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WWE Network Hidden Gems Review: Super Early ECW VHS Releases Plus a 1992 TV Pilot

WWE Network Hidden Gems Review: Super Early ECW VHS Releases Plus a 1992 TV Pilot

Last week, the WWE Community’s Hidden Gems class provided up a pair of darkish matches featuring ECW legends. Frankly, they have been strong yet wholely unremarkable additions for the week, leaving many lukewarm at greatest. However with the WWE Network importing a dozen ECW supershows final Monday, WWE had a chance at a second chew of the acute cherry. For sure, they hit it out of the park this time! Let’s have a look:

 

Best of ECW 1992 Volume 1

Identify: The Best of ECW 1992 Quantity 1

Date: Numerous (07/14/1992 given by WWE)

Location: Unique Sports Bar, Philadelphia, PA

 

Matches Included

“Ironman” Tommy Cairo vs. Damien Stone (07/14/1992)

“Wildman” Sal Bellomo vs. “The Anvil” Jim Neidhart (06/23/1992)

ECW Tag Workforce Championship Event Finals: The Tremendous Destroyers vs. Nightbreed (Glen Osbourne and Max Thrasher) (06/23/1992)

ECW Heavyweight Championship: “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka vs. Johnny Hotbody (c) (07/14/1992)

 

Ideas: In accordance with what little info I can find (and there’s very little on the market on 1992 ECW), this pair of VHS releases are pretty excessive up there on the rarity scale and have been among the first residence video products that the fledgling Japanese Championship Wrestling ever produced. In fact, the truth that this tape has almost certainly been locked away in a vault (or warehouse) for the final 27 years signifies that the audio is just a little wobbly. The visible aspect of issues holds up properly sufficient (though it’s far from ‘good’) for one thing that wouldn’t have the faintest hope of being legitimately upscaled for higher quality.

The Cairo/Stone match was a strong start to proceedings that stored up a fairly quick pace throughout. The highlight for me would have been Cairo slamming Stone on the ground outdoors (virtually like the faintest hint of issues to return) but on account of there being just one digital camera, we only hear the influence and don’t see any of it. Still, Tommy completed with an fascinating powerbomb variation in an introduced 5:20, so it wasn’t all dangerous. Things type of disintegrate during a post-match brawl although because the cameraman does a horrible job of following the action and films extra of the gang as an alternative. C- grade resulting from setting some strong groundwork for what we’ll see going ahead and never majorly screwing something up

The Bellomo/Neidhart bout is completely on here just to crow about star energy and never much else. “The Anvil” was recent off being fired from the WWF in February, with sources suggesting that this was his second of just 3 matches for the territory, happening on June 23rd. It happened on the same night time that the primary ECW Tag Staff Champions have been crowned. More on that in a second… Bellomo plays the heel, principally stalling and sneak attacking to pad out the run time. When the “Wildman” does lastly get the advantage with a full nelson, his supervisor (Stevie Fantastic, if I heard the commentator appropriately) screws up and hits his shopper with a punch. Neidhart goes straight into the pinfall for the win. Like I stated, pretty much a nothing match that was virtually definitely included simply to have the ability to promote an enormous identify on the field. Speaking of massive names, post-match shenanigans see Don Muraco initially assist Neidhart corner Fantastic, only for “The Anvil” to get attacked by his supposed ally and former WWF Intercontinental Champion. In case you’re wondering, I can’t discover evidence of this angle resulting in a match. D+ grade as a consequence of a scarcity of substance and a post-match angle that seemingly went nowhere.

And as I promised, we now have the event remaining to determine the first-ever ECW Tag Staff Champions up next. A critical piece of history proper right here. Does that make it a basic? God, no. This “event ultimate” is the very definition of an extended squash (11:47, based on the announcer) for the Tremendous Destroyers as they effectively toy with Nightbreed for your complete match, Even a scorching tag is shrugged off prefer it’s nothing. Still, the dominant efficiency was fitting contemplating the group held the brand new championships until April (or Might in the event you rely the TV airing as the official date) of 1993. By a bizarre quirk of history, this makes The Tremendous Destroyers each the first and longest-reigning ECW Tag Workforce Champions. Despite being a moderately pedestrian match designed to put over the monster heel champions like one million bucks, it’s great to see a serious ECW milestone finally made obtainable by way of the WWE Community. C+ grade for telling a reliable story that leads right into a sustained push. Too beneficiant? Perhaps, but my opinions on pro wrestling fluctuate day by day anyway. I’m sticking by this for now.

And with virtually half of this “tape” still left, we’ve our primary occasion for this volume: Jimmy Snuka challenging Johnny Hotbody for the ECW Heavyweight Championship. Snuka is touted because the first-ever ECW Heavyweight Champion, profitable it in a event on April 25th. Whereas this is true, that first reign lasted only a single day, with Hotbody stealing it from the legend immediately. Hotbody would proceed to defend the belt for a number of months, till Snuka lastly obtained his rematch featured right here on July 14th. As regards to “The Superfly”, Jimmy was less than 6 months faraway from the top of his most up-to-date WWF run by this point and in his late 40’s. Maybe a bit late to be a headliner for any company, however there’s no denying that Snuka still had a bankable identify here.

As for the match? Stalling, stalling and more stalling. Critically. Counting from after the ring introductions. it takes a minimum of 7 or 8 minutes for Hotbody and Snuka to the touch. Then Jimmy simply no-sells every part and Hotbody goes again to stalling. It’s fairly dangerous and the gang makes positive to chant “boring” very loudly on a number of occasions. No marvel a lot of the tape was left. I’m avoiding play-by-play because of the amount of content material to assessment this week but even when I wasn’t, there’s so little substance to the match: Hotbody headlock, Snuka overcomes with a very quick flurry, Hotbody stalls again. When Hotbody lastly gets management, every little thing just slows right down to a crawl. Without breaking this down second by moment, I feel the easiest way to summarise my issues with this match is that it feels pressured into half-speed to accommodate a declining “Superfly”. It simply feels needlessly drawn out. Thankfully, issues do enhance within the homestretch when momentum swings forwards and backwards with a couple of close to falls sprinkled in. Ultimately, Jimmy hits a again suplex and his legendary prime rope splash for the win. Jimmy celebrates, posing for the gang and we wrap up for this volume. C grade that was pulled down by a particularly sluggish begin.

General Video Grade: C+ (After taking the historical significance of a number of the footage under consideration)

 

Better of ECW 1992 Volume 2 (Subtitled as “ECW’s Bloodiest Matches”)

Identify: The Best of ECW 1992 Quantity 2

Date: Numerous (10/24/1992 given by WWE)

Location: Chestnut Cabaret, Philadelphia, PA

 

Matches Included

Tony “Hitman” Stetson vs. Johnny Hotbody (10/24/1992)

Kodiak Bear and Canadian Wolfman vs. Hellriders (EZ Rider and HD Rider) (10/24/1992)

Russian Chain Match (The Winner Should Touch All four Corners in Succession): Tommy Cairo vs. Ivan Koloff (10/24/1992)

Lumberjack Match: Tony “Hitman” Stetson vs. “Wildman” Sal Bellomo (08/12/1992)

With a “bloodiest matches” subtitle, this second quantity higher provide some chaos, even if it pales in comparison to the promotion’s excessive prime. As soon as once more, the audio and video high quality is ropey but understandable considering the rarity.

As we concluded the first quantity with a Johnny Hotbody match, so we begin the second tape with one. Hotbody was injured not long after dropping the ECW Heavyweight Championship and returned as a reluctant cornerman for his opponent right here. Their points spiraled from there. In fact, Johnny begins a set of bloodiest matches by stalling once more because why wouldn’t he? A shoving match then breaks out earlier than both males lock up. Issues break down shortly as Stetson will get sent to the surface and hit with a chair by Hotbody’s supervisor Don E. Allen. As Stetson is already bleeding, Johnny capitalizes with a operating, diving ring bell shot from the ring to the surface. Truthfully fairly impressive for a way vicious it seemed. It gave me a slight vibe of Cactus Jack. The brawl continues into the gang but sadly, a scarcity of digital camera coverage signifies that we will see next to nothing and neither can the commentary group. It seems to be like Hotbody jumped off of the bar (yes, the type you order drinks from) at one point however poor video quality and viewpoint make the spot far much less impactful than it might have been. Fortunately, we do get to see some glimpses of the literal “bar battle”, although nothing notably superb.

And this brawl just refuses to return to the ring as Hotbody hits a pair of operating elbow drops (which elicit an overt Cactus Jack mention from the commentary workforce) and refuses to provide Tony any respiration room. A suplex lastly brings things again inside. Ultimately, Stetson manages to mount a comeback however this has fairly obviously stopped being about wins and losses as the action heads ringside as soon as more. It’s Johnny’s turn to take a beating now (together with multiple unprotected chair photographs to the top) and that is getting chaotic. If only I might see more of it. At the very least the environment helps. Back in the ring (briefly) and the spotlight of the match takes place with a prime rope superplex from Hotbody to Stetson. That still isn’t the end although because the brawl spills outdoors but again. And THEN the referee decides he’s had enough and calls for the double count-out while each males ignore the bell and hold preventing. Properly, that was a humid squib of an ending considering the superplex just moments prior. B- grade for an intense, fun brawl hampered by poor visibility and an anticlimactic ending.

In a fun bit of continuity, the Kodiak Bear/ Wolfman vs. Hellriders match barely gets underway when Hotbody and Stetson reappear to proceed their officially thrown out brawl. As you might have already realized by the dates given above, these bouts did happen on the identical card. For a minute or two, the digital camera just ignores the tag match and focuses on the chaos at ringside, involving plastic milk crates and steel chairs. October 1992 and people hardcore roots are already taking hold. Though there’s an attempt to revive order, the tag match is simply being ignored as soon as again and the earlier match technically continues on the surface (though we once once more can’t see a lot). We do no less than get to see Stetson throw soda in Hotbody’s face.

It’s lastly time to concentrate on the motion within the ring and we get a primary trade. Sadly, this by no means really progresses beyond primary brawling and clotheslines, with all 4 men sometimes clashing within the ring to combine it up somewhat. There’s no real build to a end both as Kodiak Bear simply hits one of many Riders with a overseas object that we will’t even see and will get the pin. C- grade because of the continuation of Stetson vs. Hotbody, a bit of decrease if I’m purely evaluating the tag match itself. This was only included as an epilogue to the previous match. The Hell Riders attempt to get some babyface revenge by cornering Kodiak and Wolfman’s manager “The Cosmic Commander” however it doesn’t come to anything.

Shifting on to the Russian Chain Match, Ivan Koloff is another example of ECW bringing in fading older stars for their remaining identify value. If I’ve my math proper, Ivan was 50 years previous when this match passed off and in far worse shape than the jacked-up Snuka (who challenged for the ECW Heavyweight Championship on this similar show towards Don Muraco). So I’ll have an interest to see what he has left within the tank.

Unfortunately, it’s onerous to inform as the match is quite clumsily clipped. We skip from simply after the opening bell to Cairo on the ground being whipped by the namesake chain. As you may anticipate, the vast majority of this bout is restricted to sluggish brawling and choking with stated chain. Cairo does no less than hit an excellent wanting belly-to-belly earlier than making an attempt to the touch the turnbuckles for the primary time. The actual drawback with this match though is that it already consists of an aged athlete and then the principles themselves stall any momentum continuously too. It just bogs every part down.

It’s not all dangerous though as Cairo does no less than present some hearth as soon as busted open (even biting Ivan on the brow) and it doesn’t take lengthy for each guys to be a bloody mess. And then in a sentence I never thought I’d write, 50-year-old Ivan Koloff dives off the highest rope for a senton(with the assistance of a sequence yank from his opponent)! Properly, that was value watching this video for. He lands on Cairo’s knees though so it doesn’t do much good. We head into the closing stretch as Tommy gets ever-closer to touching all four corners and Ivan does all he can to stop that from occurring (together with a chew of his personal). The Russian is ultimately worn down enough for Tommy Cairo to only barely contact that elusive 4th turnbuckle and get the win. C- grade. Even if Cairo technically pressured Koloff into the move, I’ve to bump this match up barely simply because a 50-year-old successfully performed a prime rope senton.

Okay, this lumberjack match “important event” is weird. First. the title card doesn’t even seek advice from the stipulation. Then we join-in-progress with Tony Stetson already busted open. And talking of Stetson. he casually punches Bellomo with a roll of quarters like it’s an ordinary transition and the bout just carries on. For those who’ll keep in mind that I feel Stetson is meant to be the babyface right here (in fact, the commentary group has completed a horrible job of creating issues like this clear throughout each volumes) and you’ll simply what an incoherent mess that is.

Worse but, the match slows down after the roll of quarters and simply meanders on till The Sandman (with the prefix of “Mr.” at this level) interferes and causes the double DQ. So apparently the babyface can punch with a roll of quarters no drawback. But when he will get attacked by someone from the surface, we’re achieved? Okay, whatever you say. Cairo involves assistance from Stetson after which the lumberjacks pile in for the clusterduck. Bellomo goes for TLC Eight years early by throwing a table, a ladder, and a few chairs into the ring. Then Stetson simply clocks supervisor Stevie Fantastic in the head with a chair. That appeared unnecessary. This simply degenerates into an unintelligible brawl in the crowd. One final chair shot to Sandman and we’re carried out. D grade. I used to be going to go lower however the post-match actions nearly raised this to barely satisfactory.

General Video Grade: C- (A relatively robust opener and semi-decent chain match get pulled down by a tough essential event and there are not any historic moments to assist this time)

 

Unaired SportsChannel ECW TV Pilot

Identify: ECW TV Pilot

Date: 11/28/1992

Location: Kensington Sports activities Area, Kensington, PA

 

Matches Included

Tommy Cairo vs. King Kaluha

ECW Tag Group Championship: The Super Destroyers (c) vs. Jimmy Jannetty and Larry Winters

ECW Tv Championship: Glenn Osbourne (c) vs. “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka

ECW Heavyweight Championship: Sandman (c) vs. Kodiak Bear

Oh boy, I’ve heard of this one and not in a good way. Jay Sulli and Stevie Fantastic introduce themselves as our commentary group for the subsequent hour. They run down the cardboard and we’re ready to go.

As we head into our first match, I’m relieved to see a multi-camera setup finally in play and marginally improved video quality. So far as this opening match goes, I discovered it to be positive. Primary but superb. Kaluha assaults earlier than the bell, just for Cairo to battle back. Like all babyfaces though, he makes a mistake and gets ground down for a protracted interval. There are the standard swings in momentum to keep the gang invested in fact however Tommy attending to hit his flying body block, an enormous again bodydrop and a huge Kaluha right hand are about the only moments that stand out. Properly, there’s additionally Kaluha randomly mugging for the digital camera:

Cairo ultimately manages to reverse a sitdown pin into his personal and will get the win in one thing like Eight minutes or so. D+ grade. As I stated, a small handful of moments woke me up but this match principally felt so devoid of power. Not great for an opener. Publish-match, Tommy cuts a promo ringside with Jay Sulli and challenges the winner of the ECW Heavyweight Championship match between Sandman and Kodiak Bear later tonight. Or a minimum of I feel he does. Sulli is making an attempt to push the narrative in that course but “The Ironman” insists on rambling generically.

There’s no slowing down, as we head straight into a Tag Workforce Championship bout. After seeing The Tremendous Destroyers achieve the belts earlier, they’re now nicely established as unstoppable monsters here. Sadly, this is one other match with stalling as Jimmy Jannetty (no relation) does all he can to avoid the grip of The Super Destroyers. Not exactly riveting although. Jannetty ultimately tries to build some momentum off the ropes and hit a physique block however he simply gets caught. His companion helps by hitting a dropkick and getting them a quick pinfall. Jannetty and Winters maintain their own for some time however as soon as The Destroyers get in control it doesn’t take them long to start out enjoying with their opponents once again.

It doesn’t work fairly so nicely here, because the challengers shortly regain the momentum and maintain it. I’m positive that goes towards tag staff wrestling 101 of getting the babyfaces build to a comeback but what do I know? Significantly although, Winters and Jannetty principally stay in control until a quick double clothesline spot within the house stretch. Even then, the challengers appear to be they’ve gotten the pin when a 1o-minute draw is said. D- grade. I just didn’t get this one. It was virtually as if recognized tag staff psychology was reversed and thus nothing was built to. Then the challengers manage to strike out with a time limit draw after being in management for about Eight of the 10 minutes. Baffling.

Before we get to our Television Championship match, Stevie Fantastic appears in pre-taped interviews with both Champion Glenn Osbourne and a recently-turned-heel Jimmy Snuka. I say with Snuka but in reality, Hunter Q. Robbins III does all the talking while Snuka repeatedly chews up and spits out an apple, It’s distinctive, I’ll give him that.

Oddly, the pre-match interview specifically referred to as this Osbourne’s first Television Championship defense however then the commentary staff instantly contradict this by saying that he has defended the belt before just not towards someone on the extent of Snuka. So which is it?

Both method, after some stalling, Osbourne tries to take benefit with a quick rollup. It doesn’t work and we finally start the feeling out process. Unfortunately, the motion that follows is extraordinarily torpid. “The Superfly” is even slower now that he’s heeling it up and Osbourne is decreased to primary holds and desperation pinfall makes an attempt. As you may anticipate, simply as the Champion is on a roll, the ref takes a bump, rendering any pinfall try moot. Osbourne tries to wake the ref, letting Snuka sneak in and roll him up. A wild second referee seems to rely the 3. It seems to be like we have now a brand new champion, just for the original referee to reverse the choice and disqualify the challenger for placing him in hurt’s method originally. Good god, that was boring. D grade. Perhaps it’s simply me (and be happy to say within the comments should you assume it’s) however giving a slowed, getting old Snuka license to be even slower was a recipe for disaster right here. So little happened in an 8-minute match. And what did occur was deemed irrelevant anyway.

In what’s now formally the earliest Sandman match on WWE Network, we’re set for our fundamental occasion as Sandman defends the ECW Heavyweight Championship towards Kodiak Bear. Sandman continues to be at full tilt with the “surfer” gimmick here and has none of the edginess that may later define him. Considering that even the man’s largest defenders admit to the man being carried by a well-fitting persona and excellent theme music, I’m not wanting ahead to this.

Because it turned out though, this wasn’t horrible. Positive, you possibly can inform Sandman isn’t precisely reduce out to be a goody-two-shoes, paintless by-product of Sting however he doesn’t notably stink up the joint both. Admittedly, Kodiak Bear keeps things extremely simple so far as the “huge man” recreation goes, never venturing past hanging, choking and splashing. In fact, we get a “Kodiak Bear hug” too. My point is that Kodiak is so unremarkable together with his offense that it makes Sandman stand out when he does some actual strikes. Talking of standing out, Rockin’ Rebel blindsides Sandman (then shortly runs away once more) while he’s on the floor making an attempt to cope with Grand Wizard ripoff “The Cosmic Commander”. This was an try and build up to Sandman’s next “main” defense, as he confronted Insurgent on December 19th. For all the obstacles put in the Champion’s method right here though, he ultimately starts preventing again and ultimately triumphs with a clothesline, extremely sloppy “martial arts kick” from the apron into the ring and a prime rope “missile” (I exploit that term very loosely) dropkick for the win. For Sandman, that was bordering on Super Junior territory. Publish-match, we get a particularly temporary backstage interview with the Champion which degenerates into a locker room brawl with Rockin’ Insurgent. Jay and Stevie bookend the present to signal us off. D+ grade. It was an inoffensive match that I’ll price slightly if it was an opener but as your principal event of the evening that’s alleged to entice a TV station to take an opportunity, it was extraordinarily subpar. ECW was barely prepared for TV in April 1993. It wasn’t in November 1992.

General Video Grade: D. This can be a territory that looks like one thing caught in the 80s when the world (and particularly pro wrestling tv) was on the brink of transfer on. I can’t precisely blame ECW for making an attempt to emulate what worked as a TV product however the roster isn’t even near having the talent needed to tug it off with out the “hardcore” crutches.

 

Over 3800 phrases and more than 2 and a half hours of rough wrestling footage later and our journey into the embryonic days of Japanese Championship Wrestling is over!. Thank you for reading, don’t overlook to provide your opinion within the comments section and I’ll see you next week!

 

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