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American Hardcore Theatre: ECW's Real History

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  • Re: American Hardcore Theatre: ECW's Real History

    Originally Posted by Wrestling Observer from March 18th 1996
    Is ECW the next step in the evolution of American wrestling? Or is it simply a violent aberration with a cult following?

    In recent years, there has never been a promotion anywhere in the world that has drawn so much attention while still not proving itself to any serious degree at the box office. The reasons for the attention worldwide is in many ways deserved. ECW has had a tremendous effect on pro wrestling, not only in the United States but also in Mexico. It's become a cult deal that has spread to Japan (wrestlers in smaller promotions in Japan and in AAA in Mexico routinely wear ECW t-shirts during wild street fight and barbed wire type matches), something other equally brutal and even more bloody promotions from the past such as Joe Blanchard's San Antonio office with national television exposure could never even approach. It has exposed numerous new stars and acts that the so-called big boys would never consider and in some cases literally laugh at because of their obvious weaknesses (usually in regard to either size or in some cases wrestling ability) and exposed their strengths and made those same offices come after the guys. It has produced, on a consistent basis, probably the best quality house shows in America. And since the start of the new year, the organization has even proven it could beat the rap of not being able to draw anywhere but in one building as it has sold out every show, albeit most in very small halls, since the new year began.

    This past weekend, ECW presented its biggest back-to-back shows in history, entitled the "Big Ass Extreme Bash," in the midst of poor weather selling out to the tune of an estimated 1,200 at both Lost Battalion Hall in Queens, NY on 3/8, and following it up in its home ECW Arena in South Philadelphia the next night.

    The shows ended with more questions coming up than questions being answered about what exactly is the future of what has to be considered right now the No. 3 wrestling promotion in the U.S.

    The show in Queens was a study of everything that can go wrong with the concept of presenting a hard edged ultra-violent concept on television that encourages fan participation. The next night, the show was an example of nearly everything positive about the same concept. The wrestlers were the same. The angles were similar. The quality of the matches, while overall better in Philadelphia, weren't all that different. The biggest difference was the crowd.

    In Philadelphia, ECW has become an every three week cult deal. The 1,200 or so fans who pack every square centimeter of the building are for the most part, the same fans that have been there for the last few years. In the annals of pro wrestling, that's nothing unusual. In the territorial heyday, every city that ran regularly and had its home arena, whether it be the Atlanta City Auditorium, the Portland Sports Arena, the Kiel in St. Louis, Madison Square Garden, The Cow Palace in San Francisco, the Ampitheatre in Chicago, Mid South Coliseum in Memphis or even the Amarillo Sports Arena would, after repetition, develop fans who were into the product on more than a superficial level. They had their local heroes and homesteaders, and a revolving cast of heels brought in. Some cities liked small guys. Some liked big guys. Some liked blood. Some liked credibility. In most cases, it wasn't so much the nature of the fans themselves, but of what the local promoter himself liked and after a few years, educated the area fans to like as well.

    Outside of Philadelphia, ECW is a late night television show on a remote cable station in a few markets. It's wild. It's compelling. And it's creative as hell. When it gets right down to it, the question shouldn't be who it attracts and how they react as much as can it attract enough to make it. A promotion that draws 20,000 fans to house show that sit on their hands and make no noise or "react wrong" like cheering heels or even not showing respect for wrestling is still incredibly successful. One that draws 500 on their good nights that react on cue, cheer faces, boo heels, or show appreciation for what they see in other manners is still not successful.

    Unfortunately, the fans in New York made the former part of the statement more important than the latter.

    And that's nothing new. Anyone who remembers when ECW toured Florida the first time, and Chris Benoit and Too Cold Scorpio had a ****+ match before a bunch of disinterested fans in Fort Lauderdale, FL that were there only for the violence, knows that the New York reaction is nothing new for this promotion. The building was packed by an audience that largely had no respect for the wrestlers but wanted to see guys they had no respect for bust each other up (which is the nice way of putting it) and scantily clad women get their tops ripped off for their highly paid entertainment dollar as the packed little building with $35 ringside and horrible site lines drew something in the range of a $27,000 house. The crowd came to see stiff chair shots and lots of blood, and not much else. They got a lot of the former and none of the latter. They didn't like most of the faces (exceptions being Sandman, The Gangstas and Buh Buh Ray Dudley) or most of the heels, or each other for that matter, as some of the most pointed comments and yells from the fans were at other fans. The reaction while Rey Misterio Jr. and Juventud Guerrera were putting on one of the best technical matches in the history of the city--and maybe the entire country--was that they wanted the midgets out of there because they figured out they weren't going to bleed. It wasn't everyone in the building that reacted that way, but out of the 1,200, I don't think there were even 200 who actually got into the match, although that minority did give it the respect it deserved. As Mick Foley, a man who has given far more to pro wrestling than it will ever give back to him, had his next to last match ever as Cactus Jack in an arena not too far from where he grew up, he was pelted with loud chants of "You Sold out." Less than 90 seconds into a Too Cold Scorpio vs. Sabu match and the two were trying to exchange holds to build a match (what a novel approach) since they were going 20:00, the boring chants started. As the two went to the finish, a large percentage of the crowd, perhaps more than half, paid them no attention since some strippers from next door were handing out photos. As the Pit Bulls and Eliminators went to their finish, in a match which combined lots of missed spots with some incredible and even death defying spots (like Perry Saturn doing a moonsault off the top rope over the post to the floor), a loud chant of "Show your tits, Francine" started, the timing of which couldn't have been more ironic since she'd been out there for 13:00 and was doing nothing at the time to encourage the chants other than being barely encased in a leather outfit. Actually that was the main chant of the night, not only at every stripper type brought out to work ringside, but also at any even borderline attractive women in the audience who got up out of her chair and walked around to get a coke. The crowd itself was probably 98% male, almost all ages 20 to 35. There were less kids than at a UFC show, and the UFC bans kids from attending live. They called Chris Jericho a "Hunter Hearst Helmsley" wannabe, despite the respective talent of the two. They pelted the ring with so much garbage that at one point the state athletic commission ordered the show shut down and Paul Heyman had to use his best crowd psychology to keep the place under control to the point he could put on a main event. Fans sitting near me, who complained all night about no blood and how they were forced to sit through ten matches without any real stars like the WWF gives them, were also complaining any time someone tried to do any wrestling saying they could see that wrestling crap at the WWF shows. This was far from the worst wrestling show I've ever seen, and from a effort standpoint, world's better than almost any WWF and WCW regular house shows. From a work and execution standpoint it was nowhere close to what WWF and WCW provide at a standard house show.

    In some ways ECW live was the opposite of the defunct SMW group. SMW relied on old tricks and psychology and the guys worked hard but took advantage of every psychological shortcut. The best analogy came from Sandman who said that since the crowds down there were so easy, that guys learned the shortcuts and started coasting. SMW featured veterans who largely knew what they were doing. There were never, or at least rarely, spots in the match where the guys got lost and you'd want to groan, although nobody was regularly risking their bodies like they did in places like Mexico and Japan to elevate the style. If anything, that was the last thing Jim Cornette wanted. ECW matches have the guys take unbelievable risks, but they get lost in the matches and there are a lot of miscues. For pure working ability, SMW was tons better than ECW. For workrate, there is no comparison as well, with ECW having the edge.

    The Big Ass Bash in New York was a depressing night, among the most depressing nights I've ever spent watching pro wrestling.

    The creation of the mad scientist combined with numerous other forces such as freezing weather, bad site lines, and just living in New York, led to an audience with no respect for the incredible amount of work he and his company put into the show. It was an audience that was the reality of the worst John McCain fantasy about what violence and UFC are supposedly to be about. The mad scientist himself was quick to acknowledge it and take the blame. At a team meeting the next night, Paul Heyman said the show sucked and took the blame himself, saying he tried to give people something they didn't want to see, and the next time, he'd give them what they came for. However, for a group whose logo is its initials wrapped in bloody barbed wire; a group that regularly uses props like a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire, and whose fans have been encouraged to hand wrestlers everything including the kitchen sink (there were items as bizarre as hockey sticks confiscated from fans as they entered the building), running a show in front of a strict commission with a self-imposed blood ban, it's going to be very hard to give that audience what it came to see. Was this crowd a product of New York City, or of the television or of the building or the bad weather?

    The only similarity between the ECW Arena the next night, the bingo hall which is the home base for ECW, and the Lost Battalion Hall were that it was largely the same group of wrestlers and a similar workrate, and that both small arenas were crammed full of people.

    In Philadelphia, Foley got a thunderous and amazingly respectful standing ovation prior to and after his last match under the ring name Cactus Jack before joining the WWF as ManKind the next evening in Corpus Christi. His post match speech in his last night under the gimmick was among the best things I've ever seen at a house show. Misterio Jr. and Guerrera, spurred on by the crowd, had one of the greatest matches ever in the building. Everyone who was a regular was over with their gimmick. The crowd, while wanting blood, for the most didn't let the lack of it damper their enjoyment of the show. As Heyman said before the show in the same speech, this is our home base fans and we know what they want and we're going to give it to them. And they did. They made them laugh. They made them cry, well almost. They made them happy and made them sad. It wasn't flawless, and the crowd was quick to pick up on every flaw, particularly if it came from a newcomer not a part of their team. They chanted "don't come back" at Rick Bogner. Bogner, a Canadian who was a major star in FMW before jumping to WAR, whose ring name, Big Titan, is a heat getter and in its own way, after he worked a sometimes spectacular and other times clumsy match with Sabu. Fans loudly chanted "You f---ed up" at missed spots throughout the show, a few of which appeared to have been missed on purpose by wrestlers to get that reaction and chanted to end a prelim match which was obviously put there to be the backdrop of an angle.

    To the credit of those running the company and those working for the company, the dressing room was more motivated with the idea of putting on a great show for the fans than any in the world. From top to bottom, I've never seen a crew work as hard and take as many risks, and that's from someone who regularly sees AAA live. That has its down side as well. Post-match looked more like the triage room in a hospital after a gang rumble than after a sporting event. Because they only work a few shows a month and are generally younger, they can survive taking more risks than the guys with the big paychecks can get away with or would want to get away with. The concept of playing with pain is taken to a level of borderline insanity when Scott Levy (Raven) worked two matches even though he needed crutches to get around because of contracting gout. The injury rate looks ridiculous to people brought up on the concept of pro wrestling being that you may it look like you're hurting people without anyone actually getting seriously hurt. Hack Myers suffered a fourth degree shoulder separation. Tommy Dreamer's body is falling apart from the brutality. Sandman took chair shots so stiff from the Head Hunters that he couldn't remember anything about his match later that night. J.T. Smith's hand was a mess when Axl Rotten threw a heavy fire extinguisher on it. One of the job guys, Joel Hartgood, named after a former promoter, had a nasty black eye when Sandman gave him a vicious cane shot that missed the forehead. The byproduct of working before a crowd that doesn't accept anything but the stiffest chair and cane shots to the head is a lot of scrambled brain cells.

    But the show was very good, and excellent to the point of being off the charts in certain spots. In other spots it was maybe a little long, there were too many matches and too many angles (when the average fan can't remember the next morning running down the show all the angles, then it's a lock that they didn't all get across) it dragged in spots. But it could stand up to everything but the very best any major promotion in the world could produce even though by and large it has a less experienced crew who make up a lot of shortcomings in regard to skill and experience with enthusiasm and insanity. The angles were great for the audience.

    There are still the catch-22s. Seeing the show live, because of the make-up of the audience, all the swearing wasn't a problem at all. Nobody live gets offended. The constant insulting of WCW was sometimes funny (such as New Jack saying that when he was in jail it was such an unbearable experience because they forced him to watch WCW on television or Cactus Jack saying that leaving this building is going to hurt me as much as it did when I had to sue my Uncle Eric or Shane Douglas ripping a t-shirt off ala Hogan, mentioning him by name and saying that was an easy as shit), but also overdone at times. In New York, Douglas got booed by a lot of fans, although not the majority, when he insulted other promotions and in particular when he opened by saying "Shawn Michaels, kiss my ass."

    The swearing, violence and beating up of women, the most controversial aspects of the promotion, seem fine as a performance to the audience it is designed at in Philadelphia. However, the same stuff airing on television is a problem on many levels. It causes most self respecting television stations to steer clear of the show, even though it's often the most entertaining hour of wrestling in the country. It causes most self respecting wrestling fans to be turned off of attending live by the hard edge and apparently violent live crowd, while turning on a small segment that is there expecting to see things that are dangerous and now, in the case of blood, that they can no longer deliver although they do deliver on most everything else they tease. The other side of the coin is that if they presented wrestling with no shock value, because the names are newer and because wrestling is overexposed for free already, they'd have a hard time going anywhere either.

    The ECW Arena audience is unique and loves the violence, but still didn't seem dangerous, even when superheel Bill Alfonso or Brian Pillman were doing their things. New York was a throwback to the old days of heels (well, those two heels) getting heat and fans wanting to throw things and jump them, but with the lack of security, even in a building where alcohol was banned, the crowd nearly got the show stopped.

    Showing the same stuff on television to people who haven't been attending matches every three weeks for the past two years creates an audience that is completely different from Philadelphia. Philadelphia is a relatively controlled and at least largely (not totally) respectful audience of the performers that appear on television to be totally out of control. The perception from watching television of the danger of going to the ECW Arena is exaggerated, however the perception becomes the reality in new markets. New market fans will believe when they attend they have the right to be totally out of control as well, except in many cases they will lack the respect for the performers and have no respect for other fans. The result in those instances is a horribly reacting and borderline dangerous audience.

    Comment


    • Re: American Hardcore Theatre: ECW's Real History

      Originally posted by Big Pete View Post
      Is ECW the next step in the evolution of American wrestling? Or is it simply a violent aberration with cult following?
      It ended up being both.

      Interesting article. I didn't know the NYC version of Big Ass Extreme Bash was such a bust. That explains why it was never released in full. I also didn't know that Raven legit had gout. I always thought that was just a gimmick to get him more heel heat.

      Oh, and Shin, I meant to mention this during one of my Hugh Morris defenses. Did you know he was originally supposed to be 911?

      Comment


      • Re: American Hardcore Theatre: ECW's Real History

        Great post Pete. Lovely read. ECW was clearly the next step in the evolution of American Wrestling at the time that article was printed. Everything about the NWO angle reeks of ECW. The way Scot Hall debuted as an outsider in the audience was done a few weeks prior with Brian Pillman telling Paul Heyman that he didn't give a fuck about him or his smart marks. The whole method that the WWE used to counter WCW's slick production values with under-produced, more realistic looking, grittier production values, complete with barbed wire screen graphics, Beer swilling babyfaces, Stevie Richards style goofball comedy, Foley bumps etc.

        Interesting to finally get some more info on that New York show. Foley took a shot at that crowd in his farewell promo the next night in Philly. The Philly fans were literally in tears as Foley bid his farewell. One of my favorite ECW segments ever. Rey vs Juvy was also one of my favorite matches ever. Big Ass Extreme Bash was a great show. Very awesome to finally get some good info on the second half of that show. The video of that event only has brief highlights of the NY show, with the Philly show in full. The NY show was where that infamous Pillman quote in Kilgore's sig came from.

        Hugh Morris as 911 is no bueno.
        Last edited by ShinobiMusashi; 06-26-2013, 11:03 PM.

        Comment


        • Re: American Hardcore Theatre: ECW's Real History

          Hey just to let everyone know RFvideo.com 40% off sale for July 4th on entire ECW dvds catalog...

          Comment


          • Re: American Hardcore Theatre: ECW's Real History

            Drawing Parallels: Extreme Championship Wrestling & The Ultimate Fighting Championship


            I've been putting in a lot of work into my History of MMA series in order to try to catch it up to this project(click the Evolution of Martial Arts link in my sig to check it out). Just two more reviews(UFC 9 & 10, 9 is almost finished and will be up in a matter of hours, 10 should be up by week's end) until we get focused back in on this project and begin our trek through Hardcore TV leading up to November to Remember 96.

            I've come across some very interesting parallels between the UFC and ECW. The main similarity being the popularity among Wrestling Observer Newsletter readers. With WCW and the WWE in decline during 95 and 96, these fans were disgruntled and ready for something new and fresh. With ECW and UFC they got it. Paul Heyman took over the booking of ECW in September 1993, and just two months later the very first UFC pay per view was held. Both promotions were on a steady incline in quality through 1994 and 1995, with their fanbase slowly growing along with it. In ECW's case they were still very small, with no PPV. In UFC's case though, it was a steady increase from show to show until they completely surpassed both WWE and WCW in pay per view buyrates in 1995, without any cable television coverage, mostly due to word of mouth.

            New York

            Just as ECW was breaking ground in New York State with some of their very first shows in the state in late 95/early 96, the UFC was completely banned from the state after their UFC 7 pay per view in September 1995. I find this wildly interesting. Politicians completely shut the UFC out of New York state by the end of 1995 due to the violence, a ban that still stands to this day. UFC 7 remains the only UFC event ever to be held in New York, meanwhile ECW exploded in the state, making it it's homebase in the Hammerstein Ballroom by 2000/2001. It was ok to slam guys over the head with unprotected chair shots, self mutilation(blading), and hitting guys with flaming barbed wire baseball bats, but strait fighting is far too violent for New York. Get the fuck out of here. This throws up a huge red flag for me and makes it obvious that there's some funny business keeping MMA illegal in New York State to this very day. At the very least this puts a spotlight on what frame of mind these politicians and special interest groups had about shutting down MMA. It was all about making a name for themselves. Nobody was going to make headlines by shutting down a small time indy wrestling promotion that only a couple thousand smart marks knew about. Shutting down MMA was all about making a name for themselves and trying to generate publicity.

            Something relevant and interesting that I read in one of the Wrestling Observer Newsletters from early 1996 was the news story about famous pro boxer Tommy Morrison being tested positive for HIV. This led to drastic blood testing policies in all combat sports that live to this day. This happened around February 1996, with Paul Heyman announcing that blading would be eradicated from ECW altogether. This explains the lack of blood in these early 96 tapes. We went several shows without a single drop of blood spilled.

            So I will catch my History of MMA series up to this thread in hopes to put a spotlight on these two different promotions that went down similar paths through the 90's. The UFC exploded in 1995, but fizzled out through 1996 due to political heat. Just as the UFC was fading out through late 96 and early 97, ECW was doing the complete opposite on their path to their very first pay per view. All through 1996 The UFC was kicked off of pretty much every major pay per view provider through the year(starting with Cablevision, which refused to sell ECW pay per views until 1998, oddly enough they never picked the UFC back up in the 90's even though ECW was far more violent). ECW would surpass the UFC through the end of the 90's with better television coverage, and higher PPV buyrates, but we all know how things would end up for both promotions.
            Last edited by ShinobiMusashi; 07-04-2013, 08:12 AM.

            Comment


            • Re: American Hardcore Theatre: ECW's Real History

              Extreme Championship Wrestling
              Hardcore TV(Episode #178)

              September 17th 1996

              Alright, so after a pretty long layoff from this project we're just going to dive right back into it with the first of 9 Hardcore TV reviews leading up to November to Remember 96. Right now where ECW is as a promotion is right there on the cusp of going live on Pay Per View for the first time ever. The pay per view landscape was a scary one during this time. The UFC had recently been boycotted by several of the major PPV carriers in the US due to the graphic violence(mostly due to pressure from politicians that sought publicity). ECW had also had some bad luck with one of their recent mega-blockbuster-super-ultra cards, Hardcore Heaven 96, where the ring ropes kept breaking throughout the evening. So they clearly weren't ready to go to PPV just yet. They weren't really well known outside of the Philly/NY area during this time either. I can remember seeing pictures of ECW acts in magazines back in the day, but I never really caught on to ECW as a brand until they popped up at the WWE Mind Games PPV in October of 96. That's a few weeks away though, so I'll save it for a later review.

              Going into this episode of Hardcore TV the promotion is revolving around two major feuds. Tommy Dreamer & his girl Beulah are in an ongoing war against the manipulative zen master Raven. On the other end of the promotion is Sabu vs Taz, which is been slowly cooking ever since November to Remember 95, the night Taz turned heel and Sabu returned from his hiatus. Even though these are the two main feuds that the entire promotion is revolving around, their overall stories have branched out and interwoven into the other characters in ECW. Raven is on a quest to destroy the Sandman from the inside out by using his ex-wife & 8 year old son against him. Dreamer is in a feud with Taz and Raven's enforcer, Brian Lee. Sabu is in a feud with Rob Van Dam over respect. Van Dam didn't have any respect for Sabu until after a grueling trilogy of matches. Now Van Dam wants Sabu to be his tag partner against Doug Furnas & Dan Kroffat at the next ECW show. Outside of that we have Shane Douglas in a rivalry with Pitbull #2 over the broken neck of his tag team partner. We also have the ongoing tag team title feud between The Eliminators & The Gangstas, The Dudleyz working their way up from the bottom of the card, and a nice little run from the aging veterans, Terry Gordy & Steve Williams. Let's dig into this one and start our road to November to Remember 96!

              The show starts off with a clip of Raven and Shane Douglas beating up Pitbull 2. The Sandman makes the save with the stiff cane shots. Raven uses The Sandman's son against him. His son strikes Raven's pose in front of him until The Sandman bends him over his knee for a spanking. Brian Lee attacks Sandman from behind. Raven drops him with a DDT. We get a great shot of The Sandman's family taunting his unconscious body.


              This segues into the White Zombie Intro.


              Styles opens the show with a state of ECW address. He briefly goes over the Raven/Sandman angle, saying that Stevie Richards gave ECW a home video of Tyler's birthday party. This is a segment that I wrote about prematurely in a previous Hardcore TV summary. This is just a creepy home video style segment with a sad, depressing birthday party for The Sandman's 8 year old son Tyler. Raven sits at the table with Tyler as the Blue Meanie tries to entertain the kid. They play hide and seek. Tyler goes to hide in the close and finds a gift wrapped present. His mom tells him that it was from his father. Tyler opens the package and gets excited about the toy until Raven snaps. Raven rips the toy into pieces. Tyler poses like Raven as the segment comes to an end. Interesting stuff. Cheesy, but interesting.


              We cut to ads with a house show add for a show at the Lu Lu Temple in Plymouth Meeting, PA. Advertised for the card is Raven vs Rob Van Dam and Sabu vs Saturn for the first time.

              New Jack cuts a brief promo about the upcoming WWF "Mind Games" PPV in Philly. He talks about how WWF officials confiscated Gangstas signs at the last Pennsylvania show(December 95 In Your House, this was true according to the Observers back then, several Gangstas signs were confiscated, fans were making the "X" with their forearms throughout the show). New Jack calls out WWF wrestlers to show up in the ECW Arena and get beat down, Gangstas rule Philly sucka!

              Hardcore Hotline ad. 1-900-990-4ECW, quick, somebody call it!

              Next we get a replay of this American Journal clip that debuted on the previous episode:


              Something about ECW 95-96, it was just this "Little promotion that could". We're almost all the way through 96, and I'll have to stick by my claim that 95 was the best year for ECW.

              Joey replays the clip of the video where Taz talks about how he's not a character. Joey hypes Taz up a bit as a real bad ass before shooting it down to Lance Wright's "Hype Central" segment.

              Lance gives us a corny segue into ads for the LuLu Temple show set to some AWESOME hip hop music. Don't know who this is, but I love it. There's a woman singing and the beat is just right.

              1-900 ad, an extreme valet was caught doing a striptease so extreme they can't explain it here.

              Ad for ECW/IWA Japan poster for their show in Japan a while back. The Raven vs Dreamer match from that show was one of the better Raven vs Dreamer matches I've ever seen.

              More Lance Wright hype. The hip hop song I mentioned above plays throughout all of this.

              Oh my, we get a weird Tommy Dreamer/Beulah promo with Beulah pouring hot candle wax all over Dreamer. He's cutting a really weird goofy promo. He calls out Brian Lee and says that his pain is his pleasure.

              More ECW house show ads set to Mad Season's "I Don't Know Anything".

              Commercials.

              Clip of the cage match Gangstas vs Eliminators, from the Natural Born Killaz show. Shane Douglas interfered in the match and united with the Eliminators to form a new Triple Threat. The Gangstas still find a way to win and keep their titles. Shane Douglas & The Eliminators as the Triple Threat was something they started to do, but I'm thinking it was abandoned pretty quickly for some reason.

              We get some fan cam clips of Shane Douglas from a house show as Joey Styles hypes him up as a slimy heel. This show is all about the heels.

              The clip shows some footage of a house show match with Shane Douglas and one of the Samoan Gangsta Party guys teaming up to take on The Gangstas. The Samoan Gangsta Party guy has tape all over his arm and neck from supposed stitches from another match. Shane turns his back on his partner for the match and never tags in. The Gangstas pickup the win. Shane screams at the guy after the match for losing before attacking him from behind and ripping his stitches out. Douglas is one of my favorite heels ever right here.

              New Jack is shown again in the streets somewhere cutting promos about Shane Douglas. He says that Shane Douglas better check his closet and under his bed before he goes to sleep at night. I love that shit. They call out the Eliminators for a title match, saying they deserve one. New Jack cuts my favorite promos. Mustapha is pretty worthless though.

              Natural Born Killaz home video ad set to the Ice Cube/Dr. Dre song.

              Sabu t-shirt ad. No fears and no peers. I found a really good Sabu documentary a while back that I highly recommend everyone watch right now.

              So far no matches, this has pretty much been one big ECW infomercial, with emphasis put on the heels and how dirty they are.

              Alright, here we go..

              ECW World Television Championship
              Shane Douglas(C) vs Louie Spicolli


              This match is from the "When Worlds Collide '96" ECW Arena event, which I'm assuming was never commercially released.

              Francine is fucking hotness almighty, JEEZUS! MAN!!!


              One of the fans reaches over and touches Francine. Shane Douglas gets fired up and tells the fans they will get their asses kicked if they touch Francine.

              Shane rounds the ring and pulls a Shawn Michaels shirt out of one of the fans hands. He blows his nose on it and spits on it.


              Did I mention how hot Francine was?! Good god. She's been cutting some pretty good promos and deserves some of the credit for this epic heel run that Douglas is on right now. The double cross in the 4 way dance at Heatwave 96 was done masterfully.

              Shane Douglas has Joel Gertner as his Ricardo Rodriguez style announcer, and a personal security guard. The crowd chants PILLMAN at Shane Douglas.

              Douglas gets the mic and tells everyone to sit down and shut the fuck up or he and Francine will walk out and they can all kiss his ass. I love it.

              Douglas tells the ring announcer Bob Artese to tell the fans to shut up.

              Douglas and Francine are leaving.

              Louie tells him to stop worrying about the people and worry about the man that's going to beat the fuck out of him. Shane charges him and we're off.

              Crowd is taunting Douglas hard, chanting "Pillman". For those that missed it, Pillman had a little rivalry with Shane Douglas that carried over into ECW when Pillman jumped from WCW earlier in 1996. Pillman would taunt Shane in the build up to perhaps the greatest ECW match that never happened.

              Louie dominates Shane early on, almost catching him with his Death Valley Driver, but Shane rolls out and escapes the ring for a timeout.

              The crowd starts a camptown races chant of "Douglas has no balls", followed immediately with chants of "She's a whore".

              They tie up after some heel stalling from Douglas. Louie kicks his ass all over the ring and the crowd loves it. Shane cheats his way into the match and targets Louie's groin before going after his neck. Louie gains the upper advantage and goes after Shane's neck, pulling him up on his back with a "Hangman" neck crank. Francine taunts Louie long enough for him to give up on Shane Douglas and go after her out in the isle. Shane follows him and we get some brawling on the outside. Douglas blasts Louie with a chair shot to the back as we cut to commercials.

              New craftmatic adjustable bed. The ultimate in bedroom luxury.

              Hardcore Hotline ad. INSIDE WRESTLING NEWS! Play wrestling trivia to win a chance to win a free prize!

              The Doctor Is In VHS ad, great show.

              Whoa, We get a Raven promo. What happened to the TV title match!?!?!

              Raven talks about Rob Van Dam's run to glory. I didn't know these guys had a little fued. Raven says he can take on both RVD and Sabu as Sandman's wife sits in his lap. Raven and Sabu never had an ECW match. I'd like to see this Raven vs RVD match.

              Back to the match at hand. Spicolli is beating Douglas' ass in the isle.

              The crowd taunts Francine hard. We get a chant of "She's Got Herpes!" I'm pretty sure this is the first one.

              At one point in the match the crowd begins chanting "HBK!" just to get under Douglas' skin. Just think about that for a second. If Douglas could get the ECW Arena to chant for HBK, just think about what that feud could have done in the WWE during this time in 96. I think Douglas was the type of heel that HBK needed during his 96 title run. It's a shame they couldn't work together because it would have been the best thing in wrestling in 1996. Vader and Sid weren't the type of heels that HBK should have been feuding with because they were so badass, 18-35 year old men were going to cheer for them over Vince's pretty boy babyface. HBK needed a slimy heel that could get under people's skin. I don't think there was heel that fit that bill more than Shane did in 96. HBK vs Shane Douglas is one of the greatest feuds that never happened.

              Douglas continues going to Louie's neck, going for a Tombstone that Spicolli tries to reverse, but Douglas falls back on him for a 2 count. Louie reverses for 2 before Douglas gets a foot on ropes.

              Spicolli whips Shane into the ropes and drops him with a nice, stiff Spinebuster Slam that looks really devastating.

              Crowd is just having a blast trying to come up with chants here. Louie lands a nice Northern Lights for close 2 count. The crowd gasps and starts chanting Louie's name. Louie almost gets the Death Valley Driver, but Shane weasels out by grabbing the ropes. Louie dumps him out of the ring to the unprotected concrete floor for a pretty stiff bump. The crowd chants E! C! DUB!

              They fight on the outside for a bit, sending each other into a table that refuses to break.

              Back to the ring and Louie finally gets Douglas up in the center of the ring for the DVD. Francine climbs into the ring and stops it. Shane lands a neckbreaker followed by his Belly To Belly Suplex for the 1, 2, 3 at 19:32. The crowd moans.

              Louie remains down like he's hurt his neck. He's swarmed by other wrestlers, doctors, referees, etc. The crowd continues to try to get under Douglas' skin with the Pillman chants. Shane taunts the crowd with middle fingers as they put Louie on a stretcher and carry him out. Shane and Francine laugh and make jokes about it for maximum heat.


              7.6/10

              Decent good guy vs bad guy match here where Shane Douglas does a phenomenal job of making Louie look great. Douglas is without a doubt the #1 heel right now in ECW and it's one of my personal favorite heel runs ever. This match had some sloppy moments, and I'm sure it was edited to hell and back, so you can only take this rating with a grain of salt. This was a solid match though. Douglas was at the top of his game and Francine was a pretty underrated heel herself. Francine was such a good heel here that the crowd created the infamous "She's Got Herpes" and "She's A Whore" chants just for her. In all, nothing really flashy here, but nothing really bad either. Some great heel vs face psychology got the job done. This was probably the best Louie Spicolli match I've ever seen. The crowd helped it out a lot as well.

              Extreme Warfare Vol. 2 VHS ad.

              Sabu T-Shirt Ad again.

              Lance Wright interviews Shane Douglas in the ring after the match. Gertner takes his mic and tells him to scram. Gertner smacks him down. He's so smug and hilarious. He burns Lance Wright down until Lance rushes him. Shane drops Lance Wright with the Single Arm DDT and puts him in full nelson. This is great.

              Out comes Pitbull 2. Pitbull 2 runs Shane out of the ring as the show comes to an end. Joey goes to the ring with several others, screaming for a stretcher. Lance Wright is carried out.

              Overall: 6.8/10

              There wasn't much to this show other than a lot of commercials, but I don't really mind these "Infomercial" episodes that they would do like this from time to time. This all felt like one of those late night Infomercials, except it was for ECW, particularly their heels. Some cool music and some awesome New Jack promos should bump this up higher, but there just wasn't enough here. The Douglas vs Louie match was solid, but not enough to jump the score up for the entire show. The Raven stuff was pretty interesting. Shane Douglas and Francine are just strait up old school ruthless heels in this show and I love it. After watching about 6 months of 2002 WWE tapes in a matter of weeks, this was a pretty refreshing show for me. The next couple of reviews should be a fun ride.

              Comment


              • Re: American Hardcore Theatre: ECW's Real History

                Extreme Championship Wrestling
                Hardcore TV(Episode #178)

                September 17th 1996

                Alright, so after a pretty long layoff from this project we're just going to dive right back into it with the first of 9 Hardcore TV reviews leading up to November to Remember 96. Right now where ECW is as a promotion is right there on the cusp of going live on Pay Per View for the first time ever. The pay per view landscape was a scary one during this time. The UFC had recently been boycotted by several of the major PPV carriers in the US due to the graphic violence(mostly due to pressure from politicians that sought publicity). ECW had also had some bad luck with one of their recent mega-blockbuster-super-ultra cards, Hardcore Heaven 96, where the ring ropes kept breaking throughout the evening. So they clearly weren't ready to go to PPV just yet. They weren't really well known outside of the Philly/NY area during this time either. I can remember seeing pictures of ECW acts in magazines back in the day, but I never really caught on to ECW as a brand until they popped up at the WWE Mind Games PPV in October of 96. That's a few weeks away though, so I'll save it for a later review.

                Going into this episode of Hardcore TV the promotion is revolving around two major feuds. Tommy Dreamer & his girl Beulah are in an ongoing war against the manipulative zen master Raven. On the other end of the promotion is Sabu vs Taz, which is been slowly cooking ever since November to Remember 95, the night Taz turned heel and Sabu returned from his hiatus. Even though these are the two main feuds that the entire promotion is revolving around, their overall stories have branched out and interwoven into the other characters in ECW. Raven is on a quest to destroy the Sandman from the inside out by using his ex-wife & 8 year old son against him. Dreamer is in a feud with Taz and Raven's enforcer, Brian Lee. Sabu is in a feud with Rob Van Dam over respect. Van Dam didn't have any respect for Sabu until after a grueling trilogy of matches. Now Van Dam wants Sabu to be his tag partner against Doug Furnas & Dan Kroffat at the next ECW show. Outside of that we have Shane Douglas in a rivalry with Pitbull #2 over the broken neck of his tag team partner. We also have the ongoing tag team title feud between The Eliminators & The Gangstas, The Dudleyz working their way up from the bottom of the card, and a nice little run from the aging veterans, Terry Gordy & Steve Williams. Let's dig into this one and start our road to November to Remember 96!

                The show starts off with a clip of Raven and Shane Douglas beating up Pitbull 2. The Sandman makes the save with the stiff cane shots. Raven uses The Sandman's son against him. His son strikes Raven's pose in front of him until The Sandman bends him over his knee for a spanking. Brian Lee attacks Sandman from behind. Raven drops him with a DDT. We get a great shot of The Sandman's family taunting his unconscious body.


                This segues into the White Zombie Intro.


                Styles opens the show with a state of ECW address. He briefly goes over the Raven/Sandman angle, saying that Stevie Richards gave ECW a home video of Tyler's birthday party. This is a segment that I wrote about prematurely in a previous Hardcore TV summary. This is just a creepy home video style segment with a sad, depressing birthday party for The Sandman's 8 year old son Tyler. Raven sits at the table with Tyler as the Blue Meanie tries to entertain the kid. They play hide and seek. Tyler goes to hide in the close and finds a gift wrapped present. His mom tells him that it was from his father. Tyler opens the package and gets excited about the toy until Raven snaps. Raven rips the toy into pieces. Tyler poses like Raven as the segment comes to an end. Interesting stuff. Cheesy, but interesting.


                We cut to ads with a house show add for a show at the Lu Lu Temple in Plymouth Meeting, PA. Advertised for the card is Raven vs Rob Van Dam and Sabu vs Saturn for the first time.

                New Jack cuts a brief promo about the upcoming WWF "Mind Games" PPV in Philly. He talks about how WWF officials confiscated Gangstas signs at the last Pennsylvania show(December 95 In Your House, this was true according to the Observers back then, several Gangstas signs were confiscated, fans were making the "X" with their forearms throughout the show). New Jack calls out WWF wrestlers to show up in the ECW Arena and get beat down, Gangstas rule Philly sucka!

                Hardcore Hotline ad. 1-900-990-4ECW, quick, somebody call it!

                Next we get a replay of this American Journal clip that debuted on the previous episode:


                Something about ECW 95-96, it was just this "Little promotion that could". We're almost all the way through 96, and I'll have to stick by my claim that 95 was the best year for ECW.

                Joey replays the clip of the video where Taz talks about how he's not a character. Joey hypes Taz up a bit as a real bad ass before shooting it down to Lance Wright's "Hype Central" segment.

                Lance gives us a corny segue into ads for the LuLu Temple show set to some AWESOME hip hop music. Don't know who this is, but I love it. There's a woman singing and the beat is just right.

                1-900 ad, an extreme valet was caught doing a striptease so extreme they can't explain it here.

                Ad for ECW/IWA Japan poster for their show in Japan a while back. The Raven vs Dreamer match from that show was one of the better Raven vs Dreamer matches I've ever seen.

                More Lance Wright hype. The hip hop song I mentioned above plays throughout all of this.

                Oh my, we get a weird Tommy Dreamer/Beulah promo with Beulah pouring hot candle wax all over Dreamer. He's cutting a really weird goofy promo. He calls out Brian Lee and says that his pain is his pleasure.

                More ECW house show ads set to Mad Season's "I Don't Know Anything".

                Commercials.

                Clip of the cage match Gangstas vs Eliminators, from the Natural Born Killaz show. Shane Douglas interfered in the match and united with the Eliminators to form a new Triple Threat. The Gangstas still find a way to win and keep their titles. Shane Douglas & The Eliminators as the Triple Threat was something they started to do, but I'm thinking it was abandoned pretty quickly for some reason.

                We get some fan cam clips of Shane Douglas from a house show as Joey Styles hypes him up as a slimy heel. This show is all about the heels.

                The clip shows some footage of a house show match with Shane Douglas and one of the Samoan Gangsta Party guys teaming up to take on The Gangstas. The Samoan Gangsta Party guy has tape all over his arm and neck from supposed stitches from another match. Shane turns his back on his partner for the match and never tags in. The Gangstas pickup the win. Shane screams at the guy after the match for losing before attacking him from behind and ripping his stitches out. Douglas is one of my favorite heels ever right here.

                New Jack is shown again in the streets somewhere cutting promos about Shane Douglas. He says that Shane Douglas better check his closet and under his bed before he goes to sleep at night. I love that shit. They call out the Eliminators for a title match, saying they deserve one. New Jack cuts my favorite promos. Mustapha is pretty worthless though.

                Natural Born Killaz home video ad set to the Ice Cube/Dr. Dre song.

                Sabu t-shirt ad. No fears and no peers. I found a really good Sabu documentary a while back that I highly recommend everyone watch right now.

                So far no matches, this has pretty much been one big ECW infomercial, with emphasis put on the heels and how dirty they are.

                Alright, here we go..

                ECW World Television Championship
                Shane Douglas(C) vs Louie Spicolli


                This match is from the "When Worlds Collide '96" ECW Arena event, which I'm assuming was never commercially released.

                Francine is fucking hotness almighty, JEEZUS! MAN!!!


                One of the fans reaches over and touches Francine. Shane Douglas gets fired up and tells the fans they will get their asses kicked if they touch Francine.

                Shane rounds the ring and pulls a Shawn Michaels shirt out of one of the fans hands. He blows his nose on it and spits on it.


                Did I mention how hot Francine was?! Good god. She's been cutting some pretty good promos and deserves some of the credit for this epic heel run that Douglas is on right now. The double cross in the 4 way dance at Heatwave 96 was done masterfully.

                Shane Douglas has Joel Gertner as his Ricardo Rodriguez style announcer, and a personal security guard. The crowd chants PILLMAN at Shane Douglas.

                Douglas gets the mic and tells everyone to sit down and shut the fuck up or he and Francine will walk out and they can all kiss his ass. I love it.

                Douglas tells the ring announcer Bob Artese to tell the fans to shut up.

                Douglas and Francine are leaving.

                Louie tells him to stop worrying about the people and worry about the man that's going to beat the fuck out of him. Shane charges him and we're off.

                Crowd is taunting Douglas hard, chanting "Pillman". For those that missed it, Pillman had a little rivalry with Shane Douglas that carried over into ECW when Pillman jumped from WCW earlier in 1996. Pillman would taunt Shane in the build up to perhaps the greatest ECW match that never happened.

                Louie dominates Shane early on, almost catching him with his Death Valley Driver, but Shane rolls out and escapes the ring for a timeout.

                The crowd starts a camptown races chant of "Douglas has no balls", followed immediately with chants of "She's a whore".

                They tie up after some heel stalling from Douglas. Louie kicks his ass all over the ring and the crowd loves it. Shane cheats his way into the match and targets Louie's groin before going after his neck. Louie gains the upper advantage and goes after Shane's neck, pulling him up on his back with a "Hangman" neck crank. Francine taunts Louie long enough for him to give up on Shane Douglas and go after her out in the isle. Shane follows him and we get some brawling on the outside. Douglas blasts Louie with a chair shot to the back as we cut to commercials.

                New craftmatic adjustable bed. The ultimate in bedroom luxury.

                Hardcore Hotline ad. INSIDE WRESTLING NEWS! Play wrestling trivia to win a chance to win a free prize!

                The Doctor Is In VHS ad, great show.

                Whoa, We get a Raven promo. What happened to the TV title match!?!?!

                Raven talks about Rob Van Dam's run to glory. I didn't know these guys had a little fued. Raven says he can take on both RVD and Sabu as Sandman's wife sits in his lap. Raven and Sabu never had an ECW match. I'd like to see this Raven vs RVD match.

                Back to the match at hand. Spicolli is beating Douglas' ass in the isle.

                The crowd taunts Francine hard. We get a chant of "She's Got Herpes!" I'm pretty sure this is the first one.

                At one point in the match the crowd begins chanting "HBK!" just to get under Douglas' skin. Just think about that for a second. If Douglas could get the ECW Arena to chant for HBK, just think about what that feud could have done in the WWE during this time in 96. I think Douglas was the type of heel that HBK needed during his 96 title run. It's a shame they couldn't work together because it would have been the best thing in wrestling in 1996. Vader and Sid weren't the type of heels that HBK should have been feuding with because they were so badass, 18-35 year old men were going to cheer for them over Vince's pretty boy babyface. HBK needed a slimy heel that could get under people's skin. I don't think there was heel that fit that bill more than Shane did in 96. HBK vs Shane Douglas is one of the greatest feuds that never happened.

                Douglas continues going to Louie's neck, going for a Tombstone that Spicolli tries to reverse, but Douglas falls back on him for a 2 count. Louie reverses for 2 before Douglas gets a foot on ropes.

                Spicolli whips Shane into the ropes and drops him with a nice, stiff Spinebuster Slam that looks really devastating.

                Crowd is just having a blast trying to come up with chants here. Louie lands a nice Northern Lights for close 2 count. The crowd gasps and starts chanting Louie's name. Louie almost gets the Death Valley Driver, but Shane weasels out by grabbing the ropes. Louie dumps him out of the ring to the unprotected concrete floor for a pretty stiff bump. The crowd chants E! C! DUB!

                They fight on the outside for a bit, sending each other into a table that refuses to break.

                Back to the ring and Louie finally gets Douglas up in the center of the ring for the DVD. Francine climbs into the ring and stops it. Shane lands a neckbreaker followed by his Belly To Belly Suplex for the 1, 2, 3 at 19:32. The crowd moans.

                Louie remains down like he's hurt his neck. He's swarmed by other wrestlers, doctors, referees, etc. The crowd continues to try to get under Douglas' skin with the Pillman chants. Shane taunts the crowd with middle fingers as they put Louie on a stretcher and carry him out. Shane and Francine laugh and make jokes about it for maximum heat.


                7.6/10

                Decent good guy vs bad guy match here where Shane Douglas does a phenomenal job of making Louie look great. Douglas is without a doubt the #1 heel right now in ECW and it's one of my personal favorite heel runs ever. This match had some sloppy moments, and I'm sure it was edited to hell and back, so you can only take this rating with a grain of salt. This was a solid match though. Douglas was at the top of his game and Francine was a pretty underrated heel herself. Francine was such a good heel here that the crowd created the infamous "She's Got Herpes" and "She's A Whore" chants just for her. In all, nothing really flashy here, but nothing really bad either. Some great heel vs face psychology got the job done. This was probably the best Louie Spicolli match I've ever seen. The crowd helped it out a lot as well.

                Extreme Warfare Vol. 2 VHS ad.

                Sabu T-Shirt Ad again.

                Lance Wright interviews Shane Douglas in the ring after the match. Gertner takes his mic and tells him to scram. Gertner smacks him down. He's so smug and hilarious. He burns Lance Wright down until Lance rushes him. Shane drops Lance Wright with the Single Arm DDT and puts him in full nelson. This is great.

                Out comes Pitbull 2. Pitbull 2 runs Shane out of the ring as the show comes to an end. Joey goes to the ring with several others, screaming for a stretcher. Lance Wright is carried out.

                Overall: 6.8/10

                There wasn't much to this show other than a lot of commercials, but I don't really mind these "Infomercial" episodes that they would do like this from time to time. This all felt like one of those late night Infomercials, except it was for ECW, particularly their heels. Some cool music and some awesome New Jack promos should bump this up higher, but there just wasn't enough here. The Douglas vs Louie match was solid, but not enough to jump the score up for the entire show. The Raven stuff was pretty interesting. Shane Douglas and Francine are just strait up old school ruthless heels in this show and I love it. After watching about 6 months of 2002 WWE tapes in a matter of weeks, this was a pretty refreshing show for me. The next couple of reviews should be a fun ride.

                Comment


                • Re: American Hardcore Theatre: ECW's Real History

                  Not much to add, since nothing really happened in that episode, so I'll just say, I'm so glad this is back. And that song was Toni Braxton - You're Making Me High.

                  $

                  Comment


                  • Re: American Hardcore Theatre: ECW's Real History

                    Not much to add, since nothing really happened in that episode, so I'll just say, I'm so glad this is back. And that song was Toni Braxton - You're Making Me High.

                    $

                    Comment


                    • Re: American Hardcore Theatre: ECW's Real History

                      Thanks Kilgore. You are the man.



                      Comment


                      • Re: American Hardcore Theatre: ECW's Real History

                        Thanks Kilgore. You are the man.



                        Comment


                        • Re: American Hardcore Theatre: ECW's Real History

                          Well I got through the first page of this, only took me like 2 hours! Jesus man, this is amazing. Obviously I still have a lot to read and I'm excited to get through some more but I've got to take a break for now.


                          *CREDIT TO FRESH PRINCE*


                          PW'S 2015 WWE HOMETOWN HERO



                          Comment


                          • Re: American Hardcore Theatre: ECW's Real History

                            Well I got through the first page of this, only took me like 2 hours! Jesus man, this is amazing. Obviously I still have a lot to read and I'm excited to get through some more but I've got to take a break for now.


                            *CREDIT TO FRESH PRINCE*


                            PW'S 2015 WWE HOMETOWN HERO



                            Comment


                            • Re: American Hardcore Theatre: ECW's Real History

                              Since this thread was made during a time I wasn't posting often, I decided to take the time and read it. It's a great read. Since ECW was the first promotion that got me into wrestling, the story of it always interests me. Hell, it's been 12 years since it went under, and it never gets old. Some about it was different from the WCW and WWF, just from looking at it, which attracted my interest. I followed it's last few years (never got into wrestling till 1998), watched all the old events (on VHS, which makes me feel old ), watched Rise and Fall of ECW, Barbed Wire City, and still wanna relive its history through this thread. I guess that's what makes ECW so special. This thread will keep me busy, till the whole story is told.

                              Comment


                              • Re: American Hardcore Theatre: ECW's Real History

                                Since this thread was made during a time I wasn't posting often, I decided to take the time and read it. It's a great read. Since ECW was the first promotion that got me into wrestling, the story of it always interests me. Hell, it's been 12 years since it went under, and it never gets old. Some about it was different from the WCW and WWF, just from looking at it, which attracted my interest. I followed it's last few years (never got into wrestling till 1998), watched all the old events (on VHS, which makes me feel old ), watched Rise and Fall of ECW, Barbed Wire City, and still wanna relive its history through this thread. I guess that's what makes ECW so special. This thread will keep me busy, till the whole story is told.

                                Comment

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