August 11, 2014

ECW '94 part 1

Woah Bruddahs, watch out!  And thanks for tuning in to the latest edition of my 20-years-too-late coverage of Eastern Championship Wrestling.  This edition covers 19 television programs and one bigger event (which was released on tape) from the first five-and-a-half months of 1994, right up until the event called 'When Worlds Collide' which we can maybe watch tomorrow.

Between the stretches of boring filler, there are a lot of great moments to found in this period.  Not a whole lot of great, or even good matches, but there's a lot of great promos and some cool character work going on.  Paul E and Public Enemy can always be counted on to deliver entertaining tv when they've got a mic.  Sabu and Mike Awesome elevate any matches they're involved in.  Terry Funk is awesome at everything.  However, the real breakout star of the promotion is Shane Douglas.  His promos are on fire, his matches are solid, and his character is huge yet believable.  He won the ECW Championship from Terry Funk in March, and every promo from that feud was pure gold.  A face-to-face backstage segment in the fallout of one of their big matches pops into my head a lot for some reason, and has to stand out as the best moment from this slice of ECW history.

Another interesting shift from that March was the reinvention of The Sandman.  You guys probably know the story-- Sandman was working a corny surfer gimmick that was going nowhere, he was getting fat and lazy in the ring, when Paul E saw him in the back, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, and decided to put him on screen like that.  But did you guys know that to initially turn him, he started to verbally and physically abuse his wife?  The blow-off for that will be on the When Worlds Collide card, so I can break it down for you in person rather than type it all out.  I will say though, the only real highlight for me has been an aside that Joey Styles made which inferred that Sandman was trying to pimp his wife to the other wrestlers for $20.  Another interesting note is that from the moment he turns heel, all of Sandman's promos are in black-and-white, a possible precursor to NWO's aesthetic.

Some of the other characters:

Mr. Hughes-- This guy did some time in the bigger promotions, so maybe you're familiar with him.  The funny thing with him is that he can barely cut a promo without mentioning his feud with The Undertaker, to the point where sometimes it seems like he's still feuding with The Undertaker.  I like to think that he was initially so bad on the mic, that he was trained to cut one specific promo by guys at WWF, and after his time with them was up he just kept doing the same promo, like a robot.  You goin' down, Undertaker!

911-- Introduced in '93 as "Sabu's handler", this guy gets his own thing going as 911, with the gimmick of being a big biker-looking dude who repeatedly chokeslams jobbers but never has a real wrestling match.  When he's in the ring, fans will more likely chant for his manager Paul E than for him.  This is totally understandable though, as Paul E will be running circles around the guy and saying funny shit the whole time.

Mikey Whipwreck-- Debuting in January, Whipwreck immediately becomes a regular ragdoll for the much larger competitors named above.  There are other jobbers around, but Whipwreck takes the cake.  A cake made out of getting your ass kicked every week.

Public Enemy-- I talked about these guys in the earlier posts, but they continue to impress.  Really fun promos, and Rocco Rock is especially fun to watch in the ring.  It could be said that these guys set the unique tone of ECW more than anyone else, both in the ring and out.

Jason-- About as compelling of a manager as his working name implies.  If you're ever going to watch these early episodes, I hope you like the catchphrase "How do you like my suit?"

Pat Tanaka-- In some of the best matches from this stretch of time.  Introduced to ECW in '93 as half of Badd Company (with Paul Diamond), Tanaka (no relation to Masato) enjoyed a brief singles run, with matches against Sabu and Shane Douglas that stand out way beyond most of the stuff that was going on in the ring.  His tenure at ECW was pretty short though, as he and Diamond only wrestled there in between stints with WWF and WCW.

Tawmy Dreamah-- First man ever to survive Superfly Splash.  Need I say more?
There is a basic format for these episodes which goes something like this:

Opening promo (backstage, someone screaming, often Paul E)
Music video (hard rock or hip-hop) using ECW clips
Joey Styles sells an angle
Arena match involving one of the people in said angle crushing a jobber
Promo from the other person in the angle
Matty In The House sells card for next live event, including blow-off for the angle
Music video (hard rock or hip-hop) using ECW clip
Joey Styles sells an angle
Backstage confrontation
Some big guy crushing a jobber
Closing promo (hard sell for the next live event, often Paul E)

There usually aren't good matches, there's usually a lot of filler, like the "music videos".  There's always either a lot of time spent of talking about how great the last big live event was, or trying to sell the next one.  But there are almost always fun promos, the titles feel coveted like they really matter, and it's cool to follow the characters as they progress in their storylines.  There are a lot of awesome moments I'd like to share, and I'd like to add a highlight reel to this post, but I won't get to it tonight.  I need to get up before noon so that I can arrive in Portland at a decent enough time for us to watch a fuck-ton of wrasslin before we go get our balls bored off by Hulk-a-birthday.  Holy shit, I'm so glad I'm going with you guys.  Even if it's the worst Raw ever it will be super-fun.  And it probably won't be that bad anyway.

A foaming-at-the-mouth Taz, locked in mortal combat with a lunging Pitbull, is momentarily distracted by the presence of the video camera backstage.

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