With Hardcore Justice, the newest reincarnation of the cult phenomenon otherwise known as Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), set to take center stage compliments of Tommy Dreamer and TNA, I decided to watch the wildy successful ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view from 2005.
This WWE reincarnation of ECW was intended to be a special, one night only, reunion show that would bring back the very essence of hardcore wrestling and give ECW the proper sendoff it deserved
Due to the success of the "Rise and Fall of ECW" DVD's, Vince McMahon, with some coercing from ECW alum Rob Van Dam, decided to green light an ECW special on pay-per-view due to the seemingly insatiable thirst for the product that still remained, long after its premature downfall in 2001.
Vince McMahon always had a soft spot for ECW, even when the brand was considered "competition." Heck, on his own television programming (WWF RAW), a shoot-style angle featured the (kayfabe) unwelcome ECW originals invading Monday Night RAW much to the chagrin of Jerry Lawler.
Fast forwarding to 2005, the original ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view was a high-energy, feel good show that picked up right where ECW left off, exactly what TNA intends to recreate on Sunday, August 8th at Hardcore Justice.
The addition of the uber heelish WWE "Crusaders" from RAW and Smackdown was a nice touch to the show. The always rabid ECW crowd had somebody to heckle (as only they can), and their presence added conflict to the show, integral to any story line.
Without further a do, pardon me while I get extreme.
We opened the show cold with the loud and familiar chants of "ECW!" The camera panned through the loyal fans in attendance at the Hammerstein Ballroom as the energy level permeated the television screen.
The show hadn't even begun and they were already going crazy. The fans were Happy Hour loud. There was only one thing that can make them louder. And with that, the ECW theme played over the PA system as they come unglued.
Joey Styles was introduced by the ECW ring announcer as he made his way to the ring to a more than warm reception. He thanked the fans and shook hands on his way to the ring.
Joey Styles wiped his feet on the apron before stepping into the ring (such manners!). After an awkward handshake with ring announcer Bob Artese, Styles grabbed hold of the mic as the ECW theme cuts out.
"Joey" chants broke out. Styles looked emotional, however, I must admit, it appeared as if he was forcing himself to cry a la Shawn Michaels in 1996.
Joey Styles started his rather short, but sweet, promo by saying his catchphrase of "OH MY GOD!" to a loud pop. Styles then welcomed everybody to ECW, and introduced the Hardcore Legend Mick Foley who was performing as Cactus Jack for the night.
Foley came out to the Cactus Jack theme, performed his signature old school "Bang! Bang!" taunt, and the show began.
After an old school ECW opening video package, Lance Storm was introduced alongside Dawn Marie. The two were accompanied to the ring by two members of ECW security, which I thought were measures being taken to prevent the inevitable drunken sexual assault (Dawn Marie was looking that good).
Styles and Foley talked up the importance this match will carry, as it will be Lance Storm's last. Of course it wasn't. Apparently Lance Storm changed his mind about wrestling as much as he does with whether or not he will watch TNA ("I'm done with TNA. Now stay tuned for my TNA live blog next week").
Introduced next was Chris Jericho, who performed as "The Lionheart" Chris Jericho as opposed to Y2J. This match pit the two Canadians and best friends against one another in a battle for Extreme Canadian hardcore supremacy, none of which sounds the least bit intimidating.
Match 1: Lance Storm vs. Chris Jericho
This was a great match that was assisted by the high energy of a crowd witnessing its first legitimate ECW pay-per-view in four years. The end of the chain wrestling sequence to open the match (something we saw a lot of on this card) received an immense pop as the "These two know each other so well" card was played.
This was a great back-and-forth match as the crowd was split between these two ECW alumnus, chanting "F--- him up Lance Storm, F--- him up!" and "Lionheart!"
Dawn Marie, meanwhile, received chants of, "She's a crackw----!"
John Cena, who did not even appear at this event, received chants of "F--- John Cena!"
Lance Storm performed his patented half crab at one point, to the delight of the crowd. Jericho performed his own patented Walls of Jericho finisher not too much later.
Meanwhile, Dawn Marie distracted the referee.
This allowed Jason Knight and Justin Credible to interfere. Both were fought off by Chris Jericho, who turned his sights to Lance Storm as he attempted a rollup. Storm kicked out of the rollup attempt, sending Jericho right into a Singapore Cane shot by Justin Credible as Lance Storm picked up the victory.
The announcers buried this tainted victory like they were trying to get away with murder.
The Impact Players rode off into the sunset, and by sunset I mean Olive Garden, and Jericho received a respectful applause from the knowledgeable fans.
The camera cut to a shot of an empty section of a balcony at the Hammerstein Ballroom to be filled by the WWE crusaders later on in the night.
Winner: Lance Storm
We were then treated to a promo by Pitbull Gary Wolfe (his name really was Gary Wolfe! How fitting, right?). The promo payed tribute to the fallen wrestlers who competed in the original ECW. We were then treated to a video package saluting the ECW wrestlers who have passed on.
Chants of "Candido" in honor of the late Chris Candido are drowned out by obscure music, followed by the emergence of James Mitchell, Mikey Whipwreck, and Tajiri. Little Guido is introduced next, sitting on Big Guido's shoulders. He is accompanied by other members of the FBI including Tracy Smothers, Tony Mamaluke, The Italian Stallion J.T. Smith, the Spanish Mafia, ENRON, the Jewish Army, and the National Guard.
Super Crazy was introduced next. He was by himself. How anticlimactic.
Match 2: Tajiri vs. Little Guido vs. Super Crazy
This was a very exciting match with multiple high spots. Things picked up once Little Guido was eliminated, as Tajiri and Super Crazy had better chemistry stemming from their days in the original ECW when they feuded extensively.
Joey Styles did a fantastic job calling each unique move that was performed by the wrestlers as Mick Foley demonstrated subtraction by addition (this was not Mick's best night behind an announce table).
The high spot of the match occurred when Super Crazy performed a backflip off the balcony onto Little Guido, promoting an "Oh Dios Mio!" from Joey Styles.
Little Guido's exit, mentioned above, occurred when he fell victim to Mikey Whipreck's finisher, the Whippersnapper. The fans got behind Super Crazy as he and Tajiribattled back and forth.
Tajiri got the upper hand with a fireman's carry slam, followed by a double moonsault from the bottom and then middle ropes.
An attempt at a top rope moonsault was thwarted by Mikey Whipwreck. Somebody missed their cue after Supercrazy ducked a roundhouse kick by Tajiri, prompting a, "You f----- up!" chant from the crowd.
Supercrazy scored a powerbomb, followed by a top rope moonsault to secure the win.
We were then treated to a highlight promo featuring legendary moments from ECW lore.
The camera cut to the empty balcony once again in anticipation of the imminent arrival of the WWE crusaders.
Psychosis was then introduced to the fans. In the ultimate sign of respect (where he was from), Psychosis ripped off his famed mask to the general displeasure of the fans. The fans seemed very taken aback by this as Joey Styles tried to put into perspective the demonstration of humility that had just taken place.
Rey Mysterio was introduced next. That's right, we were in for a good ole fashioned Lucha Libre Contest. Eric Bischoff was missing this!
Match 3: Rey Mysterio vs. Psicosis
"Lucha Libre" chants filled the arena as the two begin the match with a rather sloppy chain wrestling sequence.
The two continued to chain wrestle as Mysterio stood on Psychosis' shoulders and floated over into a rollup attempt.
"Put the mask on!" chant began to develop. Fail.
The fans seemed to be having trouble adjusting to this new look Psychosis as Psychosis took the fight to Rey Mysterio.
The warm reception from the crowd seemed to have inspired the two to kick it into another gear almost immediately.
After hanging Mystero over the guardrail, Psychosis performed a gullotine dive from the top rope to the outside of the ring on Mysterio, getting the fans into this match for the first time.
Psychosis shoved Rey into the corner and missed a flying dropkick in the corner.
"Lucha Libre" chants broke out.
Mysterio gained the upper hand when an overly aggressive Psychosis missed a spear in the corner and flew into the front row. Mysterio capitalized by diving into the crowd.
Then, we were cookin'. Mysterio performed a springboard dropkick to Psychosis' back which set up a 6-1-9 much to the crowd's disdain (that's a WWE move). Mysterio hit a West Coast pop (springboard hurricanrana) to win the match.
He kept his mask on.
Winner: Rey Mysterio
Mysterio's come-from-behind victory was big footed by the arrival of the Smackdown crusaders. Many of the fans' comments to the wrestlers had to be bleeped out. "You Suck D---!" chants broke out as Kurt Angle, with ticket in hand, took his seat.
Say hi to Smackdown. ("F--- you, Smackdown!")
JBL, a then-relevant Orlando Jordan, the Bashams, Carlito, and additional wrestlers who you do are not worth mentioning join team Smackdown.
An Amish roadkill promo was started, and then stopped as the camera crew decided they haven't had enough team Smackdown vanity shots. Just look at those muscularly manipulated polos.
[Vintage ECW video package featuring Jerry Lawler and Sabu breaking his neck ]
Back in the arena, Joel Gertner graced us with his presence and the crowd popped upon hearing his signature "Well, well, well..." tagline.
Before Gertner can get going, Angle snatched the microphone from him. In a dangerous spot, JBL shoved Gertner to the ground. Mind you, they were on a balcony. Gertner could have easily fallen over the ledge.
Angle spoke. He said ECW is the lowest form of entertainment. The last time he had been to an ECW event, he walked out halfway through because it had sucked.
"You people are freakin' morons!"
Tonight, they (WWE) were going to make sure that each and every ECW wrestler got their ass kicked and there was not a damn thing anybody could do about it.
JBL, who might as well have been Hitler, was next.
"One block away is Madison Square Garden. You put my name on a marquee at MSG, and it sells out. ECW can barely sell out a bingo hall."
STFU chants broke out
"You love ECW because you can be ECW. Every one of you. You! Fatboy could be ECW. All you gotta do is go to the ring, mutilate your body, cane your head, bust yourself open and you can be ECW. I am above that. I am a wrestling God!"
"You can do your little chants, you can root for your people, but understand this: Nobody in that ring, nobody, will ever make it to my level!"
"The only chance this pay-per-view succeeds is because I, JBL, am here. We will sell pay-per-view because I am here, not because of that crap in the ring!"
A strong heel promo from JBL was interrupted by RVD's WWE theme music. The crowd didn't initially take to him as much as I had thought, (he's the reason this pay-per-view occurred in the first place!) but perhaps it was because he didn't enter with his classic "Walk" theme music.
RVD chants broke out as RVD cut a shoot promo with Bill Alfonso by his side.
"This has nothing to do with you! Tonight, is going to be one of the biggest pay-per-views all year, and that's because these people—just like me, just like Fonsy—are sick and tired of having your likeness shoved down their throats every time they want to watch quality wrestling!"
RVD took us back to a time before his vocabulary was limited to "whatever" and "cool". He took us to a time when his name was chanted throughout the whole show. He hadn't sweated the pressure. He had used his abilities and skills to make sure that everybody watching went home happily.
RVD reminded us that not only is he the whole F'N show, but he was Mr. Pay-per-view, and Mr. Monday Night. He had held the television title for one year, eleven months, eighteen days, two hours, and 42 seconds (daddy!)
RVD said he had come up with the idea of ECW One Night Stand and couldn't wait. However hed torn his ACL and MCL, and, being unable to work this pay-per-view sucked worse than missing the overseas tour, Wrestlemania, and Booker T's wedding.
A heartfelt promo from RVD was interrupted by Rhino, who speared Van Dam and received an incredible amount of heat.
Sabu chants were heard and the lights go out.
When the lights turned back on, Sabu was in the ring.
Match 4: Sabu vs. Rhino
The crowd was into this match throughout as Rhino and Sabu delivered a high octane back and forth contest. "You got fired" chants were directed out Rhino. Sabu perfomed an early springboard dive on Rhino.
Sabu threw a chair into Rhino's face on the outside, then set him up on a table. Sabu's Springboard attempt was thwarted by Rhino who grabbed hold of Sabu's leg.
Rhino looked good as he took the fight to the ring and took control of the match. After a powerslam, Rhino attempted a high risk move, however Sabu was able to recover and hit a top rope hurricanrana followed by a slingshot leg lariat.
Sabu set up a chair and performed a springboard leg lariat in the corner.
Sabu's triple jump moonsault attempt was countered with a drop toe hold by Rhino.
Rhino connected with a modified neckbreaker onto a chair for a near fall.
As RVD stirred on the outside, Rhino inadvertently gored the referee.
RVD entered the ring and threw a chair into Rhino's face, followed by a skateboard maneuver in the corner.
Fonsy set up the table, and Sabu connected with an Arabian skullcrusher through it for the win.
Sabu and RVD paid their respects to each other, followed by the Original Sheik. Sabu was pissed off about something as he stormed to the back.
We then said hello to Al Snow, who was talking. Snow set up the next ECW highlight reel.
(I miss Bam Bam Bigelow. He was my favorite character on Wrestlemania for the NES.)
We said hello to Antichrist Eric Bischoff and the RAW crusaders who were making their way throuh a sea of curse words to get to their balcony seats. It was worth noting that Edge is a key member of these crusaders.
Chris Benoit's theme hit as the boos turned to cheers. His entrance was followed by the very deliberate entrance of Eddie Guerrero who was also cheered. This match is beaming with potential.
Match 5: Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero
Despite the star power standing in the ring, and potential wrestling classic about to take place, the fans seemed more interested in heckling Edge, who was fresh off of an unintentionally publicized affair with Lita (then girlfriend of WWE Superstar Matt Hardy who was fired for his unfavorable public reaction to the affair).
Anti-Edge chants included "Lita's got herpes!," "I F----- Lita!," and "Lita S------s!" As Eddie Guerrero took his time on the outside of the ring, "You screwed Matt!" chants broke out.
The match between Guerrero and Benoit was rather sloppy. The knowledgeable fans didn't dare chant "You F----- up!" at the sloppier moments, and they remained split (although tame) as to who they wanted to win.
Guerrero began bleeding from the bridge of his nose early on. Benoit and Guerrero brawled on the outside for some of the match, then exchanged superplexes during the match's, um, climax.
The tides turned when Benoit missed a frog splash. Benoit made his comeback, connecting with his signature chops, belly to back suplexes, and a flying headbutt. Guerrero countered a belly to back attempt with a rollup. Benoit kicked out of the rollup attempt, and as Guerrero attempted to follow up with a clothesline, Benoit countered with the Crippler Crossface. Eddie Guerrero eventually tapped out.
Very disappointing match considering its potential. At least the crusaders liked what they saw.
Winner: Chris Benoit
We were once again joined by Joel Gertner. Gertner did an about face and begged Eric Bischoff for a job.
Bischoff dismissed Gertner's pleas, telling him to hold his beer and taking the opportunity to berate the ECW faithful.
"I am the General Manager of the most prestigious sports entertainment company on the friggin' planet: Monday Night RAW!"
"I don't wanna see any of you scabs at any RAW event because, quite frankly, you don't have the class. You people are garbage, and you suck! ECW sucks!"
Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka is up next. Time to steal the show
Match 6: Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka
The WWE crusaders were turning their backs. Big mistake. This was the match of the night, an unlikely choice.
Coming off of the Benoit/Guerrero match, this match was obviously slotted to be the "come down" match, but neither Awesome nor Tanaka would have any of it.
Meanwhile, Joey Styles did not like Mike Awesome as Awesome's betrayal of ECW while he still had their world title put one of the final nails in ECW's coffin years ago.
In an actual quote from this match after a Mike Awesome suicide dive, Styles submitted, "It's a shame he didn't succeed in taking his own life."
Awesome hit an early Awesome Bomb through the table. How Tanaka didn't die will forever be a mystery.
JBL liked him some Mike Awesome.
Mike Awesome tattooed Tanaka with a steel chair to the head multiple times. Tanaka quickly got the upper hand with an inverted blockbuster, but Awesome kicked out.
The crowd is white hot at this point. For Awesome/Tanaka? Okay, sure.
Awesome connected with yet another chair shot to the head, this time from the top ropes. If Rob Simmons got a hold of this, Linda McMahon is screwed.
Awesome set up a table but is DDT'ed from the top ropes for his troubles. Tanaka got a near fall attempt after the spectacular move. Awesome one-uped Tanaka with an Awesome Bomb from the top ropes on what remained of the table.
"Holy S---!" chants broke out followed by...a standing ovation? This guy put your company out of business and he's getting a standing ovation. That's impressive!
"This match rules!"
Awesome once again connected wth an Awesome Bomb to the outside through a table, followed by a dive onto the lifeless Tanaka. Mike Awesome won the match and officially stole the show.
Winner: Mike Awesome
Then, Mike Awesome then powerbombed a referee for no apparent reason.
The ECW theme hit as Bob Arteese walked out. Nobody cared. Arteese was followed by Paul Heyman who received an enormous pop. As the music died down, "Thank you Paul chants could be heard throughout the arena.
What followed was one of the greatest shoot promos of all time.
The Dudleys are introduced, followed by Tommy Dreamer. Then the greatest entrance ECW ever had to offer. The Sandman.
This party is crashed by the bWo, followed by Axl Rotten, Balls Mahoney, Kid Kash, Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, the glove from those Hamburger Helper commercials, Hornswoggle, Missy Hyatt, and Johnny Drama from Entourage .
Kid Kash performed a nice looking dive onto the crowd of ECW Originals who were all brawling on the outside. At first, it looked like this was ECW's way of not having the Sandman work a full match knowing he'd be drunk and blown up by the time he hit the ring.
But as the dust settled, they actually had the match.
Main Event: The Dudley Boys vs. Tommy Dreamer and Sandman
This was a good show closing match for the bloodthirsty fans in attendance. Tommy Dreamer bled badly after Bubba Ray opened him up with a cheese grater. A ladder was integrated into the match as Dreamer performed the helicopter move made famous by Terry Funk.
At one point, Sandman (yes, that Sandman) performed a splash on the ladder while the ladder was on Devon Dudley.
The fans remained hot for this match as the match raged on, ripe with chairshots to the head, garbage can shots, and cane swinging.
The Impact Players returned as Sandman took a tombstone piledriver from Justin Credible on a barbed wire sphere. Francine surfaced and kicked Tommy Dreamer in his nuts and bolts.
Beaulah Mcgillicutty hit the ring and engaged in a catfight with Francine. Dreamer and McGillicutty then hit a stereo DDT on the Dudleys (how cute).
After Dreamer connected with a road sign shot on a chair that was positioned on Devon's unmentionables.
Bubba Ray then went crazy with a cane and set up a table. Bubba powerbombed Sandman through a table and, after a nearfall, connected with a 3D.
Say hello to Spike Dudley, who's got lighter fluid.
Table. Fire. Dreamer. Bump. Dudleys win.
Winner: The Dudleys
Enter the Sandman, who caned the Dudleys out of the ring. Sandman was audibly asking for a beer. Then the glass broke.
Austin made his way to the ring. And they criticized Hogan for stealing the spotlight at Wrestlemania IX.
Austin insists that the entire ECW locker room report to the ring. He then coerces the WWE Crusaders to make their way to the ring so this War could finally be settled.
Taz then made his way to the ring to a loud pop. Taz and Angle started things off as a brawl ensued. The brawl culminated in the WWE Crusaders retreating to the back as Eric Bischoff (who was on guest commentary) was dragged to the ring by Mick Foley. Bischoff took finishers from the Dudleys, Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio, and, finally, Steve Austin.
The ECW Originals celebrated as the show goes off the air.
A great overall show with high energy throughout. The show was helped by strong wrestling, highlighted by a show-stealing performance by the Masato Tanaka and the late Mike Awesome.
The legacy of ECW would live on (until 2010), and ECW would even experience a similar "One Night Stand" pay-per-view the following year at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York.