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ECW'S BARELY LEGAL: 15 YEARS LATER, HERE'S THE ORIGINAL REPORT

By Dave Scherer on 2012-04-13 02:03:38
Since a number of readers have asked about this via email and Twitter, here is the original ECW Barely Legal report from The Wrestling Lariat #80. Old issues of the Lariat are archived in the PWInsider Elite section. Enjoy!

The Wrestling Lariat #80 --- April 21, 1997

HOME RUN!

Funk Wins Title!
Barely Legal Recap
by Dave Scherer


ECW ran its first Pay-Per-View, entitled “Barely Legal”, on 4/13 from their home base of the ECW Arena in front of a packed, rabid crowd of 1,200 people (paying about $70,000 with merchandise sales of 25K).  What will follow will be my best attempt at a report on the happenings of both that show, and the Terry Funk Lifetime Achievement Banquet which took place the preceding evening. 

I want to say right from the get-go that this past weekend was as special for me personally as any time I have ever spent around this crazy business.  In many ways, ECW, from it’s foundations as Eastern Championship Wrestling, changed how I looked at and appreciated the business.  Through going to ECW shows, I made a lot of good, lifetime friends, many of whom write for you here.  ECW also renewed an interest in American wrestling in me that was almost gone.  As the motto of our publication states, this is written by wrestling fans, for wrestling fans, and this wrestling fan has a lot to say about this past weekend, and many of the events that led to where ECW is today.  So, if I go off on a tangent or get a little long-winded, please indulge me.  I think this past weekend deserves that.

In speaking with Paul Heyman at the Funk Banquet, he told me that it did not matter to him if anyone bought the PPV.  He told me that there were a few things that he wanted to accomplish with the show.  He wanted to show the world that they could do what it takes to put on a PPV.  He wanted to get his foot in the door in that medium.  He wanted to deliver on a commitment that he made to his wrestlers.  And, I think, he wanted to prove something to himself.  Do I believe he didn’t care if anyone bought the show?  Of course not.  ECW is Heyman’s baby and he wants everyone to love and adore that baby the way he does.  He surely does not want to lose money either, but I think the reasons he gave were indeed very important to him.  Heyman was outwardly telling people that he set his expectations low, much like I used to do when I took a test in college (“I failed it, I know I did”), but neither he nor I really felt that way.  When a person is as passionate about something as Heyman is about ECW, it’s human nature to try to not let yourself be set up to be crushed if it does not go well.  Both on Saturday and at the show itself, Heyman said to me, “I am not looking for a home run.  All I want is a double.  I just want to get on base.”  Well, after this weekend, no matter what the buyrate turns out to be, Paul Heyman, and everyone at ECW really, should feel like Cecil Fielder.  And that child we were talking about?  It’s not a baby any longer

The show live opened at the building with Bob Artese coming out at 8:34 and introducing the first dark match, Balls Mahoney vs. Louie Spicolli.  It was a short, crisp brawl that saw Louie get the pin with the Death Valley Driver in 4:38.

The second dark match saw Tommy Rich and Little Guido come out to face “The Rookie” Chris Chetti.  Rich took the mic and said that he and Guido liked the odds and that they were going to smack Chetti around.  That’s all well and good except that …  well, the crowd had a pretty good idea of what was coming and began chanting “JT” and sure enough, out came J. T. Smith, to be Chetti’s partner.  Smith, who has been working in Philly for years but recently moved to Virginia, is a major favorite of many fans here and there has been a clamoring by many, including in these pages, to have Smith on the show.  Smith came out to a great pop from the crowd.  The match saw the heels get early heat on Chetti until Smith made the hot tag.  He cleaned house and got the pin on Guido in 4:38 after hitting a hot shot on him.  Paul Heyman came out on the top stage and the crowd chanted “Paul E.” and “Thank You” to him.

Then, they went live.  As those of you who saw the show noticed, the sound was screwed up in the beginning.  In fact, Joey Styles went out a few minutes early to prep the crowd and when he went to speak, there was silence.  They tried another mic, ditto.  They finally got it all working just as Heyman was signaling the “five” sign to go live, as in five seconds!  The crowd, trying to save Styles, chanted ECW and all of the sudden, his mic came on.  And heart attacks were averted all over the Arena. 

Joey did the open and then the Dudleys came out.  D-Von did his usual spiel, saying it was time to “testify”.  Then, on the PPV, they did a video that started the show, and that gave Styles time to get back to the broadcast position over the front doors.  They came back on TV as Joel Gertner introduced his tag champs.  Their opponents?  The Eliminators.  This match, quite simply, was a squash that saw the Elims totally destroy the Duds.  Early on, Sign Guy attacked the Elims, and they pasted him with Total Elimination.  The Duds came in from behind and got in some early, and it turned out their only, offense.  From then on, the Elims just did almost every hot spot in their arsenal, and man, they have a ton.  They did double twisting splashes, a plethora of psychotic thrust kicks, punches, chops, and just about everything else they do.  Kronus vaulted Perry with a Saturnsault onto the Duds, on the floor.  Perry picked the Duds up and Kronus hit his Space Flying Kronus drop.  Kronus did his double handspring elbow smash on Buh Buh.  Saturn hit a double jump moonsault on Buh Buh.  Kronus did an awesome 450 splash on -Von.  The two of them hit Total Elimination on Buh Buh in 6:31 to win the tag titles. 

Gertner then came out and did his schtick where he said the Duds really won.  The Eliminators hit Total Elimination on him, and Kronus’ back kick busted Gertner, who obviously flinched, open hardway from the nose or mouth.  I was told that he broke his nose.  The purpose of this match was to start the show off with a bang, and it did.  Somewhere in the match, Buh Buh hurt his ankle, thought to be a severe strain at press time.

In April of 1993, a bar federation known as Eastern Championship Wrestling, bankrolled by a guy named Tod Gordon, debuted a TV show on SportsChannel Philadelphia.  The TV tapings, from a local college, were, well, pretty bad.  Hell, on the first show, Terry Funk even told the fans as the show went off the air to stick with them because, “We’ll get better.”  The premise of the TV show was to build to the group’s first “independent supershow” that June at a Bingo Hall in South Philadelphia with Eddie Gilbert wrestling Terry Funk.  I was there.

After they aired a vignette about the Sandman in which he beat himself in the head with his cane and made himself bleed, Chris Candido, who was announced as being out hurt with a torn bicep, did an interview in the ring.  He said he was with ECW at their first show ever in the Arena, then went to WWF and worked Wrestlemania.  He then said he came back “home” to ECW but they did not have room for him on the PPV.  He made some decent humor about the guys in the three way dance and then said he would get involved in the show somehow.

 Candido left as Lance Storm, who was taking his place in his scheduled match, came up the aisle.  He was followed by his opponent, Rob Van Dam.  They acted as if Van Dam was the replacement, not Storm.  Now, there has been a ton of conjecture as to the future of Rob Van Dam, with the consensus being that he was going to WCW.  We were told that he would not appear on the PPV because of it, but yet here he was.  His status?  Well, since he won’t be leaving before June, ECW booked an angle around him leaving.  The fans chanted at him the now familiar war cry we hear whenever a guy leaves the promotion, “You sold out.”  These guys had a very good match, with Van Dam displaying the talents that have made him the worker he is.  The first hot move saw Van Dam hit a leaping somersault moonsault over the top rope onto Storm on the floor.  Storm came back and hit some hot spots on his own, but then missed a splash over the top.  Van Dam hit a moonsault off of the guard rail.  Rob came back in with a chair, whipped Storm into the ropes, then threw the chair into his face as he was coming back.  While Storm was laying down, Van Dam grabbed the chair, ran, and kicked the chair into Storm’s face.  Storm then hit a double arm inverted suplex, followed by a frog splash, getting a near fall.  Storm came back and hit a reverse slam, which planted Rob face first, onto a chair.  Storm went on the offense with forearms, spinkicks, and flying body attacks for the next few minutes before he got on a Boston Crab, then a single leg crab.  Van Dam got to the ropes to break the hold.  Van Dam came back and did his slingshot guillotine legdrop.  Rob missed a chair shot and Storm did a Tiger Bomb on him onto the chair.  Rob came back with a crotch shot and went for a slingshot elbow, but he got bad footing and did not hit it clean.  Fans chanted the ever familiar, “You **cked up.”  Storm then got booed by the crowd for doing some of the weakest chairshots I ever saw.  As he was going for another, Van Dam did a reverse kick, pasting the chair into Storm’s face.  A backflip press got Rob the pin in 10:10. 

The crowd told Van Dam, again, that he sold out.  He took the mic and told Storm he should thank him for having a good match, but he ain’t about that.  He said that he did not care about the fans, workers, or Heyman’s respect.  He said he was treated as a second line wrestler here, having to fill in for an injured wrestler, so he worked the match for one reason:  business.  He said that winning here made him worth more somewhere else.

Eastern Championship Wrestling promoted their next “super show”, called Ultra Clash, on 9/18/93.  The show saw the debut of Paul Heyman as booker and his new concept of what some referred to as “MTV style” wrestling.  It took a little while for the concept to catch on, but all of that changed on 2/5/94 when Sabu, Terry Funk, and Shane Douglas wrestled for 60 minutes in quest of the ECW Title on a card that came to be known as “The Night The Line Was Crossed.”  I was there.

 They next aired their second vignette promoting the three way dance, this one with Terry Funk.  They showed a clip from the banquet the night before and he spoke about how, if he won, he dedicated the win to his father.

After airing a “whoops” graphic promoting the Michinoku match (They had Gran Naniwa listed but he did not make the trip due to an injury), they had, as far as pure flying wrestling goes, the best match on the show, and the best match of its kind thus far this year in the States.  This match was absolutely and positively fantastic.  Before ECW came along, my wrestling tastes largely gravitated towards the stiff All Japan style and the flying of the New Japan super juniors.  Of course, before that, I loved the old Mid South and Florida stuff which ECW has taken to the next level.  Anyway, if these guys were around at time, they would have been right there for me at the time. 

Before the match started, Joey Styles thanked Dave Meltzer and our own Mike Johnson for their help in researching the wrestlers and their moves.  I’d be lying if I didn’t tell that I was proud to hear Mike’s name mentioned on the broadcast.  And speaking of Mike, also before the match started, the ring was showered with streamers, and Mike was responsible for that too. 

The bout saw the team of Great Sasuke, Gran Hamada, and Masato Yakushiji take on the bWo team of Dick Togo, TAKA Michinoku, and Terry Boy (Mens Teioh in Japan).  It would be impossible to describe all of the fantastic moves that these guys did, so I won’t even try.  All of these guys, even Yakushiji, were fabulous, showing incredible timing, skill, and heart.  Rather than have me detail the match, get a copy of it and watch it!  (As an aside, feel free to send in a plug if you are looking for a trade, and we will gladly run it).  Early on in the match, some fans in the crowd (who obviously have not seen these guys) chanted “Power Rangers” at them.  By the end, there was nothing but respect from the audience.  After a plethora of outstanding moves, Sasuke got the pin for his team with a double arm suplex into a bridge in 16:53.  The crowd popped huge for the guys after the match.  As an aside, Joey Styles showed his complete knowledge of holds during this match and was better prepared than any announcer I can ever remember.  Anyone who doubts he is the best in the business just needs to listen to him a few times.

Eastern Championship Wrestling plugged along after that big show in February of ’94.  They became the rage of the hardcore, sheet reading wrestling fans, taking the place once held by Smoky Mountain Wrestling.  The shows that ran through the spring included “When Worlds Collide”, which saw Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton grace the ECW Arena.  Also during this time period, the NWA tried to do a renaissance of sorts, and ECW even added the acronym to their TV show, calling it “NWA Eastern Championship Wrestling.”  Jim Crockett was supposed to be coming back into the business and work the Dallas area, and they wanted to do a tournament to crown a new NWA World champion.  After initially booking the card for Woodbridge, NJ, the NWA came to ECW and asked that they hold the card at the ECW Arena.  Why?  Because they were the only member who had TV and who could fill a building.  So, on 8/27/94, a group of quality wrestlers put on a fabulous show in the building, and when it was over, Shane Douglas pinned Too Cold Scorpio to win the title.  And then, promptly threw it to the ground.  He declared from the ashes would come a new light.  And Extreme Championship Wrestling was born.  I was there.


They next aired the third promo for the three way dance, this time with Big Stevie Cool talking about how Raven used and abused him, even though he idolized him.  He spoke about how, tonight, he could rectify it all.  He said that he would come out of the shell he has been all his life.  He said tonight was about him becoming a man.  All three of these segments were well done.

The next match was the only down note of the show, by a unanimous vote, as Shane Douglas took on Pit Bull Two for the TV Title.  Earlier in the show, Styles had explained that Pit Bull One had to buy a ringside ticket because he was not cleared to wrestle by the doctors due to his recent “neck injury” and that was why he was at ringside.  Douglas came out first, with Francine and three members of a “riot squad” who were there to “protect him” from the crowd.  They were dressed in leather jackets and helmets (so of course you could not see who they were).  Douglas’ entrance had a ton of smoke and it was hard to see him in the beginning of his interview because of it.  His speech recapped his whole feud with the Pits and Rick Rude.  They got over that if Shane won, the masked man would have to take off the hood.  Pit came out and away they went.  Both guys tried, but it just wasn’t that good as I think this feud is beyond long in the tooth.  Early on, they did spots where they were “trying to break the other’s neck”.  The fans, who were so classy in the previous match, showed they could be raunchy as well by serenading Francine with chants of “She’s got herpes” and “She’s a whore”.  Ten minutes in, Douglas messed with Pit One and when he retaliated, he was taken out by the three Riot Squad guys.  About eleven minutes in, Pit Two brought in a guard rail section, but Douglas ended up using it on Pit.  Pit was on the offense until Shane got brass knux from Francine, which he used.  Francine gave Shane a piece of the table which Douglas then broke over Pit’s head.  He used the title belt.  He used a shotgun.  Well not really.  Shane went to get a chain from his boot, when Candido ran out.  Pit knocked Chris to the floor.  Shane then got a belly-to-belly suplex for the pin in every agonizing second of 20:43.

A tape of Rude’s voice then came over the speakers and said he would come out and take off the mask but Shane had to give him the girl.  A man come out wearing the mask and a blue robe that said, “Simply Ravishing”.  He went in and kissed Francine, and she “passed out”.  The crowd, realizing it was a fake, chanted, “That’s not Rude.” 

Douglas took this opportunity to wail the masked man from behind and he took the mask off of the man.  As he did it, one of the Riot Squad guys came into the ring, took off the jacket and helmet, and showed that he was Rick Rude.  Douglas took the hood off the masked man and finds … Brian Lee.  Douglas and Candido, who was still at ringside, were stunned.  Lee picked up Douglas and chokeslammed him, getting a huge pop from the crowd.

Francine acted mesmerized by Rude and had to be taken to the back by Douglas and Candido.  It should be interesting to see how they play this out but apparently is the next part in “Rude’s plan” to “f**k with the Franchise”.  The angle was good.  The match wasn’t.

Extreme Championship Wrestling continued their momentum, growing through the Fall and Winter of ’94 and ’95.  The Sandman helped make Tommy Dreamer “Mr. Hardcore”.  Sabu was amazing fans with his crazy moves.  Shane Douglas was shooting on the world in biting interviews.  The Public Enemy became stars.  Then, in February of ‘95, the promotion played host to a gathering of fans who had followed the promotion over the internet.  The promotion showed itself capable of taking the feedback of its fans seriously.  To do something special for the people who came from all over the world, on 2/4/95 they ran “Double Tables” at the ECW Arena.  And what an amazing show it was.  I was there.


On the broadcast, they next aired an interview with Raven where he said that 10% of the fans were like him, society’s outcasts, and were behind him because of that. 

They followed with a taped interview with Taz and Bill Alfonso.  Taz said that he and Sabu hated each other and that each would bring out the fire in the other.  He also said that Fonzie had “put his money on him,” implying that Fonz bet on Taz.  Due to the circumstances of the three way dance and subsequent title match, the main event actually took place next, with the long awaited match-up between Sabu and Taz.  As usual, Taz came out with Team Taz and Fonzie.  Can any match ever live up to the hype of this one?  Probably not but this was a very strong showing from both guys and it told a great story.  Early on, Taz dominated by being a tough, bad ass.  They did a lot matwork early, and it was good.  As I have said before, Taz working at the school every day with his students has made him a very strong mat worker.  Taz dominated early with a series of crossface forearm shots, and Sabu bladed, which Styles sold on the PPV as a broken nose. 

Sabu came back and dropkicked Taz, who was on the floor, into the first row.  Sabu then did a springboard plancha off of a chair onto Taz down there.  Awesome.  They brawled around the crowd for a while, and it was hard for the cameras to follow.  Sabu went to splash Taz into the guard rail, but Taz moved and Sabu missed.  Taz then went back on the attack in the ring with more nasty mat moves.  Sabu came back and did a spinkick off a chair, but Taz then dumped him face-first onto a chair when Sabu missed a kick.  Sabu plopped Taz to the floor and then missed a springboard splash.  Taz picked him up and suplexed him over the guardrail, into the crowd.  Taz then told Team Taz to put a table across the apron and the guardrail.  Sabu laid Taz on the table, but before he could do anything, Taz got up.  Taz went for a suplex, while standing on the table, but Sabu blocked it.  Sabu tried for a swinging DDT by Taz held the rope and Sabu went crashing through the table.  Sabu, in a heap, was chided to get up by Bill Alfonso.  Taz went out and got him and the two punched each other on the floor.  Back in the ring, Taz started to sell his left arm.  Sabu took Taz to the top and hit a rana on him for a near fall. 

Sabu hit an amazing jumping legdrop more than halfway across the ring.  Taz somehowhit a rude Tazplex on Sabu, dropping him on his neck.  Taz got up and hit a suplex and went for another but Sabu hit a T-Bone of his own.  He stood up and mocked Taz, but Taz got right up.  Sabu put the Tazmission on Taz but Taz broke it with a nasty Tazplex.  Taz then hit the T-Bone and slapped on the Tazmission.  Ref Jim Molineaux lifted Sabu’s arm three times, and it dropped for the third time at 17:46. 

After the match, Taz said that Sabu had pushed him to the limits, given him a great fight, and he had a lot of respect for him.  He said if he wanted a rematch, he could have it, and he asked to shake his hand.  Sabu did, and then raised Taz’ hand.  They then hugged until Rob Van Dam came out and nailed Taz from behind.  Sabu and Rob jawed until Taz grabbed Rob.  Sabu then … hit Taz, and the two, now, heels, beat the tar out of Taz with kicks, an Arabian facebuster, and a splash through a table.  Sabu even choked Taz out on the floor.  Sabu and Rob went back in the ring and then Bill Alfonso came in.  He took off his orange shirt.  He then pulled off his Team Taz shirt, only to reveal a Sabu shirt underneath.  He grabbed the arms of Rob and Sabu and raised them in the air.  Fonz took the mic and said that he taught Taz everything he knew.  He said that Taz cost him a lot of money because he had all his money on “you,” which he said when he looked at Sabu.  So, he turned on Taz because … he won and Fonzie bet on him to lose. 

Van Dam said that this was his family and now that he was a PPV superstar, if any promoter wants him, talk to his man Fonzie.  He also said, “I love to work Monday Nights.”  As they left, some fan gave Fonz static and he said, “F**k you a**hole.”  I really want to see where they are going with all of this.  From what I gather, Alfonso saying he “owned” Taz is going to play out in them saying that Fonz will get a piece of all of “Taz’ earnings.”  They may even “blame” Fonz when Rob goes to WCW.  This turn makes perfect sense, since Taz was already WAY over as a face, and Sabu is best as a heel.
 
Extreme Championship Wrestling had an amazing spring and summer in 1995, turning the US on to the fabulous talents of Dean Malenko, Eddy Guerrero, and Chris Benoit.  We got to watch the Public Enemy embody everything that promotion was about.  We saw Bill Alfonso come in and “enforce the rules”.  But unfortunately, on 4/8/95, Sabu found himself in a situation where he could either work for New Japan, or he could work for ECW.  He chose New Japan, thus leaving Taz with no partner for the first three way dance, and himself no longer a member of ECW.  The promotion cleared that obstacle and ran good shows through the fall.  Then, on 10/28/95, Terry Funk brought a flaming branding iron and a flammable towel to ringside and the results were not pretty.  Many thought it was the end of ECW that night, but Paul Heyman promised that he owed the fans a make-up and they would get it at the next month’s “November to Remember.”  And he delivered--with the return of Sabu.  I was there.

Before the Three Way Dance, Joey introduced his special commentator for the match, Tommy Dreamer.  He was, as always, accompanied by Beulah, at whom some really embarrassing cretins in the crowd yelled, “Show your t**s”.  The bWo came out first, as Big Stevie Cool was seconded by Da Blue Guy, Hollywood Nova, Thomas Rodman, and 7-11.  Next up was the Sandman, complete with his full entrance and a large chunk of the audience singing along with his music.  The last man to come out was the legend, Terry Funk.  

This match was, quite frankly, incredible.  All of the guys were just fabulous.  Sandman put together spots here that were just great.  It opened up with all three guys going after each other, since the match was order of elimination.  Guys would team up for one spot then attack the guy they just teamed with the next second.  Sandman then went to the back and while he did, Funk did a series of neckbreakers on Stevie.  Terry went for a cover, but Stevie kicked out.  Sandman came back to the ring … with a ladder!  Sandman pasted Funk with it and then suplexed it on Stevie.  Funk got up and Sandman toasted him in the head, laid it on him, and covered him, but only got a two count.  Sandman hit a DDT on Stevie and then climbed to the top rope.  Funk climbed the ladder and they met in the middle, pounding each other until Funk did a moonsault off of the ladder, hitting Stevie in the face with his boots.  Sandman stood on the top rope and did a ladder splash onto Stevie.  Sandman picked up the ladder, but Stevie ht a big kick on the it and knocked Sandman down.  Sandman kicked out and as Stevie fell off him, Funk nailed him with a head butt and got a two count of his own.  Sandman set the ladder in the corner and went to throw Stevie into it when Stevie reversed it and Sandman did a back flip into the ladder.  Stevie got a near fall. 

Stevie went to work on Funk, getting a few near falls, until he and Sandman both climbed the ladder and began slugging it out.  Funk stood up and knocked the both off of the ladder, and Funk went insane.  He put the ladder over his shoulders and began doing an airplane spin with it, repeatedly bashing Stevie and Sandman with the ends of ladder.  It was an awesome spot.  Sandman came to first and began slugging it out with Funk until Stevie went to the top turnbuckle and jumped on the ladder, smacking both of his opponents in the face.  Stevie then set up for the Steviekick and pasted Sandman with it, getting a two count.  He then covered Funk and he kicked out as well, even though Sandmn helped him cover.  Sandman got up and threw Stevie out of the ring, sending him smashing through a table (which the cameras almost completely missed).  Sandman then threw the table on him. 

Sandman went outside and threw Stevie out into the crowd.  He put the ladder out into the crowd and vaulted over the tope, smashing the ladder into Stevie’s face.  Funk then went on the attack, bashing both guys with a chair.  Sandman again went to the back for more utensils.  Back in the ring, Funk hit did a vertical suplex on Stevie.  Sandman came out with a trashcan wrapped in metal and bashed Stevie in the head with it.  Sandman and Funk did a double suplex on Stevie, smashing him on the can.  The two followed with a stuff piledriver on the bWo’s leader.  Sandman laid the ladder across Stevie and hit a slingshot legdrop, but only got a two count.  Sandman laid the ladder across the top rope and Funk held Stevie while Sandman came off the top, hitting Stevie, then himself, with the ladder.  Funk and Sandman did a double powerbomb on Stevie to eliminate him at 15:43. 

This left Sandman and Funk, winner gets the title shot.  Sandman went for a clothesline but Funk dumped him over the top rope.  Sandman took that opportunity to go under the mat and get barbed wire (which was wrapped in streamers from the Michinoku).  When he came back in, Funk got to him before he could use it.  He pulled Sandman’s shirt up whipped him with the wire, opening up a cut on his back.  Sandman came back and wrapped the wire around his chest and became a barbed wire battering ram.  He went to the top rope and dropped a leg but only got a two count.  Richards got up on the apron so Sandman rammed him.  Funk attacked him from behind and put the trash can over his head.  Stevie hit the Steviekick and Funk hit a moonsault for the pin at 19:12

1996 was a wild year for ECW.  Crowds grew in many buildings and the promotion got some “mainstream” press.  Due to the circumstances of some of there better pure wrestlers jumping to WCW, there was more blood and brawling.  We saw a lesbian angle.  And at the November to Remember, the Taz and Sabu feud laid the seeds for the main event match for the first ever PPV.  I was there.

Raven came right out at the end of the three way dance and began to attack Funk.  Terry had bladed, as well as being hacked up hardway by the barbed wire, and was bleeding heavily from the head when ref J. R. Finnegan called for the Dr. Marque Allen to check Funk.  Funk would not let himself be checked though, as he wanted to continue.  Raven worked over the Funker as Dr. Allen tried to check on him again.  Raven took him to the floor and suplexed a table onto him.  Raven then set up another table between the apron and the guardrail.  He ran, leapt over the top rope, and did a modified senton, putting Funk through the table. 

At this point, Dr. Allen took a bump and Reggie Bennett, formerly of the All Japan Women promotion and one big woman, came out and did a powerbomb, which she did not quite hit, on Funk.  Styles told Tommy to go help Funk, but Dreamer said that Joey did not understand.  He told him he could not help Terry, that Terry wanted to win it on his own.  While this was happening, three guys (newdudes who came out with Reggie) set up three tables underneath the front doors, where Tommy and Joey were doing commentary.  Tommy said that he would not let them chokeslam Terry through the tables.  Raven took the mic and said that was exactly what was about to happen. 

Big Dick Dudley, who Joey said was “out of jail”, (which is correct by the way as he was in the pokey for parole violations) then appeared on the stage and bashed Tommy in the head with a trashcan.  He posed for Raven, as a new nest member one would guess.  Raven then DDTd Finnegan while Dick set Tommy up to be chokeslammed through the tables.  Except this time, Tommy blocked it with a kick in the nads and he chokeslammed Dick through the tables instead, which was a wild sight. 

Tommy then went down to ringside.  On his way there, he laid out the new flunkies.  He threw the trashcan in the ring but Raven pasted him in the head with it.  Unyielding, Tommy kept coming and Raven Irish whipped him into the ropes.  As he was coming off of them, Tommy hit the DDT and went outside.  He implored Funk to make the cover, but he only got the two count, which my wife astutely noticed was so that Funk could win it on his own and without Tommy’s help.  He did just that when he rolled up Raven, grapevined the leg, and at fifty three years old, became the ECW World Heavyweight champion in 7:18. 

After the match, Joey said, “Do you believe in miracles?” playing off of the US Ice Hockey team’s miracle victory over the Russians in 1980.  Funk and Dreamer went out in the crowd and celebrated.  The PPV went off the air with fans chanting “Our Way”, which is what Funk had asked them to do if he won.  Joey signed off by announcing that the next PPV will be on August 17th.  Yes, there will be another!

After the went off the air, the crowd chanted “Terry”, and then “ECW”.  They then looked up to the top stage and chanted, “Paul E” and “Thank You Paul”.  Just then, Joey Styles made his way to the top stage and the first person he saw was Heyman.  They hugged, and cried, and it was a truly touching moment.  Joey, emotionally and no doubt physically spent after just becoming the first man ever to do an entire PPV by himself, was in reality looking for his lovely fiancée Janice, who he found and celebrated with.  It was easily as wonderful a moment as when the aforementioned Team USA goalie Jim Craig skated around the ice looking for his father after beating the Russians.  Melodramatic?  It may sound that way but in truth I may actually be understating it. 

The crowd then asked for a speech, and Paul asked for a few minutes, as he wanted to go in the back and address the boys.  He then went out to the ring but due to them losing power to the PPV truck, they did not have a mic that worked.  So he addressed the fans and thanked them for their support.  Then a lot of the wrestlers came out and it was a nice scene, kind of reminiscent of when the cast comes out or bows after a play, and I mean that in the best possible way. 

Overall, it was an amazing night, one that I will never forget.  Hell, even my jaded brother Arizona John had nothing to bitch about after this show which, if you know him, says a ton about what a great night this was.

Notes: 

As we go to press, we have been told by Request that the early buyrate, not including numbers from the Dish Network or the replay, was a .26 (44,200 buys).  This means, as ECW only needed a .16 to break even (in spite of what you may hear elsewhere), that they will actually make money on the first PPV.  And with Viewer’s Choice carrying the second PPV, the universe will expand from 17 million homes to over 30.  Hey Big Two, look over your shoulders.

Overall, I thought that the PPV was put together as well as could be expected for a first effort.  Many of the people involved, such as the cameramen, were new to ECW and there were a few missed shots that will improve as they get familiar with the product.  Some people have said to me that it came off as minor league compared to WCW or the WWF, but I think it just came off as different, much like the product is different.

The August 17th PPV will not be from Philadelphia.  Request wants it to be in a big city so that it gives ECW a big-time look.  Expect more advertising for the second show as, not that they can show that they “did it”, they will get more support.

The crowd was a lot hotter live than it came across on TV.

People were standing in line for six hours before show time.  Many of them even had reserved seating, which meant that they could have shown up late and still had their seat waiting for them.

There were no tickets sold at the door, as it was a complete sell-out.

The fans did not all get into the building until after 8:00 (which was the starting time written on the tickets), and some were miffed.  They opened the doors at near 7:30 and due to people being checked by security when they came in, it took a long time to get the crowd inside.

I had a ball meeting and talking with a ton of Lariat readers before the show.

There were some obvious concessions made to Request, such as no use of the word “f**k”, and it did not hurt the product at all.  Sometimes, less is more.

Some TCI Cable affiliates, as well as a few other scattered companies, had problems and lost the feed during the show.

Before the show, WCW referee Nick Patrick pulled into the parking lot, with Harlem Heat.  They were not allowed into the building from what I was told.

Other luminaries at the show were NWA World Champion Dan Severn, who appeared to be really enjoying himself, and NWA valet Destiny.

As usual, ECW drew its typical, “Love them-Hate them” commentary from fans on the internet.  Obviously, I am a fan of ECW and like their product and what they do.  I can see how others don’t.  We all like different things, and that’s the spice of life.  I just think it’s pretty funny that some people will rip on the believability of certain ECW spots while praising Japanese of Lucha spots that, if held to the same standard, are equally as “unbelievable.” 

Kevin Sullivan, Hugh Morrus, Dave Penzer, and Rocco Rock all showed up backstage around one a.m. after the show.

 

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