Pro Wrestling In Early 1995
So what was the big deal with ECW? Why did the smart marks think it was so cool back in the day? I don't understand this love affair that the promotion's fans had, I mean the shows were put on in a.......Bingo Hall!?
The budget was so low, the shows were shot with two cheap cameras. There weren't any flashy production values. There weren't any HBKs, or Diesels, or Hogans, or Hitmans, or Stings, or Randy Savages, I mean ECW didn't have anybody like that.
So what was the big fucking deal? Why did ECW fans have this love affair with them? Were the ECW fans just idiots with really poor taste?
To get a feel for why there was this loyalty from the ECW's fans, lets go back to when the the ECW really started to win them over, and lets take a good look at what else was going on in pro wrestling. Lets see what the alternatives looked like. Lets take a look at what was going on in the WCW & WWF in the months leading up to the next show I will be reviewing, ECW Three Way Dance from April 8th 1995, just 6 days after Wrestlemania XI.
In the WCW, they were on their way to their very first ever Uncensored pay per view. The show was promoted as an unsanctioned event, which meant that there were absolutely no rules. ECW called WCW out on the show several times on Hardcore TV in the weeks leading up to the event, going as fas as saying that Eric Bischoff was ECW's biggest fan. Public Enemy also took several shots at the show(and WCW) in their promo skits on Hardcore TV in March of 95, which were pretty fucking hilarious.
At the show, even though it had been billed as a No Disqualifications show, the Savage vs Avalanche(the late John Tenta) match did in fact end in a disqualification. A previously recorded "King of the Road" match for Uncensored between Dustin Rhodes and The Blacktop Bully was heavily edited due to the blood in the match. Due to WCW's no blood policy at the time, both Dustin Rhodes & The Blacktop Bully were fired for blading in the match.
Also at Uncensored was a Texas Tornado tag match between Harlem Heat & The Nasty Boys where the two teams made their way to the concession stand to beat each other with lethal objects such as Cotton Candy. The match was heavily parodied in a skit by Public Enemy in the following week's ECW Hardcore TV with both men dressed up like women. If you forget momentarily that Public Enemy would go on to compete in these same watered down WCW hardcore matches themselves about a year later, you will see that these WCW spoof skits were a big part of why they were arguably the most over acts in the ECW at this time in 1995.
A little known fact is that the biggest heel in ECW history is without a doubt Eric Bischoff. This all started really right here with Uncensored where the ECW painted him as completely ripping them off with the entire Uncensored concept, trying to capitalize on the style that ECW used to generate the hype they were generating at the time.
In the WWF all of the buzz for the upcoming Wrestlemania was over NFL Hall Of Famer Lawrence Taylor coming in to have a match with Bam Bam Bigelow. Diesel was still in the early stages of his year long World Title reign, feuding with the up & coming heel Shawn Michaels. Ted Dibiase's Million Dollar Corporation was the lead heel stable with Bam Bam Bigelow, King Kong Bundy, Tatanka, Kama, and IRS fueding primarily with The Undertaker. Bret & Owen Hart's epic fued had been brought to an end on Raw in March, and Bret was set to face Bob Backlund in a rematch at Wrestlemania XI
Wrestlemania XI is generally conceived to be one of(if not the) worst Wrestlemania's of all time. Worse than that, characters like Doink the Clown, Duke "The Dumpster" Droese, Henry Godwin, Mantaur, Jean Pierre Lafitte, and Aldo Montoya were prominently featured week in and week out on Monday Night Raw throughout the spring of 1995.
Meanwhile, over in the bingo hall, the ECW's main storyline was the double switch between Shane Douglas & Terry Funk. Cactus Jack had been fueding with The Sandman & his valet Nancy "Woman" Benoit. Cactus & The Sandman's fued centered around Cactus talking shit about Woman's real life husband Kevin Sullivan, who was the booker of WCW at the time(Which was common knowledge among ECW fans at the time). Cactus had recently been released from WCW, and his fued with The Sandman really helped put him over as one of ECW's most popular characters. Cactus put The Sandman out of action in a brutal Texas Death Match. The Sandman promised Cactus a mystery opponent at the next ECW show, which turned out to be Terry Funk. Funk turned heel with The Sandman & Woman that same evening with the vicious way he attacked the Philadelphia favorite Cactus Jack. Funk insulted the crowd as he helped The Sandman beat the dogshit out of Cactus with chairs & Singapore canes. Shane Douglas came out, and turned face when he saved Cactus. Shane Douglas & Cactus Jack were training partners in Dominic Denucci's wrestling school, and that was the storyline reason why Shane came to help him.
During the following weeks Funk cut some epic heel promos that were a throwback to his feud with Ric Flair. Funk talked about Cactus's real life stuff. Mentioned his son Dewey, and said that Cactus was a Charlatan.
Charlatan: In usage, a subtle difference is drawn between the charlatan and other kinds of confidence people. The charlatan is usually a salesperson. He does not try to create a personal relationship with his marks, or set up an elaborate hoax using roleplaying. Rather, the person called a charlatan is being accused of resorting to quackery, pseudoscience, or some knowingly employed bogus means of impressing people in order to swindle his victims by selling them worthless nostrums and similar goods or services that will not deliver on the promises made for them
Pretty deep shit huh?!:stalker:
Cactus' promos that he cut in response on ECW Hardcore TV in March of 1995 were some of the all time greatest wrestling promos. Cactus talked about how he was a real person, and that his name was Mic Foley. Cactus called Funk out on Jobbing to Patrick Swayze in Road House.
The feud culminated at the ECW Arena March 18th 1995 show where Cactus & Shane Douglas faced Terry Funk & The Sandman. During the match Cactus Jack was burned by Terry Funk with a flaming branding iron. Pretty awesome double switch between one of the top heels and the top face in Funk & Shane Douglas. The Funk vs Cactus fued also really gave The Sandman & Shane Douglas a good rub to help establish them as some of the top characters in ECW.
Also at the same March 18th 1995 show was a "Generation X Guantlet Match", where Tommy Dreamer had to face off against Raven's flock in order to get a match with Raven. Dreamer beat up Raven's lackeys, but was viciously beaten by Raven afterwards. In one of the most extreme, gruesome moments in ECW, Tommy Dreamer was handcuffed to the ropes on the outside of the ring, busted open bleeding like a stuck pig, and beaten to within an inch of his life by Raven.
Starting to see what all of the fuss was about now? ECW was way more down to earth, and adult oriented.
The next show up is the Three Way Dance show from April 8th 1995. The main storyline going into this show was a three way tag team fued between The Public Enemy, Sabu & The Tasmaniac, and Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko. A very well booked 3 way fued, but problems would arise with Sabu screwing up the big payoff.
Sabu had a Japan show booked for the same date, and was unable to make the show. Paul Heyman lambasted Sabu in a pre show speech to the crowd for choosing not to show up, but he failed to mention that Sabu had turned down a lucrative Japanese tour down just weeks prior to perform at ECW shows for less money.
Heyman offered the fans refunds for their tickets, but asked for everyone to at least wait until intermission to decide whether or not they wanted one. Before intermission Sabu's replacement was revealed to be none other than Rick Stiener.