Eastern Championship Wrestling
Sports Channel America pilot episode
Recorded early 1993 at Kensington Sports Arena, Philadelphia PA
This episode is from the days just before "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbiert brought his Memphis Wrestling style of booking(as well as Paul Heyman) into the company. Tod Gordon(the owner) had pretty much taken over the booking at this point with Gilbert coming over in only 2 months from this show because Gordon pretty much realized he didn't know what he was doing(and had limited contacts with performers).
This is the first episode of the ECW's long running show on the Philly cable channel "Sports Channel America". On the card we have all the belts on the line, some early Sandman, and the legendary Jimmy "Super Fly" Snuka.
The show opens with the two television announcers. One of the announcers is Stevie Wonderful. he looks like the pirate guy from "Dodgeball". They go on to tell us that we have a spectacular show in store for us tonight
King Kaluha vs. Tommy Cairo
Here we go for our first match, and King Kaluha comes out to some cheesy tropical music. He is billed from Hawaii. Pure goofiness. This guy is dressed in a pink robe, and matching bandana. He also has funny teal colored makeup stripes on his cheeks.
Bob Artese is the ring announcer here. Nice. He was the ring announcer for a long time in the ECW until Paul Heyman just stopped paying the man. He wasn't bad at all. He wasn't a Michael Buffer, but not bad.
Tommy Cairo comes out to some love from the crowd. He was a regular in the ECW during the Eastern days. He is decked out in leather, with assless chaps and all. Cairo has a bodybuilding background prior to his ECW days. He doesn't look so big here.
This arena is very dark. The ring apron is black, and the ropes are all black. The turnbuckles are red, white, and blue. Looks like maybe 100 people here, maybe less.
Kahula has fuscia colored pants on with a pink leopard print stripe down the legs.
These guys are working at a very slow pace. The crowd is almost silent as the two men trade basic moves and rest holds.
Kaluha blocks a sunset flip pin attempt by sitting down on Tommy's chest for a pin attempt of his own. Cairo rolls him through for the pin after nearly 7 minutes of boredom.
Cairo gets on the mic after the match and says:
Everyone in Philly knows that when the "Iron Man" comes to town baby, sooner or later everybody else goes down.
Sports Channel baby, and the ECW. The hottest ticket going.
I want all of my "Iron Maniacs" to remember one thing. Every day when you get up, and you look into the mirror, be proud, and stand tall. Most of all remember, never surrender baby!
The announcer says that the Iron Man is undefeated and due for a title shot.
Really boring match. The promo at the end was kind of funny, but this was a terrible match. No reaction at all from the crowd. King Kaluha was a terrible heel, and Cairo half assed his way through the match as the golden boy face. Quite corny.
ECW Tag Championship
Super Destroyers (c) vs. Jimmy Jannetty & Larry Winters
The Super Destroyers are two massive men with black Executioner style masks on, along with black wrestling gear(and fingerless gloves). Their actual names were Doug Stall, and A. J. Fritzoid.
They come out here to the theme song from Halloween. They are escorted to the ring by a young black man in a suit & glasses ala Clarence Mason or "Slick". These guys were just downright sloppy, and would be out of wrestling soon after losing the belts.
Funny thing about one of their opponents is that he was one of the main bookers of Tod Gordon's ECW in it's earliest of days(1992). Larry Winters was one of the guys that first got the company off of the ground in 1992. Gordon got more and more involved in the booking, and eventually took over.
Pop up Facts: Larry Winters
Did you know that Larry Winters was one of the biggest stars in the old TSWA? He starred in a violent fued against D.C. Drake for a series of wild matches. In their first match together, the two men brawled up to the balcony level of the arena. Winters threw Drake over the railing down to the concrete floor.
Pro Wrestling Illustrated wrote the following month that "professional wrestling would be forever changed due to this escalated level of violence" in an article about the TSWA's events.
Winters had his own wrestling gym in Philly where he would train many of the mainstay's of ECW history, such as The Sandman.
Winters is teamed up with Jimmy Janety, who actually looks like he may be related to Marty. He has similar gear on.
Quite a bit of stalling going on with Janety rolling around out of reach of one of the bigger Destroyers. Janety and Winters have some nice chemistry here, and are pulling off some nice tandem moves. Nothing really fast or incredibly athletic, but they are working pretty hard to make it a match.
The Destroyer in the match does a terrible job of selling, and both of them just move around so slow it is rediculous. The only thing these guys had going for them was their size. Pretty typical old school style tag match here. Destroyers distract the ref, and double team Jannetty. No reaction from the crowd whatsoever. The announcers are calling them "Super D's".
Spin kick by Jimmy Jannetty misses by a mile, and the "Super D #2" still sells it(poorly). Winters does half decent moves including a simultaneous side headlock/headscissor rolling takedown on both of the "Super D's".
Larry Winters is actaully not doing a very bad job at all of working this match. He is using some legit wrestling moves, even a figure four at one point. Nothing spectacular, or exciting, but he is making it look like wrestling match at the very least. That is much more than I can say about previous Super Destroyers matches I've seen.
Winters rolls up one of the Super D's for the win, and the tag belts after about 12 minutes.
Pretty boring, but Winters and Jannetty deserve credit for carrying the incredibly talentless Super Destoyers. The guys couldn't sell, and they were so slow it was rediculous. The two men playing the roles of the Super Destroyers would go on to have a brief fued with each other before realizing that perhaps they were not cut out for the Pro Wrestling bussiness, and dissapearing altogether.
ECW TV Championship Jimmy Snuka vs. Glen Osbourne (c)
Next up we have a wrestler who was trained by Larry Winters, Glen Osbourne. Glen was a native of Philly that got his start as one of the more hardcore wrestlers in Joel Hartgood's TSWA in the early 90's. Glen went to college at West Chester University majoring in English while he was paying his dues in Joel's TSWA.
He looks pretty cool here for the time period. He has all black on with an all black Ultimate Warrior face paint design. He also has metal studded Judas Priest style forearm wraps like the ones Kerry King of Slayer used to wear back in the day.
Osbourne cuts a promo in his Road Warrior Hawk voice telling everyone that Jimmy Snuka's legend is going to come to an end.
Snuka cuts a promo next with Stevie Wonderfull, and his manager the "Slick" impersonator that led the Super Destroyers to the ring, so he is apparently a heel here.
Snuka chows down on an apple while Stevie gives us an introduction. Snuka is eating the apple like a maniac with peices and juice just falling out of his mouth all over the place. Snuka's Clarence Mason lookalike manager does all the talking while Snuka spits chunks of apple at the camera.
Snuka's manager isn't all that bad actually, he cuts a decent heel manager promo telling Osbourne that Snuka is going to take his manhood, and the TV title.
Stevie ends both promo's by saying "Isn't that wonderfull", what a goon.
Snuka comes out to the Halloween theme song from the film. Apparantly he was a part of his managers(Hunter Q. Robinson) heel stable along with the Super Destroyers.
Both guys work the crowd for a while before the bell rings. Osbourne is the face here, and the crowd is surprisingly behind him against Snuka. Snuka is not in very good shape here. Looking a little flabby. Not nearly as ripped up as he was near the end of his WWF run a year earlier.
Camera gives us a decent shot of the crowd, and no wonder they are behind Osbourne so much, they are 75% kids! Mostly children in the crowd and that is a stark contrast to the demographic the ECW would attract later on in its life.
These two guys open up with a solid match in the first 4 minutes. Osbourne hiptosses Snuka around the ring, and cranks on his arm to give him a rest. Osbourne continues to arm drag and hiptoss Snuka around the ring with arm lock restholds in between.
Snuka's manager trips Osbourne up, and the kids in attendance are pissed. Snuka just doesn't look good here at all. He is moving around pretty slow, and awkwardly, and he seems pretty winded after not much action. Osbourne gets knocked outside where Hunter Q. attacks him.
Ref gets taken out, and Osbourne gets Snuka with a powerslam, but the ref isn't there to count. Osbourne goes to get the ref, and Snuka rolls him up from behind. The ref jumps in the ring and counts for the pin after about a 5 minute match.
Snuka wins, and is given the title, and all of the 7 year old boys in attendance are ready to riot!
Wait a minute! Another ref comes in and reverses the decision. Snuka is disqualified! Pretty goofy booking going on right here. Osbourne retains the title, and Snuka attacks him from behind. Snuka ko's Osbourne, and both referees to end the segment.
Not a real bad, sloppy match, but again, nothing to really write about. Just a bunch of simple basic moves with no real psychology involved whatsoever. Snuka didn't look very good at all, and the ending was just a sign that Gordon didn't have a clue about how to book a wrestling show. Very generic, boring match with absolutely nothing going for it.
ECW Championship Sandman (w/Peaches) (c) vs. Kodiak Bear
Oh my god here comes the wrestlecrap parade. The Kodiak Bear is led to the ring by his manager, "The Cosmic Comander". This guy's outfit needs to be seen. First of all he has a sultan hat on like the prince from "Aladdin". He is wearing a pink dress coat lined with shiny sequins, white pants, white shoes, and some Devo sunglasses(with the thin slit for you to see out of)
He is the comander of all that he commands
Pretty funny sight of some old school wrestlecrap just gets better with Wonderful's goofy commentary. This is just funny.
The Bear has a sleeveless red flannel and long black tights on, with a grizzly adams beard, and long hair(with a pretty big bald spot). He is a grizzly looking dude that comes out to a Bob Seger song(the one Kid Rock buthered up for "All Summer Long"). He kind of looks like Skinner, but a little bit bigger.
OH MY GOD! Here comes the ECW World Heavywieght Champion The Sandman! If you want to laugh, you need to look this show up. The Sandman doesn't come out to "Enter Sandman" by Metallica, he comes out to
"Surfin USA" By the Beach Boys!!!
He has a surf board with him, and he is wearing a multi-neon colored wet suit. He is accompanied to the ring by his real life wife(Lori Fullington) "Peaches", who is likewise dressed in beach clothes.
It is becoming quite clear that the Sandman's name once had a more literall meaning to it. Just seeing him like this after all of those years as the drunken bar room brawler is kind of unbelievable.
Sandman clears the ring with his Surfboard. The TV announcers say that his popularity is on the rise in the ECW.
Artese announces Peaches as the first lady of ECW. She looks pretty hot here too.
Oh wow! Sandman is billed from South Beach, California! The crowd gives him the biggest pop of the evening as he is introduced.
Bear attacks him from behind to start the match. Bear just opens up by hammering on the Sandman who is doing an ok job of selling. Sandman takes the momentum, and seeing him react to the crowd like some kind of golden boy baby face is just funny after all I've seen the man do.
Sandman's style is much different here than what he was known for later on in his career. I think I've seen him do more actuall wrestling moves here in the first 3 minutes than the entirety of the rest of his career. Sandman does a sunset flip pin attempt, a dropkick, and a few other traditional moves.
Just when I start to give him some credit he leapfrog's the Kodiak Bear, botches the landing, trips, and stumbles through the ropes out of the ring on accident. Pretty funny botch right there.
Bear gets him back in the ring and takes over. Reverse Irish Whip, and a back body drop by the Sandman. The Sandman gets distracted when the Cosmic Commander attacks Peaches on the outside. Sandman goes out to her rescue, and then all of a sudden the "Rockin Rebel" comes out of nowhere to attack him from behind without the ref seeing it. Rebel runs off, and the Bear goes outside to work him over some more.
Bear gets him back in the ring to work him over with power moves, and the Sandman does a solid job of selling, and working this match like the face that he was supposed to portray.
Sandman hits the Bear with two consecutive drop kicks off of the top rope that looked sloppy as hell. Sandman gets the pin after a 7 minute match.
Defenitely the best match on the tape, but that is not saying much at all. There is some comedic value here, and that is why I'm being so generous with the score. I laughed pretty hard at the Cosmic Commander, and almost pissed my pants when the "Sand" man made his entrance to "Surfin USA".
The match really wasn't all that bad for the time it took up. Defenitely a bit on the sloppy side, but they worked well together to get the job done. The surprise was that the Sandman actually pulled off a few actual wrestling moves.
The real comedy comes in whe Stevie Wonderfull interviews the Sandman backstage after the match.
Sandman says that it was a good match until the Rebel stuck his nose where it didn't belong. All of a sudden out of nowhere without any warning someone smacks the shit out of the Sandman's chest with a knife edge chop(Hilarious!).
THE REBEL IS HERE!
The Rockin Rebel attacks the Sandman to end the show as the wrestlers try to break them up.
This was a terrible show, but it did have some very funny moments. Not enough of them to track this thing down though. The thing that stands out here is that Tod Gordon's booking(and even Larry Winters booking before this show) was very old school. Everything had a very 70's/80's Jim Crockett feel to it. This was a time when Pro Wrestling was really stuck in a rut as far as creativity. Everyone in the industry still seemed to be stuck in the 80's(and this was 1993). Wrestling as a whole was behind on what was going on in pop culture at the time. By 1993 grunge, and hip hop culture had really taken over, and the pro wrestling industry was still in the "Rocking Wrestling" days, trying to recreate the next Ultimate Warrior, and Hulk Hogan.
So even though the ECW was born from the TSWA, Tod Gordon really distanced it from its roots at first. Not only did he cut down on the big money performers in favor for homegrown Philly talent(if you want to call it that), but he tried to put on more of a traditional wrestling show.