any context from anything that was happening.
And then we had yet another clip-cut to...
ECW WORLD TV TITLE MATCH:
Shane Douglas(c) (w/Francine) vs. Pitbull #2 (w/Pitbull #1) - 7.5/10
We didn't get to see any entrances for this, just Pitbull #2 charging to the ring. I actually thought this was part of the previous segment due to the lack of transition, and was surprised when it was Shane in the ring instead of the Dudleys.
In a WONDERFUL commentary moment, after multiple rounds of chants from the crowd directed at Francine, Joey Styles said "in case you're wondering who the one individual is at ringside who has the clap... it's Joel Gertner, the most annoying human being on the face of the planet." And please keep in mind that this is still October of 1996, when Gertner isn't really even a character yet.
Both guys worked the other's neck, in-keeping with the story of this feud. I think my favorite part of this match was Pitbull #2 hitting Shane in the head with a chair while they were on the outside, then following that up by locking in a head-vise! The fans were chanting for Anthony to break Shane's neck, while Francine was encouraging Shane to do to Anthony "what you did to Gary." It was an absolutely crazy atmosphere... and that was before the big angle happened.
I actually had a lot of trouble rating this because I felt the match was good enough that it deserved to be rated by itself, but I was also having trouble coming up with a good cut-off point before when the match should be considered over. In addition to what I said above, the match was a heck of a brawl with some great twists and turns (including an Eliminators run-in reminding us of the alliance they seem to have formed with Shane), and the Pitbulls (or at least Pitbull #2) getting some revenge on Francine for turning on them at Heat Wave three months earlier.
Eventually we got a ref bump and Shane grabbed the dog collar and chain the Pitbulls wear for their entrance and began to strangle Pitbull#2 with it right in front of Pitbull #1, and at this point we got...
ONE OF THE GREATEST ANGLES I HAVE EVER SEEN - Pitbull #1 realizes there is no one around to save his partner's life, so even though he is wearing a medical halo, he gets into the ring... and Shane Douglas grabs him by the halo and throws him down.
I though an actual riot had broken out. People were just streaming into the ring to try to get at Shane. I thought they were fans, but it was the other babyfaces running out from the back. Tod Gordon tried to tackle Shane and took a punch. People were checking on Gary, getting a stretcher for him. Meanwhile the Fan-Cam followed Shane getting whisked out of the building by police while people had to hold dreamer back from attacking him, and we kept cutting back and forth between that and the ring.
At one point in here they did an angle where Tod Gordon ordered Gertner to announce the match as a no-contest but Gertner started to announce Shane as the winner so Tod decked him and they had to be separated. This is the sort of thing that feels like it should take attention away from the big angle with Gary and Shane but it didn't because Tod's emotions felt so real. This wasn't a "we're going to tell this other story now, too" thing; it was a way to show Tod's heightened emotional state. His friend might be dying right now, and he was not in a mood to be f*cked with. When Tod was removed from the area, Gertner tried to make his announcement again, only to be tackled by Paul Heyman, who had been one of the people to pull Tod off of Gertner the first time, which I thought was a great little touch.
This whole thing was just awesome, and is indisputably one of the greatest moments in ECW's history. Anyone wants to understand how to do a serious injury angle and make it feel real needs to watch this to see how it's done. The shots of concerned people standing around Gary, the use of camera cuts to convey a sense of both urgency and disorientation, the lack of any sort of commentary by Joey Styles because he, too, had run down to check on Gary (and we didn't hear him say "I'm going to go check on Gary now" he just stopped talking for a while and we saw him in the gaggle of people). It was PERFECT!
ULTIMATE JEOPARDY TAG TEAM MATCH:
Raven's Nest (Stevie Richards & Brian Lee) (w/Raven's Nest) vs. the Sandman & Tommy Dreamer (w/Beulah McGillicutty) - 7.5/10
The stipulations for this match were:
- If Sandman gets pinned, he gets lashed ten times with his own Singapore cane.
- If Dreamer gets pinned, Beulah must leave ECW forever.
- If Brian Lee gets pinned, he gets his head shaved.
- If Stevie gets pinned the man who pins him gets Raven's ECW World Heavyweight Title.
For those of you wondering why Raven isn't defending his own title, Raven went to rehab, so Stevie was inserted into this match in his place and the title was still on the line so they could get the belt off of him. While the babyfaces were making their entrance, Stevie say in the corner like Raven would, and to parody the way Kimona used to sit in Raven's lap they had peaches- dressed in a manner that mad eher completely unrecognizable- in Stevie's lap.
Speaking of the babyface entrance, it was EXTREMELY weird. Dreamer just wandered off screen and we didn't see him until they got in the ring, while the camera followed Beulah and Sandman doing their usual entrance looking hot and drinking beer respectively, and when they all got back together again, it was Sandman drinking beer off of Beulah's chest and not Tommy, as if Sandman and Beulah were the couple.
So we've got a bunch of stips, some of which seem completely random (only the title being on the line and the idea of Beulah being banished from ECW feel like they have been set up in any way, and the Beulah thing wasn't set up so much as it was something that already happened to be in place due to the history with her and Raven), the world title on the line in a tag match, and the champion not even in the match. This sounds like it should be a clusterf*ck, but it wasn't. These guys somehow managed to make it work.
This was basically a tale of two matches. Lee and Dreamer had a wild brawl all over the building, while Sandman vs. Stevie (& and the rest of the Nest) did dog and pony show stuff in the ring. Separating the two was a bit jarring early on, a the cuts back and forth were a bit too frequent to get a feel for what was happening in either place, but once they started to keep 95% of the focus on Lee and Dreamer's brawl, it started to get good. Those two had one of those brawls that shows you why ECW caught fire the way it did. That brawl ended with the famous shot of Bran Lee chokeslamming Dreamer off of the crow's nest through a bunch of stacked up tables, which would set up their scaffold match at High Incident later this month.
When they did cut back to the ring, they cut back just quickly enough to get across the dog and pony show story, so that the nearfalls that started to come when Lee vs. Dreamer was done and they were focused on it full time felt like the climax of that story rather than the beginning. Separating the two brawls also served to both avoid the problem of two babyfaces on the same team fighting each other over pinfalls on the champion, and to make sure Lee was too far away to make the save when Sandman finally overcame everyone else and pinned Stevie to win the title. The crowd went nuts for the title switch, too, even though the real champion wasn't involved.
Joey's best line of the night came after Dreamer rolled Lee up for a nearfall, at which point Joey remarked "we almost saw a bald Brian Lee. Wouldn't that be grim?" I was howling with laughter (if you don't get it, let me spell it for you this way: "Wouldn't that be Grimm?").
This was a very mixed bag of a show from ECW. The first chunk was fine but by no means great, the middle was absolutely wretched, but the final forty minutes are pretty much all you need to see to understand what allowed ECW to become the phenomenon that it was. At just over one hour and forty-six minutes, the show is very easy to sit through, but that also means that the crap is a significant portion of the show. I'm still going to recommend it almost solely due to the Gary Wolfe angle, but just know that the fast forward button is your friend.