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Extreme Championship Wrestling: Then & Now,
This review is from: ECW: Extreme Rules (DVD)
NOTE: I UPDATED THIS REVIEW IN 2013
This was the third match anthology of Extreme Championship Wresting released with a special twist in that not only does this set showcase the original ECW but also matches from the relaunch under the WWE banner. Joey Styles & Tazz host this set with Aeral giving us a tarot card reading to start the show while we are also treated throughout the set to various ECW history highlights from the original promotion (the same ones shown during One Night Stand 2005), the One Night Stand PPV's & the "WWE vs. ECW: Head To Head" TV special along with Extreme Vignettes on various members of the ECW roster from the originals (Sandman, Sabu, Balls Mahoney) to the "new breed" (C.M. Punk, Kevin Thorn, Kelly Kelly, Big Show).
ECW Champion Sandman vs. Cactus Jack - Cactus Jack had his entire forearm & hand wrapped in barbed wire while Sandman had a singapore cane in his hand & Woman with an extra cane at ringside as Sandman started out with cane shots to Cactus' head & even going aerial leaping over the top rope to deliver a cane shot but Cactus was able to recover with a single arm DDT along with using the cane himself & delivering a chairshot. Sandman was able to use Cactus' barbed wire against him by blocking a barbed wire punch with a chair & caning that arm then turned his focus to his head with a DDT & piledriver on a chair causing Cactus to bleed while also trying to fight fire with fire using barbed wire himself but Cactus Jack made a comeback using a chair for his trademark elbow off the apron, second rope legdrop with Sandman's face covered with a chair, and punches with the barbed wire hand until Sandman was bleeding but the biggest impact would come from someone who had a personal agenda against both men. I'll be honest in that I didn't like the Sandman/Cactus Jack series of matches as they came off as sloppy brawls but this was their best encounter from that series.
Hardcore Heaven '95
[ECW: Hardcore History]
Steel Cage/Weapons Match: Tag Team Champions Gangstas vs. Eliminators - This match was a normal steel cage match but had the additional twist of four executioners at ringside to hand in a weapon whenever one of the participants called for it & match had a more serious tone than any of the previous matches between both teams as Gangstas walked to the ring opposed to running to the ring but both teams started brawling outside of the cage into the crowding using whatever they could to beat on each other from the title belts to chair to the guardrail before making their way back around the ring with Saturn diving off the top of the cage onto everyone. The fight continued in the ring with everyone at one point being tossed into the cage & bleeding with various weapons used including a fork, trash can, cookie sheet, and keyboard while Saturn kept going aerial off the cage with multiple dives before he was eventually caught one time resulting in a dangerous fall that had a really bad landing. This was your typical Gangstas weaponsfest brawl with without a doubt the highlight reel being Saturn's multiple dives off the top of the cage along with the shock of who one of the executioners was unmasked to be.
Natural Born Killaz '96
[ECW: Hardcore History]
Scaffold Match: Tommy Dreamer vs. Brian Lee - The rules for a scaffold match are that the first man to throw his opponent off the scaffold to the floor wins but this match had a special twist in that the ring was filled with tables for the loser to fall through on the way down. This started off with a bang with Dreamer bouncing a trash can off Lee's head & putting it through the wall as both men brawled throughout the crowd using whatever they could such as the candy machine, beer cooler, chairs & tables while taking some hard hits like being dropped crotch first on the guardrail & a powerslam on the concrete before both men eventually made their way to the scaffold where they were still beating the hell out of each other with either a DDT or choking with the electrical wiring. Normally scaffold matches are very limited with both opponents not having much room on it to fight while the crowd is really just waiting for someone to fall off but that wasn't the case here as a majority of the match was fought throughout the entire arena before making their way to the top making this standout above other scaffold matches.
Alternative commentary by Tommy Dreamer & Johnathan Coachman talked about the ECW bingo hall, the differences between WWE & ECW, the story behind who built the scaffold, and how this was a historic night.
High Incident '96
[ECW: Hardcore History]
Stairway To Hell Match: Sandman vs. Sabu - For those who have never seen a Stairway To Hell Match, it's ECW's version of a ladder match with the twist being that you climb up the ladder to get a weapon to be used during the match which in this case was barbed wire. Sabu started off throwing the ladder into Sandman's face repeatably while resorting to his hard daredevil offense such as the springboard legdrop sandwiching Sandman's head between the chair & ladder, atomic arabian facebuster onto the ladder, and a triple jump dive into the front row. They brawled in the crowd eventually making their way back to the ring with Sandman's offense consisting of suplexing the ladder onto Sabu in the front row & a legdrop through a table but unfortunately was on the receiving end of a crash & burn off the ladder to the outside followed by Sabu missing an offensive move that caused his jaw to hit the guardrail & start bleeding from the mouth only for him to tape it up as both men continued to get more violent with their weapons of choice from using scissors to stab in the head or the barbed wire itself. This was a violent brawl more than anything else as both men took some very hard hits & falls.
House Party '98
[ECW: Path Of Destruction]
Street Fight Match: Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, Spike Dudley vs. Dudley Boyz - This started off with both teams wrestling & taking some big moves early from D-Von taking a reverse neckbreaker while hanging off the top rope to Spike being tossed & thrown around like a rag doll before the match broke out in an all out brawl on the outside & into the crowd before making it back to the ring where various weapons were being used such as a dive off a ladder in the ring to the outside & later a senton off the ropes onto their opponent laying on the ladder, four way trees of woe dropkicks with chairs, one tossed out of the ring through a table, one guy on the receiving end of a killer chairshot, and a DDT onto a ladder. This was nothing more than a weapons filled brawl that not only got physical with all six men but anyone else associated with them both during & after the match.
Falls Count Anywhere/Death Match: ECW Champion Taz vs. FTW Champion Sabu - Sabu came into this match with a taped up broken jaw due to one hell of a lariat by Taz in a match in an earlier match while Taz earlier in the night made it clear that he was going to target that injury which he did right away with grounded amateur wrestling followed by crossfaces across the jaw & a boot directly to the jaw before both men used a chair in various ways against each other such as launching it at one's head & chairshots. They took the brawl to the outside both in the crowd & to the ramp with Taz launching Sabu off the ramp into the crowd on top of a fan followed by a release belly to belly over the top rope that took out the camera feed for a few seconds & dropping Sabu jaw first on the guardrail causing his mouth to bleed as Bill Alfonzo to try to get involve only to just make Taz even more mad. Both men traded momentum such as Sabu coming off the top rope onto Taz on a table laying on top of the guardrails, Taz's various Tazplexes including one off the top rope & another through a table, Sabu's triple jump moonsault & legdrop, and Bill Alfonzo wanting to throw the towel in for Sabu. While their most well known match is from Barely Legal, I personally felt like this was their best televised match against each other as they did more of a mixture of wrestling & brawling while taking advantage of their environment both in & outside of the ring.
Alternative commentary with Joey Styles & Tazz talked about how Taz produced his own entrance while Styles did the graphics for Taz different than any other ECW talent, the history of the FTW Championship, the real life feud between Taz & Sabu, where the name "Tazplex" came from, and why Taz eventually went to WWE.
Living Dangerously '98
ECW Champion Masato Tanaka vs. Mike Awesome - This was the rematch from the week earlier with this time Tanaka coming in as the ECW Champion & Awesome looking for revenge as he charged Tanaka & was more aggressive than usual with a suicide dive over the top rope with Tanaka coming back with a top rope crossbody before Awesome topped that with a springboard splash. A chair came into play with both men using it in various ways like a running chair to the head, various unprotected chairshots, coming off the top rope with it, having it kicked back into his face, a tornado DDT onto it, and top rope flying chair onto another one on top of his opponent's face while both continued to deliver impactful punishment like a release german suplex, various powerbombs, top rope moves like a DDT & splash, and even putting another through a table. This didn't go as long as their more high profile matches but it was still the same match that you expect from these two against each other in that it was very intense & high impact from start to finish.
"ECW on TNN" Dec. '99
Tables & Ladders & Chairs & Canes Match: ECW Champion Steve Corino vs. Sandman vs. Justin Credible - Corino was the ECW Champion going into this match but Sandman had physical possession of the title since the previous PPV while Credible still had unfinished business with both men leading to this match here. The ladder came into play early & throughout in the match being used as a weapon such as one man launching it into another, one ladder being rode down upon another ladder, a ladder setup in the corner with a body tossed into it, a bulldog onto the ladder, the ladder being chairshotted into another man's crotch, the classic Terry Funk helicopter ladder spin, a suplex onto the ladder, and the ladder taking such a beating that it couldn't take anymore. All three men continued to fight each other including some unlikely alliances formed along with the other weapons coming into play such as each man being caned at some point, going out of the ring through a table on more than one occasion, and the managers at ringside getting involved as well including a "coochie-conrana." This wasn't a ladder match filled with memorable "highlight reel" moments more than just a very physical fight with the weapons being brought into play for more impact.
Guilty As Charged '01
Tommy Dreamer & Sandman vs. Dudley Boyz - It should be noted that the Sandman's entrance on the original PPV broadcast was "Enter Sandman" but that's been dubbed over with generic music on this release & we got a bunch of appearances from many fellow ECW alumni resulting in "a brawl before THE brawl" with Joey Styles hitting the line of the night in response to one chairshot that was delivered. It didn't take long for both teams to start assaulting each other with weapons from a cookie sheet to the cheesegrader causing blood to floor & Bubba wearing it as war paint before Dreamer payed homage to Terry Funk with his classic ladder airplane spin while Sandman also was able to use the ladder against Devon on more than one occasion with Bubba eventually able to use the ladder to his advantage with a frog splash onto it. Things got even more chaotic when other people wanted to "make an impact" at the expense of both teams leading to a "catfight" & reunion that ECW fans have been waiting 7 years for only to be eventually topped by another family reunion that involved a road sign, singapore cane, and the flaming table. To steal a line from the original ECW...this is "EXTREME".
One Night Stand '05
Extreme Rules Match: Rob Van Dam vs. Rey Mysterio - Both men knew each other well from being former tag team champions in the past that they both showed mutual respect after having a stalemate due to each man having equal quickness against each other before RVD showed his superior strength with a body press & backflip splash only for Mysterio to capitalize on a missed maneuver diving onto RVD in the front row as both men continued to trade momentum throughout the match such as RVD's with his guillotine apron legdrop & skateboard dropkick in the corner with a chair while Mysterio did a top rope bulldog onto the chair only to miss the springboard legdrop onto the chair. This was definitely one of the highlight matches during Mysterio's run as World Champion while RVD seemed back at home & more motivated than usual with the relaxed rules.
"WWE vs. ECW: Head To Head" June '06
Extreme Rules Match: World Champion Rey Mysterio vs. Sabu - You had a clue where this match was going with both men had a dueling chairs battle early as they were able to use the chair in ways such as a springboard for a leg lariat & frankensteiner, drop toe hold into it, and just having it launched straight at the head before both men went aerial with moves like a top rope moonsault, second rop legdrop, springboard leg lariat, triple jump moonsault, Sabu's arabian facebuster with a chair & Mysterio's seated senton through a table while both men showing why it's called "high risk" as they didn't always connect with their aerial offense & one attempted maneuver ended up sending both men through a table on the outside. This was built up as a dream match between both men highly known for their high risk aerial offensive which they did showcase here while implementing the elements of the chairs & tables as well with the only real negative here being the finish.
One Night Stand '06
Extreme Rules Match: Tommy Dreamer, Terry Funk, Beulah vs. Edge, Mick Foley, Lita - It was during this time that Foley had aligned himself with Edge & Lita to the point where they resurrected the retired Hardcore Championship & declared themselves co-champions but this originally scheduled tag match was turned into a six "person" tag when Beulah challenged Lita after she kept getting involved in the prior weeks while Foley came into the match with a black eye thanks to Funk & did a funny pre-match promo referring to a period in the history ECW that all the fans truly hated. All four men started brawling both in the ring & on the floor with various weapons coming into play such as a cookie sheet, Dreamer doing a baseball sliding a trash can into Foley & Dreamer hip tossed onto a ladder by Edge before Funk did his classic airplane spin with the ladder before Foley pulled out a barbed wire board that came into effect as everyone took a hit into this board at one point. Edge & Foley got very violent using the divide & conquer strategy using the barbed wire to have Funk bleeding from the eye, Dreamer taking "Barbie" between the legs, and even Beulah getting a taste of Mr. Socko but they fought back resulting in Foley being on fire with both him & Funk falling into the barbed wire board, Dreamer using the a barbed wire crossface, the traditional ECW "catfight" before things ended in a pin attempt that was so sleazy that even the referee went "what the hell are you doing?" This match was the EXTREME violence you would expect from a show with the letters "ECW" attached to it.
One Night Stand '06
[Mick Foley's Greatest Hits & Misses: Hardcore Edition; Edge: Decade Of Decadence]
Extreme Rules Match: ECW Champion Rob Van Dam vs. Big Show - After RVD lost his WWE Championship the previous night on RAW, he accepted Big Show's challenge against the wishes of Paul Heyman. They started out in the ring but eventually worked through the crowd at ringside with Show only beating down RVD including one moment where he caught RVD coming off the top rope & just easily tossed him out. RVD was able to gain some momentum & used the "Extreme Rules" to his advantage by countering Show's attempt to use the steel steps causing Show's head to bounce off them. However Paul Heyman would be the determining factor in this match the same way he was weeks earlier at the One Night Stand PPV except in this case, RVD's title reign when "Up In Smoke" as he lost the title to the Big Show in what was dubbed "The South Philly Screwjob."
"ECW on Sci-Fi" July '06
[Big Show: A Giant's World]
Extreme Rules Match: ECW Champion Big Show vs. Ric Flair - This was not only Ric Flair's first ever ECW Championship match but the first time that he's appeared in any version of ECW. Flair started off with chops only for Show to keep shoving him off & overpower him with moves like the high press slam & headbutts to the head that busted Flair's open followed by chops in the corner & a powerslam as Flair's attempts at offense had no effects to the point where he had to take "extreme" measures such as going low & using hardcore weapons such as barbed wire & trash can & chair only for Show to get extremely mad after taking a hard fall & come back with one big move after another that resulted in Flair being tossed down in a way that he's never been before. The appeal of this match was to see a legend like Flair put into a type of environment that he's never been in throughout his career & looking at the match from that perspective, it was a good encounter.
"ECW on Sci-Fi" July '06
Ladder Match: Rob Van Dam vs. Sabu - This was to determine the number one contender for the ECW Title match at SummerSlam that with both men starting out as a regular match with Sabu connecting with punches while trying to avoid RVD springboard sidekick but still got hit in the leg with RVD taking some high risk early on such as trying to leap from the top rope & grab the hanging contract in mid-air allowing Sabu to hit back to back offense from a springboard position. The ladder came into play at various points throughout the match to either make a move more impactful or as a weapon such as a top rope dive not only onto the ladder but the opponent underneath it, giving the ladder a monkeyflip, RVD attempting rolling thunder only for Sabu to move & him land on the ladder while later Sabu missed the arabian facebuster onto the ladder before someone else who had an interest in this match made his presence known against both men. I've always said that RVD & Sabu never had a bad match against each other but this one wasn't picture perfect pretty as both men took some risky moves involving the ladder that didn't pay off but still a nice match.
"ECW on Sci-Fi" Aug. '06
Extreme Rules Match: Rob Van Dam & Sabu vs. Test & Mike Knox - Knox & Test both tried to keep both men down with strikes & clotheslines before RVD was able to mount momentum with a big jumping spin kick that ended up taking himself over the top rope while Sabu joined in with dual leg lariats while Sabu executed a springboard crossbody that sent everyone off the apron through a table but Test was able to use Sabu's own momentum against him by tripping him into a chair face first only for RVD to use the chair to skateboard it into the corner on Test along with Sabu's camel clutch with RVD dropkicking the chair into his opponents face & Sabu launching a chair at both Test & Knox followed by double top rope legdrops on Test & Knox through a table. This was a fun TV match.
"ECW on Sci-Fi" Sept. '06
Extreme Rules Match: Rob Van Dam vs. Hardcore Holly - This started off in the ring but quickly made it's way to the floor as RVD took advantage of his surroundings with a spinning legdrop on the barricade but Holly was able to send RVD into the steps & ringpost face first while focusing on his neck with a rope choke & chinlock before delivering a suplex off the apron that not only took both men through a table but had Holly's back sliced open but continued to fight dropping RVD across the chair throat first & top rope legdrop on a chair across RVD's face while later delivering a powerbomb onto a chair but RVD focused on Holly's bleeding back using a chair in various ways like suplexing him onto it, skateboarding the chair in the corner, and a rolling thunder on the chair. This match told a good story about both men focusing on a certain body part but this was more about the toughness of Hardcore Holly for having a very deep bloody gash across his back yet still continuing the match & not letting up the whole time so you have to give him respect for being very tough regardless about how you feel about him personally.
"ECW on Sci-Fi" Sept. '06
This set was very different than the previous ECW sets as I felt like it came off rushed. While I didn't have a problem with the matches they selected based off quality, they picked out matches that reflected only hardcore violence that ECW was stereotyped with unlike the previous (and future) sets which showcased more of a diversity while clearly reusing a lot of material from the One Night Stand PPV DVD's which I pointed out in the beginning. A bunch of previous reviews went off in rants & or were clearly biased against the second disc strictly because it's WWE's ECW & not the original promotion but that's irrelevant when watching the match itself from bell to bell because all that matters is the quality of the performance and most of the matches on here were good quality performances with the only thing that I felt hurt it was that too many matches on this disc were from the previous One Night Stand events instead of using some other matches that were left off such as Dreamer/Sandman vs. Knox/Test from the Hammerstein Ballroom, RVD vs. Kurt Angle, and RVD vs. Test in what many considered to be one of the best matches in Test's entire career. In the end, this is an ECW set that I would recommend but only for those who liked the bloody hardcore violence that ECW was known for.
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Initial post: Aug 8, 2013 12:43:19 AM PDT
Updated this with more detailed review of the matches
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