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Guest Columns

Joe Gagne



The Debuts of the Eliminators, Rey Mysterio, Psicosis, and Steve Austin

  • Wouldn't you know it? I finally get my hands on a copy of The Best of the Sandman, and I'm all set to do a comprehensive review, when I find out that Sean Shannon beat me to the punch. Another review would be repetitive, since I mostly agree with what Sean wrote, so I'll just make a few points:
    • The tape starts with Sandman winning the world title from Shane Douglas thanks to Woman. No Tri-State footage, no surfer days - it never even touches the awesome angle that shows how Jim and Nancy got together (Sandman faking his retirement and destroying Tommy Dreamer). It's too bad, since it doesn't give you the full picture of the character.

    • The part of the tape that covers Sandman's first title reign is easily the best. Sandman was in his "Undertaker" phase, by which I mean that his matches weren't so great, but the character was so awesome you didn't care. He had the cool look, especially when he had the gray Joey Buttafuco pants and black shirt. And there was something so perfect about the pairing of a slob like Sandman and Woman. I mean, the character went downhill when he was accompanied by Missy Hyatte.

    • When the tape switches to Sandman's feud with Raven, it starts to lose steam. That could have been a really cool feud, but it got bogged down with crucifixions and Raven brainwashing Sandman's kid. Sandman never did beat Raven, and I'm surprised that the issue hasn't been brought up since Raven and Sandy's return to ECW.

    • Sandman became pretty useless when he wasn't competing for the World Title. I don't even remember why he and Sabu were feuding (probably because of Sabu's association with Rob Van Dam). On a side note, I ranked the Stairway To Hell match at ***1/2 - it was extremely brutal, but it also had some dead spots, and I never really bought into the concept of the match itself.

    • The tape skipped over an interesting point in Sandman's career, when he held the ECW tag belts with 2 Cold Scorpio. Then again, maybe it's not so odd, since Scorpio won the belts by himself (beating Rocco Rock in a match where the Public Enemy's tag belts were on the line against Scorp's TV title) and lost them by himself (to Mikey Whipwreck).

    • Sandman has the worst top rope legdrop in history. The Utah Jam, the Bitchin' Legdrop, call it what you want - he's never made that move look good. Just had to say that.
    On the plus side, I just received a tape covering the history of the Dudley Boys in ECW. If you'd like to see a review of that, let me know.

  • This week we cover an episode of ECW TV from September 1995.

  • We start this week's show with a lengthy recap of the Pitbulls beating Raven and Stevie Richards on last week's show in a double dog collar match to win the ECW tag titles. I already covered that in depth, but I will say that it's a pretty famous match in ECW history and worth the effort to see it. The 'bulls brag about winning the belts and taking Francine.

  • Opening. They added Stevie being superbombed through the table to the credits already.

  • Joey introduces the show and Lance Wright (ugh) hypes a rematch between the Pitbulls and Raven/Richards for the belts on 10/7/95. Only this match will have two special referees: ECW commissioner Todd Gordon and Bill Alphonso. Gordon promises to call it down the middle, but Alphonso (w/neck brace) gets in his face, and the two trade insults. Gordon: "What a jerk!"

  • Raven and Stevie Richards (sitting in a warehouse, apparently) offer a rebuttal. Raven states that he and Stevie took everything that the Pitbulls threw at them, and they're still standing. Raven adds that the 'bulls needed help from Todd Gordon, 911, and Tommy Dreamer to win the belts. Stevie adds that he's not a wussy, although the fact that he was sobbing during the promo kinda dilutes that message. Raven adds that the rematch will be a lumberjack match, with only 2 lumberjacks: 911 and Big Dick Dudley. He vows that the Flock will get the titles back. They did just that, and lost them the same night to the Public Enemy.

  • J.T. SMITH VS. "THE SHAH" HACK MYERS: J.T. had not one but two gimmicks at the time. First of all, J.T. started acting Italian and hanging out with the much despised Big Val Puccio. This was actually the start of the Full Blooded Italians gimmick that continues to this day. J.T. was also a bit of a klutz in the ring, as we'll soon see. J.T. pleads with his "paisanos" before the match to yell "Shah" for him. We start off with some mat wrestling, and then we clip ahead to J.T. missing a pescado and splatting himself on the concrete (Get it? He's a klutz.). We clip ahead again to J.T. and Hack fighting in the crowd. J.T. drives to piledrive Hack, but gets backdropped onto the bleachers. We clip ahead again to J.T. in full control of the match. He goes to the top rope as Joey warns him that all that lasagna may be weighing him down. And, of course, J.T. falls off the top and crashes through the timekeeper's table, and...gets counted out? (4:55 shown) Since when are there count-outs in ECW? I hate when they randomly insert rules like that. J.T. is, understandably, not pleased with the result. Too much clipping to rate, and it was pretty much a comedy match anyway. It's a shame J.T. had the klutz gimmick - he was actually a pretty talented wrestler. I have no idea whatever happened to him.

  • Joey can't keep a straight face after J.T.'s match.

  • 2 Cold Scorpio giggles a lot and brags about being a three time TV champ. He says Taz may want the belt, but he won't get it [2 Cold and Dean Malenko injured Taz's neck to set up the fued]. He tosses in the obligatory "your ass is grass and I'm gonna smoke it" line.

  • Joey recaps how Scorpio brought in the Eliminators to take out Taz, and it was supposed to be Scorpio and the Eliminators vs. Taz and the Steiner Brothers. But the Elims new manager Jason (yep, the same one with the Impact players today) offered to take Scorpio's spot so 2 Cold could replace Mustapha of the Gangstas in a match later in the night. Got all that?

    Oh, and I know some of you are wondering "Who are the Eliminators and why are they such a big deal?" Well, the Eliminators were Perry Saturn (the current Radical, of course) and John Kronus. The pretty much dominated the ECW tag scene for about a year and a half. People remember them so fondly because they seriously could do it all: power wrestling, high flying moves, martial arts, double teams. Now, some people believe them to be "the best tag team in the world today," while others consider them to be mere highspot machines. But that's a debate for another day. But it occurs to me that most fans didn't even know about Perry Saturn until he jumped to WCW in 1997. I still always think of him as an Eliminator. Well, anyway, we get:

  • TAZ/STEINERS VS JASON/ELIMINATORS: It's weird seeing Perry Saturn with hair on his head. The Elims wear some L.O.D. style shoulderpads to the ring. Scorpio cheapshots Taz to start and a six man brawl breaks outs. This match is clipped quite a bit too, mostly showing the Steiners destroying the other team with suplexes and displaying their general godliness. The Elim's only offense is a running somersault legdrop from Kronus. Scott hits a top rope samoan drop on Saturn and goes for a pin, but Kronus breaks it up and a peir six breaks out. The Steiners and Eliminators fight outside the ring, leaving Taz to destroy Jason . Taz gets frustrated and tosses referee John Finnegan. Then Scorpio comes up and kicks Taz in the neck, and puts Jason on top for the three count. (3:17 shown) Again, too much clipping to rate, but it sure looked like a good match. Joey sells it as Taz's most humiliating moment. I'm sure it ranks up there with getting pinned by Crash Holly.

  • Taz and the Steiners give an interview. Scott goes off on a strange tangent about how Jason, Johnny B. Badd, Goldust, and Shawn Michaels should have an feminine match and fight women. Taz promises to choke Jason out. They replay the clip where the Taz(maniac) puts Jason through a wall, which always makes me chuckle.

  • Highlights of Mikey Whipwreck beating the Sandman in a non-title match at Wrestlepalooza. Sandman (with no shirt - arrgh) and Woman cut a promo and basically say that Mikey's not man enough to take the World Heavyweight Belt from the champ.

  • Lance Wright gets interupted by Beulah and is too smitten to continue Hype Central. Whatever.

  • REY MYSTERIO JR. VS. PSICOSIS: Yes! This is the ECW debut for both men. Gee, they're still both wearing masks - what a concept. Rey's got a belt with him - probably a Cruiserweight belt from Mexico. Rey starts out with an armdrag that sends Psicosis to the outside. Psicosis comes back and applies an armwringer and turns it into a hammerlock. Rey gets a full head of steam but can't escape. Rey then grabs the back of Psicosis' head and flips out and then nails one of those Rube Goldberg armdrags. Psicosis bumps into Rey and bounces off the ropes, but as Rey drops down, Psicosis stops and drops an elbow on him. Psicosis then nails a diving powerbomb on Mysterio. He then whips Rey into the ropes and lauches him with a flapjack, and follows it up by picking up Rey and ramming his abdomen into the top turnbuckle. Rey rolls out onto the apron, but Psicosis stands on Rey's back and drops a knee. He then drops Mysterio throat first onto the top rope, and then nails a running dropkick that sends Rey Rey into the corner. Psicosis picks up Rey and hits a Samoan drop into a spinning slam, then follows it up with a running legdrop. He throws Rey into the corner and hits a split legged splash, but when he tries it again Rey moves out of the way. Rey then hops to the apron and nails a flawless springboard 'rana for two. Rey follows that up with a flying headscissors, but Psicosis retaliates by backdropping Rey to the apron. Both men exchange chops on the apron, but when Psicosis charges, Rey launches him headfirst into the corner post. Back in the ring, Rey nails some chops but misses a splash in the corner. Psicosis dumps Rey and hits the Mexican Jam for a 2 count. Psicosis nails another diving powerbomb for 2. Rey gets to his feet, but is met by a Psicosis spinning heel kick that knocks him to the outside. Psicosis attempts a suicide dive, but gets met in the head with a chair from Rey. Back in the ring, Psicosis dropkicks Rey in the knee twice, and nails a bodyslam. Then he goes to the top and hits a twisting somersault senton splash (!) that only gets two. Psicosis throws Rey into the corner but misses a high knee and crashes to the outside. Rey fakes a running dive, and instead hits a springboard plancha on Psicosis in the front row. Big 'ECW' chant for that. Rey crawls back in the ring and starts to celebrate while Psicosis climbs to the top rope. Rey sees him and jumps to attack him but gets swatted down. Rey gets to his feet and tries again, this time hitting a sloppy 'rana and scoring the 3 count! (10:17) ***3/4 Not as good as their '96 Bash at the Beach match, but still awesome stuff. I miss these matches.

  • Joey closes out the show, when he hears through a headset that there's an altercation going on between the Public Enemy and New Jack and 2 Cold Scorpio. They switch to a camera in the back, but New Jack punches it out. The fan cam meets a similar fate. So Joey runs back with a camera and we find the four men jawing with each other. Scrubs come out of the woodwork and separate them. Well, that was lame...hey, who's that in the yellow shirt? It's Steve Austin dressed as the Hulkster! He calls Styles "Mean Joey," and says that he didn't have what it takes to get past the midcard in WCW, so he turned to the greatest heavyweight champ of all time for inspiration. Now he's saying his prayers and eating his vitamins. Johnny Grunge runs by and proclaims himself to be a Steve-a-maniac in a supremely funny moment. Austin proclaims that Steve-a-mania is going to run wild in ECW...and then he stops and tears off his shirt and bandana. "I'm not going to do this [bleep] anywhere...even in ECW. This lame [bleep] won't get the job done anywhere." As he storms off, Joey turns to the camera and mutters "Oh my God."

    Epilogue: A historic show for ECW, with 5 big names debuting at once. But only the Eliminators would hang around for any real amount of time. Rey and Psicosis had some more great matches before jumping to ECW. Austin feuded with the Sandman before...well, we all know what happened to him. On the next week's show, Austin cut the promo of his life, which I should probably do a transcript of.

    Anyway, this was the height of ECW's creative power. If you've ever heard anyone talk about the fed in glowing terms, hopefully now you know why.

    Send all feedback to If there's anything you'd like to see in the future, let me know. And thanks for reading.

    Joe Gagne

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