ECW online nerds collide in their annual geekfest! ECW Cyberslam is actually what the modern day Axxess is (albeit on a much smaller scale). Starting with Double Tables in 1995, the February event became the yearly chance for rspw regulars to meet up, mingle with the wrestlers, attend a Q&A, and watch a little wrasslin’. CRZ and others who actually attended some of these events can provide a lot more background and context than I can do justice – but the long and the short is that this was geared entirely towards your online crowd.
There’s little chance they’ll be able to top Brian Pillman’s “smart marks” debut from last year – but being ECW, lord only knows what they’re got in store.
This is actually the second night of a two night event – and this was the one commercially released. My copy is absolutely ass, but we make do with what we got.
JOEY STYLES graces us, all by his lonesome as usual.
THE ELIMINATORS vs. SABU and ROB VAN DAM (in a tables and ladders match for the ECW world tag-team titles)
Saturn sucks up to the locals, reminding them he plays for them, team ECW! At least until WCW makes him a bigger money offer, then he’s outta here. Slow going off the bell, as RVD and Saturn feel each other out a bit. RVD hits the first blow with a dropkick, but Saturn ties him up in a headscissors. Kronus enters and nails Sabu with a Rock Bottom for 2. Sabu tries a half crab, but Saturn flies in off the top with a boot to the face to break it up. Both guys hit spinning heel kicks on opposite sides of Sabu, getting 2. Van Dam quickly tags in as Sabu locks on a camel clutch, allowing RVD to dropkick Saturn in the face. Saturn crotches RVD on the top rope, and hits a springboard crossbody, careening them both to the floor. Everyone starts fighting over a ladder on the floor, and they’ve spilled all over the place. If it seems to you, the reader, that it’s literally “one team hits one move then the other team hits a move”, that’s EXACTLY what’s happening, and it’s aggravating me – despite the fact the crowd is positively rabid for every bit of it. Both teams brawl all over the arena for awhile, but little happens, and the action returns to the ring. Sabu throws a chair in the face of Saturn, setting up the triple jump moonsault – but he hurt his ribs and can’t go for the pin. RVD enters, and eats a brainbuster from Saturn for 2. Sabu grabs the ladder, and slams Saturn on it, allowing both guys the chance to tee off with sentons and legdrops, getting a 2 count. Saturn stands up and hits a spin kick – because selling has no place in this match. RVD is whipped into the ladder, where Kronus crushes him with the handspring back elbow for 2. The Eliminators toss the ladder into the awaiting arms of RVD and Sabu, and dropkick it back into the both of them. Saturn finds a smaller ladder outside the ring, and tosses it at the skull of RVD. That’s sold for approximately no seconds, before Saturn gets locked in a surfboard while Sabu dives off the top with a stomp to Saturn’s ribs in mid-air. An Arabian facebuster with the ladder gets 2. RVD nails a double underhook front suplex, and slams the ladder on Saturn, getting another 2. And after that kind of excruciating beating, Saturn clotheslines both guys and tags in Kronus. Stereo superkicks drop Sabu, and a senton from Kronus gets 2. A lovely Juvi Driver gets 2 from Saturn, and moments later Saturn’s dumped into the front row where Sabu’s able to hit a springboard assault over the guardrail. RVD comes off the guardrail with a moonsault on Kronus, while Saturn is already recovered and hitting a Frankensteiner on Sabu for 2. Saturn sets up the smaller ladder and splashes Van Dam off the top, but Sabu’s right there to break up the party. Kronus is placed on a table outside the ring, and Sabu nails a senton bomb through it. Meanwhile, RVD is hitting a split legged moonsault on Saturn, through a ladder, a move with such dire implications that it factors in this match in no way. Sabu hits Saturn with the whisper in the wind, but Total Elimination comes out of nowhere on Van Dam twice to score the pin at 20:42. Holy hell, I hate *both* these teams. They’re both loaded with an amazing array of gorgeous tag-team manoeuvres, but none of them can stop themselves from sucking each other off long enough to ask “how can we make this look realistic?” They’re fully capable of a 5 star match, even under hardcore rules – but they’re so far up their own asses that the tunnel vision has blinded them from remembering there’s an art to professional wrestling. I’m sick to death of Harlem Heat, but I’d rather watch them execute the same bland match time and again than continue to watch these teams flush their potential down the toilet for the sake of getting their stupid spots in. *1/2
Post-match, Sabu agrees to shake the hands to both guys, but Van Dam isn’t interested; a throwback to the lack of respect RVD showed Sabu early on, resulting in their feud (and subsequent friendship when Van Dam learned a little class). Sabu berates him for being a dick, and the fans shower him with “ASSHOLE” chants, but RVD’s having none of it, walking off.
JOEY STYLES riles everyone up with a PITBULLS appearance. #1 wants Douglas to stop behaving like Shawn Michaels and actually face his maker. Oh no he didn’t! SHANE DOUGLAS and FRANCINE show up at the top of the ramp, and Douglas tells the lot of them to kiss his ass. “I don’t give a fuck about Monday Night RAW, I don’t give a fuck about ECW, what I give a shit is you Gary Wolfe, running your mouth.” Douglas demand he never be compared to a fucking asshole like Shawn Michaels, and if the Pitbulls want a piece, they can have at him right now.
Of course, the Pitbulls charge, where the TRIPLE THREAT is waiting in the shadows. Brian Lee puts #2 through a table, while Candido chokes out #1 with his own dog chain. The brains are not particularly functional for that pair, are they?
LITTLE GUIDO (with Tommy Rich) vs. CHRIS CHETTI
Rich talks about his history with the Mafia, and introduces the world to his new family – the Full Blooded Italians. After coining “do you smell what I’m cookin’” which fails to catch on, the crowd treats Rich to a “YOU SUCK DICK” chant. That one gets me every time. Guido bitch slaps Chetti, which starts a foot race around the ring, going nowhere. Back in, Chetti hits a rana for 2. A gutwrench gutbuster turns things back for Guido, and an elbow to the face gets 2. Chetti tries to fire back, but an eyerake stops that, and Guido dumps Chris into the awaiting arms of Rich. Chetti gets crotched across the guardrail to no surprise; Rich always loved to work the groin. Guido drops a knee for 2, and follows with a nasty powerbomb for 2. Chetti refuses to die, and it’s getting to Guido now, who shows a little frustration as he heads up. A kneedrop misses, and Chetti dives in with a cradle for the massive upset at 5:52! Rich was the one who’d coaxed Guido into using more top rope manoeuvres, and he’s not happy about it. The fans politely request “FUCK HIM UP GUIDO, FUCK HIM UP!” However, Rich reminds Guido they’re a pair of Full Blooded Italians and need each other. To the fans, “FUCK EVERY ONE OF YOU!” *
BALLS MAHONEY vs. BIG STEVIE COOL (with Da Blue Guy, Hollywood Nova, and 7-11)
Balls gets the fans going in a “BALLS” chant, which Stevie completely one-ups when he starts a “BWO” chant loud enough to break the sound barrier. Stevie plants Balls with a dropkick to the mush, and works an armbar. The fans break into “SHOW YOUR TITS”, which Meanie happily obliges. A fujiwara armbar doesn’t do a lot of good because Stevie can’t get a lot of leverage on the big man, and Balls is on his feet and pounding away on Richards seconds later. Richards ducks a clothesline and hits a crossbody to regain control, and he goes back to the armbar which is silly because it was completely unsuccessful the first time. Our second go is no better, but Richards keeps on Balls with an early rendition of the Stink Face. Balls has no use for THAT, and clotheslines Richards with enough force to send him into the next zip code. A spinning heel kick against the ropes sends Richards barrelling over the top, and Balls is fired up, warming up the band for god knows what reason since that isn’t his move. The bWo tries to snap Richards back into it, so Balls just picks Stevie up by the hair and gives him a Stunner across the top rope. A second rope elbowdrop leads to an arrogant cover, but Balls drops a leg before the ref can finish counting anyway. Richards throws a desperation kick, and follows with a dropkick off the second rope. That’s stopped dead with a Nut Cracker, and Stevie’s wails around with his plums in hand while Balls does the Memphis strut around the ring. A legdrop off the top looks to finish, but Stevie rolls out of the way, and the fans rally Richards back into it. Stone Cold Stunner (called as such by Styles) gets 2. That doesn’t keep Balls down for the long, and he hits a fallaway slam while doing Da Blue Guy’s “me me me” routine. Balls drops the straps as the fans scream “SHAVE YOUR TITS”, but his powerbomb fails as Stevie rolls off the back, and a field goal to the Mahoneys sets up the Stevie Kick and the win at 12:16. Richards bounces around like Shawn Michaels while a FEMALE ADMIRER hops the guardrail to dive at ECW’s boy-toy. She’s hauled off by security, while Richards leaves through the crowd, a hero, despite the awful match. He should probably be on top of the promotion right now, and the bWo milked for everything it’s worth while it’s sizzling. Given the revolving door of this place, they don’t have time to dick around with red hot gimmicks. *
AXL ROTTEN vs. SPIKE DUDLEY
Spike charges around the ring like a bull in a china shop, throwing his chair wildly at absolutely nothing. Axl, using his pea-brain to his advantage, crouches behind the stairs and clotheslines Spike’s head plum off – but he’s made of lego so he’ll be ok. The fans chant for Axl, while he parades around like the special needs cousin of the Bushwhackers, but a blind charge misses and Spike starts gnawing on his forehead. Rotten hit the floor, but Spike’s right behind him with a somersault plancha off the apron, and he rushes back in to hit a plancha off the top rope a few seconds later. They head back in as Spike goes to the well once too often, and he takes a clothesline on his way down. A bulldog is shoved off by Spike, and he quickly hits the Acid Drop! THE DUDLEY BOYS rush down and attack, and while Spike manages to fight them off, it gives Rotten time to recover and hit the Dominator for the pin at 4:29. What is this company’s affinity for useless fat guys? 1/2*
So the Dudleys beat Spike into a pulp, but a familiar beat comes over the house and takes us right into …
THE DUDLEY BOYS (with Big Dick Dudley) vs. DA GANGSTAS
Axl sticks around long enough to get bloodied up by New Jack, while Mustafa and Bubba square off in the ring. By the time we check back in on New Jack and D-Von a few seconds later, D-Von’s already squirting blood. I’m gonna save you and I a whole lot of time: Everyone swings weapons for awhile, and The Dudleys win with a Bubba Cutter on a diving New Jack at 14:22. This was nothing even close to resembling professional wrestling – and if we’re even going to compare it to some of the other hardcore templates from years gone by, this isn’t close. It doesn’t take a ring magician to make a hardcore match work; for god sakes Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags have been involved in some absolutely phenomenal street fights. But I expect, if nothing else, for there to be some level of intensity, a little story-telling, and a real reason that both teams want to win. Much like the rest of this show, this match had *none* of that. It was just 4 guys swearing at each other and throwing things around between forehead gigging. I get the feeling the ECW crowd is gonna be calling for my head after this review, but this show sucks. DUD
TAZ (with Bill Alphonso) vs. TRACY SMOTHERS
Taz actually came back a few weeks ago, but I think this is the first time he’s been fully televised. Tracy’s making his ECW debut here, and I’m not thinking it’s going to go very well. A number of bitch slaps from Taz draws an irate Smothers into try and tackle him, but Taz is a wrestler’s wrestler, and he rides Tracy like a classy escort – with energy and vigor. A clothesline shakes Smothers to the core, but he manages to hit a crossbody for 2. An enzuigiri drops Taz for 2, and Smothers starts throwing elbows to the jaw of the little orange pitbull. The jaw jacker gets 2, and Styles is beside himself selling this one right now. Taz finally finds a base, and launches Smothers with a German suplex. T-bone sets up the Tazzmission, and Smothers taps immediately at 3:30. Unbelievably, in just 3 minutes, Taz has set the bar for match of the night. **
RAVEN and BRIAN LEE vs. TERRY FUNK and TOMMY DREAMER (with Beulah McGillicutty)
Lee is of course part of the current Triple Threat – so it’s a bit of an odd alliance with Raven when you consider that Douglas is likely to eventually set his sights on the World Title. He’d be better served to back Terry Funk, seeing as how he’s 104 years old and probably an easier mark than the psychotic Raven. Raven reminds Dreamer that they’ve known each other since they were 12, and Tommy’s never beaten him at anything. So tonight, he’s prepared to lay on his back and let Tommy pin him, no games, no tricks … if Tommy’s prepared to cost Terry Funk his title shot at the pay-per-view. “COME ON TOMMY, PIN ME! YOU’VE WAITED YOUR WHOLE LIFE FOR THIS! YOU DON’T HAVE THE BALLS DO YOU?” And with that, Dreamer dives at Raven and beats the shit out of him for being such a smarmy asshole. Funk tags in, and Raven sits up laughing. “Come on Tommy, why didn’t you pin me? You couldn’t hurt your mentor, could you? Bring on the old man!” Funk approaches … and Raven immediately tags out to Lee. Tommy heads back in, and takes a pounding from the Bulldozer. Once Dreamer’s down, Raven happily comes back in and drops a fist to Tommy’s babymaker. Dreamer, angrily, hits the Evenflow, but he goes for the pin … before realizing that’ll cost Funk, so he tags in Dreamer. Funk rushes as fast as he can, but Raven’s recovered enough to kick out. Lee heads back in, but Funk’s running on adrenaline, and he throws as many fists as he can. Lee wants out, but Raven won’t tag in so long as Funk’s in the ring. Dreamer comes in to double team Lee, and as soon as Funk returns to his corner, Raven comes in. All four guys spill out to the floor, and Funk grabs a hold of Raven, throwing those old calloused fists at Raven’s head. The quartet head into the front row, while Funk smacks Raven over the head repeatedly with a chair. Raven, dizzy, feels his way back into the ring, but Funk’s hot on his trail. Raven does the only thing he can – uppercuts Funk in the Double Cross Ranch, and happily starts talking trash again. “Is that all you’ve got old man?” He slams Terry’s face into the mat over and over, as the crimson mask from the earlier chair shots starts to develop some character on Raven’s face. Funk fights to his feet, throws a few punches, grabs the mic, and calls Raven a bitch. Terry starts to set Raven up to finish, kicking away at Raven’s leg, and as he collapses, Terry slaps on the Spinning Toe Hold. Raven screams he quits … but the referee is too busy trying to get Brian Lee to lay off Tommy Dreamer, who has been quietly kicking his ass from North to South Philly and all points in between during the entire Raven / Funk exchange. The ref comes back to check, but Lee’s right behind with a trash can to save the day – and because no one heard Raven submit, the match rolls on. Lee hits Funk over the head with the trash can a half dozen times, and every time Dreamer crawls to the apron, he’s met with a shot to the face courtesy Oscar The Grouch. Lee remains merciless, and neither guy can stand. Tommy begs Funk to give it up, as he’s bleeding and completely off balance. Funk shoves him away and calls him a son of a bitch for even suggesting he quit. MEDICAL STAFF hits the ring to haul Terry away, as Dreamer tries like hell to protect him. Wild eyed and confused, other than the fact he knows he’s in the middle of a fight, Dreamer is dragged to the gurney, swearing the entire way. They start to wheel him off, but Funk hops off and battles his way back to ringside, with Dreamer desperately trying to hold him back. “FUCK YOU, TOMMY!” Styles calls this officially the end of Terry Funk as he’s finally wheeled off backstage, while Raven and Lee pose in victory.
BIG STEVIE COOL storms down to the ring, with TYLER and LORI FULLINGTON right behind. Raven begs Richards for a Steviekick – and as Richards warms up the band, he’s goozled and given the Prime Time Slam from the man he was completely ignoring. A trash can over the head cements the message, so Lori comes in to ask what the hell is wrong with Raven? An Evenflow DDT is the quickest way to shut her up, but now Dreamer’s on his way back in. He makes a bee line for Raven, again missing the fact that Brian Lee’s in there too, and a Prime Time Slam takes him out again.
Tyler disappears backstage … re-emerging with THE SANDMAN of all people, who’s carrying his son on his shoulder. Sandman looks happy for the first time I can ever remember, with Tyler holding his Singapore Cane high in the air for everyone to see. Of course, he’s got a beer, and stops to chug it before doing anything else. Lee goes to stop him as he does everyone else, but Sandman smacks him with the cane to break the choke hold. Raven’s after him now, but a couple of shots from the cane, followed by the Evenflow … and Sandman gets the pin at 18:55?!? Sandman and Tyler re-unite, sharing a huge hug, and while it’s a little confusing, I’ll accept that maybe the Evenflow from Raven on his mom was enough to break the spell. Sandman throws Tyler’s bWo shirt away, and they head backstage together holding each other.
This is a hard match to rate, because from a story perspective, it was phenomenal. However, there were so many dead periods, and the match ended when someone not even involved somehow got a pinfall – so from a traditional wrestling standpoint it was completely and utterly ridiculous. Let’s go about halfsies and hit it ***, for a really entertaining 20 minutes.
CHRIS CANDIDO vs. SABU
Yes, Sabu’s pulling double duty tonight – and Candido’s fired up for this one. He’s pissed that Sabu’s already looking past him, focusing on Taz and putting himself through a tables and ladders match on the same night he’s booked against Candido. “You can’t wrestle your way out of a paper bag, so get your ass out here!” Sabu goes for the camel clutch almost right away, but Candido wiggles away and flips him off. “FUCK HIM UP SABU, FUCK HIM UP!” Sabu obliges, knocking Candido to the floor and using a baseball slide dropkick to send him into the front row. A fan tosses Sabu a chair, and the triple jump leap into the front row … goes nowhere, as Candido rolls away and Sabu crashes into about 10 chairs. Candido heads back in, and with Sabu down, he’s able to hit a crossbody off the top, into the front row, with them rolling backwards into the chairs again. They head back in, and Candido drops Sabu with a spike piledriver. A second piledriver should do it, but Candido takes his sweet ass time because he wants to embarrass Sabu. Dude, haven’t you read wrestling tropes? That NEVER works! Still, he keeps the pressure on with a brainbuster off the second rope, and heads outside to grab himself a table. No, no, NO! That’s wrestling a Sabu match – big mistake kiddo. Sabu gets back to his feet and dumps Candido over the top, with nothing to break his fall. Sabu, of course, is right behind with a suicide dive, with both guys crashing into the steel barrier. Sabu grabs the table now, but Candido doesn’t want him to get to it first, and they wind up fighting over it. Sabu wins the exchange and lays Skip out – but he takes too much time to set up the legdrop inside the ring, and by the time he flies over the top, Candido’s moved and Sabu crashes though. Candido seems to have Sabu well scouted … just sit on the outside, wait for him to do something stupid, and roll away. I’m convinced I could beat this guy using that template. Back in, Candido works a headlock, and Sabu does an excellent job of selling the holds, looking like he’s in a world of pain as he gets stretched back and forth. Of course, he’s never gonna tap, so this is more to wear him down than anything else. Back to action, a swinging neckbreaker drops Sabu, and Candido wipes his hands of this before going for the pinfall, but it only gets 2. Having fun with this now, Candido grabs a microphone and asks the fans what they think of Mr. Hardcore now … before beating him down with the microphone, making a sweet “thud” with every impact. To the apron, Candido goes to knock Sabu to the floor, but Sabu grabs him and snap suplexes Chris all the way to the floor. Of course, Candido knows exactly what to do – hanging out by the guardrail until Sabu launches his body at him, at which point he sidesteps once more, and Sabu eats steel. Candido heads back in, but Sabu throws a chair in his face to set up Air Sabu into a rana for 2! Great sequence. Sabu tries a springboard back elbow, but Candido steps forward to catch him on his shoulder and drop back with the backdrop suplex. They fight to the top where Candido’s superplex is blocked by a faceplant, followed right behind with a somersault legdrop for 2! Sabu heads up once more, but Candido cuts him off and nails a super Frankensteiner for 2. Candido decides now to use Sabu’s own playbook against him, setting up the chair in the middle of the ring .. .but before he can even pick up a head of steam, Sabu’s already flying off the chair with a leg lariat. They battle back to the top, where Sabu launches Candido across the ring with a backdrop. The triple jump moonsault is blocked with the knees, and Candido hits a quick Doctor Bomb to keep Sabu down. The swandive is blocked with a chair to the face, and a triple jump legdrop scores the pin at 18:26. Chris tells him that he got beat at his own game, and “you’re a better fuckin’ wrestler without that bullshit”. He shakes Sabu’s hand, and they share a hug. I wait for the Triple Threat to kick Sabu’s ass, but it never comes.
Candido did a better job of keeping this together than the opener, so it was a little more fluid – but of course Sabu always means a spot-fest, so it went back and forth between a hard fought wrestling match, and a spot-for-spot match, depending on the segment. Sabu has a niche, but main eventer probably isn’t it. **1/2
This was the tale of two shows – as the first half was an absolute drag. The Raven show steals it, much as it did at last month’s Crossing The Line Again, and he’s become so adept at telling a story that he has to be one of the 5 best overall workers in North America at this point. ECW arena shows remain hit and miss, and this one was a miss. However, with Monday Night RAW and a PPV on the horizon, the sky remains the limit for these guys. Personally, I’d run Stevie against Raven at the pay-per-view, but it’s pretty clear at this point they’re setting Raven up for a showdown with Terry Funk. Given Terry’s connection to the ECW crowd, and his overall name recognition, that’s probably not the worst decision in their first run at a national pay-per-view audience. What’s nice here is that they have plenty of main event options, all of them interesting, which is far more than we can say about what’s happening with either of the Big Two companies at this point. How they’ll gel with the RAW roster is another story … and I can’t wait to see it play out.