In this edition of DRS2EBRaSAGG we, the royal we, take our first look at Extreme Championship Wrestling. Back in the day we, the royal we, were huge fans of ECW. And of Rob Van Dam in particular. This is back in the day when Rob Van Dam was at his athletic peak and was in a promotion that had a competent booker. Unlike say now. Back then he was compared to Shawn Michaels and that was a big dream match. WWE squandered that one. Anyway off that digression and on to the review.
While there is a choreographed quality to some of it there are some amazing sequences of moves in these matches. Given the participants involved such things have a very low margin of error going on. Everything is flawless in the first match. Past that it gets sketchy. For instance in the first match you get a sequence where Jerry Lynn goes for his piledriver which is reversed into a bridging pin by RVD stood up upon by Lynn into a DDT which is blocked into a Northern Lights Suplex attempt by RVD which is Lynn floats over to hit a reverse DDT onto a steel chair. Or the Tornado DDT countered into a Northern Lights into a DDT which the Northern Lights works in the second match or the ridiculous sequence in the third match that goes Tornado DDT into Northern Lights into DDT into a ducked high kick into a double clothesline spot and in the last match it goes Tornado DDT into Northern Lights into reverse DDT into snapmare. Got all that?
Anyway like I said this is done brilliantly in the first match. Everything looks great. Plus the booking of that first match is perfect. When the match begins no one cares about Jerry Lynn. He is the heavy underdog. He dominates the early part of the match partially with awesome moves sequences as mentioned above. Or something like powerbombing RVD out of the corner onto a chair after avoiding the monkey flip. Which happens in every match. Which given how all the reversals and such evolve you’d think he’d learn. Anyway the match is so great and Lynn looks so good that the crowd starts to chant New Fucking Show at him as a take off of RVD’s Whole Fucking Show. This leads to a funny moment when RVD kicks a chair into Lynn’s face as he was perched on the top rope which causes him to fall to the floor and through a table. You can hear someone in the crowd say, “I guess you’re not the new show no more”.
The booking was great even up to the point where after the time limit expired the ref wanted to award the match and the title to Jerry Lynn. Lynn asks for five more minutes which is just long enough to catch a chair thrown in by Alfonso, walk into the Van Daminator, and eat a Five Star Frog Splash for the loss.
While the first match is perfect there are issues with the others. First red flag is that there is hardway blood in all of them. The biggest surprise there is that Lynn is the one causing RVD to bleed more often than not. Except one major event. The second match starts as great as the first one was. You get more elaborate sequences of moves until you get to RVD kicking a crotched Lynn to the floor ala the aforementioned table spot. The problem is that due to some action outside the ring the mats had separated and Lynn landed face first on the concrete knocking himself out.
The match dies for a while here as RVD tries to kill time until Lynn wakes up. Then things get sloppy. Although to their credit there is some awesome stuff here. Playing off a tornado DDT to a table on the floor for instance. A table that RVD’s head just bounced off of since the table didn’t break in that first match. In the second Lynn goes for it but ends up clotheslined back into the ring leading to the famous sunset flip powerbomb putting RVD through the table. That came after the genius idea of RVD reversing Lynn’s Frankensteiner into a backdrop off the top to the floor after Lynn already had a cracked skull.
Let’s talk about the manager of champions. The man who calls it right down the middle. Mr Bill Alfonso. If you really think about it RVD was a total heel. He was super arrogant and had a manager that constantly interfered. He was beloved anyway. Alfonso was booked as the difference maker for RVD a lot of the time. Throwing the chair to RVD’s opponent who would then walk into a Van Daminator much like Lynn did to lose their first match. Lynn smartened up in the second and third matches by throwing the chair right back in Alfonso’s face.
The issue with the third match is the insane amount of interference though. Not from Alfonso. The third match was RVD’s return from breaking his leg and the Network angle was in full swing. So Network representative Cyrus had everyone and their mother run in. Then Scotty Anton, the Marty Jannetty of the American Males think about that one, turned on RVD giving Lynn the win. Overbooked even by ECW standards.
The last match was the last match. It was the last match on the last ECW PPV. Rhino had just beaten Sandman, who was conned into a match by Cyrus after winning a ladder match, for the ECW World Title. Cyrus challenges anyone to face Rhino right then and there and RVD makes his surprise return. RVD had bailed since his checks were bouncing. This match has what you’d expect. RVD bleeding hardway. Lynn missing a chair shot ducking the Van Daminator dodging the sweep kick and leg dropping RVD onto the chair. The powerbomb out of the corner on the chair etc. What was different about it was the Bill Alfonso was nowhere to be found while Cyrus was in the corner of Jerry Lynn. So the roles had been reversed here. Lynn has a man getting him chairs this time. That is until Joel “I shoot out a full condom filla and it tastes like vanilla” Gertner comes out to take out Cyrus and hold the chair for the Van Terminator. This was a fine match. On par with their second effort.
There are a few depressing things. Like Styles talking about a nonexistant future. Or the “this is awesome” chant. I, like most people, had cut out of ECW once the top guys were Justin Credible, Steve Corino, and Rhino. No offense meant to Steve Corino there. So I was always under the impression that chant was an obnoxious post ECW thing. Apparently it was a dying days of ECW deal. Made me feel bad.
That ends our first trip to ECW. Next week is a special tie in. Next Time: Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon.