ECW The Night the Line Was Crossed
February 5, 1994
We’re in Philly at the Bingo Hall. Joey Styles on commentary. This is a famous show in ECW history. It’s the one where Terry Funk, Sabu and Shane Douglas had an hour broadway as the main event. I’ve seen the whole match and it’s ok but at the time the idea of doing a three-way as a main event and having it go an hour was revolutionary stuff. WWF didn’t even have a triple threat match until 1997. It seems wild to think about it in terms like that. This was ECW thinking outside the box.
“Hi, this is Tod Gordon, titular head of ECW for TV purposes. I’m just about to leak all our talents details to WCW but until then enjoy some violence”
Sal Bellomo vs. Mr Hughes
The Belgian, with the Italian name, Bellomo is rocking his Centurion Santa gimmick. He had decent runs with NWA and WWF before this. As a wrestler he’s a middling talent. Hughes has washed out of WCW and WWF so now he’s here. He wrestles in his shades and wears a tie. He’s managed by Jason (Knight) who also washed out of the big leagues. As I said last time ECW was a collection of outcasts. Hughes finishes with his Big Man Slam and Bellomo barely gets into the air for it. This was terrible. ¼*
Double Dog Collar Match
The Sandman & Tommy Cairo vs. The Pitbull & Rockin’ Rebel
Cairo is a local lad. He was a regular in ECW in the early days until they could afford someone better.
This is what early Sandman looked like before he changed gimmicks. He was a surfer dude. Pitbull is Gary Wolfe, later dubbed “Pitbull #1” when he was tagging with Durante. He’s a heel at this point, managed by Jason. This is where violence arrives. The chain causing several bladejobs and they brawl around the building to get the crowd invested. They break a bunch of stuff and the crowd are all fired up. After taking a piledriver through a table Sandman completely loses where he is in the match. They have to have a chat in the ring before he remembers it’s the finish. Haha. Fucking useless. Cairo gets the pin with Sandman using his chain to hold Wolfe down. An actual good finish, shame Sandman forgot what it was. **
The Public Enemy vs. The Bruise Brothers
The Bruises are Ron and Don Harris, who you may know from various WWF runs (Blu Twins, Grimm Twins, DOA) or being the Harris Brothers in latter WCW. Jim Cornette had got a tune out of them in SMW and Heyman is trying to replicate that. As with the last match they brawl all over the building and there’s blood. It looks like a great atmosphere in the building, but it doesn’t make good TV at all.
They fight up into the announce position and Joey is seen on camera screaming at the hard cam. They eventually brawl back into the ring and Public Enemy manage to both pin…um…let’s say Ron? They have different head shapes but with all that hair it’s hard to tell. This would have been much more fun if you were there live and drunk. **
Tommy Dreamer vs. Jimmy Snuka
Tommy is still babyface in suspenders who no one likes and Snuka, given his legendary status is given a rousing welcome. The YouTube channel does me a solid and skips the entire match. Haha. Nicely done fellas.
Kevin Sullivan & The Tazmaniac vs. The Original Sheik & Pat Tanaka
Sheik had retired but worked for FMW a lot around this time. Sullivan’s tactic is to walk briskly away from him and easily survives doing so. It’s like fighting a one-legged zombie. Sheik started wrestling just after World War II if you want to get an idea of how old he is here. He throws a few fireballs at Sullivan because he can, and Tanaka gets the pin while that’s happening. ½*
JT Smith vs. Mike Awesome
Due to the hour long main event not being on the YouTube version, we have this as our main event and let me tell you…that’s a massive upgrade.
I have no idea why Awesome didn’t get signed by ECW right here and now. He’s so mobile, aggressive and exciting. JT gets ragdolled around the ring. Awesome’s over the top rope dive sends the crowd bananas. Awesome calls for the powerbomb but JT Smith rolls him up for the shock win. Awesome takes it out on the referee and kills him with a couple of powerbombs. Given the crowd’s reaction to Mike, how on earth did they not sign him, let alone give him a main event push. He even stops off to break the top rope before leaving. Maybe that was it. ***
Mike Awesome, who was crushing it in FMW as the Gladiator, continued to do so until returning to ECW in 1997 for another short run and finally in 1998 where he had *that match* with Masato Tanaka at Heatwave ‘98. Eventually signing for them in late 1999 and winning the world title in his first match. According to Wikipedia, Sabu talked Awesome into appearing for ECW and that he was reluctant to do so, having been such a hit in Japan. It also reminded me that Awesome tore his ACL in 1998 and missed an entire year. 1995 also makes sense as that’s when Sabu worked in NJPW over ECW and if they were good friends, that would account for ECW not making a move for Mike earlier. I still think Paul E missed a trick by not trying to get Awesome in earlier but I guess he wanted a lot of money as he was making bank in Japan. His eventual ECW run worked a gateway for him to get signed by WCW and was even heavily used by WWF after the buyout. He got released but still came back in 2005 for One Night Stand and crushed it again. It ended up being his final match.
You can see the huge quality and style jump here from the tail end of 1993. The talent involved isn’t necessarily better but they’ve positioned their home-grown guys on top. Shane Douglas, Sabu, JT Smith and even guys like Taz and Dreamer were there…just losing. Heyman’s plan is fairly clear. Be controversial. Be violent. Get positive word of mouth going.