SEGMENT V. SEGMENT: ECW REUNION SHOWS
HARDCORE JUSTICE V. ONE NIGHT STAND 2005
Photo - TNAWrestling.com
OPENING SEGMENT - ECW ONE NIGHT STAND
The show opens on the RABID ECW fans of the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, chanting ECW! ECW! which I know, because they are allowed to keep that on the DVD. People are freaking the fuck out because it's the first time that ECW has reunited since it's bankruptcy. Joey Styles comes out and fucking cries. This is incredibly emotional. The ECW chants are deafening. My nipples are popping out of my body. Mick Foley comes out to his Cactus Jack music. Then there's an opening video with the original ECW theme music, featuring actual ECW footage, and the actual letters ECW. 10/10.
OPENING SEGMENT - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
Photos of (because we can't use the footage!) hardcore originals (because we can't use the letters!) are shown to some kind of music (because we can't use the music!) with Tommy Dreamer, RVD, and the whole EV 2.0 gang reminiscing about a time they all spent together. That sentence was pretty brutal, but for what it's worth, given that they couldn't use fucking anything they needed to to make this show make sense, this was pretty darn good and got my hopes up just the slightest.
We are then live in the Impact Zone in Orlando, the hallowed ground that the hardcore original wrestlers bled and sweat in many years ago. The fans here too are RABID, but it's a different kind of RABID, because this has happened four times and no one can tell me that this is the same as when it happened the first time.
Taz then cuts a promo on the people that doubted/pissed on them for being bush league or only about violence, even though I think that after four high profile reunion shows, the "haters" are hating for a different reason. Taz is angry and shouting and reminds me of the old Taz, but then he sits down next to Mike Tenay and giggles for three hours.
Also, everything is bathed in a blue light and no one knows why.
SEGMENT 2 - ECW ONE NIGHT STAND
Lance Storm (with Dawn Marie) V. Chris Jericho
The first match of the night is an absolute classic. This match manages to have everything that I love about wrestling. A crowd that hangs on the wrestlers' every move, a crowd that responds to wrestling holds and exchanges in a way that hasn't happened on WWE TV since Eddie Guerrero was alive, not a single slip or botch, tremendous athleticism, and a bang-on holy shit Justin Credible-just-broke-a-Singapore-cane-across-Jericho's-face finish. It also has Lance Storm and LIONHEART Chris Jericho.
Bottom line - the wrestling is crisp, exciting and features exactly no dancing.
SEGMENT 2 - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
The FBI (Tracy Smothers, Guido Maritato & Tony Luke) V. Kid Kash, Simon Diamond & Johnny Swinger
The first match of the night is not an absolute classic. There is a a promo cut in the middle of the match. There is a dancing spot that goes on for far too long and grew less and less funny as it went on (it started as not funny at all). Kid Kash does a big referee-aided springboard somersault plancha to every other wrestler in the match on the outside, John Finnegan counters some moves, and while I do find Tracy Smothers funny, I don't find him as funny as I find Chris Jericho and Lance Storm awesome, if that makes any sense.
Bottom line - the wrestling wasn't crisp or exciting and it featured a lot of dancing.
And the blue light is still there. It's like a Mankind promo up in here.
SEGMENT 3 - ECW ONE NIGHT STAND
We are shown a very touching and respectful tribute to the ECW wrestlers that have passed away. There is footage of Chris Candido, Rocco Rock, Terry Gordy, The Original Sheik, Big Dick Dudley and more. It draws a big "Candido" chant from the crowd as he had just passed away earlier in the year when this event took place. My heart is warmed by this (although it is sad to know that three other wrestlers appearing on this show will pass between then and now). Either way, it's a fantastic way to pay tribute to those ECW "brothers" (as Pitbull Gary Wolfe put it).
SEGMENT 3 - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
Mike Tenay announces that since Jerry Lynn suffered a back injury, he will not be able to compete against Rob Van Dam tonight in the main event. His replacement - Sabu.
We then go to a "Where Are They Now?" feature, where we hear from those who couldn't appear (or weren't asked to appear, or rejected their offer). Tod Gordon, who helped make ECW even possible, appears via video message. We also hear from Gary Wolfe who is driving around in a car with a dog, and the Blue Meanie who is as bizarre and weird to look at as ever.
SEGMENT 4 - ECW ONE NIGHT STAND
Yoshihiro Tajiri (with Mikey Whipwreck & Sinister Minister) V. Little Guido (with the FBI - Tracy Smothers, Big Guido, Tony Mamaluke & J.T. Smith) V. Super Crazy
My good god almighty. I remember watching this live when the satellite feed cut out just as Super Crazy was moonsaulting off of the fucking balcony. The match is sheer chaos with interference and mist and two falls and just plain FUN. The one detraction would be the screwy finish, but even that is forgivable given Super Crazy's sprint to the top of the balcony for the prettiest moonsault that the laws of physics will allow.
SEGMENT 4 - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
AJ Styles and Angelina Love talking about how they never saw ECW in person really but it was great and different. Styles explains the Dreamer/Sandman caning.
SEGMENT 5 - ECW ONE NIGHT STAND
We get to actually SEE the Dreamer/Sandman caning instead of just hear AJ Styles talk about it! We see a montage of the greatest early ECW memories. Yes, the actual footage! It's glorious, let me tell you!
SEGMENT 5 - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
In a backstage comedy skit that I don't think I can even begin to explain (but will still attempt to), Al Snow is talking to Head about how they can't say the letters ECW. He says, in one of the most inside jokes to ever appear on Pay-Per-View, that Jerry will get mad if they say those letters. If you don't know, he's referring to Jerry McDevitt, a WWE attorney. Then Nova comes in and has small talk with Stevie Richards. A fake Blue Meanie is there, in spite of us just seeing the real Blue Meanie in the "Where Are They Now?" promo. They crack jokes about how it's cool, they can just use a fake Meanie. I think Roseanne was mentioned.
Then a guy I don't recognize, nor anyone in the room recognizes (which is essentially a room full of hardcore ECW fans), walks in dressed as Raven holding a blow-up doll and picks his nose. Then the fake Blue Meanie picks his nose too. Then they pick each others' noses at the same time. Then I try and pull my brain out through my nose.
SEGMENT 6 - ECW ONE NIGHT STAND
Rey Mysterio V. Psicosis
While HardCORE Justice is busy with BOOGER HUMOUR, One Night Stand is on it's third wrestling match of the show. Continuing with the genius theme of the show (recreate classic ECW matches and include EVERYTHING ECW was about - technical wrestling, hardcore wrestling, Luchas, etc.), we get an Extreme Luchadores match.
Sadly, there are missteps and awkward slip-ups that kinda kill the start of the match. Psicosis does some weird stuff and goes for covers at strange times and there is a boring chant and a sleeper hold draws a lot of boos. Not so sadly, Psicosis makes up for it all with a legdrop to the back of Rey's head as he's strung up on the guardrail that nearly kills them both!
This match is also memorable for Psicosis' crazy tumble out of the ring and over the rail into the laps of the front row fans, followed by Rey's insane dive that puts people's LIVES in danger. Even with the clunky start, it's still nine thousand times more exciting than anything that happened at HardCORE Justice. Speaking of which...
SEGMENT 6 - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
C.W. Anderson V. 2 Cold Scorpio
Two guys, both allowed to use the names we know them for, wrestle in the second best match of the night. And yet, I just saw it last night, and the only spot I can remember is Scorpio's backflip legdrop to end it. And Scorpio's dancing.
SEGMENT 7 - ECW ONE NIGHT STAND
The WWE Smackdown! Supertars (anti-ECW crusaders) enter to middle fingers and "you suck dick" chants. JBL acts like the world's biggest douche. He then tells Rey Mysterio off by calling him "a little Mexican." The atmosphere is scary hostile.
SEGMENT 7 - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
Madison Rayne, Matt Morgan and Mr. Anderson (oh yeah, because this PPV also features TNA wrestlers that can't use their ring names!) remember stuff out loud about the thing we can't mention out loud.
SEGMENT 8 - ECW ONE NIGHT STAND
We actually GET TO SEE more great ECW memories! And I don't have to hear Matt Morgan's stupid voice or see his stupid face while I watch them! I love this south Philadelphia-based promotion!
SEGMENT 8 - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
Rob Van Dam and Bill Alfonso talk about who RVD should face instead of Jerry Lynn as if Mike Tenay didn't already tell us that it's going to be Sabu. RVD, after much deliberation, decides he should face Sabu.
SEGMENT 9 - ECW ONE NIGHT STAND
Joel Gertner arrives to get shoved REALLY FUCKING HARD by that HUGE DOUCHEBAG JBL. This act alone elicits an incredibly heated reaction from the crowd, including another "you suck dick" chant, which Kurt Angle responds to by saying "your mother taught me how," implying that he does indeed suck dick. Along with all of these people's mothers.
These WWE anti-ECW promos are just setting fire to the crowd, building up what will be one of the most heated babyface promos ever on live Pay-Per-View when RVD arrives. As I type this, JBL is pointing out fans individually and insulting them. He is so angry that I 100% believe this was real to him. He also seems angry at the Internet.
SEGMENT 9 - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
P.J. Polaco V. Stevie Richards (with Nova & The Blue Tilly)
This P.J. Polaco guy comes out wearing a Justin Credible shirt and risks getting this thing shut down! The match is good, Stevie Richards is in better shape than when he was in the hardcore promotion, and the finish was great with Polaco almost saying just how incredible his move is, before getting kicked in the face.
Then "Enter Sandman" hits, the place goes fucking crazy, Sandman busts himself open with a beer can, downs the beer, smokes a cigarette and clobbers Polaco to death with his Singapore cane!
Is what I would say if this was done right. Instead, the lights go out, Sandman appears, doesn't seem to enjoy beer or cigarettes anymore, beats up Polaco, breaks Polaco's cane, and that's it.
SEGMENT 10 - ECW ONE NIGHT STAND
Rob Van Dam comes out to a cheer of pure joy and elation as he has now shut JBL the fuck up. He cuts the most genuine, heartfelt, real talk promo of his career. He shoots from the friggin' hip and people are reacting as if he's hitting all of his trademark spots. Bill Alfonso is also there blowing his whistle. All is right in the world.
RVD then takes a FUCKING PERFECT GORE from Rhyno (who came out of nowhere) and Fonzie sells it just as good as Van Dam, looking completely terrified as to what just happened. Enter SABU.
SEGMENT 10 - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
Francine is shown feeding her baby.
SEGMENT 11 - ECW ONE NIGHT STAND
Rhyno V. Sabu
The crowd is ERUPTING for Sabu, and the fact that this match appears to be impromptu.
Sabu clobbers Rhyno with a steel chair, triple jumps to the outside, whips him into the barricade, then throws a chair at Rhyno's face so hard that it bounces off him and nearly hits him in his own face. Needless to say, there is a ton of action. And no duelling chants. The fans are entirely behind Sabu. And not mutants.
Watching this match reminds of how special this show was. It was like watching your favourites superheroes all appear in some kind of glorious mash-up movie where you don't know who's going to appear, what allegiances or rivalries will still stand, and who will interact with each other. It's just awesome.
The match ends with Sabu jumping through Rhyno with a steel chair, exploding a table into a billion shards. Wow.
SEGMENT 11 - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
TNA pays tribute to those hardcore originals who have passed away by showing text on a screen and not showing any footage, pictures or names. I don't know what would be more disrespectful - showing this, or showing pictures with the fake goofy names they'd have to make up, or showing no tribute at all.
SEGMENT 12 - ECW ONE NIGHT STAND
Al Snow is freaking out at Head for inviting the WWE Superstars here. He says the phrase "Smackdown assholes," and sets up another video package.
SEGMENT 12 - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
Brother Runt V. Al Snow V. Rhino
I forget which match it was, but one of the matches on the card (maybe this one) made me realize that none of these matches have been extreme rules. There have been ref bumps and cheating and just general shit that wouldn't happen on One Night Stand, let alone in the actual ECW.
I remember this match being pretty good, including a Brother Runt Acid Drop where he walked up Rhino. But I more remember the silly fake-chairshot behind the ref's back spots, which don't matter in ECW, even if you're just trying to get a laugh, or make some kind of reference to Eddie Guerrero, which I really don't think was the point.
SEGMENT 13 - ECW ONE NIGHT STAND
We're treated to more badass highlights, these from the latter days of ECW. Seeing this footage reminds me that I had to hear Madison Rayne talk about how ECW was a lot like TNA, in place of real highlights. And hear Mike Tenay talk about memories, but not actually be able to show us these memories. And the fact that it was Mike Tenay.
SEGMENT 13 - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
Mick Foley is seen reading Hulk Hogan's book.
He also talks about why he's officiating the Dreamer V. Raven final showdown.
SEGMENT 14 - ECW ONE NIGHT STAND
Eric Bischoff and the RAW anti-ECW crusaders enter to more fuck you's and middle fingers. Eric Bischoff looks scared as he attempts to get to his seat. He throws back a "fuck you maaaan" to a fan that sounds forced. Edge is also there, and the "you screwed Matt" chants are starting. Sylvan Grenier is also there and no chant is directed at him.
SEGMENT 14 - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
Magnus talks about ECW and no one believes that he watched it. Chris Sabin talks about ECW like he's the 14 year old version of himself sitting in front of his TV with his eyes pressed against the screen. His story seems out of place for how genuine it is. Why didn't he just talk about how ECW was great and different like everybody else?
SEGMENT 15 - ECW ONE NIGHT STAND
Chris Benoit V. Eddie Guerrero
This match features a man who murdered his family and I feel less awkward watching this than the next HardCORE Justice match I'm about to talk about.
This match also has exceptional pacing. It sets itself apart from any other match on the show. It also makes me sad for two reasons. One, these guys are both gone. And two, their deaths seem to represent the reasoning behind the WWE's shitty product. It's not entirely shitty, but when you watch this back, you'll realize it's at least kind of shitty. Especially because I remember thinking this match wasn't one of the best on the show. That may have been because when I watched this live, I was immersed in 2005 WWE, which included Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, etc. and you were getting these styles of matches every week.
Joey Styles just described Benoit's headbutt as a sort of "self-sacrifice" and now I feel kinda sick.
SEGMENT 15 - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
Axl Rotten & Kahoneys V. Team 3D (with Joel Gertner)
Joel Gertner delivers a show-destroying promo. Seriously. Best thing all night.
Team 3D and the Chair Swinging Freaks then have a horrendous match with weak chairshots, bullshit brawling, tons of tired fat guys, and Brother Ray doing a Peter Griffin style prat fall at least twice. Axl Rotten must take boxing lessons from Shane McMahon for the kind of jabs he's throwing. Also, I felt like I fell into some kind of tear in the fabric of time and space when Ray and Axl and Balls were going back and forth with their jabs.
There is also a light sabre fight and Brother Ray bumping off of a chairshot that didn't happen and a flaming table that a guy who used to be named Balls gets put through.
Then the Gangstas show up, commit real life murder by shattering a guitar over Joel Gertner's head and begin a sloppy brawl with the Dudleyz that, of course (not of course), ends in hugging and kayfabe breaking for literally no reason.
SEGMENT 16 - ECW ONE NIGHT STAND
Back to Joel Gertner five years before New Jack fuses a guitar to his head.
In a hilarious turn of events, Gertner begs Bischoff for a job. Bischoff does a spit take, in retrospect, for no real reason. Bisch consults Maven and Sylvan Grenier, then decides that he in fact will not hire Joel Gertner. He then cuts a promo that doesn't get over with the crowd at all, no matter how much he attempts to insult them. He then sits besides the Coach and does this weird hand jive in the air that can't be described any better than that.
I hate you Eric Bischoff.
SEGMENT 16 - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
Raven cuts a sad promo about families. Both the content and the delivery is sad.
SEGMENT 17 - ECW ONE NIGHT STAND
Mike Awesome V. Masato Tanaka
I will attempt to describe this match as it happens just for the fun of it.
Mike Awesome enters. He looks like he's only been working out his chest. Joey Styles starts shooting on Mike Awesome. Masato Tanaka enters. He looks like he's only been working out his chest. I'm scared.
Joey Styles continues shooting on Awesome. Awesome hits a suicide dive. Styles calls it and says "it's a shame he didn't succeed in taking his own life." Good god.
Awesome gets thrown over the barricade and Tanaka runs at him with a chair with no regard for Awesome's well being. Awesome is setting up a table against the guardrail. Mike Awesome then proceeds to Awesome Bomb Tanaka off of the apron and through that table and TANAKA LANDS HEAD FIRST. Tanaka holds his head like if he were to let go, his head would roll off his shoulders.
BIG SPLASH FROM AWESOME. JBL cracks wise from the balcony. ANOTHER AWESOME BOMB. By all accounts this match should've been over about three times. Unprotected ChairShotMANIA to Tanaka. THREE. AND HE'S NO SELLING IT.
Tornado DDT onto a pile of chairs from Tanaka. Early two count! He then puts a chair on Awesome's face and high fives it with another chair. He then jumps off the top rope with a chair and lands on the other chair that's on Mike Awesome's face. Kickout.
Just fucking craziness. Can't keep up. Tanaka no sold a release german, then took a spear and just took a top rope chair shot to the brain stem. Is Tanaka living today? He may have some brain trauma, and by may, I mean I know for sure.
Super Top Rope Tornado DDT through a table from Tanaka. Awesome Bomb through the already broken table from the top rope from Awesome. Fans are applauding like it's the end of Rocky.
There is a "this match rules" chant. Mike Awesome Awesome Bombs Tanaka to the outside through a table. HE THEN LEAPS INTO FRAME AS THE CAMERA IS FOCUSED ON THE PRONE TANAKA WITH A SUICDE DIVE.
Understandably, Tanaka is calling for legitimate help. Mike Awesome, on the other hand, Awesome Bombs Jim Molineaux and leaves.
SEGMENT 17 - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
Jesse Neal talks about how cool that hardcore promotion was. There's a tribute to Joey Styles who isn't there.
SEGMENT 18 - ECW ONE NIGHT STAND
Paul Heyman comes out and basks in the incredible reaction from the fans. He then proceeds to cut one of the greatest and most emotional shoot promos I've ever seen in my life. He shoots on Bischoff, Edge, JBL, then tells all of the WWE anti-ECW guys to suck it and he flips them off. He swears and they are forced to bleep it. It feels unhinged and raw (lol raw) and like anything could happen. Hey, it's like ECW!
SEGMENT 18 - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
Tommy Dreamer V. Raven (Guest Referee: Mick Foley)
This, on the other hand, feels slow and old. Aside from the handcuffed DDTs and the barbed wire crossface, there wasn't much excitement to be had. In fact, all we could talk about while watching this was how much it was like the Royal Rumble 1999 match between Foley and Rock, what with the kids being escorted out, to the handcuffed chairshots, to even Mick Foley actually being there!
There were bizarre run-ins too, including the guy that no one knew (apparently he used to be Raven's lackey). It also included some comedy spots where Nova had to help the Blue Tilly up the top rope to miss a splash - why the fuck did this match, the one billed as the final showdown between two violently heated rivals that threaten each other's family, need a fat guy doing a belly flop?
Both guys blade, Dreamer loses, and makes a sad exit which, actually, is kinda the perfect end to the Tommy Dreamer character.
SEGMENT 19 - ECW ONE NIGHT STAND
Tommy Dreamer & The Sandman V. The Dudley Boyz
This match has everything TNA wanted to recapture when the Dudleyz put Kahoneys through a flaming table. Everyone comes out to their original music. A guy in the balcony canes himself in the face with Sandman's cane. Tommy Dreamer tells everyone "wow." The fans are swarming Sandman singing at the top of their lungs. There is violence, run-ins, blood (before the match starts, as usual), flaming tables, drinking beer out of girls' boobies, Sandman jerking off a cane, EVERYTHING. It feels like chaos and not like flimsy cookie sheet shots to the head and stumbling through the crowd and comedy spots that should have never existed. It's, like Dreamer says, E C fucking W.
SEGMENT 19 - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
The Gangstas are backstage with Jeremy Borash and SoCal Val. New Jack calls Val "white girl" and becomes the funniest man in wrestling. They insinuate that Val will be raped and so will JB.
SEGMENT 20 - ECW ON NIGHT STAND
If this PPV wasn't enough, it also has Stone Cold Steve Austin. Everybody comes out, drinks beer, JBL beats up Blue Meanie for real, and the ECW wrestlers clear the house of the WWE guys. To celebrate, they beat the shit out of Eric Bischoff and everybody cheers.
I can't think of a better way to end a Pay-Per-View.
SEGMENT 20 - TNA HARDCORE JUSTICE
Rob Van Dam (with Bill Alfonso) V. Sabu (with Bill Alfonso)
This was the best match all night. There were dives and tables and chairs and a bald headed Sabu and it felt like it, out of all the matches, best rekindled what ECW once had. Unfortunately, it still doesn't hold up to most, if any, of the matches on ONS.
The show ends with everybody drinking beer and to celebrate they all beat the shit out of Dixie Carter and everybody cheers.
Okay they don't do that. They chant for her and carry her around and she holds a beer like it's a two headed cat.
The thing to take home from this is: when you can't say ECW, or have Paul Heyman or Joey Styles or use the right music or hold it at the right venue or offer up all of the different styles and wrestlers that ECW had, it's not going to feel like ECW. Multiply that by a billion when you include the fact that TNA put on the show.