I’ll be starting off with the initial Hardcore TV selection on WWE Network but will be likely doing assorted matches as we roll into late October, November, and December of 1993 and early 1994 much like Sage Cortez does for his fantastic WWF and NWA/WCW run through.
Starting off initially as Eastern Championship Wrestling created and run by Tod Gordon, the company was still under allegiance to the National Wrestling Alliance which hearkened back to the territory years of the 1950s in essentially serving as a conglomerate to the smaller, varied regional territories. Longtime wrestler and booker, Eddie Gilbert would have a falling out with Gordon prior to the “Ultra Clash” show on September 18th, 1993 wherein one Paul Heyman then known as Paul E. Dangerously would take over primarily as the head booker from that moment going forward which is where we currently find ourselves.
Some Background: The company was largely built around Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and in a lot of ways, 1992 was basically doing what ECW would be doing prominently right up through its demise. It would bring in talent such as Jim Neidhart, Don Muraco, and Terry Taylor but the company was largely built on the backs of wrestlers like Snuka, Terry Funk, The Sandman (then known as Mr. Sandman), Glen Osbourne, his tag team partner Max Thrasher, and the Super Destroyers. In March of 1993, the TV Title would be introduced to the promotion with Gilbert defeating JT Smith to become the first ever champion of that belt.
Shane Douglas would make his debut on August 7th and immediately start to put his stamp on the promotion, beating The Sandman to claim the ECW Title on September 18th (the day Gilbert quit, Heyman took over, and the tag team Public Enemy would make their debut). By this point, the promotion was already going risque far and beyond anything the WWF or WCW was putting out and it’s a testament to Heyman how smoothly the transition went considering he’d been lead booker for less than a month at the point of this show.
Hardcore TV Aired October 5th, 1993
Joey Styles and Paul Heyman (easier than calling him Paul E. Dangerously every time) welcome us from the ECW Arena and we open up on The Public Enemy in the ring. Worth noting is that Jim Crockett was backstage at matches taped for tonight’s episode.
The Public Enemy (“Flyboy” Rocco Rock & Johnny Grunge) vs. Gino Caruso and The Silver Jet Taped at NWA Bloodfest: Part 1 on 1993/10/01
Thoughts: Attendance was listed at 250 people and it’s pretty apparent from the get go. Silver Jet has a weird get up involving grey cammo pants despite a mask. This is a good showcase match as Rocco Rock is impressive for his size, performing a springboard moonsault for a 2 count early in the match. Hat Guy appears talking trash back and forth with Johnny Grunge before Grunge hits a reverse DDT leading into an impressive top rope somersault senton by Rocco Rock for the pin at 4:09 JIP. Served its purpose and gets a * rating for Rocco’s athleticism.
No Count Out, No DQ: Sabu (Debut) vs. The Tazmaniac Taped at NWA Bloodfest: Part 1 on 1993/10/01
Thoughts: Sabu gets led out like Hannibal Lecter and you know this guy’s nuts. Taz is stuck in a forgettable, generic caveman gimmick. Sabu takes out Taz and it’s clear the pace is fast and furious including a slingshot legdrop as his second move of the entire match. Asai Moonsault onto Taz and into the crowd is a crazy spot but Sabu’s the kind of guy to expect that from. You can already glean some of the traits of both wrestlers down the road as Taz is clearly a powerful guy for his short stature but Sabu is just so far ahead of his time in comparison to other promotions that it doesn’t look out of place today. Sabu teases a suicide dive then delivers a slingshot somersault plancha onto Taz onto the concrete. Sabu is still in a spot fu phase here as he absorbs 5 chairs thrown to his skull by Tazmaniac but delivers a slingshot moonsault with no real selling time and injures his knee/ankle in doing so.
Taz delivers a sick looking half nelson suplex which nearly compresses Sabu’s neck. Taz follows with an overhead belly to belly suplex and again, the seeds of his future wrestling style is already in full swing but the characterization is largely lacking not helped by a garish costume and eye patch. Taz improvises nicely around a broken shoddy table by overhead belly to bellying Sabu right onto the remains again. Taz holds on to stop a hurricanranna attempt and misses his own somersault senton(!). Sabu with a moonsault and he gets the victory at 7:58. Not a good story really but it was basically a showcase for Sabu and damn did he deliver earning a solid ** rating. You definitely feel you need to see more of him in the future. Post match, Sabu tears apart a defenseless table and somewhere the New Day are shedding tears.
Rockin’ Rebel grabs the mic and talks trash about ending Salvatore Bellomo’s career and wanting to finish him off the next time they meet.
The Sandman vs. The Metal Maniac Taped at NWA Bloodfest: Part 1 on 1993/10/01
Thoughts: Again, early in careers as Sandman is wearing this awful wet suit with a silver front and black back. Heyman notes Sandman probably just got back from the beach, which may be accurate in this case. A very basic little filler match although it’s clear scientific technician Sandman is not but he ends the match with a top rope flying clothesline(!) at 3:30. Match was what it was and gets 1/2*. Forgettable.
Time for the main event!
TV Title Steel Cage Match: Jimmy Snuka(C) vs. Terry Funk Taped at NWA Bloodfest: Part 1 on 1993/10/01
Thoughts: So stoked for this bout. Funk is such a great seller and his old school style helps make Snuka look more powerful than he probably is at this moment in time. Funk takes a piledriver(!) early in the match but manages to keep Snuka from escaping over the top of the cage. Snuka proceeds to scrape Funk’s cheek and ear over the cage. Ick.
Funk’s ear is bleeding and he makes his comeback in a rage, slamming Snuka face first into the steel cage numerous times before delivering his own piledriver(!) A series of headbutts is the wrong move as Snuka delivers a jumping headbutt to take Funk down but misses a flying headbutt! After sliding down the cage and taking a sick bump on his head, Funk gets hit with a swinging neckbreaker from Snuka.
Coming back from a second commercial break and we have dueling face plants into the steel cage. Funk climbs up and is almost over but is caught by Snuka only for Funk to headbutt Snuka down to the mat from the ropes! Funk drops down the cage and lands on the concrete as your new Television Champion at 10:38! Very solid match with Funk being his usual great self scoring this one at **1/2.
After the match we have Terry Funk, now proud owner of the TV Title, sitting down with a young rookie Joey Styles! Funk immediately puts over how tough Snuka was as an opponent and puts ECW over by saying he came to wrestle there by his own choosing. Funk delivers a good promo just promoting the company itself.
Heyman’s at Snuka’s locker room door trying to snag an interview himself. Not getting any luck we switch over to Styles outside Funk’s locker room promoting the upcoming shows including hyping up a 6 Man Tag featuring Kevin Sullivan/Jimmy Snuka/Don Muraco taking on JT Smith/Terry Funk/Abdullah the Butcher!
Final Thoughts: Good show to kick off with Sabu making a veritable splash in his debut match against Taz and a fun main event crowning a new TV Champion in savvy legend Terry Funk! Worth checking out both matches.