Classic Wrestling Review: Gangsta’s Paradise ’95

(All screen captures are the property of World Wrestling Entertainment)

Gangsta’s Paradise

September 16, 1995

ECW Arena

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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News & Notes: Before I begin, I want to point out I’m aware WWE added a load of ECW supershows to the network. They are all events earlier in the timeline I’m covering. I won’t backtrack and cover them. I want to stay in chronological order. I must plug forward. This project will take until 2027. I knew it was a risk when I added ECW to the rotation. Once I reach the beginning of ECW’s run on PPV, it won’t be an issue. Now, on with the review.

Mikey Whipwreck won a battle royal to become the #1 Contender for Sandman’s ECW Title. He was unsuccessful, but he beat Sandman in a non-title Singapore Cane Match. Mikey would defeat Sandman for the title in a Ladder Match. That’s after this show. Meanwhile, the feud between The Gangstas and the Public Enemy continued. ECW decided to combine the two feuds into one main event at Gangsta’s Paradise. Mikey would team with Public Enemy against The Gangstas & Sandman in a Cage Match. The problem is, Mustafa Saed got arrested before this event. They replaced him in the match with 2 Cold Scorpio.

I have a couple of other notes before I start. Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Eddie Guerrero all signed with WCW. It was a tough loss for ECW, but Paul Heyman didn’t rest on his laurels. He went to Mexico and booked two of their young stars. Rey Mysterio Jr. and Psicosis wrestle on this event. The other note I have is Bill Alfonso banned the chokeslam in ECW. 911 was a threat to Bill, and he wanted protection. Remember that fact. It will play into events.

The show opens with an amusing graphic. Someone in production discovered Microsoft clip art and said, “Use all the icons!” It doesn’t fit the Gangsta’s Paradise theme. Perhaps that’s the point. I don’t mind juxtaposition, but this is silly. Also, they might have used the song “Gangsta’s Paradise” in the intro. The song debuted a month before this event. It’s generic music now. WWE isn’t paying for those rights.

Bull Pain vs. The Broad Street Bully

Notes: Bull Pain is a journeyman jobber. He worked in both the WWF and WCW. Bull was friends with Ian Rotten. Ian brought him in to work matches when Axl needed time off from wrestling. The Broad Street Bully is the former Tony Stetson. His tag team with Johnny Hotbody ended, but Tony kept the Broad Street Bully name. He wore a Philadelphia Flyers jersey for some cheap pops in Philly. Is this the gimmick that inspired Vince McMahon to create The Goon?

The Match: Bull jumps the Bully, but the match becomes a brawl. The Bully uses a hockey stick and a chair. He also rams Pain into a table and suplexes him onto it. Bull returns the favor with the stick. He fends off Bully’s comeback and nails a DDT onto the table remnants. Then, the match devolves into eye-pokes, choking, and low-blows. The fans chant both men suck. Pain tries making things interesting with a clothesline off the apron. It doesn’t work. He then places Bully on a chair and nails a clothesline. The Bully retaliates by crotching Pain on the post. Both men seem confused about what to do next. Bully grabs a can of soda and uses it as a weapon. He then returns to using low-blows. Pain responds with an apron suplex. But, he throws Bully to the floor. The fans boo. Pain gets the message and ends the match with a draping DDT.

Thoughts: It started hot, but became mindless brawling. The fans didn’t care. Bull and Bully seemed lost at times. I halfway expected 911 to arrive and stop this. The crowd turned on the match. It should have ended two or three minutes before it did. They ran out of ideas.

Winner: Bull Pain (8:12)

Dances with Dudleys & Dudley Dudley (w/ Big Dick, Chubby, & Sign Guy) vs. Chad Austin & Don E. Allen

Notes: The Dudleys added a few new members. Big Daddy Dudley spent some time on reservations. A Native American member of the family joined. He is Dances with Dudleys. Then, there is Chubby Dudley and Sign Guy Dudley. If you couldn’t figure it out, his gimmick is he carries random signs insulting the crowd. Big Dick joins them at ringside, but he’s on crutches. Joey Styles said he had an accident with a garbage truck. The truck came out worse in the exchange. Joey Styles later says Dudley Dudley is the only legitimate Dudley. Both his parents had the last name Dudley. Oh, no. That’s disturbing.

The Match: Dances nails Chad with chops and clotheslines. Then, he does a war dance. Styles makes Tatanka comparisons. The Dudleys double-team Chad in their corner. They land a backbreaker/diving elbow combination. But, they don’t pin him. The Dudleys force Chad to tag Allen. Dances gives him a powerslam while Dudley uses a chair on Chad. Dances follows that with another powerslam and the match becomes a brawl. Dudley slams Austin through a table. The match ends when the Dudleys use a slam/flying splash combo for the pin.

Thoughts: This was nothing but a squash. The crowd reacted well to it, but it’s a TV match. It feels wasted on a big event. It does a good job making the Dudleys look strong. But, it’s filler.

Winners: The Dudleys (4:16)

Hack Meyers vs. J.T. Smith

Notes: J.T. Smith joined Big Val’s feud with Meyers. He faced Hack at Wrestlepalooza, but he suffered a bad concussion on a botched dive. Heyman decided to make it part of his gimmick. Smith suffered brain damage. Now, he thinks he’s Italian because of his association with Big Val. This would lead to the formation of the Full Blooded Italians (FBI). Before the match, Smith tells all the paisanos in the crowd to chant Shah for him instead of Hack. They boo.

The Match: They clipped the footage for time. You could say it was—hacked. I will list the highlights shown. They begin the match with surprising mat holds. Smith throws punches, but the crowd chants shit instead of Shah. The fans distract Smith, so Hack attacks. They return to holds. The fans chant for blood. Then, Smith misses a slingshot cross body. The fans chant he fucked up. Next, they brawl into the crowd. Smith attempts a piledriver. Hack backdrops him. Meyers then throws Shah punches and launches Smith with another backdrop. Later, Smith climbs to the top. He trips and falls through a table. The ref counts out Smith as he struggles to his feet.

Thoughts: The match was heavily edited. What I saw seemed fun. The crowd was hot for it. It’s a shame we only saw segments. Why was this clipped, but the filler matches were in full? I get that shorter VHS tapes are cheaper, but clip the lesser matches. This one had some story behind it. Also, Smith’s gimmick is questionable, but he plays it to the fullest. I’ll give him credit for taking something absurd and getting heat with it.

Winner: Hack Meyers (by Count Out) (10:00)

Smith complains to Artese. Bob explains the ref counted him out, not him.

The Eliminators & Jason (w/ 2 Cold Scorpio) vs. The Steiner Brothers & Taz

Notes: The Eliminators are the team of Perry Saturn and John Kronus. Heyman discovered them on a tour of Japan. They also teamed in the USWA. Since neither man was great at promos, Heyman gave them Jason as a manager. Meanwhile, Taz continued his feud with 2 Cold Scorpio. Scorpio injured Taz’s neck and gloated about it. Taz returned for revenge. He enlisted the help of the Steiner Brothers against Scorpio and the Eliminators. This match included Scorpio. Jason told him to relax. He would take his place. The truth is, they need Scorpio elsewhere on this show.

The Match: This is another edited match. Scorpio attacks Taz from behind, but the Steiners clear the ring. Scott hip tosses both Eliminators. Rick follows that with a Steinerline. Then, Kronus nails Rick with a somersault leg drop. Rick responds with more Steinerlines. Later, Scott is in trouble in the Eliminators corner. Jason enters the match. Scott throws him around the ring and sends Jason to the floor. Taz attacks him, but he hurts his neck. Next, Scott lands a suplex on Jason. He adds a wedgie to it for good measure. Styles calls it cheeky. Scott also nails a belly-to-belly. Rick one-ups him by doing it off the top rope. Scott takes it farther by performing a second-rope fallaway slam. Jason interferes, so the match becomes a brawl. Taz busts open Jason with punches. The ref concerns himself about Taz’s health. Taz responds by attacking the ref. This opens the door for Scorpio to attack Taz. He then places Jason on top for the pin.

Thoughts: Here’s another clipped match. It looked like good fun too. Why are they clipping the good matches? I would love seeing the Steiners vs. the Eliminators in full. That sounds like hard-hitting chaos. The finish was a good way to get heat on Jason and sympathy for Taz. I liked it. I only wish I could see the entire match.

Winners: The Eliminators & Jason (20:00)

Rick Steiner and Scorpio continue brawling while Artese announces the winners. Joey Styles calls it the most degrading moment in Taz’s career.

2 out of 3 Falls Dog Collar Match for the Tag Team Titles: The Pitbulls vs. Raven & Stevie Richards (c) (w/ Beulah McGillicutty)

Notes: The Pitbulls feuded with Raven & Richards after leaving Raven’s Nest. They wrestled for the tag titles and lost. Pitbull #1 was sure they could win, so he promised they would split as a team if they lost again. ECW booked this as a Double Dog Collar Match. Stevie is missing when the match begins. Styles says he saw him backstage trying to convince someone to take his place. Beulah explains Stevie broke his arm. She suggests they make it fair by changing to 2 out of 3 Falls. I’m not sure how that helps Raven.

The Match: #2 brawls with Raven while #1 heads to the back to find Stevie. He returns. Stevie is already bleeding. #2 uses a chair on Raven. He also adds a table to the mix. Raven takes advantage. He gives #2 a piledriver through the table for the first fall. (First Fall: Raven & Richards) Raven then uses the chain on the Pitbulls. Stevie nails a Stevie Kick. It’s not enough. #2 grabs another table. The Pitbulls give Richards a Superbomb onto it for the second fall. (Second Fall: The Pitbulls) Then, Raven and #2 brawl into the crowd. #1 widens Richards’ cut with punches. Stevie responds with a chair while Raven and #2 return. Raven takes out the ref, so the Dudleys arrive to help. They assist Raven & Richards in giving the Pitbulls stereo Superbombs. The Pitbulls no-sell them. They return the favor and Raven’s head clips a table. Raven then resorts to plan b. He knocks out #2 with an ether-soaked rag. Raven follows that by driving #2 through stacked tables. They take #2 to the back.

#1 fights valiantly. Francine also gets involved, but Beulah stops her. Raven gives Francine a DDT. Then, Tommy Dreamer arrives to replace #2. He brawls with Raven and nails a DDT. Tommy then pins Raven for the apparent win. But, Alfonso appears. He says Dreamer isn’t in the match, and the Pitbulls can’t continue. He attempts awarding the match to Raven & Richards. Tod Gordon is having none of that. Tod shoves Bill and restarts the bout. Big Dick Dudley enters the ring and chokeslams Dreamer. Alfonso announces he reinstated the chokeslam as a legal move. This was a mistake. 911 uses the opportunity to chokeslam Alfonso. The crowd goes crazy. #2 then returns. Dreamer and 911 assist the Pitbulls in performing a Superbomb to both Raven & Richards at one time! It’s enough for the win. (Final Fall: The Pitbulls)

Thoughts: This was great chaotic fun. It’s a good example of ECW mayhem done right. The crowd was insane for it. Plus, it’s nice seeing Alfonso get a comeuppance. The finish was also a cool visual. I wouldn’t want to see every match overbooked this way, but it worked for this.

Winners: The Pitbulls (New Champions) (19:47)

Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Psicosis

Notes: Psicosis and Mysterio were already popular stars in Mexico. They were both young here. This is an example of Heyman utilizing international talent to make ECW unique. However, WCW would soon sign these men as well for their cruiserweight division. The ECW fans are appreciative of their talent (except for one fan who yells Power Ranger). There’s a lucha chant before the match begins. Styles does a good job giving a little history of the competitors. He says they’ve feuded over titles everywhere they’ve gone.

The Match: Rey catches Psicosis in arm drags. Psicosis answers with arm holds. Then, they trade athletic reversals. The crowd loves it. Psicosis takes control with a powerbomb. He then whips Rey around the ring. He also presses Mysterio onto the ropes and nails a split-legged corner splash. He misses a second one. Rey responds with variations of the hurricanrana until they fight to the apron. Rey flips Psicosis into the turnbuckles, but he misses a corner splash. Psicosis answers with a flying leg drop. He also uses another powerbomb and sends Rey to the floor. Psicosis then dives through the ropes. Rey smashes him in the head with a chair. Psicosis recovers and uses dropkicks and a twisting senton. But, he tumbles to the floor on a missed corner splash. Rey capitalizes with a springboard cross body into the crowd! Then, they fight on the top rope. Mysterio lands a super hurricanrana for the win.

Thoughts: This was a fun match. It did a great job showcasing the Lucha style for ECW fans. They loved it. These two would have better matches, but this one is still good. Both men threw in a bit of ECW flair with the chairs and crowd dives. I’m glad this match wasn’t clipped. I worried they would do it.

Winner: Rey Mysterio Jr. (10:19)

Joey Styles cries, “Oh, dios mio!” He starts talking about the match, but a tech hands him a headset. There’s a commotion backstage involving Public Enemy, New Jack, and 2 Cold Scorpio. New Jack threatens the cameraman, so the feed cuts to static. Joey hears there’s a fan with a camera. The Public Enemy stop them from filming. Joey grabs his own cameraman and heads to the back. Everyone is arguing. The officials stop the fight. Styles is ready to leave, but he notices someone else joined the fun.

It’s Stunning Steve Austin! Steve is wearing a homemade t-shirt that reads, “Steveamania Rules!” He calls Styles Mean Joey in an amusing Hulk Hogan impression. Steve says he didn’t have what it takes to rise above the midcard in ECW. So, he looked to the greatest world champion. He said his prayers, took his vitamins and trained. He says the word brother after every other word. Steveamania impresses Johnny Grunge. However, Steve has a change of heart. He rips the t-shirt and says he’s not doing this shit. He says it wouldn’t work anywhere. He then walks away while Styles looks dumbfounded.

WCW fired Steve Austin. He returned from injury only to hurt his arm. Steve was also frustrated with WCW. He admits to having a poor attitude at the time. He avoided calls from Eric Bischoff. Eric responded by firing Steve through FedEX. Austin was still hurt, but Heyman offered him a chance to do promo and character work in ECW. It was therapeutic. He vented his frustrations with Bischoff and Hogan, as you can see in the previous segment. It was entertaining.

Gangsta’s Paradise Cage Match: The Public Enemy & Mikey Whipwreck vs. New Jack, 2 Cold Scorpio, & The Sandman (w/ Woman)

Notes: Public Enemy and Mikey dance to the ring. Mikey has his hair in braids and wears a Public Enemy jersey. It’s an amusing look for him. Mikey then gives Bob Artese a hug. He turns and hands Bob’s wallet and watch to Public Enemy. Bob doesn’t notice. Sandman then arrives with 2 Cold Scorpio. Styles points out the TV and World Champs are on the same team. Sandman sits on top of the cage and enjoys a beer. New Jack joins them and Joey speaks about Mustafa’s absence. He says New Jack isn’t happy about it. That’s an understatement. Jack grabs a mic. He drops some f-bombs and threatens to tear down the building. Public Enemy also has something to say. They call Woman a raggedy-ass ho.

The Match: Sandman remains on top of the cage while everyone brawls. He then nails Rocco with a flying axehandle. Rock responds by sending Sandman into the cage. He also lands an impressive moonsault into a Russian leg sweep. Then, Woman pokes Mikey with the cane while Grunge and New Jack spill out of the cage. They head to the eagle’s nest and perform moves off it. Meanwhile, Sandman and Mikey fight on top of the cage. Whipwreck bloodies Sandman. He also gives him a flying hurricanrana. Sandman recovers and drops a table onto Mikey and Rocco. Rock responds by grabbing a frying pan and using it. They send Sandman to the floor, but Scorpio nails Mikey with a DDT. New Jack returns. The Public Enemy sends him out of the cage again. Then, they stack three tables. Scorpio and Rocco fight above them and crash through the stack. But, Sandman breaks up a pin with pieces of wreckage. The Public Enemy then assists Mikey in attacking Sandman. Whipwreck lands a flying cross body. He also fights with Sandman on the cage again. This time, Mikey performs a super hurricanrana into the ring. Everyone brawls on the floor, so Mikey lands a flying splash off the cage for the win.

Thoughts: This was kind of a mess. It was hard to follow. There were cool spots, but it didn’t have much structure. I like Mikey getting the win over Sandman. It does a lot for his character. But, the match wasn’t great. The crowd liked it. I didn’t. It was disjointed and sloppy.

Winners: Public Enemy & Mikey (15:08)

After the match, Woman locks Mikey in the cage. Sandman attacks him and grabs the cane. He strikes Mikey. The ref unlocks the door and escapes, but Whipwreck is still trapped. Sandman gives him a flying leg drop. He then lights a cigarette. Rocco climbs into the cage and chases Sandman. He escapes and retreats with Woman. She has to help him because Sandman is bloody and exhausted. Public Enemy helps Mikey to his feet and dance in celebration. Then, Grunge gets a mic and calls Mikey champ. Styles says he might be right. Mikey could be the next ECW Champion. The Sandman and Scorpio then return, but Mikey fends off the attack. He suplexes Scorpio and canes Sandman. Everyone brawls to the back while Styles says goodbye.

The Good:

  • The Tag Title Match was good fun.

  • Mysterio/Psicosis was great.

  • Smith/Hack was good (what we saw of it).

  • The Eliminators/Steiners match was also good (what we saw of it).

The Bad:

  • Filler matches.

  • Footage was clipped for time.

  • The main event was messy.

Performer of the Night:

I’m giving it to Rey Mysterio Jr. He was impressive in his victory. Psicosis was good too, but this was Rey’s night to shine.

Final Thoughts:

I want to call this the best ECW show I’ve covered. However, the clipping makes it hard to do that. I wish I could see the full show. It still had a lot of good stuff. These are home video releases the WWE uploaded to the network. I’m not sure they have the original footage. I’ll take what I can get. I still enjoyed this event as a whole. I only wish they clipped the filler matches and left the better ones intact.

Thank you for reading. My next review is WCW’s Fall Brawl ’95. Look for it next Sunday!


Written by Paul Matthews

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