ECW Barely Legal Review

I don’t even know how hard did Extreme Championship Wrestling had to work just to get their very first Pay-Per-View. PPV has always been a major factor for every wrestling organization because it puts them on the national level and it makes more money for that company. ECW has been waiting for this moment for a long time since they got out of the NWA partnership and tried to gain mainstream success. Paul Heyman did everything to make this happen but due to the many controversies that ECW has had, it kept them for making a PPV with previous scheduled PPV being canceled. Without this televised event, ECW wouldn’t be as popular as it is today. This was a HUGE gamble to throw everything on the line and if they failed, it would of been disastrously the end of this organization. Let’s see and find out how did this wrestling event did on April 13, 1997.

Match Numer 1.  –  Eliminators vs. The Dudley Boyz – ECW Tag Team Championship

Stolling for time, The Dudleys had to insult the audience (as they normally do) just to build heat and hatred from the audience. As the Eliminators entered the ring, Buh Buh Ray and D’Von fled out of the ring only leaving Joel Gartner to be the only one in the ring and Perry Saturn and John Kronus did their signature finisher “Total Elimination” and the crowd roared with cheers for an awesome move. The one thing to remember of the Eliminators is that they are remembered for their martial arts background and it was was glorious to see the Dudleys to look like giant punching bags. For a tag team match that had no tagging rules, I was surprised to see that The Dudley Boys were getting manhandled by the Eliminators. Left and right we were seeing flying moves from Saturn and Kronus from middle-rope moonsault out of the ring to even a 450 splash by Kronus. I was impressed with the Eliminators in this match that was almost a no win situation for the Dudleys. After applying the Total Elimination on Buh Buh Ray and claimed their victory for the ECW Tag Team Championship for the 3rd time as the Eliminators. When the Dudleys cleared out of the ring and Kronus and Saturn celebrated their victory in the ring, Joel came back to the ring and said that The Dudley Boys won the match (for whatever weird reason) only to have him doomed for a “Total Elimination” upon him just because one wasn’t enough. It was almost a one sided fight, but it was a fantastic opening to the company’s first pay-per-view and it left us with a great first impression.

The Top Lister’s wrestling score – 4 / 5

Match Number 2.  –  Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm

Rob and Lance were rising stars at this point in ECW (Rob was in the company for about a year since his debut and Lance was in there for less than a year) and it’s interesting to see that new stars managed to get booked in the company’s first pay per view while other wrestlers who were in the company longer they have that probably deserved it more. Chris Candino was supposed to be Lance’s opponent but due to a shoulder injury he could not compete so they got RVD instead.  The match was fast-paced with both men exchanging control throughout, using many high-risk maneuvers, and only use a steel chair as the only weapon in this match. At about the ten-minute mark, Storm connected with two chair shots to Van Dam’s head. Before he could connect for the third time, Van Dam sprung up from his knees and performed a Van Daminator, kicking the chair Storm was holding into his face. Van Dam then performed a standing moonsault and pinned Storm for the victory. By the end of the match RVD had to go on the mic to address to the fans that he wasn’t going anywhere since during the match fans shouted “You sold out!” to RVD. From here on out, RVD became a bigger name that he now is today.

The Top Lister’s wrestling score  –  4 / 5

Match No. 3 – The Great Susuke, Gran Hamada, and Masato Yakushiji vs. bWo Japan (Taka Michinoku, Terry Boy, and Dick Togo)

First off, I had no idea there ever was a bWo Japan. I knew of nWo Japan, but wow, that parody stable was good enough to actually have a separate part of the stable across the world. Anyway, what I really love about the ECW promotion is the diversity they shown to the wrestling fans outside of hardcore wrestling. From Lucha Libre, Technical wrestling, to Japanese wrestling and this what this match was all about. The next match was a six-man tag team match featuring wrestlers from Michinoku Pro Wrestling with bWo Japan battle The Great Sasuke, Gran Hamada, and Masato Yakushiji. These guys arrived to America from Japan and I was surprised to see them not slow down from jet lag.  The action was back-and-forth between both teams and filled with high-flying and martial arts maneuvers. I was amazed at what these 6-men had to offer to the American audience with pure Japanese wrestling. This was such a whirlwind of a match that it didn’t matter who won, everyone what applauding to these men’s sheer talents that we don’t ever see from American wrestling. It flourished high-flying moves, speed and athleticism in that very ring. bWo Japan was dominant for much of it, their team cohesion being their driving force.  Towards the end, the team of Sasuke, Hamada and Yakushiji won the match when Sasuke pinned Michinoku with a tiger suplex. This match is simply a great display of grappling as an art form. Even though the bWo made one simple botch on applying the triple power bomb on their opponent, it still has had to be one of, if not, the best match of Barely Legal.

The Top Lister’s wrestling score  –  5 / 5

Match Number 4.  – Shane Douglas vs. Pitbull # 2  –  ECW Television Championship

The story behind this match is that Shane Douglas broke Pitbull #1’s neck and Francine who used to be the manager for the Pitbulls sided with the Franchise himself. Also there are several riot squads to keep Pitbull #1, who isn’t a part of this match from interfering, was sitting in the front row seat with crowd wearing a neck bracelet. In the middle of the match Pitbull #1 attacked Shane and was cried out of the building. The match between Shane and Pitbull #2 wasn’t that exciting as it was on paper.

Pitbull #2 rushed to the ring and immediately began attacking Douglas. Pitbull #2 controlled the early portion of the match with a series of takedowns and headlocks (and you all should now that it’s boring to see headlocks applied in a wrestling match. Douglas then gained control after he countered a powerbomb which brought both wrestlers over the top rope to the outside of the ring. Douglas tossed Pitbull #2 back into the ring and performed three consecutive piledrivers. After Douglas and Pitbull #2 exchanged control of the match for the next several minutes, Francine handed Douglas a pair of brass knuckles, which he then used twice on Pitbull #2. Douglas then hit Pitbull #2 over the head with a portion of a broken table, as well as the timekeeper’s ring bell. Suddenly Chris Candino attempted to interfere with the match. Douglas performed a belly-to-belly suplex on Pitbull #2 and pinned him for the victory to retain the ECW Television Championship.

Even though that this match was built up heavily, it didn’t need to be this slow or this boring. There were too many near falls that tested my patience just wanting this match to be over with. If only the match was more fast-paced and more than enough near falls to wonder if the these two wrestlers are as bored as well since they shown that they weren’t much into it. But just to make the match too much to bear, the end of the match we had Rick Rude wearing a mask coming down the ring (ordered by Shane Douglas) to kiss Francine in the middle of the ring. Shane took Rick Rude mask off to reveal that it’s Brian Lee. The real Rick Rude was behind  Shane Douglas disguised as one of the riot guards. It was a sneak attack only to have Brian Lee chokeslam Shane Douglas and get the cheer from the crowd.

The Top Lister’s wrestling score  –  3 / 5

Match No. 5  – Tazz vs. Sabu 

What has been promoted as the grudge match of the century and there was a LOT of hype behind this match. For almost a year, Tazz called and cursed Sabu out for a match against each other and each time that they were in the ring, the whole crowd eats it up with excitement. Now they had to deliver on what they promised. It was crazy to start believing that this match was actually real because these two did not like each other (both on screen and backstage). The first half of the match was ground wrestling where Sabu has been grounded by the suplex machine himself. Things got serious when Tazz was cross-chopping Sabu’s face that caused him to have a bleeding noise. That part was real.

Around the second half of the match, after multiple ground wrestling, they took it out of the ring putting chairs and tables involved in this card. Sabu  was going for a swinging DDT on Tazz through the table outside of the ring but that managed to backfire when Tazz thrown him through the table. From there on out, it became a wake up fall for Sabu to finally use his flying moves and avoid the ground wrestling where Tazz had the most advantage. Sabu tried to do the Tazzmission on Tazz but Tazz was smart enough to reverse that hold to a Tazzplex and Tazz got him one last time on the ground choking him out with the Tazzmission. Sabu tapped out and Tazz claimed the victory. But that wasn’t enough, he got a microphone and did a promo thanking Sabu for the fight of his life and shook hands with Sabu. This was a strategic and new type of match that focused on grappling, a couple of flying moves, and weapons involved. The only way this match could of been better is if that pacing was faster and it focused on a lot of intensity.

The Top Lister’s wrestling score  –  5 / 5

Match Number 6.  –  Terry Funk vs. Sandman vs. Stevie Richards

Winner of this match is set to have their title shot right after the match with the ECW World Heavyweight Champion, Raven, who has kept the title for almost a year straight. Before this match started, Sandman tried to give Terry beer but the he refused, so instead he drank the beer and spat it on Stevie Richards. After having a hard time deciding which wrestler to get attacked first (every man for himself) it all went to the traditional hardcore match that we love from ECW. Sandman and Stevie Cool decided to double team against Terry Funk but he struck back with his own classic wrestling moves until Sandman threw a ladder at Funk’s head.

When the ladder was introduced to the match, all three of them used it like crazy like when Terry did a moonsault on top of the ladder (and missed against Stevie), Terry pushed Sandman and Stevie off the ladder to the ropes, the Funker carried the ladder on his shoulders and spun it around like a propeller to this his opponents mindlessly, seesaw the ladder to faces. Other hardcore action was suplex to the trashcan, Spike piledriver, barbwire whipping to Sandman’s back. The match ended when Stevie super kicked Sandman’s head covered in a trash can. It followed up to Terry Funk to apply a top rope moonsault on Sandman and declared pinfall victory. But that doesn’t end there…

Match Number 7.  –  Terry Funk vs. Raven  –  ECW World Heavyweight Championship

Now that Terry won that match, it’s time for him to face the ultimate challenge; Raven’s ECW Championship. After Raven constantly manipulated all of his opponents psychologically and never lost his ECW World Championship title, this was a HUGE moment for a legend like Terry Funk. Paul Heyman described this match (in Rise and Fall of ECW) Terry’s past his prime facing  a young punk like Raven who’s now psychological towards this match by describing how Raven is reminded of his father from Terry Funk saying that he was drinking, got abused, and emotionally cared. It was highly emotional watching this match because it was it’s way of storytelling that was touching fans’ by the heart. Raven did not want to waste anytime and kept beating down Terry Funk like his own personal vengeance against his abusive father. Terry Funk was bleeding like a stuff pig and fans cried for the legend to fight back (even his own daughter was watching him get beat). It was already too much for Terry because there was also interference by Reggie Bennett (Raven’s follower).

Tommy Dreamer who was doing commentary was getting emotional that he had to make distraction’s for Raven for Funk to get back up, but Big Dick Dudley slammed a trashcan at Tommy’s head. Just as Big Dick was about to throw Tommy down to the table from the announcer’s floor, he struck back at Big Dick through the table to get everyone psyched. Tommy came in to interfere the match to give Funk the victory. But after a DDT to Raven, he still managed to kick out the pinfall and Funk continued the beating. Then out of nowhere, Terry Funk gave Raven the surprising small package and finally made the pinfall. He was the new ECW World Heavyweight Champion and everybody cheered for this legend’s victory. Everyone was so overjoyed with his victory that he cheered and hugged the crowd. There was no better way to end this long awaited pay per view than giving a famous named the most prestigious title of the company and he deserved it for everything he was done for the company. The funny story is that 10 seconds after they went off the air ending the PPV, the whole building’s power went out. If that power went out before the PPV ended, it would have ruined the PPV, but they were lucky to managed to finish the PPV on time before the disaster happened. Everyone got cleared out of the building and months later, Terry Funk retired from wrestling displaying that he had what it takes to be that wrestler everyone remembers and also helped establish ECW on a national level.

The Top Lister’s wrestling score  –  5 / 5

Conclusion

There hasn’t been a major wrestling event that was so important since the very first Wrestlemania. The company threw everything on the line and one little disaster would of ended the company, but they have given us matches that were so great and so emotional that it was unlike any wrestling show before and since. This was the show that helped elevate ECW to new heights and become the third biggest wrestling company in America. Though there a couple of botches in the third and last match, these wrestlers gave it their all. You can tell that everyone involved in this show had their heart in to making the event as successful as it is. The best part was that culmination of Terry Funk winning that ECW Championship from (long time holder) Raven because nobody deserved that victory more than Terry Funk which left everyone crying with joy that they’ve made it. This historic wrestling event was so important that it was released on ECW One Night Stand 2006 as a bonus disc for everyone watch. This Pay per view is one big reason why I love wrestling!

Score

  • Match 1  –  Eliminators vs. The Dudley Boyz – ECW Tag Team Championship – 4 / 5
  • Match 2  –  Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm  –  4 / 5
  • Match 3  –  The Great Susuke, Gran Hamada, and Masato Yakushiji vs. bWo Japan – 5/5
  • Match 4  – Shane Douglas vs. Pitbull # 2  –  3 / 5
  • Match 5  – Tazz vs Sabu  – 5 / 5
  • Match 6  –  Terry Funk vs. Sandman vs. Stevie Richards —> Terry Funk vs. Raven – 5 / 5

The Top Lister’s PPV score  –  5 / 5

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