Welcome back to another explosive edition of Hardcore TV this time covering April and the first half of May.
Setting up the match between Shane Douglas and Road Warrior Hawk on April 16th for the ECW Heavywight Title, Douglas enlists the aid of Mr. Hughes as backup from Jason, the Sexiest Man alive. Hawk then cuts a solid promo against Douglas going so far as to say his spikes represent how Hawk’s cold steel and, “dead men can’t feel pain.”
The Sandman vs. Tommy Dreamer Aired on 04/16 Hardcore TV and taped 03/27
Overall Thoughts: Interesting match for the time period as Sandman’s just starting to get into his more hardcore, serious style gimmick while Dreamer’s wearing this leather jacket thing that closely resembles a garbage bag.
Sandman ‘dominates’ literally throwing Dreamer out of the ring side to side four times before Dreamer comes back including a roundhouse enzuiguiri style kick to Sandman’s head. Dreamer eventually locks in The Dream Weaver as Sal Bellomo comes in to wear the knocked out referee’s shirt (because he’ll be a guest ref for the Sandman/Cairo match, you see) and counts Dreamer’s cover for the win at 2:10. Total DUD of a match but fun to see knowing what their futures would hold. After the match as Sal’s tossing gifts to the arena crowd, Sandman takes him out with a series of chair shots.
After a tag match with Mr. Hughes and Shane Douglas, job guys start running into the ring to try and get at Douglas but Hughes keeps clotheslining them all the instant they hit the ring in a neat little angle proving himself as the bodyguard for The Franchise. Tommy Dreamer goes down as does Tommy Cairo as the names start getting bigger. Unfortunately we cut to Hawk standing before Mr. Hughes and he shrugs off a title belt shot from Douglas only to eat a Sidewalk Slam from Mr. Hughes. Douglas and Hughes proceed to beat down Hawk and this is one of the few times I’ve seen Road Warrior Hawk soundly getting his ass kicked including a top rope flying splash from Shane Douglas. Great angle to end the episode putting over the Hughes/Douglas relationship and the toughness of Mr. Hughes as the bodyguard/enforcer type.
We open the next episode and get clips of the impromptu Sabu vs Terry Funk match from April 16th including the unmasking of Beautiful Bobby Eaton who aided Sabu’s victory with a flying elbow drop off the top rope. After the match, Heyman just ambushes Tod Gordon with his cell phone in a pretty intense moment. Who makes the save? The Horseman Arn Anderson! Crowd goes absolutely bonkers as AA runs into the ring and unloads on Eaton including a DDT. One of the loudest cheers I’ve heard from the crowd since I started watching. This breaks down into a crazy brawl that goes on for a while. Arn and Funk shake hands at the end. Fun Fact: In a bit of prescient hiring, Heyman asked for Brian Pillman and Steve Austin originally but WCW denied him fearing injury so they sent Eaton and Arn instead.
Bruise Brothers vs. Badd Company Aired 04/24 Hardcore TV and taped ???
Overall Thoughts: Interesting match up in terms of styles. Bruise Brothers would become more known as part of the D.O.A. stable in the WWF later in their career. Solid story to start the match as the Bruise Brothers show off their physical power including catching Diamond in the air and hitting a back breaker. Tanaka does a fantastic job making a simple shoulder block look the way it should when a Harris Brother is running full steam into him.
In a fun little twist, albeit a bit of a momentum killer, Tanaka pretends to hold the rope open only for Diamond to yank it up and cement Badd Company as the heels in the match. Diamond and Tanaka instantly take the offensive, targeting the lower region of Don Harris with a leg drop and headbutt. The two manage to really heel it up including crotching in the corner post despite being in full view of the referee. Don Harris starts to comeback including a crazy impressive one armed back body drop on Tanaka.
Double clothesline leads to the HOT TAG to a fired up Ron Harris. A double big boot to Tanaka finishes the bout with a three count and win for the Bruise Brothers at 10:30 (according to the ring announcer). *1/2 for a decent match up although it seemed more suddenly transitory with Badd Company taking over the heel role and there was a noticeable lack of pinfalls which I just hate seeing as it undermines the ‘story’ of either team wanting to actually win the match.
Funk and Arn cut a great promo during April 16th. Funk calls out Arn saying, “Tully Blanchard was a Horseman. You were a Horseman. How can I trust you?” and Arn says he’s made some mistakes and asks Funk for a handshake so he can watch Funk’s back while Funk watches Arn’s back. Arn remarks, “As an Anderson, I won’t double cross ya.” We then cut to Heyman and Eaton cutting a solid promo in return. Heyman’s just fantastic calling out Arn as the blame since Bobby overheard Arn would appear and had to come to watch Heyman’s back. Heyman goes so far as to name drop The Dangerous Alliance and laments that everybody seems to want to forget about it and ignore it as part of their past.
We cut to the end of the Sandman/Cairo match from April 16th as Peaches finally gets to whip Sandman ten times with a lash but Sandman throws powder into Bellomo’s face! He takes Cairo out with a DDT and now stalks Peaches in the corner but Cairo comes back to save her. Cairo and Peaches walk to the back only for WOMAN to appear out of the crowd, dragging Peaches back into the ring! Woman lands two lashes onto Peache’s exposed butt before Cairo comes back in to run Sandman and Woman off. Crazy continuation of the angle! Many fans point to Dreamer/Sandman as one of the key angles pushing the hardcore aspect but this angle is simply awesome to follow and so risque for the time period. This angle would set up the first ever Singapore Caning match with the loser of Sandman/Woman vs. Cairo/Peaches receiving six lashes from the cane.
The feud escalates with some great promos as Sandman laments the need for the match to even be done and remarks that the whipping could be done for paid cash instead. Cairo and Peaches answer outside of Sandman’s home with Peaches threatening to pay Woman back in kind to what she did. Sandman cuts a solid promo after calling out Cairo as not being physically ready to handle Sandman. It’s clear that this is really what not only made Sandman’s character but really helped start to cement Heyman’s writing and ECW as a company as something more than WWF or WCW or even the typical Indy federation of the era.
The final episode of this recap has Funk coming up on Heyman and threatening him, including physically slapping him(!) for mentioning Funk’s daughters. Very reminiscent of the Heyman/Stephanie McMahon stuff that happened in the WWE recently. In a tremendous scene, Heyman goes off right at Joey Styles openly leaning over the television and grabbing the jacket of Styles. More great stuff lending an air of anything can happen in this company. The Attitude era aped so much stuff beyond just the risque style of the angles and wardrobes and hardcore action.
Human Cage Match (aka Lumberjack Match) No DQ ECW Tag Titles: Public Enemy(C) vs. Bruise Brothers Aired 5/10 Hardcore TV and taped 4/16
Overall Thoughts: I just enjoy Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock so much. They were such pure entertainers in this company compared to most of the other wrestlers.
We immediately get Grunge busted open following two chair shots from Ron Harris. It’s interesting to see these two teams really paved the way for the hardcore immersion of the wrestling style that would become a focal point for the company itself. Fun seeing the Harris Brothers just dominating Grunge using their physicality and size advantage to cut Johnny off from his partner. We do get a good story on the outside as heels like Mr. Hughes and The Pitbull offer sympathy to Grunge while the faces clearly support the Bruise Brothers.
Rocco turns the tide climbing into the ring with no tag and just hammering away at Ron Harris with a steel chair in true heel fashion. Outside the ring the two teams brawl into the crowd and the bleachers. The double teams continue including a double suplex which gets a two count. Rocco gets crotched on the top rope thanks to Kevin Sullivan and Grunge eats the double big boot from the Bruise Brothers! Mr. Hughes rolls into the ring and takes out Don Harris with a steel chair, allowing for the cover and win as the Public Enemy retain the Tag Titles at 9:43! Match gets a *1/4 as it was somewhat slow and disjointed at times including the lumberjacks on the outside. After the match, the Bruise Brothers take out Mr. Hughes with a double big boot and a series of steel chair shots.
To close out the final episode we get a hilarious promo with Heyman dressed up as a white gangsta style to get in with Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock including sporting a Knicks jacket and backwards cap. Heyman requests that the Public Enemy take out Terry Funk for cash of course as Rocco comments on, “Terry Funk, there’s only one thing I love more than my own Momma, and that’s money!” Heyman teasing the Grunge dance is funny stuff.
Final Thoughts: Not much in the way of actual wrestling this time as the majority of this was focused appropriately on the angles including the simply enthralling Sandman/Cairo/Peaches/Woman stuff that seems levels above what else was going on in the entire company. This I think is Heyman’s first major and memorably written angle. The Funk/Arn/Heyman/Eaton stuff also got a lot of screen time although the effectiveness seemed somewhat limited due to the short nature of Arn and Eaton’s stay in ECW.