Live from the Hammerstein Ballroom, ECW’s One Night Stand opened with what set ECW apart, and that is the fans.
They were chanting the three letters that they rallied around so much, they were arguably the second largest wrestling promotion in America at the time of their demise. (Given that they outlived WCW, granted by less than a month, technically they were.)
The ECW theme hit, and the fans pop like crazy when the “Voice of ECW” is announced. He began as a young man, working late nights with Paul Heyman and Ron Buffone. Like many, he is known for a catchphrase. His is: “Oh, my GAWD!” It’s Joey Styles.
With the crowd chanting Joey, it is easy to understand why Styles ws a little emotional. ECW was more than a job to most of these guys. For several, it was a way of life. For Styles, it is what made him a big name in an industry he loved. And for it to come back, for it to be resurrected after an abrupt and messy death, even if it was for one night, was a chance to relive something so great, so powerful, and so much a part of who he is, it is hard not to be emotional, and that is just watching.
“Hello everyone, and welcome to E-C-W One Night Stand!”
Styles welcomed us to the show, and then asked us to welcome his broadcast colleague to the show, Mick Foley! While his time in ECW may not have been long, Foley brought a piece of ECW with him to the WWE. He is ECW. Hell, everyone on this card is ECW.
A nice touch was the intro to the show. After Styles and Foley came out, the original song and video package that ran during the open of all ECW shows aired. Then we had Paul Heyman voice the name of the show.
Our opening contest is scheduled for one fall. From Calgary, Alberta, Canada, being accompanied by the incomparable Dawn Marie, Lance Storm. His opponent, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, “Lionhart” Chris Jericho.
These two squared off in Lance Storm’s first ever match, which was also Jericho’s first match. Jericho’s first ever North American title was the ECW TV Title. Storm was a Tag Team Champion with Justin Credible as the Impact Players.
The match began with excellent chain wrestling. Both men traded move for move and it ended in a stale mate, as the crowd rose to their feet and roared for the two men. Foley announced this could be Lance Storm’s last match in wrestling, and it would be fitting it would be against his first ever opponent, and fellow graduate from the Hart Family Dungeon, “Lionhart” Chris Jericho.
If I may be serious for a moment (Thank you Mr. Storm), Storm was another one of those guys who I feel could have been big if he ever got a shot. He was a bit player in his time in the WWE and was virtually invisible elsewhere.
Storm may be on the way out the door at this time, but he hit one of the most beautiful dropkicks I have ever seen. He also hit a Stalling Vertical Suplex where Jericho was upside down for over five seconds. Another “wow” moment came from Jericho whipping Storm into the corner. Storm leaped and perched himself on the top rope with his back to Jericho. Storm leaped, going for a back elbow, and Jericho planted a huge dropkick to the shoulder blades of Storm.
Storm went for a Cradle Piledriver, only for Jericho to reverse it and flip Storm. Storm sprang up and nailed Jericho in the jaw with a Superkick. The reversals and counter-moves in this match made it something special. Jericho was able to counter a Calgary Crab, and Storm countered the Walls of Jericho.
After a Lionsault was blocked by Storm, Jericho turned it into the Walls of Jericho. The shenanigans began here. Dawn Marie jumped up on the ring apron (not an easy thing to do considering her lingerie and spiked heels), and “The Sexiest Man Alive” Jason Knight and Justin Credible came down. Knight ate a forearm and Credible got a Springboard Dropkick.
This gave Storm enough time to get to his feet. Jericho ducked a lariat and rolled up Storm. On the count of two, Storm pushed Jericho into the ropes. Waiting for him would be the mighty swing of a Singapore Cane from Justin Credible.
The force of the cane shot sent Jericho to the mat, and Storm hooked the leg. After 7:24, the first match of One Night Stand was over, and it was everything good about ECW. Posing in the ring, Storm, Credible, Knight, and Dawn Marie all turned back the clock and looked amazing. The Impact Players lived again, at least for one night.
After the group left, the crowd chanted “Lionhart,” as Jericho left the ring.
After a brief interlude to the announce booth, Joey mentioned the impending invasion of the Anti-ECW Crusaders. They bought seats in one of the balconies at the Hammerstein Ballroom for this show, and they would play a prominent role in the night’s festivities.
The Pitbull Gary Wolfe is backstage.
“Tonight, has already gone to the extreme. But at this time, I’d like to reflect on those brothers, those ECW brothers that couldn’t be here tonight. I know they’re watching from the best seats in the house. Take a look.”
Those brothers honored in this package were Rocco Rock, Terry Gordy, Mike Lockwood (aka Crash Holly), The Original Sheik, Mike Lozansky, “Pitbull” Anthony Durante, “Big” Dick Dudley, and Chris Candido. The crowd chanted Candido and ECW when the video package was through.
Ladies and Gentlemen, our next match is a three-way dance.
Out first, accompanied by the Sinister Minister and Mikey Whipwreck, from Yokohama, Japan, “The Japanese Buzzsaw” Yoshohiro Tajiri. The next man is accompanied by fellow FBI members, Big Guido, “The Made Man” Tracey Smothers, “The Italian Stallion” J.T. Smith, and Tony Mameluke, originally from Sicily, now residing in Howard Beach, New York, he is the “Extreme Stud” and the “Sicilian Shooter”, Little Guido Mercado (known in the WWE as Nunzio), and they are the F.B.I. The final competitor, from Mexico City, Mexico, he is “The Insane Luchador”, he is Super Crazy.
So, do the math here. Four members of the F.B.I., and two of Tajiri’s entourage were at ringside. This is a three-way dance, which basically means it is an elimination match.
After Guido hit a Sicilian Slice (Fameasser from the top rope) on Super Crazy, the action spilled to the outside with Super Crazy and Little Guido. By spilled to the outside, I mean over the barricade and into the crowd. After a slam, Super Crazy climbed to the balcony. “Oh, Dios Mio!” A backflip off the balcony took out most (if not all) of the F.B.I, including Little Guido.
With the F.B.I. about 15 rows deep into the crowd and on their backs, Super Crazy got back into the ring to a raucous cheer from the crowd. One of the men not taken out was Tajiri. A shoulder to the gut of Crazy allowed Tajiri to go over the top and try for a Sunset Flip. When Crazy held onto the ropes, Tajiri popped up and twisted Crazy around and locked him in the Tarantula.
While Crazy and Tajiri went at in the ring, the F.B.I. were making their way back into the ring. Crazy was thrown into the corner, and when Tajiri followed, he met Super Crazy’s boot heel. Before Crazy could capitalize, Smothers and Smith tripped the “Insane Luchador” and racked him on the ring post. In the ring, Big Guido went to task to Tajiri. As Guido put Tajiri in the Powerbomb position, and with Little Guido on the top rope, green mist came from Tajiri, blinding the man also known as Nunzio.
The Sinister Minister would run in and give Big Guido a “cup check” (low blow). Tracey Smothers came in and ate a kick to the face from the “Japanese Buzzsaw.” Mikey Whipwreck went to town on Little Guido. Mikey would hit the Whippersnapper (a bulldog jawbreaker from the top rope). Little Guido got pinned by Tajiri after 4:10 of action. To say this was fast paced would be like saying Bill Gates has a little bit of money. DUHH.
That left two men in the ring, Tajiri and Super Crazy. Tajiri controlled the action early, but the crowd was firmly behind Super Crazy. Crazy fed off the fans and nailed a Slam. He went for the Three Turnbuckles Moonsaults. After nailing the first two, Mikey Whipwreck pushed him off the top rope, putting him on his knees, and in perfect position for the Japanese Buzzsaw to do some damage.
Crazy would duck a Buzzsaw Kick (and screw up the counter move on the next sequence, that got a “you f***ed up” chant from the crowd). Crazy hit a huge Powerslam followed by the signature Top Rope Moonsault. 6:14 into the match, and Super Crazy gained the victory.
Minus one move, the match was almost perfectly executed. Everything from the interference from the men at ringside, to the crowd being a typical ECW crowd, to the crispness of the moves, it was well done by all.
A video montage aired next, as we saw some ‘vintage’ ECW highlights.
The next match is an extreme Lucha match.
Out first, from Tijuana, Mexico, Psicosis. Psicosis took off his mask, before his competitor was announced. Joey Styles would inform us it was due to the great respect Psicosis had for these fans. Foley would add that this is the first time this ever happened, and it would be the first time we would see Psicosis’ face in North America.
His opponent hails from Tijuana, Mexico, now residing in San Diego, California. He is “El Super, super, super nino”, he is Rey Mysterio Jr. Joey would correct Mick. It’s not the first time we would see his face, it is the first time he wore the mask to the ring and removed it. (During his short time in the WWE, Psicosis did not have his mask. He was also part of a faction called the MexiCools with Juventud Guerrera and Super Crazy that rode lawn mowers to the ring. THIS HAPPENED IN 2004!)
For the first time tonight, the crowd booed due to subpar performance. Psicosis seemed off and very slow in the early going. This was not lost on those in attendance and was obvious on the tape. It was obvious to the crowd as well, as they were chanting “put your mask on” in the direction of Psicosis. Is he a handsome man? No, but the crowd never cheered for Mick Foley to put a mask on (Sorry, Mr. Foley).
Psicosis was not one of the faster, more high-flying luchadores, and exhibited this by relying on the power advantage he had over the “Master of the 619.” The crowd booed as it was clear they were not getting the match they expected.
The crowd was began to turn on Psicosis and he played off that. Both Joey Styles and Mick Foley commented on this. However, just as that happened, Psicosis bent Rey over the barricade and hit the Psycho Guillotine (a leg drop onto the back of Rey, as he was bent over the rail).
The match picked up after this as Psicosis went shoulder first into the ring post, and his force carried him into the first row, and into the lap of former ECW Producer, Ron Buffone. Psicosis climbed to his feet in the first row, Rey did some climbing of his own. He went to the top rope and hit a huge Flying Seated Senton, (the technical name for the West Coast Pop) knocking down fans as far as the third row.
Rey and Psicosis groggily got back into the ring. A Springboard Dropkick later and Psicosis was set up for Rey’s signature knee-to-face move, the 619. A West Coast Pop and a pin later and Rey Mysterio Jr. pinned Psicosis at the 6:23 mark of the match.
As Mysterio Jr. celebrated in the ring, the Anti-ECW Crusaders (the Smackdown team) came to their seats. Kurt Angle, JBL, JBL’s cabinet (the Basham Brothers and Orlando Jordan), Carlito, and Matt Morgan filed into the balcony reserved for them. Let’s just put it this way, the crowd was unhappy with their arrival.
At the pleading of Joey Styles, we cut to another ECW highlight package, this one covered some of the middle years of the rogue promotion behind this show, including Steve Austin, Shane Douglas grabbing Gary Wolfe in a halo, the USWA’s invasion (led by Jerry “The King” Lawler), Tommy Dreamer beating Raven for the first time, Beulah admitting her pregnancy, and Taz winning the ECW Championship for the first time.
Enter one of the best characters in ECW history, “The Quintessential Stud Muffin” Joel Gertner.
He is up in the balcony, in a classy looking snakeskin jacket and crushed velvet neck brace, with no shirt underneath, to interview the Smackdown invaders. Kurt Angle took the mic and JBL pushed down the “Stud Muffin” and literally booted him betwixt his cheeks.
Angle began to speak (and by speak, I mean scream and spit into the microphone while the crowd drowned him out with obscenities and boos). After calling the ECW fans the lowest forms of scum and telling them they sucked, the fans retorted in chant form, he performs fellatio on certain parts of the male anatomy. He screamed ‘your mother taught me how.’ (In an attempt to make a “Your Mother” joke, he admitted he orally imbibes the male sex organ.) Good one Kurt. Kurt made some threats and told everyone to pucker up and plant one on his posterior, just in some “less educated” words.
JBL got the mic, and as usual, talked about how great he was. (Say what you will about John Bradshaw Layfield, but he knew how to be a heel.) He cut one hell of a promo on not just the ECW fans, but the organization itself. He was amazing. He was also cut off by a man who carried the ECW banner as high as anyone. “The Whole F’n Show,” Rob Van Dam, knee brace and all, and flanked by Fonzie, came into the ring.
A few months before this show, Van Dam tore ligaments in his knee and be out of action. Let’s see what” Mr. Monday Night” had to say.
“This is awesome. You remember this Fonzie? You remember this? I love you Fonzie. If they would have listened to me, you would have had a job a long time ago. Let me say it sucks bad enough that you’re in this building sucking up some credit that you have absolutely nothing to do with. Shut your mouth. This has nothing to do with you (directed towards JBL and the Crusaders). Tonight, is going to be one of the biggest Pay-Per-Views all year, and it is because these people, just like me, just like Fonzie, are sick and tired of having to have you, and your likeness, shoved down their throats every time they wanna watch wrestling. Tonight, we give them what they want to see, E-C-W!
You deserve zero credit for tonight’s success. The office might be blind to it, but these people are going to let you know. That’s right. I don’t have any creative geniuses writing my script tonight folks. So, I’m gonna be shooting from the heart. And I’m going to take you back to a time before RVD’s vocabulary was limited to ‘whatever’ and ‘cool.’
Remember that Fonzie, remember when RVD has a vocabulary, when I had a voice? Remember when these people would chant my initials from the opening of the show, through intermission, all the way to the main event? Remember that? Talk about the pressure, no sweat. I didn’t sweat it. Ya know why? Because I was going to have the opportunity to come out and actually use my abilities and my skills to make sure that everybody watching went home happy.
As long as I got the chance to do my part, that’s all that mattered. Ya know why? I’m the Whole F&%$#@* Show. Mr. Pay-Per-View. Mr. Monday Night. You remember what RVD 4:20 means?”
(RVD and Fonzie together) “I just smoked your ass!”
“Fonzie, how long did I defend that World Television Title?”
“One year, eleven months, eighteen days, two hours, and 42 seconds, Daddy.”
“Are you kiddin me? That was the best time of my career. Yeah, I said that. That is how you showcase RVD. I know, I know, I understand. I feel the love. I understand the respect and that is why we’re here tonight. That’s why I went to the boss man and said ‘Vince, have you ever thought of doing an ECW Pay-Per-View?’ He said, ’Well actually, I hadn’t thought of that.’ I said, ‘It would be huge. You gotta do it. All of us ECW guys that were there, back in the day, that shared that energy with the ECW fans, let us go out there the way we wanna be seen. Balls out. We are your toughest guys. Don’t worry about any of us getting hurt. We don’t even need a storyline, just one night only. You don’t even have to turn the lights on for the whole building, because we weren’t about that. Let us show you what we were all about."
Yeah, and then, he liked it! He liked my idea, and the dream became a reality. And the date was set, June 12, One Night Stand, ECW. I can’t freaking wait.
And then I had to get this knee surgery. Dr. Andrews had to fix my torn ACL and my torn meniscus, and I won’t be cleared to wrestle on this Pay-Per-View. And that sucks worse than anything for me. Way worse than anything. Worse than missing the overseas tour to Japan and to Europe. This sucks worse than Booker T’s wedding that I missed. This sucks worse than missing Wrestle Freaking Mania.
I would gladly pass all that up to be here right now, because this is what I’m about. RVD is ECW!”
It was a very poignant and heartfelt promo. The exclamation point on the end came when the “Man Beast” Rhyno speared RVD with such force, his knee brace came undone. Rhyno removed the brace and got ready to spear RVD again when the lights cut out.
With the crowd chanting for Sabu, RVD’s former tag team partner, “The Most Suicidal, Homicidal, Genocidal Wrestler of them All” Sabu entered the ring when the lights came up. RVD rolled out of the ring and a referee slid in. We are going to have ourselves a match here guys, and the crowd is as unhinged as ever for the last reigning ECW Champion (Rhyno) and one of the most iconic (and insane) ECW alums.
ECW Icon vs ECW Icon
Rhyno was in control early, using his obvious size advantage. Sabu took over, and after a chair was tossed to him (by either Fonzie or Rob Van Dam), Rhyno felt the cold steel up against his dome piece. With Rhyno on the outside, Sabu set the chair up and a hop onto the chair and a skip to the top rope, “Air Sabu” jumped and hit a Flying Shoulder Block to Rhyno.
It was a contrast of move sets. Rhyno used power, and Sabu used gravity and steel chairs. After both men met some more steel, Rhyno hit a powerful Reverse Face Buster into the turnbuckle, putting Sabu in the right spot. As Rhyno charged from the other side of the ring, poised to hit the Gore, he did. However, referee John ‘Pee Wee’ Moore was the one who was harmed. Rhyno wiped out Sabu with a Piledriver. (Most of what went on in ECW was dangerous, but a shorter man like Rhyno using a Piledriver on someone who has had a broken neck had to make WWE Legal and several bosses backstage wince as the thought of impending lawsuits had to come to mind.)
Enter Rob Van Dam. On one good knee, he was tossed a chair by Fonzie, and threw it at Rhyno. He Skateboarded the chair into Rhyno’s face in the corner. If you ever want to see a crowd lose their minds, just have Rhyno bent over a table, and have Sabu leg drop a chair into Rhyno, through a table. It was called the Arabian Skull Crusher. That’s what happened, and the crowd went berserk.
In what was probably a mercy pin to save the crowd from complete insanity, Sabu got the three count 6:31 after the opening bell. RVD and Sabu high fived, embraced and saluted the Original Sheik.
Backstage, we saw a man who is not crazy, nor is he insane, he is just, plain, looney. Al Snow, with Head, (a mannequin’s head he talked to, and believed talked back to him. It got Snow so over not just in ECW, but in the WWE as well. Not to mention the phrase “Got Head” seemed to be very popular with the 18-34 male demographic of the time.) is having a conversation with “it”. He would blame Head for the, and I quote, “Smackdown A**holes” for showing up. He didn’t wanna talk about it anymore, so we cut to some more ECW memories.
Enter SATAN and two of the best ever
Here we saw the Anti-ECW Crusaders (Raw team) come into the arena. Led by Eric Bischoff, we saw Edge, Christian, William Regal, Snitsky, Tomko, Jonathan Coachman, Rob Conway, Renee Dupree and Maven.
For the sake of history, this next match is included. Boy this match won’t be easy. It’s not just because Chris Benoit was in this match, but his competition was Eddie Guerrero.
While the two exchanged headlocks, two pieces of audio should be acknowledged here. First, the crowd chanting at Edge “I F***ed Lita” (Edge’s girlfriend and former fiancée of Matt Hardy) and “Lita has Herpes” (a line gifted to the fans by John Cena). Secondly, this quote from Joey Styles:
“How appropriate that the wrestling mat is covered in canvas because Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit are true artists.”
Anyway, before we go further, let’s peek at why Edge was getting those nasty chants from the New Yorkers in the Hammerstein Ballroom.
There was something wrong with Eddie. Since he stepped through the curtain, he was not the same “Latino Heat” we all knew and loved. He seemed off, depressed almost. He would leave the ring and collect his thoughts. When he returned to the ring, Eddie went on the offensive in a major way.
Maybe Eddie was just playing the heel. It is surreal to hear the crowd chant ‘Let’s go Benoit.’ I almost wanna believe that it never happened. To this day, it seems like a bad dream. Back to the show…
Eddie hit a beautiful Superplex and was in control of much of this match. Eddie, bleeding from his nose, was “feeling a little froggy,” and went for the Frog Splash. Benoit rolled out of the way. After the 10 count was broken, the two men traded knife edged chops.
Then it was Benoit’s turn to be in charge. Benoit would get in his version of the Superplex but could only muster a near fall. Benoit would lock in the three German Suplexes before the famous throat slash. A Suicide Headbutt would only get a two count.
That paragraph took a lot out of me to write. It’s hard to mention Benoit and “throat slashing” and “suicide” in the same thought, even if it is wrestling moves. I can’t wait for this match to be over.
Benoit would lock in the Crippler Crossface. Eddie would hold out for a few moments, but after 10:38, Eddie Guerrero would tap out. Benoit wins.
He had no business being there
Joel Gertner is back and is trying to interview the Raw invaders now. Gertner said he had to ask a question that was on the minds of everyone in the building. He then asked for a job.
Bischoff grabbed the mic and called Gertner a “Scab”, “Wannabe”, and “a piece of garbage.” Bischoff did much of what Angle and JBL did, and voice is displeasure with ECW. He proceeded to throw his beer at the “Stud Muffin” and smashed the mic into his chest.
After an exterior shot of NYC, we got ready for the next match. A man with a jaded history in ECW, Mike Awesome was on his way to the ring. There is no love lost between Joey Styles and Mike Awesome. There is no love lost between Awesome and the man he faced, Masato Tanaka. The two had a big rivalry before Awesome left for WCW.
Joey went off on Awesome as the match began. He told the story of Awesome walking out on ECW after getting a cool million smackaroos from Eric Bischoff and WCW. Styles used some more colorful language, including comparing Awesome to Judas. He said he hoped Tanaka would take Awesome’s head off with a Diamond Bomb (Tanaka’s finisher).
Awesome went over the top rope and fly, not once but twice early on. Now for ECW, no big deal. However, Mike Awesome was almost 7’ and was announced as weighing 270 pounds. It is very rare, even for Extreme Championship Wrestling, to see someone of that girth go airborne.
I am not sure I have properly done justice to the vitriol Joey Styles has for Mike Awesome. Maybe this quote will help:
“Suicide dive by Mike Awesome, and it is a shame he didn’t take his own life.”
I know this is saying this in hindsight, but dude…For those of you who might not be aware, Awesome would commit suicide via hanging in February of 2007. I understand hate and all, but that was bad.
Tanaka Backdropped Awesome over the barricade and into the crowd. Tanaka grabbed a chair and got a running start, before spiking the chair into the skull of Awesome. Awesome took back over the match with a hard Clothesline on the outside. He set up a table on the outside.
Awesome got Tanaka on the apron, and Awesome Bombed him through the table. The former turncoat of ECW got Tanaka back in the ring and hit a massive (considering Awesome’s size) Splash from the top rope. Any normal man would take the pin fall and escape with whatever health they had left. Not Masohiro Tanaka, not in ECW. He kicked out at two.
Another Awesome Bomb planted Tanaka. It was Awesome’s turn to grab a chair. However, Tanaka had one as well. Both men swung the chair wildly and missed. Awesome, on try number two, connected. He landed a third, but instead of going down, Tanaka started (for lack of a better term) “Hulking Up.”
Awesome missed another swing, but nailed Tanaka on try five, and did so with such force, the chair dented. Tanaka wouldn’t stay down. He backed into the corner, and after getting his boots up to stop a charging Awesome, he put the big man down with a Float Over Bulldog.
With the former ECW Champion (Awesome) down, Tanaka set two chairs in the corner and planted Awesome, face first, into the furniture with a Tornado DDT. Super human “That 70’s Guy” (one of the two names Awesome went by in WCW. The other was “The Fat Chick Thrilla.” From the people that brought you the Shockmaster, WCW Creative folks.) kicked out. Tanaka used the chairs creatively (a One-Man Conchairto and a Top Rope Conchairto) but still only managed near falls on Awesome.
Awesome got back to his feet and landed a German Suplex and a Spear. He climbed to the top rope with a chair and came crashing down, steel chair first, with a mighty swing into the head of Tanaka. This time, Tanaka would be on the mat.
Awesome took a bunch of time getting a table in the ring and setting it up. So much so, the crowd began to chant “You suck” and cheered him ironically when he succeeded. He put Tanaka on the top rope, but Tanaka reversed whatever Awesome was going to do into another Tornado DDT, this one through a table. It netted him a near fall, as Awesome kicked out at two.
Both men were spent. Tanaka slowly got to his feet and got to the top rope. Awesome met him there, and gave him another Awesome Bomb, this time through what was left of the table. Wanna guess what happened? Yup, another near fall. Welcome to ECW.
The entirety of the Hammerstein Ballroom was on their feet, not chanting obscenities at the WWE guys in the balcony, not cheering for blood, not even chanting. They were giving Awesome and Tanaka a standing ovation. For the sake of fairness, they began chanting ECW as well.
If there ever was a such thing as Mass Bipolar Disorder, the ECW crowd had it. Just a minute or two before, they were insulting Awesome. Seconds later, he and Tanaka were getting a standing ovation.
With Tanaka writhing in pain in the ring, Awesome set up another table on the outside. Awesome climbed back in the ring and set Tanaka up for another Awesome Bomb. This one would be from the ring to the outside through a table. Tanaka wiggled out, but that would only save himself momentarily. Awesome got him back up and sent him over the rope, to the outside, through the table. Awesome followed him a few seconds later and splashed Tanaka. Mercifully, this match would end seven seconds short of 10 minutes (9:53). What a match!!!
After the match, we saw highlight after highlight of the ending, referee Jim Molineux take an Awesome Bomb, Mick Foley defend Awesome (saying he would have sold out too if WCW gave him that kind of money and saying Awesome was made to look a fool in WCW (he was)). We also got a shot of the Crusaders, as we did several times during that match, featuring Orlando Jordan telling JBL “That guy sucks.” (Oh Orlando, if you only knew what was in your future…)
He who started it all
After a brief sojourn into the announce booth, we hear the original theme song of ECW, and “The Mad Scientist” Paul E. Dangerously Paul Heyman enter the arena. Donned in a long black leather trench coat, old school ECW hat (ponytail hanging out the back), headset around his neck, and tears in his eyes, the man behind the meteoric rise (and the fall) of ECW came to the ring. This promo ws lengthy (not as long as RVD’s), but here it is in its entirety. With the crowd chanting ‘Thank you Paul’, he began.
“I want you to know, I’m not crying. My eyes are red because I was in the back, smoking a joint with Van Dam.
I, I have a need in my heart to thank Tod Gordon for giving me the chance to be creative and to book for you crazy bastards. I have a need to thank that man, right there, Ron Buffone, and his partner Charlie (I apologize for misspelling this name) Brezeit, for sticking with us and sitting in a TV studio and directing that TV show for you. You are the craziest bastards I have ever met in my entire life, and I love every one of you.
And, I was gonna take the high road and just say thank you and leave, but I have something to say to you (pointing to the Crusaders in the balcony.)
Ya see, I have waited a long time to say this to you, Eric Bischoff. But in case you don’t notice, it’s not Paul Heyman, with his tail between his legs, going to a WCW Pay-Per-View. You are in our house, bitch.
Oh, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Hide your wives, it’s Edge. Now Edge, I know nobody with a written promo has the balls to say this to you, but I have two words for you…Matt Freakin’ Hardy.
Well with that…I almost forgot about you. Mister shoot promo himself. ‘Bounced checks, ECW went outta business.’ Hey John, on a personal note, from all of us, just to you, since you wanna shoot cowboy. The only reason you were WWE Champion for a year, is because Triple H didn’t wanna work Tuesday.
Ok, one more time for old time’s sake. Right there so the whole world can see it (pointing at the main camera). This ain’t WCW, this ain’t Monday Night Raw, this ain’t Smackdown, this ain’t even WWE. This, my friends, is E-C-F&%$#@*-W!”
Paul bowed to the fans, chucked his hat into the crowd, and saluted the fans one last time (also saluting the Crusaders at some point as well with a gesture that would make Steve Austin proud) before leaving the ring. As his music cut off, another set cut on.
You are probably more familiar with the sound of the bottle rockets coming down, leading us into the entrance of the most decorated tag team in professional wrestling history. Along with RVD, these two men, these brothers, are as recognizable with ECW as anyone (In fact, all four of these men go hand in hand with ECW). They hail from Dudleyville, Buh Buh Ray and D’Von, The Dudley Boyz. (It is kind of sad to see the Dudleys not come out with the other members of the family.)
Their opponents, coming out first, is a man who bled ECW. He is the “Innovator of Violence,” and was the heart and soul of ECW.
“People call Paul Heyman the brains of ECW. They call me the voice of ECW. Tommy Dreamer, always the heart, the soul, the guts of ECW.”
Next came the best entrance in wrestling. Say what you will about flashy entrance videos, special effects, pyro, and catchy songs, but nothing fit the Sandman more than Metallica, coming through the crowd, smoking and drinking, and bleeding before his match began.
Was it long? Yup. Was it necessary to bash a can of beer against your skull until you bled? Probably not. Was it quintessentially everything ECW was? You bet your behind.
As the Sandman came through the crowd, let’s look at the four men in this match. Buh Buh Ray and D’Von, we know all about their 20-something title reigns. Buh Buh moved onto TNA and become a World Champion. Tommy would go to work behind the scenes, and then start up the House of Hardcore. (His promotion in the Northeast that keeps the spirit of ECW alive, and uses a lot of former ECW talent.) And the Sandman, well, he was not just the character when the cameras rolled. The Sandman lived that character. It was him. This is what ECW was. This was the heart and soul of ECW. This is what those three letters stood for.
After all of that, the Sandman just now got in the ring. A great sign of respect between the four men as they exchange fist bumps in the middle of the ring. Right before the referee rings the bell, we have some visitors.
In other universes, they were Simon Dean, Stevie Richards, and The Blue Meanie. Here, they are known as Hollywood Nova, Big Stevie Cool, and Da Blue Guy. They are the Blue World Order!
“I’ve heard a lot of people talk about invading. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about crusading. You cannot have a real, true, hardcore invasion without the B-W-O! So, with that being said, we have three simple words for ya: ‘We’re Taking Over!’”
-Big Stevie Cool
Stevie Superkicked the Sandman and the fight was on. As everyone attacked everyone, out came Kid Cash. Cash would be followed by the “Hardcore, Chair Swinging Freaks,” Axl Rotten and Balls Mahoney. The four guys competing in this match left the ring, and Stevie and Nova took the brunt of the abuse from Rotten and Balls.
Buh Buh and D’Von cleared the ring, and the BWO gathered everyone else in the aisle. Kid Cash flied using the referee and the top rope as a springboard to take down everyone. All the extras fought their way to the back, and with Buh Buh and Dreamer in the ring (along with a trash can and other assorted debris), the bell rang.
We are going to have a Main Event.
A sign was used first, then a cheese grater. Tommy was on the receiving end of both and began “leaking” (bleeding) onto the canvas. I am not trying to turn a phrase there. The cut on his head was deep enough, he was dripping blood from his forehead, literally leaking. Gruesome doesn’t begin to describe it.
Dreamer and the Sandman used a ladder, and then Dreamer returned the favor of the cheese grater to Buh Buh Ray. Between the weapons being used, the brawling tactics, and the blood, it was hard to keep up with the action.
Sandman hit the Rolling Rock (a head first front flip with a ladder on his opponent) onto D’Von Dudley. Buh Buh Ray hit a Frog Splash with the Sandman on the ladder. D’Von grabbed a Singapore Cane and missed the Sandman but connected with Buh Buh Ray. The Sandman turned that into a White Russian Leg Sweep.
The Sandman and Dreamer then did something unexpected during an ECW Main Event like this. They locked the Brothers Dudley in dueling Figure Four Leg Locks.
It didn’t last long, as the Impact Players, Justin Credible and Lance Storm ran in. Credible had a sphere of barbed wire and introduced it to the skull of the Sandman via That’s Incredible (Credible’s finishing move). Then, they held up Tommy Dreamer, who was sporting a “crimson mask” the likes of which would have made Ric Flair proud. Enter Francine, who kicked a Field Goal to the groin of Dreamer. Who says time heals all wounds? (Francine was one of the many women who Tommy had a relationship with in ECW.)
Speaking of women Tommy was involved in, we saw Beulah McGillicutty. She was the centerpiece for one of the wildest, and most controversial storylines in ECW history.
Beulah came out and snatched Francine by the hair and yanked the woman down. Joey sounded like he lost his voice screaming “Cat fight” while these two women rolled around the ring. Credible pulled Beulah off Francine and Storm was going to Clothesline her. She ducked, and Storm connected with Credible. Beulah kicked her own Field Goal in the crotch of Storm, and Tommy cleared him from the ring.
It was a moment every ECW fan longed for. A bloody Tommy Dreamer and a smiling Beulah McGillicutty embraced one again in an ECW ring. The Dudleys came back into the ring, and Beulah and Tommy hit double DDTs on the “Masters of the Tables.” Both Dudleys would kick out at two.
D’Von got his groin violated when the Sandman propped a chair between his legs and Tommy smashed a sign onto the chair. Not to be outdone, Buh Buh Ray came in wielding a Singapore Cane. After doing some damage to both of his opponents, he grabbed a table and slid it into the ring. I guess he was doing D’Von’s job.
The Dudley’s set up the table, and D’Von broke it by Power Bombing the Sandman through it. This match didn’t end here folks, as Sandman kicked out of the ensuing cover.
Everyone was bleeding. Tommy got back in the ring and had momentary offense. Then he got a 3-D for his trouble. Buh Buh Ray got another table. He waved someone from the back. It was little Spike Dudley. He had lighter fluid. Uh oh. Two bottles of lighter fluid and a zippo later, the table was on fire. A Buh Buh Ray Power Bomb came after and Tommy went through the flaming table. Mercifully, for the remaining furniture under the ring, and the hearts of those in attendance, this match was over. Time of the carnage: 10:15.
After the match, Buh Buh Ray grabbed Beulah by the hair and dragged her into the ring. In the olden days, in the long, long ago, the Dudleys broke the neck of Beulah. If it wasn’t for the Sandman caning everyone (including Spike), it might have happened again. Sandman crawled to Dreamer and began hollering for a beer. Like Joey Styles said, he probably needed plasma more than a beer.
A different Bible verse
Now I want to ask you all a question. What wrestler, in the history of wrestling, is most synonymous with beer? I’ll give you a hint, he had a brief run in ECW, and is very chilly. No, he is kinda frosty. No, no, he is “STONE COLD!”
The glass shattered and out came “Stone Cold” Steve Austin! If it was possible for the crowd to go anymore crazy than it already was, they did.
“Stone Cold” climbed the four corners and saluted the fans in a way only he can and get cheered. He called everyone flying those ECW colors out to the ring and said we were going to have a beer bash! As most of the ECW locker room filled the ring, they packed to one side. Are we going to see a confrontation? Will the Crusaders be called down to the ring? I believe Stone Cold has something to say.
“You ready to drink some damned beer? You want some damned beer? Now just hold on a damned second. Hell, I’m ready to drink some beer with ya, but I came down here tonight to see a damned fight. I’ve seen brutality. (WHAT) I’ve seen calamity. (WHAT) I’ve seen bloodshed, (WHAT) and I damned near ODed on violence.
But I’ll tell you one thing. All I been hearing all week and tonight is Eric Bischoff, little JBL with yer little yellow tie, Kurt Angle, ya little sorry sum b***h, runnin yer damned mouth sayin’ ya wanna whip somebody’s ass. So, since yer so hell bent on whippin somebody’s ass, and you been talking so much trash, why don’t y’all turn around, get single file, and bring yer carcasses to the ring, and whip their ass.
Nah hold now. Before you come, Imma sit my ass out here and grab a chair, and a beer. Imma watch from ringside and see what the hell happens.”
That’s exactly what “Stone Cold” did. He proceeded to rip into the Crusaders some more, and finally goaded the Crusaders into the ring. The line was clearly drawn the middle of the ring. The crowd was chanting for a certain “Human Suplex Machine.” This was it. The ultimate battle of good (ECW) versus evil (WWE) in the eyes of the fans.
As Bischoff found the commentator’s booth, another set of music hit. It wasn’t the heartbeat we were all used to, signaling the arrival of Taz. (This was ECW, so only one “Z” in his name tonight.)
Kurt Angle shook in anticipation of getting at Taz. After a tense few seconds, Angle took the first swing. Taz ducked and the fight was on!
The masses of humanity collided in the ring as punches were thrown from all sides. Angle and Taz left the ring and were brawling on the entrance ramp. Angle beat down Taz enough to walk back into the ring and up to the ring apron. He would get bumped off and back right into a Tazmission, the Kata Ha Jime.
One by one, the Crusaders were jettisoned from the ring. With Bischoff and Joey Styles sounding like they were about to go at it in the announce booth, “Stone Cold” gets back in the ring and calls for the beers to be dished out.
Before we get to the celebration, Stone Cold has one more piece of business that needs tending to. There is someone at the announce booth that needs to come out. In fact, two somebodies. “The Hardcore Legend” Mick Foley, and Eric Bischoff. (It’s probably a good thing too, because if it went on much longer, Joey Styles might have killed him, literally.)
Stone Cold requested the man known as Cactus Jack, who definitely put some butts in seats Mr. Bischoff, to bring the former head of WCW to the ring. (Bischoff has fired McMahon twice, once for real and once in storyline. Bischoff also raided ECW talent and treated many of them once they were in WCW like garbage. Even though it was all in storyline, I am positive several of the men in that ring wanted to harm Bischoff in a deeply personal way.)
The public smiting of Eric Bischoff began. Count the finishers with me.
1. 3-D, thanks to the Dudleys.
2. Flying Headbutt by Chris Benoit
3. 619 by Rey Mysterio Jr.
4. Stunner by Steve Austin
The last one was preceded by a post-show interview conducted by Austin to Bischoff. When Austin asked what Eric thought of the show, he responded with a “F*** ECW.” Austin Stunned him and was then carried out of the Hammerstein Ballroom by the Dudleys. The locker room celebrated while “Bodies” by Drowning Pool played over the speakers.
Joey Styles would put a bow on the show by thanking the fans, and the last scene was “Stone Cold” and the Sandman, celebrating on the top of the stage, while Joey Styles screamed:
It certainly did. In the two hours and 33-minute show, there was 57:18 of bell-to-bell match time. This does not count the altercations before the Sabu/Rhyno match, or before the main event. 37.45% of the show was matches, but it didn’t really matter. For the first time since January 7th, 2001 (The date of the final ECW Pay-Per-View, Guilty as Charged 2001) ECW did live.
ECW had been resurrected. When it started, it honored the “Hardcore Franchise.” By the time it was over, ECW was used as a springboard for talent to come from Florida Championship Wrestling (WWE’s Developmental Territory). In February of 2010, it was announced ECW on SyFy (the network rebranded itself and as such, the WWE had to change the name of the show) would be cancelled.
In it’s place would be a reality show. This show would me akin to American Idol and called NXT. NXT evolved from a reality show on cable television to a major brand on the WWE Network, (which you can only see on the WWE Network for only $9.99 a month, and as always the first month is free to new subscribers) complete with Pay-Per-Views and Championships.
In the ashes of ECW, which itself was born from the ashes of the NWA, rose NXT. I know it is a long stretch, but a line can be drawn from NXT all the way back to 1948 in Iowa when professional wrestling became what it is. And that, is pretty cool.
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