Saturday, 9 January 2016

ECW Barely Legal:First PPV Review

  
      Welcome one and all to another installment of Sean's Wrestling reviews! After writing my ECW Hardcore Revolution review, it dawned on me that it is almost 15 years since ECW filed for bankruptcy and died(The Original ECW, not that abomination that Vince created) and I thought it would be a fitting tribute to review their very first pay per view. I first thought of reviewing their final PPV but I will save that review for another day so let us waste no more time and review 1997's ECW Barely Legal!



       We are welcomed Joey Styles to the ECW Arena, he entertains the crowd before trying to list the matches for tonight's event.(Little side note: Style's original microphone died just before the ppv started so to cover for the mishap, the ECW crowd chanted at the top of their lungs, allowing Styles to recover and grab another microphone and welcome everyone). Styles is interrupted by the Dudley Boyz who are the reigning tag team champions, the belts are simply the old WWF intercontinental titles painted silver with ECW written across them. D-Von insults the crowd, proclaiming there are none greater than the Dudley Boyz and then.... the ECW intro plays?(Strange spot for it but as it ends, the eliminators are making their way to the ring).


                 Eliminators vs The Dudley Boyz

       Saturn and Kronus hit the ring as The Dudleys powder to the outside. Sign Guy Dudley sneak attacks The Eliminators and pays for it with The Total Elimination. Taking advantage of the distraction, The Dudleys pounce on The Eliminators, hitting a series of high impact moves on both Eliminators but Saturn and Kronus refuse to stay down.  The  Dudleys  get their ass kicked for the rest of the match, I mean seriously, they are destroyed by Saturn and Kronus. Saturn and Kronus are hitting kicks, dives, and splashes, it resembled an offence exhibition more than an actual match. Saturn takes out D-Von with the Saturnsault while Kronus hits the 450 splash on Bubba Ray, setting up for the Total Elimination and we have new tag team champions. The match was fine but it really seemed like The Dudleys were there just to take moves for Saturn and Kronus. It worked though, as the crowd were into Saturn and Kronus especially Saturn, it is no surprise he was soon snapped up by WCW. After the match Gertner gets on the mic and proclaims that the Dudleys are still the tag team champions and receives a Total Elimination for his annoyance. Final verdict: A solid match which could have benefited from a bit more back and forth but solid opener.





      Throughout the night are various promos and packages, the first we are treated to is a package hyping up The Sandman and the triple threat number one contender's match. Canes,smoking and beer yep they included everything they needed to show for The Sandman. Candido appears in the ring with his injured arm.(He was suppose to compete against Lance Storm) He calls out The Sandman before Lance Storm comes out for his match and Candido leaves the ring.



Lance Storm vs Rob Van Dam

       Van Dam makes his way to the ring, being booed every step of the way. The two men lock up and chain wrestle with neither man able to get a clear advantage before RVD catches Storm with a kick, sending to the outside of the ring. Somersault plancha onto Storm, Van Dam rolls Storm back into the ring who takes control by unleashing a flurry of offense on Van Dam. Storm dropkicks Van Dam to the outside but misses a dive over the top rope. Van Dam grabs a chair from ringside and throws it into Storm's face setting him up for a five star frog splash that he executes beautifully. Storm kicks out and hits suplexs, spinning heel kicks and a boston crab on Van Dam.

 Deviating from his natural offense, Storm picks up the chair and hits three of the worst chair shots I have ever seen in my life, they make Gerald Brisco's chair shot to Austin at the Survivor Series look awesome.(They really are that bad) RVD counters the chair shots with a Van Daminator and a standing moonsault and it is over. Final verdict: a solid match with both men working hard, Storm's chair shots were awful and the finish was not great either. Following his victory, RVD shoots on Paul Heyman and the PPV saying he is worth more money elsewhere and basically, saying if he wanted to leave, he could leave the promotion.





 Great Sasuke,Gran Hamada And Masato Yakushiji vs Kaientai(Michinoku,Togo Terry Boy)

         The wrestlers from Michinoku Pro put on quite the show for the ECW fans. It was nice to see streamers used in the entrances for the wrestlers like they do in Japan and Styles showed great knowledge of the product, giving backgrounds and listing accomplishments for every wrestler in the match. This match was worked like any Michinoku Pro tag match; lots of high spots, wrestlers exchanging places without the need for tags and very little selling. Yakushiji was the star of the match for me, he did a great job of playing the face in peril role being beaten to death by the members of Kaientai and provided a lot of the hurricanranas, armdrags and planchas seen in the match. Kaientai were entertaining with their tag team moves especially posing on top of Great Sasuke and Hamada did not look like a 45 year old when he was performing crazy spots and fast paced spots. The match boiled down to Taka and Sasuke with Taka hitting the Michinoku Driver for a two count. Sasuke recovered to deliver a powerbomb and a tiger suplex for the victory. Final verdict: a fun match that showed off the amazing agility and abilities of the Michinoku Pro wrestlers. They were well received and appreciated by the fans and the wrestlers gave a great performance.




                     Shane Douglas w Francine vs Pitbull #2(TV Title Match) 

           This was an interesting match but for all the wrong reasons. The story behind the match was brilliant, Shane Douglas had injured Pitbull #1(Gary Wolfe) he had broken his neck and injured his neck again when he returned by tying him up in the ropes so Pitbull #1 was fighting for his friend's honour, a simple but effective storyline.( A storyline which was greatly enhanced by the heat generated by Shane Douglas because of the attack on Pitbull #1's neck) Douglas's manager Francine added to the story as she had left the Pitbulls to manage The Franchise Shane Douglas. The Franchise's title was on the line and if he won, the masked man who vowed to destroy him would be revealed so there was a lot of interest in this match. The match started as it should have, Pitbull #2 wasted no time on his entrance and ran into the ring, pummeling Douglas with his fists it was great. However, Pitbull #2 began chain wrestling and using rest holds after pummeling Douglas to death and it sucked the atmosphere out of the building and the match. Pitbull #2's offence was poor in this match his punches were poor and it seemed he could only perform strikes and clotheslines with maybe one or two fallaway slams throw in at the last minute. I haven't watched much of Pitbull tag team matches but as a singles wrestler, Pitbull #2 lost my interest and lost the crowd as they continued to chant boring as the match dragged on and on.

 Douglas was good, he targeted the neck of Pitbull #2 and punished Pitbull #2 in front of Pitbull #1 who was seated in the crowd. Douglas taunted him relentlessly to jump over the guard rail while dishing out punishment to Pitbull #2. Eventually, Gary Wolfe did jump the guard rail and attacked Douglas, bringing the crowd from the dead but they soon died down after he was escorted away by security. I have to give credit for Pitbull #2 for trying because he was trying but nothing seemed to work for the man on this night. The crowd were not into his moves and he was messing up spots. As Douglas continued to beat up Pitbull #2 he started using weapons such as chairs and parts of tables but nothing would keep Pitbull #2 down. Finally, Douglas reached for the chain in his boot, Pitbull #2 cut him off and knocked out Douglas with the chain wrapped around his fist.

 As Pitbull #2 sought victory, Chris Candido, Douglas' stablemate distracted the referee. Douglas jumped up and applied a school boy on Pitbull #2 which was ridiculous as seconds earlier, he had been hit with a chain and was knocked out but I digress, Pitbull #2 kicked out and was sent into the ropes where he was met by a belly to belly suplex by Douglas for the 1..2..3. Following the match , the masked man unmasked and it was Rick Rude(Most people already knew due to his voice) and Douglas left before Rude could hand him an ass whupping. Final Verdict: This match had a great angle but the wrestling and action was severely lacking, you could argue Francine was the best part of this match(she look amazing as always). The crowd were bored during this match because it was very slow at times and Pitbull #2's offence was really poor. Thankfully there were more matches to bring the crowd back to life!




                                                        Taz vs Sabu

            The grudge match of the century, Taz vs Sabu, the match that covered the entire Barely Legal advertisement poster. Taz had repeatedly called out Sabu and now he would finally have to meet Sabu face to face in the ring to see who was truly the better man. I liked some things in this match and there were other things I didn't like about the match. I liked the big fight feel of the match, I liked how Sabu and Taz were trying to out smart one another. Taz tried to keep the fight in the ring as he knew he would dominate Sabu if it came down to wrestling and submissions whereas Sabu tried to bring Taz to the outside, to brawl in the crowd as Sabu had the advantage when it came to being hardcore and brawling, he knew it would be the only way he could beat Taz. I like the physicality of the match. Taz used a flurry of crossface punches to bust open Sabu's nose earlier on in the match and the blood really added to the match for me, the repeated suplexes which Taz used to disable Sabu were awesome just like how I remember them. Head&Arm Tazplexes, Headlock Tazplexes, Belly to Belly Tazplexes, you name it they were all here in full effect. What I disliked about the match was the finish seemed to come out of nowhere, Sabu had gained the upper hand after using hurrincanranas and somersault legdrops to take down Taz, he even Tazplexed him and locked in a Tazmission but Taz simply reversed the Tazmission, hit another Tazplex and slowly walked over to Sabu and applied the Tazmission. 

There was no struggling on the part of Sabu, he passed out to the pain and the match was over. I felt the match could have been more exciting or dramatic if Taz had locked in the move in a different way or Sabu tried to escape the move, it just seemed too easy for Taz to apply the hold. I understand Heyman was building Taz as an unstoppable force but why would Sabu being rendered useless by one Tazplex after taking at least 6 and firing back from each one of them? To me, it was not a great finish. I also disliked Bill Alfonso's double crossing of Taz, there is nothing wrong with his heel turn but why did he wait until after the match to double cross Taz. Alfonso grabs the microphone after the match and states he owns Taz and Taz cost him a lot of money on this match. Why did he not help Sabu win if he was with him the whole time? Maybe I am thinking too deeply about this so let us move on to the main event.





          Terry Funk vs The Sandman vs Stevie Richards(Three 
Way Dance)

           Our competitors make their entrance as Styles is joined on commentary by Tommy Dreamer who had forfeited his place in the match to allow Terry Funk to compete. Dreamer does a good job on commentary explaining his relationship with the three men in the ring while also putting them over. The match starts out with two men teaming up on the other, each man takes turn trading places before Sandman disappears backstage while Terry Funk continues beating down Stevie Richards. Sandman returns with a ladder and various ladder spots fill up the next few minutes of the match. Suplexes, legdrops and irish whips are all used with the assistance of the ladder. Finally, Terry Funk grabs the ladder and does a airplane spin, smacking Stevie Richards and The Sandman repeatedly in the face. Richards is eliminated after a powerbomb from Terry Funk, there are a few calls of bullshit from the fans so it was good to see they cared about every individual in the match as the rest of the match was filled with Sandman and Funk chants. Sandman grabs barbwire from under the ring before being whipped with it by Terry Funk. Sandman gains some breathing space by using a trash can to dent Terry Funk's forehead before wrapping himself in barbwire and becoming a battering ram. Stevie Richards returns after being eliminated to Stevie Kick The Sandman and Terry 
Funk at 53 years of age hits a moonsault on The Sandman for the win.


 Terry Funk vs Raven(ECW Championship Match)

            Raven hits the ring and wastes no time in punishing Terry Funk. Kicks to the head and a drop toehold onto a chair are what greets Terry Funk as he becomes a bloody mess before our very eyes. Doctors come to check on Funk but are waved away by the veteran as he wants no help, he refuses to lose to Raven. Raven sents Funk through a table with an elbow and begins threatening Tommy Dreamer, Raven's lackeys attack Terry Funk while Big Dick Dudley appears behind Dreamer, attempting to send him through tables placed under where they are commentating from the crow's nest. Tommy reverses and chokeslams Big Dick through the tables(Big Dick's jump is hilarious) and sets his sight on Raven. Raven tries to beat down Dreamer but is met by a DDT. Funk crawls over for the pin 1..2 and Raven kick outs!(The bell rings causing confusion but the match continues) Funk grabs a small package and 1.. 2.. 3.. FUNK did it At 53 years of age he is our ECW champion.
Final Verdict: Both quick matches but the story is what matters here, Terry Funk the broken down old man who could no longer do it proved in fact he still could do it and it was a great moment in the company's history. Terry Funk helped put ECW on the map and this was their way of saying thank you






Well that concludes my review of Barely Legal, ECW's first PPV and it was a good show. There were moments that could have been better especially the Pitbull match but overall, ECW delivered when it came time to put up or shut up. Hard to believe that this PPV will be 20 years old next year and that ECW has been dead for almost 15 years. If you were a fan I encourage you to  check this out and all their other PPVs on the network, it can't be worse than Raw right?Hope you enjoyed this review and until next time see ya!



No comments:

Post a comment