American Hardcore Theater: ECW's Real History
In this thread, I'm going through the real history of the ECW. Not every single show, but most of them. I always kind of looked at Pro Wrestling a little bit differently than most people did. I don't put much stock in whether or not a guy can "Work" a match, or if there is proper Psychology in a match. I just want to laugh, say "Holy Shit!", and see some good looking women. In other words, I just want to be entertained. If I want real, traditional wrestling, I'll go watch the NCAA National Championships.
While the ECW may have been a complete, and utter failure as far as "Wrestling", I think they were a huge success as far as "Sports Entertainment". ECW was not wrestling, it was something in between wrestling, and an action movie. A live action movie where the actors only get 1 take to make it look good.
So lets get into this. Many don't know that the ECW was the spiritual successor the Joel Goodhart's Tri State Wrestling Alliance. The TSWA put on similarly raunchy shows for the Philadelphia crowd with local wrestlers, and the occasional big name headliner. Some time in 92 Tod Gordon bought the company, and changed the name to Eastern Championship Wrestling. The most common misconception about the beginning of ECW is that they were under the NWA umbrella from day 1. This is false. The ECW started out independent. They didn't join the NWA until Paul Heyman took over the booking in the fall of 1993.
Everyone seems to have polarizing views of the ECW, and that is understood. Some people grow up and live in completely different households, with completely different lifestyles, resulting in completely different opinions of things. I'm completely open to any rational debates, or discussions from anyone at anytime here so feel free to drop in with any comments, criticism, or general ECW discussions.
Lets get on with the show!
Re: American Hardcore Theater: ECW's Real History
Ok, before we take a look at our first couple of shows, lets spend a little bit of time talking about the roots of the ECW. Lets talk about the Tri States Wrestling Alliance.
Joel Goodhart started TSWA in Philadelphia in 1990 in an attempt to take advantage of a group of wrestling fans that the WWF and WCW kind of neglected in the late 80's and early 90's. The type of wrestling fans that were a little more passionate and demanding because they had grown up with the artform, and knew all of the inside information about what really went on behind the scenes. "Smart Marks". Philadelphia was a smart mark town. The fans in Philly would react much differently to wrestling shows than other crowds around the country.
Pennsylvania, Deleware, and New Jersey were the three states that "Tri States" stood for, and they developed a small, rabbid following because it was nothing at all like what else was going on at the time in pro wrestling. Joel Goodhart was very similar to Paul Heyman. He was a huge wrestling fan that perhaps even to the detriment of his promotion. He would overspend his budget to put together dream cards(for Indy fans) for his fans with big money talent at the time such as Jerry Lawler, Terry Funk, Cactus Jack, Eddie "Hotstuff" Gilbert, Ivan Koloff, The Shiek, Bam Bam Bigelow, Buddy Landel, Abdullah the Butcher, Missy Hyatt, Kevin Sullivan, and Manny Fernandez. Goodhart would spend more than he made to put on shows he knew would make the Philly fans happy. Goodhart was the TSWA's biggest fan, and he let his love of wrestling get in the way of running a profitable promotion. Many wrestlers would inflate their asking prices just because they knew Goodhart would pay whatever it took to put together a certain card.
The Philly wrestling fans developed a relationship with TSWA very similar to the one they would with the ECW later on. A TSWA show in the fall of 1991 drew almost 3 times more than a WCW house show around that same time in the city. Goodhart's TSWA shows put an emphasis on violence. TSWA shows were bloody, raunchy, and extreme. One perticular show in the fall of 1991 featured a "Last Blood" Battle Royal where the only way to be eliminated from the match was to bleed. Within all of the blood and violence, there was the occasional technical gem. One such gem was a highly technical showcase match between a young Owen Hart vs Takayuki Iizuka from New Japan.
Hardcore legends like Sabu, and the Sandman made their debut's in TSWA in the fall of 1991, and many of the regulars from the ECW were a part of the shows(Bob Artese, several referees, and even the "Straw Hat Guy" John Bailey could be found in the front row in attendance). Even though the TSWA was drawing decent crowds, the high pricetag of the performers kept the company from making any money from it. Joel Goodhart had apparently been a successful bussinesman in the insurance industry, but had blown through all of his life savings on the TSWA(and a wrestling radio show he paid to have on air). By January of 1992 Goodhart was flat broke, and had burned the fans by selling several tickets to an event that he never put on. A dream match between the "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers vs Buddy Landel. Joel Goodhart folded the TSWA, and dissapeared from the wrestling industry.
Todd Gordon had worked in the TSWA as an assistant ring announcer along with Bob Artese. Gordon baught half of the company sometime in 1991. Days after Joel Goodhart folded the TSWA, Gordon assembled Bob Artese, Larry Winters(as his booker), and TSWA soundman Steve Truitt to form Eastern Championship Wrestling in his Philadelphia office.
Gordon's ECW started out with a much more humble approach to the bussiness than TSWA. Gordon only ran in small venues(Mike Schmidt's Sports Bar on 8th & Market), and only worked cheap local talent in a much more traditional wrestling setting.
So where we are now is in this early Tod Gordon era of the Eastern Championship Wrestling promotion. Very humble beginings that were never mentioned by the company later on. The time is 1992, and pro wrestling is going through a transition due to the WWF steriod scandal. Crowds were dwindling down in America, but over in Japan a new craze was taking the industry by storm. Japanese star Atsushi Onita befriended Terry Funk, who got him work in the Memphis region during the 80's. Onita and Masa Fuchi competed in a wild bloody brawl against Ricky Morton and Eddie Gilbert in Tupelo Mississipi that went all around the arena whith both teams using anything they could get their hands on, and destroying the concession stand. Onita noticed the southern crowd's hotter than usual reaction to the violent match, and it sparked a revolution. Onita would go back to Japan and start Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling(FMW) in 1990, and created a style that would draw the same hot reactions that his match in Tupelo recieved. Onita's matches in Japan would feature barbed wire, fire, and explosives to draw crowds of over 30-40,000 people in 1992. One of the FMW's young stars would go on to become an ECW legend, Sabu.
Larry Winters was the head booker for the ECW through most of 1992 until Tod Gordon started to get caught up in the job of owning a wrestling promotion, and started to take more control over the show. Gordon started involving himself in the show more and more until he eventually took over booking altogether. After he realized he didn't know what he was doing, Gordon brought in Eddie Gilbert in 1993.
Re: American Hardcore Theater: ECW's Real History
Summer of 1992
Original Sports Bar(Philly, PA)
Ok, so this is Tod Gordon's Eastern Championship Wrestling from the Summer of 1992. A compilation tape of the "Best" of the ECW, and for a long time I honestly didn't even know that the ECW was doing shows as far back as 1992. These matches took place in June, and July around the same time as WWF Summerslam(Bret vs Bulldog/Savage vs Warrior), and The WCW's Great American Bash(Vader vs Sting). The ECW was not a part of the NWA yet, and Paul Hayman wasn't even with them at this point, which may be why this era was never acknowledged in the later days of the ECW. This was even before the Eddie Gilbert era. Larry Winters and Todd Gordon were booking the shows at this point in ECW history.
So on this card we have Jim Niedhart, a Tag Team title match between some guys I've never heard of, and the crown jewel of the tape, the ECW Championship with WWF Legend Jimmy "SuperFly" Snuka vs another ECW legend in his own right(Triple crown champion), Johnny Hotbody(The Champion). I'm actually looking forward to the main event so lets get through some of this.
First up we get a highlight clip of some pretty stiff wrestling to some cool early 90's rock guitar. Pretty good opener with Jimmy nailing a nice splash at the beginning.
Tomy Cairo vs Damien Stone(7/14/92)
"Precious" Damien Stone comes out, and he looks a lot like Guido(Nunzio). In fact, it is Little Guido...Wow, and he looks bigger. Definitely got some more shoulder, and back on him than his later days. Guido comes out as "Welcome to the Jungle" plays, and this is in a small bar with people sitting at tables(and the bar of course). Tommy Cairo comes out to Queen's "We Will Rock You", and he is wearing a biker's black leather jacket(with tassles of course), black leather chaps, and orange tights.
there may be 100 people at this bar. If they are lucky.
Guido circles as Cairo removes his chaps. then they tie up. Both guys look to be in good shape. Cairo was a successful bodybuilder before this match, and he went on to do work for the ECW for about another 2 years after this. Both of them are short, but jacked.
Guido breaks the tieup twice to flex for the crowd, and he is indeed jacked. Cairo then throws him around the ring before Guido goes to the outside. Cairo flips him back into the ring, and hits him with a nice shoulder block, and a clean vertical suplex. Both guys look sharp, and on point. Good match so far.
Guido has a mullet.
Pace starts to slow for a while until Guido back drops Cairo, but Cairo does a full front flip to his feet before nailing Guido with a dropkick. Cairo looks good, and Guido is doing some great selling.
The match goes outside at 5:16 Cairo slams Guido down on the floor. The commentators say he should be disqualified for it, but the match continues. Back in the ring Guido gains momentum. Guido is selling really good as a heel here.
Oh Shit! Cairo nails Guido with a pretty sick powerbomb where Guido almost lands on his head/neck. Cairo gets the pin after 6:00
Too short, but not bad at all. Better than I was expecting. Guido does some great selling, and Cairo displays some pretty good athleticism. Both guys were in great shape, and should have been given more time. I was surprised to see Guido here, but he looked good while it lasted. He made a good jobber.
Oh! Guido attacks Cairo after the match on the outside with a nasty hit from behind. Guido runs off, and Cairo celebrates.
Sal Bellomo vs Jim Niedhart(6/23/92)
Sal is huge, and dressed like a Spartan Warrior. He looks goofy, and the way he is working the crowd as a heel is pretty funny. Niedhart was out of the WWF after the 92 Royal Rumble, and wouldn't go back until 94. The Anvil charges the ring!
Anvil gets a pop, and is dressed in pink and black WWF gear. Anvil clears the ring.
I'm seeing a bunch of mullets here.
Anvil takes Bellomo out with punches, and he is leaving the building with his manager that looks like DDP(its not).
Bellomo gets the Anvil from behind as his manager distracts. Bellomo takes a nasty back body drop. Anvil slams Bellomo around like a ragdoll even though he is giving up a bit of weight.
Sal's manager gets involved, and hits Bellomo with a cell phone on accident. Anvil gets the pin after like 4 minutes.
Anvil beats up Sal's manager after the match. Don Morracco attacks Anvil from behind. Morrocco looks to be old, and out of shape.
Whoa, somebody runs in with pink, and black gear on, and a HUGE MULLETT!, and Ultimate Warrior facepaint(Pink, and black). Morroco takes him out immediately, and the guy retreats to the back with Anvil.
I was going to give this a 4 until the scuffle at the end, which was just pathetic. The match was pretty lame too. Very short, with Anvil squashing Sal the big goofy guy in an awkward match.
ECW Tag Team Tournament Championship Final:
Super Destroyers vs Night Breed(Max Thrasher, and Glen Osbourne)
Tod Gordon comes out to show the crowd the belts, and they are nice. The Super Destroyers are huge, and dressed in black tights, and an executioner style mask.
Jim Mullinaux is the ref here. He would go on to be the Earl Hebner of ECW referees.
Man the Destroyers are huge. One of them is at least 6' 7", 280. Night breed look like a pretty wierd team. One guy has red long hair, and a fat gut, and he squares off with the biggest of the Destroyers in a test of strength to open the match.
This is pretty bad, and really sloppy. one of the Night Breed has Ultimate Warrior style makeup on(that's two!). He kind of looks like El Puerto Ricano, but with Warrior makeup on.
Super Destroyers are dominating, but Night Breed isn't doing a very good job of convincing me that they are.
This is terrible. Oh wow, Warrior Ricano has a massive bald spot on his head, with long, long hair all around it. Nice.
Oh, man big guy off the top rope, and its a botch. He nearly falls out of the ring after landing. This is so bad, that it is almost funny, but not quite. It's just mainly bad. Ok it is terrible. I'm ready to change the channel. Make sure you avoid this one.
Continued domination from The Super Destroyers on the Warrior guy.
Warrior guy's partner looks like Sheamus with long hair after about 20 years of donuts, and beer.
Warrior guy just can't make the tag to fat sheamus, and this is still going on.
OH WAIT!! Fat Sheamus gets the tag, and cleans house!
"Man Alive!" says the announcer,(who sounds like Don "CYrus" Callis) as the big man goes back up top. One of the Destroyers botches another dive, and overjumps his target, landing on Warrior guy with his back. Super Destroyers get the win for the ECW Tag belts. Unbelievable.
Real bad match here, and went way too long. Terrible teams, terrible wrestling. I give it a 1 for at least making me laugh a few times, but man they Should have left this one off of the tape.
Jimmy Snuka vs Johnny Hotbody
Snuka had just left the WWF in march of this year, and was the biggest star that the ECW had at the time. He was easily their main draw.
The bar is actually a pretty cool atmoshere here. I'm a sucker for a unique atmosphere. I like the old school Philadelphia Eagles flag hanging on the wall in the background. They had a real good team back in 1992 with Randal Cunningham, and Reggie White. Reggie has said a few times that the Eagles should have won a few Super Bowls during his time with the team.
Announcer says that this is a rematch. He says that Snuka was the original champion, and that Hotbody took the title from him.
Hotbody has a wierd Mohawk/Mullet hybrid, sunglasses, and a pink Ric Flair style robe, with the ECW World Title around his waist. Hotbody looks like a great heel.
Oh man, you have to see this haircut! +1
The ring announcer calls Snuka "The Phenom".
Snuka is jakked up, and has an afro(with his tiger stripe caveman outfit). Excellent.
This is actually a good heel/face matchup believe it or not, as Hotbody is drawing some nice heat from the crowd, and everybody is treating Snuka like a legend.
Snuka looks aged, but his is in great shape here. Both of them work the crowd for a few minutes in the ring with some stalling.
And more stalling. Lets get it going!
Snuka has the crowd in his hands, and a noticable size advantage. Oh man, now Hotbody is leaving.
Tod Gordon stops him in the isle, and sends him back to the ring after an argument. Gordon gets on the ring, and starts a count with the crowd for Johnny to get back into the ring. 5 solid minutes of stalling here now.
Hotbody challenges for a test of strength, then backs away.
Crowd starts chanting "Boring" as Snuka sits down on the top rope.
Test of strength again. Hotbody switches hands, and finally initiates a match. Snuka no sells as Johnny slams him from corner to corner. Hotbody flees the ring.
Another exchange, then Snuka nails him with a super kick. Hotbody back outside. Hotbody complains to the ref, and stalls some more. Johnny gets a headlock on Snuka. Hotbody gets the upper hand, distracts the ref, and his manager works Snuka over.
Hotbody with the legscissors on Snuka. Hotbody with a chop off of the top, and Snuka no sells again as Hotbody acts like his hand is broken. Hotbody continues to dominate the match with his manager interfering. You can hear some kids screaming as Hotbody's manager attacks Snuka with the ref distracted. They are screaming bloody murder "NO!".
Hotbody again with the legscissors hold on Snuka on the mat. Snuka starts to spread Hotbody's legs apart, and this looks real awkward now. Snuka finally starts to gain momentum with some leglock on Hotbody.
Hotbody just continues to dominate Snuka in a boring "Rest Hold" festival. Snuka finally gets some chops in, and the small crowd in still into the boring match. Snuka starts to get the upper hand, and finally gets his hands on the manager. Snuka gives him a headbutt. Both of them exchange near falls, until Snuka gives Johnny two consecutive backbreakers, and then points to the sky.
Snuka does a nice splash, and gets the pin for his second ECW World Title after 20:00.
Not a real bad match, but it was pretty bad. Mostly stalling, and rest holds with Johnny Hotbody dominating until the final second when Snuka gets a double backbreaker, and a splash for the win. Two very interesting characters in a very interesting matchup, but at this point there just wasn't much Snuka could do. Hotbody was a good heel, but he couldn't really wrestle. Not here anyway.
Some nice surprises, and a cool atmosphere don't make up for the crappy wrestling matches. Only a very small handfull of entertaining moments, and the rest is terrible.
The thing that stands out on this tape is that there are a few people here that would go on to stay with the ECW for a long time. One interesting fact about Nunzio/Guido(James Muritato) is that he was on every single ECW PPV(the first two in dark matches). I was surprised to see him here in the oldest ECW event that I have been able to find. I realized that Guido was with the ECW from day 1, all the way up until the doors closed almost a decade later.
He should have gotten a decent push in the late days instead of guys like Justin Credible, and Steve Corino. I always thought they could have done more with Guido, and the FBI than what they did. Especially towards the end(2000/2001).
He looked pretty good in his match on that tape, while it lasted.
Re: American Hardcore Theater: ECW's Real History
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:
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.
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)
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!).
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.
Re: American Hardcore Theater: ECW's Real History
This is great stuff, well done. Do you own all the tapes or something or are you watching this online?
Re: American Hardcore Theater: ECW's Real History
Re: American Hardcore Theater: ECW's Real History
Ok so we are in 1993. Lets take a snap shot of what was going on in the world at this time. In January Over in the WCW, Bill Watts had just fired Paul Heyman, and he himself would be fired not long after. Ric Flair would be on his way out of the WWF around this time as well, eventually making a return to the WCW. Both the WWF, and WCW were in a transitional period that would shape the next 2.5 years for both companies.
January of 1993 was when the ECW began to make moves that would shape the rest of their existance. One important figure in the rise of the ECW was a man named Dennis Coralluzo. Remember that name.
Dennis Coralluzo was a man that ran a rival promotion to Joel Goodhart's TSWA in the Tri States region(mostly in Philly) named the World Wrestling Association. Coralluzo and Goodhart were like night and day polar opposites. Coralluzo and Goodhart developed a healthy competitive rivalry that was strictly bussiness. Coralluzo's WWA wasn't as popular as Goodhart's TSWA, but it was much more profitable due to better management. The two promotions co-existed in the area mainly because they maintained seperate crews, with the occasional ship jumper.
When Tod Gordon took over with the ECW as the successor to TSWA, the rivalry got personal very fast. Gordon's ECW and Coralluzo's WWA battled over dates, and wrestlers. Both men wanted to eliminate each other to take over the Philly area. For the sake of a big pay day, the two men put aside their differences to co promote an ECW vs WWA show titled "Battle of the Belts" in January of 1993. The announcement of the co promotion shocked many who knew Coralluzo and Gordon due to the intensity of their rivalry at the time.
The Battle of the Belts co promotion show with Coralluzo's WWA in January of 1993 was a historically significant show for the ECW for several reasons, not all of them good. One of the lowlights of the show was the appearance by Kerry Von Eric. Let me stray off topic for just one second to say that Kerry was a true forgotten Texas legend. His popularity in Texas was huge in the pre Hulkamania days. His match against Ric Flair at Texas Stadium in 83 was one of the great sports moments in Texas history in my opinion.
With that said, Von Eric showed up to the Battle of the Belts show and really put on a terrible match. He messed up his surprise masked run in by wearing a jacket that said "Kerry" on the back of it, and he was only a mere shadow of his former self in the match that followed. Kerry was going through some tough times around this era. He was once a star in his families own successfull wrestling promotion in Texas, but that was all over. He had fallen off of the wrestling mountain due to his drug problems. Kerry was in trouble with the law over his drug habbits, and was on probation. Kerry's match at ECW Battle of the Belts would end up being the last one he ever worked. One month after Battle of the belts, Kerry commited suicide with a pistol just days away from having his probation revoked.
On the other hand, another debut was quite significant. Eddie "Hot Stuff" Gilbert made his ECW debut at Battle of the Belts to battle Terry Funk.
Eddie Gilbert was a key player in Dennis Coralluzo's WWA. After the Battle of the Belts show, Gilbert deflected to the ECW to take the job as head booker. This move fanned the flames of the rivalry between Tod Gordon and Dennis Coralluzo. Eddie Gilbert got the ECW job because of his time as booker for Bill Watts' UWF, and Alabam's Continental Wrestling promotion in the late 80's. Gilbert also had a history with the Joel Goodhart's TSWA(where Tod Gordon worked, and eventually baught half of the company). Gilbert was involved in the TSWA's headline fued. A violent fued with Cactus Jack in 1991 where both men established themselves with the hardcore fanbase of Philly.
Eddie Gilbert was instrumental in bringing in Paul Heyman, and even helping him get started in the booking side of pro wrestling. Heyman was brought in early in 1993 as a performer(alongside Gilbert in his "Hot Stuff International" heel faction) and eventually Gilbert's assistant booker.
Eddie Gilbert grew up on Memphis territory style wrestling, and his booking was a reflection of it. Gilbert came into the ECW in early 1993 and cleaned house. He made several changes both in the ring, and behind the scenes. The ECW was pretty much relaunched under Gilbert's leadership. Eddie Gilbert's booking was much tighter than some of the others in the era, and he put much more emphasis on continuity in the storylines.
To give you an idea of how Gilbert was running the ECW kind of like the "Memphis of the North" Here are some ECW results from the era in time where Gilbert was the booker courtesy of Online World Of Wrestling. I'm going to be skipping through this to get to our next show, but this will give you an idea of how he did things, what kind of fueds were going on, and who the champions were:
Next up is an episode of ECW's TV show from the summer of 1993. Like I said, this is our last look at Eddie "Hot Stuff" Gilbert's "Memphis of the North" version of the ECW before he has a falling out with Paul Heyman, and Tod Gordon. The next show after this one will be Paul's first at the helm of the company(Ultraclash).
Re: American Hardcore Theater: ECW's Real History
Pro Wrestling in June of 1993
Alright, we are going to take a look at an episode of ECW tv from the summer of 1993. This event took place just about a month after WCW Slamboree(British Bulldog d. Vader by DQ, Barry Whindam d. Arn Anderson, Steve Austin & Brian Pillman d. Steamboat & Zenk). The WCW was in its final days as far as bieng affiliated with the NWA, and several moves were being made that would shape the next 5 years of the company. Ric Flair had made his return in February, but due to a no compete claus, he would not return to in ring competition until the next PPV, Beach Blast(where he would win the NWA title for a 10th time). Eric Bischoff was rising up the ladder at this time as well. Bischoff was a backstage interviewer at Slamboree.
Slamboree 93 would be the event that saw Ric Flair reunite the Four Horsemen(with Arn Anderson, Ole Anderson, and Paul Roma). Shane Douglas was fired just prior to Slamboree, and replaced with Tom Zenk. Douglas would go on to be an key player in the history of the ECW. Shane had a stint in the WWF in 1990-1991. He had the skills, the physique, and the charisma to be a star on the roster, but the creative team couldn't find an appropriate gimmick for him. Douglas was relegated to house shows until the WWF could find a storyline, and character for him to work on television. The WWF saw the potential in Douglas, and had big plans for him. This could be seen in the 1991 Royal Rumble when Douglas was one of the longest remaining wrestlers in the match in order to help build him up(26:23 the 7th longest run in the match up to that point in history). Shortly after the 1991 Royal Rumble, Shane's father became terminally ill. Douglas was granted as much time off from wrestling as he needed by the WWF in order to take care of his father.
While away from the WWF in 1991, the creative team had come up with the perfect role for him. The WWF was planning on Shane making a return, and taking over a new heel character that they had crafted up. That character was the "Heartbreak Kid".
However, Shane had different plans. Without contacting the WWF, Shane signed on to WCW in 1992. Douglas was immediately paired up with Rick Steamboat, and eventually won the Tag Team Championships. The WWF would not find out about Shane going to WCW until they seen him on television in action. Shane's unprofesionalism left a bad taste in WWF's mouth, and Their "Heartbreak Kid" gimmick would eventually be taken on by one half of the Rockers tag team, Shawn Michaels.
Shane didn't last long after Flair made his return. Douglas would be fired just before Slamboree. Shane planned on walking away from wrestling in order to persue a career in teaching until Eddie Gilbert brought him into the ECW later on in the Summer of 1993.
Meanwhile, over in the WWF in June of 1993, they were desperately trying to find something that would draw fans. Both the WCW, and WWF had been on a steady and sharp decline in PPV buyrates, and live attendance. The King of the Ring on June 13th was a major turning point in the future direction of the company. Bret Hart would win the KOR tournament over Razor Ramon, Mr. Perfect, and Bam Bam Bigelow. The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels was on his way. Michaels put on one of the better matches of the evening at King of the Ring 93 when he successfully defended the Intercontenintal Championship against Crush. Alongside Michaels at the King of the Ring was his bodyguard Diesel(Kevin Nash).
The main event saw the final appearance of Hulk Hogan in the company until 2002. Hogan dropped the WWF Championship to Yokozuna after an exploding camera shot from Harvey Whippleman. The WWF's original plan was to have Hogan build up the next face of the company, Bret Hart, by dropping the title to him at SummerSlam 93. Hogan refused to drop the title to a face, and refused to lose clean in the ring. Hogan insisted on losing the title to a heel(Yokozuna) via some form of cheating. Hogan left the WWF after the match to persue an acting career(Days of Thunder series, where he would be contacted by WCW).
The rest of the Summer was spent with the WWF trying to build up Lex Luger as the next all american hero face as the one man who could topple the unbeatable "Andre the Giantesque" WWF Champion, Yokozuna.
Re: American Hardcore Theater: ECW's Real History
This episode of ECW TV was filmed just 2 days after the WWF King of the Ring PPV. I've never seen this perticular episode, so I'm not real sure what/who to expect. I do know there is an appearance by Road Warrior Hawk, so I'm pretty excited to see what kind of show this is.
Eddie Gilbert was still the booker, but by this time he had brought up Paul Heyman as his assistant booker. Tod Gordon was the owner, and really kind of kept a cap on Gilbert's booking. Most of Gilbert's ideas were being filtered through Gordon, who had Paul Heyman in his ear behind the scenes. All of this was going down as Paul was steadily trying to work his way up to have some creative say in the ECW. Gilbert and Paul Heyman's relationship had fallen apart by this time.
Something else that was going on behind the scenes at this time was Paul Heyman's relationship with Jim Crocket. Heyman was set to be the booker for Crocket's promotion that never came to be(the reason why he was playing an apprentice role to Gilbert in the ECW's booking). When the two men finally realized that Crocket's promotion would never get up off the ground, Heyman started to make moves behind the scenes in ECW that would secure his future as head booker. Heyman negotiated with Crocket to get the ECW a membership in the NWA. These moves(and the rising tension between Gilbert and Heyman, whom Gordon had begun to side with) would eventually drive Eddie Gilbert out of the ECW.
So this is the last ECW show with Eddie Gilbert's booking that we are going to look at. Lets see how it compares to what else was going on at this time, and how it compares to the older ECW with Gordon at the helm(someone who didn't know anything about booking Pro Wrestling).
Here is our opening with the same old announcers from the earlier ECW shows, Jay Sulli, and Stevie Wonderfull(total goon). They give us a rundown of tonights card, and tell us that Hawk gets a tv title shot against Jimmy Snuka.
Road Warrior Hawk walks into the picture, and all the kids in attendance swarm him. Funny shot as the camera man shoves them out of the shot!
Hawk cuts a very crappy promo, and he looks like he may be screwed up on drugs here.
The announcers also announce that Terry Funk is on the card, so this should be pretty good.
Oh man, here is a pre recorded promo with Jimmy Snuka, and his manager....Paul E. Dangerously(Paul Heyman).
Paul E. shows them how to cut a promo! Paul cuts a pretty entertaining promo as Snuka's heel manager. Snuka looks to be in very good shape here. Much better than the last show we seen him in. Paul and Snuka make their way to the ring, and Paul has a mullet from HELL!
Here we go with our opening match
ECW TV Championship
Jimmy Snuka(with Paul E. Dangerously) vs Road Warrior Hawk
Hawk has the standard Road Warriors attire on, shoulder pads and all.
Snuka is ripped! Hawk is pretty jacked up here as well, both guys are in excellent shape. They tie up in the middle, and Hawk shoves Snuka through the ropes and out of the ring.
Snuka is just in excellent shape here, even better than his 91/92 WWF run. They tie up again, and Snuka breaks. Headlock by Snuka, Hawk pushes him into the ropes, and they collide in the middle for a brief staredown. Hawk throws Snuka out of the ring over the top rope. Both men stall a bit as Snuka is on the outside talking with Heyman. Snuka gets back in, and Hawk challenges for a test of strengh. They tie up after a delay. Hawk powers Snuka down to his knees, but he starts to rally himself back up to his feet very slowly. Hawk kicks him in the gut to send him back down.
Heyman stops the ringside photographer from taking pictures while Snuka is down on his knees. Paul was such a great manager back in his "Paul E. Dangerously" heel days.
Snuka moves out of the way of a shoulder ram from Hawk, and sends him crashing into the post, and to the outside. Heyman distracts the ref, and Snuka gives Hawk a chairshot to his back.
Heyman guides the photographer over to take a shot of Snuka beating on Hawk, nice.
Snuka gets Hawk back in the ring, and works him over in the corner. Hawk does a pretty good job of selling me on the fact that Snuka is kicking his ass right now.
Hawk begins to no sell Snuka's shots. Punches himself in the face a few times, and then blows up on Snuka. Gives Snuka a neckbreaker, and then a flying clothesline off the top. Hawk goes for the pin, and Paul smashes him on the back with his cell phone. Hawk rises to his feet, and picks Heyman up by the throat. All of a sudden the rest of Paul's heel faction comes out(Hot Stuff International). Eddie Gilbert gets taken out by Hawk, then Don Moracco & The Dark Patriot(Eddie's brother Doug Gilbert) come out, and get double clotheslined by Hawk. Moracco attacks Hawk from behind, and gives him a piledriver. Hawk no sells, but Gilbert runs in with a chair and cracks him on the back. Hawk finally begins to act hurt. Morocco and Snuka hold Hawk up by the arms, and Eddie Gilbert throws a fireball into his face!!!
Wow, I wasn't expecting that. Hawk rolls around in agony as the face wrestlers come out to give him some help to end the segment after nearly 10:00.
Short segment that wasn't that great of a match, but seeing these two in the ring together was pretty cool. Both men looked to be in great shape. Nothing notable about the match itself, but the ending segment was pretty good. Hawk was clearly the most popular wrestler in the building, and they used him to make the top heel faction in the ECW look good. The fireball was a nice surprise too. The segment did what it was supposed to do, and that was to build up Hot Stuff International as the top, sinister heel's in the ECW.
Suicide Blondes(Chris Candido & Johnny Hotbody) vs Super Destroyers
We join our next match already in progress. First shot of the match is a shot of a man that I have a tremendous amount of respect for. Chris Candido was highly underrated. He passed away due to complications from injuries suffered in a match in TNA in 2005. I almost cried when the crowd started chanting his name at ECW One Night Stand 2005 in the match between Lance Storm vs Chris Jericho. I thought that was pretty awesome.
Candido is parnered up with Johnny Hotbody. They are taking on the Super Destroyers. The Super Destroyers had zero talent, and were just two really big guys. Hotbody & Candido have the tag belts here, and made a nice heel tag team.
Candido steals the show with a nice cross body press dive off of the top turnbuckle down onto the "Super D's" on the outside. The Destroyers chase them back in the ring with a chair. Candido does another impressive slingshot dive over the top rope down onto the Destroyers.
Hotbody takes out the ref.
Sal Bellomo walks out with a plate of cake. Chris Michaels(the third member of the Suicide Blondes, a team that worked similarly to the Freebirds) comes out as well, and this turns into a confusing brawl. Ref rings the bell for a DQ. Michaels, Candido, and Hotbody come in to attack the Super Destroyers, and Sal Bellomo. The D's, and Bellomo give the Suicide Blondes simultaneous atomic drops in the ring to clear them out.
Sal calls out Tod Gordon. Sal asks to be partnered up with the Super D's in a 6 man tag match against the Suicide Blondes at the next ECW event. Tod plugs the next show, and asks the crowd if they want to see the match. Tod sets the match.
Chris Candido was the highlight of this segment. He was clearly the most talented person in the ring, and he did a couple of pretty nice aerial dives in the match. The ending was really goofy, and was all put together to set up the next match in the fued. Couldn't really give this much of a rating because it wasn't shown in it's entirety, but you could tell there was something special about the young Candido here.
Eddie Gilbert cuts a heel promo talking trash about Terry Funk. Gilbert defenitely had some great mic skills, and cuts a great promo here telling everyone that after he defeats Funk, everyone is going to have to bow down to the real king of Philadelphia.
Texas Chain Match
Eddie "Hot Stuff" Gilbert vs Herve' Renesto
Gilbert comes out with Paul Heyman wearing a big king's crown. It was obvious that Gilbert was trying build up the ECW as the "Memphis of the North" with himself as the "King of Philadelphia", similar to Jerry Lawler's epic heel days in the southern territory.
Heyman takes the microphone from Bob Artese, and announces Gilbert as "The King of Philadelphia". Gilbert takes a bow.
Renesto is the typical jobber here. Really frail, skinny guy. Both men are tied together at the wrist with a chain. The announcer says that the the rules are very similar to a leather strap match.
Gilbert just works this guy over with the chain around his neck, and repeated clotheslines and kicks while he is down. Gilbert touches all 4 corners for the win after about 3 minutes.
After the match Gilbert screams for Terry Funk. Gilbert then grabs the jobber by the face, and forces him to tell everyone who the "King of Philadelphia" is.
Nothing but a squash match here. Not a very good one either. It did what it was supposed to do, which was build up the chain match between Gilbert vs Funk, and that was about it. Gilbert had skills on the mic, and came off as a great heel, so I gave it a 2.
Terry Funk cuts a promo after the match, and he looks surprisingly young. Full head of hair, and no grey to be found yet. He cuts the promo without a shirt on, and a chain draped over his shoulders.
Funk just looks like a tough as nails ole Texas dude that you serously would not want to get into a real fight with.
Funk cuts a down to earth promo about his Texas Chain Match Massacre vs Eddie Gilbert at the next show. Funk says that he plans on being on top of Philly for a long time because they are different than other wrestling fans around the country.
Rockin Rebel cuts a promo building up his match against the Sandman. Rebel's valet Tigra is also set to take on the Sandman's valet Peaches in a catfight(only way to win is to strip your opponent naked). Sandman and Peaches answer with a promo of their own. Sandman is dressed in his surfing wetsuit.
Paul Heyman cuts a promo with the Dark Patriot(Doug Gilbert). Heyman gets pretty juicy telling Funk what the Patriot is going to do to him.
The Dark Patriot(with Paul E. Dangerously) vs Terry Funk
Funk comes out, and the crowd loves him. He is dressed in his old school cowboy gear on his way to the ring.
Funk lights up the Patriot's chest with a vicious chop to the chest. Funk goes after Paul, and the crowd goes wild. Patriot attacks Funk from behind, and rams him into the ringside timekeepers table. Patriot pulls out a wire clotheshanger out of the back of Paul's pants. Paul distracts the ref as the Patriot strangles Funk with the clothesline. Patriot knocks Funk out of the ring, and he bumps the concrete head first. Paul chokes at Funk as the Patriot distracts the ref in the ring.
Patriot slams Funk into the guardrail, and gives him some nasty chops on the chest. Patriot rolls Funk in the ring for a piledriver. Patriot throws Funk back outside, and Paul attacks Funk with his cell phone. Funk gets back in the ring, and nails the Patriot with a series of headbutts. The Patriot goes down, and Funk acts like he is out on his feet right now with double vision. I've always loved the way he would stumble around the ring like this.
Funk stumbles over to the ref, and takes a wild swing at him like he can't see what is going on. Pretty funny stuff.
Funk gives Patriot his trademark punching combo, and then throws him to the outside. The Patriot goes over the guardrail. The action goes back into the ring. Funk gives the Patriot 2 DDT's, and then Paul jumps into the ring. Funk stands up, and Paul stops dead in his tracks. Funk backs him into a corner, and follows him to the outside.
Funk gets back in the ring, and gives the Patriot another DDT. Funk starts to tear away at the Patriot's mask, and then Eddie Gilbert runs in with a chair shot to Funk. Funk and Gilbert brawl away at each other as we run out of time.
Funk did some decent work here that made it at least fairly entertaining. The Patriot wasn't very good at all. Not much to write about, but it wasn't really bad at all. Heyman was excellent as a heel manager, and his involvement in this match helped it out a bit. Much like the rest of the show, it was just helping build up the next show where Funk would meet Gilbert in a Texas Chain Massacre Match.
Not a bad show at all compared to the previous Eastern Championship Wrestling shows I've reviewed. You can see the improvement with Gilbert in charge of booking, and in this show you can start to see some of Heyman's influence just starting to shine through. Overall there were a small handfull of cool moments(Snuka vs Hawk, Chris Candido, Funk's promo), but I would recomend passing on this show.
The whole thing was pretty much a commercial for their "Super Summer Sizzler" supercard show that was to take place within days of the airing of this episode.
We move on to the end of the Eddie Gilbert era of the ECW, and the beginning of the Paul Heyman era. With the next post I'll examine Gilbert's exit before we move on the Paul's first show as the Booker: Ultraclash 93.[/spoiler]
Re: American Hardcore Theater: ECW's Real History
My favorite guys in ECW were the ones who didn't rely on weapons so much: Eddie, Benoit, Guerrero, the luchadors, RVD, Lynn, Tajiri, The FBI, Lance Storm, Candido, 2 Cold, Mike Awesome, Masato Tanaka, Jericho...I much preferred the clean wrestling they did. Sure some of the guys used weapons but not gratuitously.
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