As Doc and I spoke about on DDT Wrestling this week, there’s not a whole lot I want to say about Superfly Jimmy Snuka. I came into the wrestling world at the tail end of Snuka’s career, so anything I saw of his came later when I was watching old Coliseum videos sitting on the floor of my grandmother’s living room. At that point, the wrestling world had changed, and his high flying was almost commonplace.
I also know next to nothing about the details regarding what happened in that hotel room, so I have no business talking about that either. He was obviously a legend of his time, a trailblazer for the future, and a figure mired in controversy.
What’s important for this week’s ECW Hardcore TV is that the man made some funny faces, and that’s the theme for this week.
With that, let’s get going.
ECW Hardcore TV, Episode 7
We begin, as sadly expected, with Jay Sulli and Stevie Wonderful, previewing the upcoming hour of action. Thankfully, they don’t get to talk much before Paul E. Dangerously saves the day, calling out ECW President Tod Gordon. They jaw back and forth, and we’re treated to some great expressions.
Gordon talks tough until Magnificent Muraco makes his presence known, doing the high school bully trick of “accidentally” bumping into Tod multiple times while Dangerously tosses out a vile insult.
“The wrestling world needs you like a drowning man needs Ted Kennedy.”
Now, far be it from me to throw anything even remotely resembling shade at the great Paul Heyman, but that line was a bit out of place, even for 1993 standards. The incident Paul is referencing took place in Chappaquiddick (a very fun word to both say and type) in 1969, some twenty four years before this promo, which makes it almost 50 years old for us watching today. Needless to say, it doesn’t age well.
Once Gordon runs for cover, the Magnificent Muraco calls out ECW Champion The Sandman, claiming there is only room for one surfer in ECW… I wasn’t aware there was a limit.
With that, Dangerously tells Sulli to earn his money, and Jay does a great job of cutting to our first match.
Well, technically, I’m not going to count this as Match 1, since this is, start to finish, a replay of the tag title change we saw from Episode 6, where Tony Stetson and Larry Winters beat the Super Destroyers. Now, I get it, this is a show obviously trying to attract new viewers, so showing the title change again might prove to be something novel for any neophyte watchers. (Bonus synonym points for me for that last sentence.) However, for us who have seen all of the episodes, this was a little dreadful. Thanks be to Fast Forward.
Following that, we get another “DC in his High School TV Media class” graphic…
I was really a little crestfallen that there were no typos in that graphic, if I’m being honest, but we did get the new stipulation of being crowned “King of Philly”. Who knows what that’s about.
Match 1 - Jimmy Snuka and Eddie Gilbert vs. JT Smith and Max Thrasher
I know what you’re thinking. “DC, this is the same match as last week, too. Why are you counting it?” To be fair, this is at least a rematch, so the action is new, even if the participants are not.
Dangerously introduces his charges as “Two guys not taking a flight to Atlanta” (a dig at Georgia based WCW), and here’s a gratuitous picture of Jimmy Snuka looking resplendent in his jungle best…
While last week’s match was a total squash, the babyface jobbers get a little offense in here, if only so Heyman can do some A+ manager selling at ringside…
This match ended in a very interesting way for me. We are so used to seeing heel tag team partners have miscommunications and crash into each other, but in this instance, it was Smith and Thrasher that did it on two separate occasions, leading to Max turning on JT, leading to the inevitable Gilbert backbreaker to Snuka Splash for the victory.
In case you are curious, and of course you are, here’s a picture of new heel Max Thrasher…
Following the match, we’re back on the Double Cross Ranch with Terry Funk, who unlike previous interviews, is being very serious. That’s one of the things that separates the good wrestlers from the great, in my opinion - Being able to do different types of promos extremely well. Terry Funk, Ric Flair, Chris Jericho, John Cena - All talents who know how to take fans on multiple types of journeys. They can make you laugh with joy or wince with pain, and not the Good Lucha Things type of pain either.
Perhaps this is part of the problem people have with guys like Roman Reigns (note that I said PART of the problem, not the whole thing) - There’s not that depth of emotion there yet. Roman does either the “Small Words - Big Stick” promo or the “I’m trying to be The Rock” promo, and that’s it. He has yet, as far as I’ve seen, to really hook fans and take them on the same type of trip that others are able to, though I imagine he will in time. You hear me, Roman Lovers? I said he WILL - Don't @ me!
Either way, Funk walks us through the chain match, giving us a little history on it and explaining that this will be unlike anything ECW fans have ever seen before, and by the end, you’re ready for this match to happen. Mission accomplished for the Funkster.
Following that bout of seriousness, we get a promo on the other end of the spectrum, as the Suicide Blonds explain that due to their recent UK trip, they have been knighted by the Queen, making them Sir Jonathan Hotbody and Sir Christopher Candido. Also, Hotbody is sticking with this whole “having brown hair despite calling himself a blond” thing. It’s funny.
Match 2 - Suicide Blonds vs. Tony Stetson and Larry Winters
Yes, that’s right, we get ANOTHER match from Stetson and Winters, whom I will now be calling Vanilla and Blandy, against what I can only guess are our future ECW tag champions, Sir Christopher and Sir Jonathan.
DC’s Peccadilloes - How do either of these teams not have matching outfits already? I get Vanilla and Blandy not matching, since this team is obviously not going to last very long, but Candido and Hotbody seem to me to be the presumptive “Team of 1993” for ECW. They’ve got the team name, the sunglasses, the feather boas. . . Would it kill somebody backstage to make sure they have the same color tights???
Anyway, Chris Candido does some excellent overselling here…
It appears as if Sir Christopher is trying to communicate that his opponent pulled his tights to somebody stationed on the moon.
I apologize if I’m not giving you enough of the wrestling play by play that you might be hoping for with these articles. It’s 1993 in what appears to be a high school gymnasium - There isn’t a lot of nonstop action here. Jonathan Hotbody does do something interesting however. He goes for what we now refer to as a spinning heel kick, but he turns his back to his opponent first, so he only needs to do a quarter spin as opposed to a full rotation. It wasn’t a super great move or anything, but it was something I’ve never seen before.
I also apologize because I haven’t made nearly enough fun of Jay Sulli in this column as I should, so here goes. At one point during this match, “Wildman” Salvatore Bellomo comes out wearing a mask and claiming to be Super Destroyer 3.
Despite the outfit, size, and abundance of facial hair, Jay Sulli has no idea who this guy is. So apparently, his schtick is that he is the single dumbest man on the face of the planet.
The fans are clued in, however, as Sal gives the camera a hint…
I know it’s a screenshot of a 25 year old piece of video, so in case you can’t decipher it, Sal has lifted the mask and shushed the camera. Don’t spoil it, NAIborhood!
Following the match (I don’t recall how it ended), the four brawl to the back, showing us a great view of the entrance ramp…
Fun fact - My elementary school had a stage just like this.
Match 3 - Magnificent Muraco vs. Glen Osbourne
This match was awful - I’m not sure if it was a lack of communication or what, but there were a lot of awkward moments, so instead, let’s do a Jimmy Snuka Silly Face Gallery!
Well, that was fun! Muraco won with a “front piledriver”, by the way. Wasn’t known as a Tombstone around the world quite yet.
Match 4 - Sandman vs. Rockin’ Rebel
I feel like these two have wrestled each other a thousand times already, though this time Miss Peaches and Tigra are banned from ringside, so at least we won’t have that trouble to deal with. . . .
Rockin’ Rebel has his mullet braid going strong, and once again showcases that he is a pretty decent wrestler. I’m surprised we never saw him on WCW Saturday Night or WWF Superstars, even as a jobber.
Also, since I enjoy sharing moments I’ve never seen with you, here’s another one…
At one point, in order to encourage the Rebel to fight him, Sandman lays down in the ring and invites him to attack. Now, usually when we see this, the babyface on the mat has some sort of trick up his sleeve - Maybe an amateur style takedown or a kick to the face. But no, in this instance, Rebel just runs over and kicks him in the head. A little unusual, perhaps, but it does fall in line with who the Sandman becomes as ECW moves on, so I’ll allow it.
Shockingly and surprisingly, this match ends in a no-decision as Peaches and Tigra hit the ring within four seconds of each other, leading to yet another catfight.
With that, we’ve reached the end of our hour, and Sulli and Stevie try to wrap things up, only to be joined by Super Sal 3 once more, this time with some pizza.
Recipe for Wrestle Silly Success
Take one guy with a thick Italian accent and obviously recognizable physical features.
Put him in a mask.
Fill his mouth with pizza.
Let him talk a lot.
Also, have him reveal his identity 3 or 4 times.
That, my friends, is ECW right now.
Until we meet again, my friends, I’ll see you around the NAIborhood.
From this author’s perspective, Episode 5 of ECW TV is when things started to look Extreme. There was silliness, innuendo, focus on females and, of course, the debut of a cult leader. Let’s get to it!
ECW TV Episode 5
Jay Sulli and Stevie Wonderful kick off our show as per usual, but that’s not important. What’s important is what Sulli is wearing. . .
Did anyone know they made tuxedo ties and cummerbunds in Tweety Bird yellow? I didn’t.
We’re joined by ECW President Tod Gordon, who recaps the feud between Eddie Gilbert and Terry Funk, before sending us to Double Cross Ranch for a word with the Funkster.As Funk explains, he’s been riding around all day looking for Eddie Gilbert, but he can’t find him. Then, all of a sudden, he shows up...
See what I mean? It’s not “extreme”, but we’re getting there!
Funk fills the equine rump in on the rules of a Texas Chain match (no pins, no submissions, must touch all 4 turnbuckles) before asking for questions or a response from Gilbert. What follows is seriously one of the funniest moments ever… Not the clip, but just this picture…
Bah Gawd, Terry, don’t do that, your face might freeze that way!
Match 1 - Magnificent Muraco and Eddie Gilbert vs. JT Smith and Glenn Osbourne
I’m not sure how we’re supposed to focus on wrestling after that, and this tag match doesn’t offer a whole lot to get excited about, save for the ending...
Yes, folks, that is the ECW debut of one Paul Heyman, though at this point, he is still known as Paul E. Dangerously, former manager extraordinaire in World Championship Wrestling, and the newest ally of Hotstuff International. Heyman grabs a microphone (always a good sign) and lets us know that this merger between Hotstuff and the Dangerous Alliance makes this the greatest day in ECW history.
Or something like that. I was too busy marking out to notice the specifics. IT’S HEYMAN!!!
Match 2 - Super Destroyers vs. Tony Stetson and Larry Winters
Once again, the wrestling here seems like an afterthought to the promos, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially when the promos are done by two of the all time greats in Funk and Heyman.
Then there’s this guy…
The manager of the Super Destroyers announces that this is it. . . Without question, the absolute end of this feud. . . The final, ultimate, no mas match between his charges and Stetson and Winters. So we know what that means...
The match begins, and we’re treated to the single biggest gimmick in ECW so far - That Jay Sulli is a stupid, stupid man. Seriously, he’s still complaining to Wonderful that he doesn’t know the difference between Super Destroyer 1 and 2. What is the point of him even being here?
We’re also treated to what is the superkick of 1993, aka the move that is completely overdone. In this instance, its when one wrestler takes another one by the hair / back of the head and then slams them face first into the mat. I swear, I’ve seen it twenty two times in 5 episodes. Maybe it happened so much because of the preponderance of mullets???
The Super Destroyers cheat to win again, so as I said, we know what’s going to happen next…
No, NAIborhood, Cousin It never became a professional wrestler. What you’re seeing is Salvatore Bellomo, cutting a promo. Don’t worry, though, he makes sure you know, lifting his hair out of his face to say “By the way, it’s me behind here.” This is the WrestleSilly goodness I’m always craving!
As for what else Sal said, though, I remain in the dark. If you thought anyone in WWE had accent problems, take a listen to the Wildman and hear what true nonsense sounds like. I can only guess that it was about his upcoming title match, because…
Match 3 - Salvatore Bellomo vs. The Sandman
Apparently the ring attendant career is over for Peaches, for she now seems to be Sandman’s manager and is known as Miss Peaches. Gee, I wonder who she is emulating…
As I’ve said in previous Diaries, Sandman’s in ring work strikes me as very different from his ECW heyday, though to be fair, I’m not well versed. He does a lot of aerial moves and he LOVES the schoolboy roll-up. As in, it happens multiple times a match.
However, we run into a problem, and that problem is the ECW ring. Obviously smaller than a WWF ring, if not most rings, any attempt at a schoolboy inevitably winds up with one or both of the wrestlers lying underneath the ropes. It accentuates the amateur qualities of this promotion each time it happens.
Sandman winds up winning by countout when Bellomo leaves the ring and seemingly forgets what he’s doing, wandering through the crowd. Maybe that’s because he’s Wild?? Did Marc Mero ever do that??
Rockin’ Rebel and Tigra, who has also been promoted to manager, are by the lockers next, and I finally get a question answered that has plagued me for ages.
What did mullet owners do with their hair when they wanted to have a fancy night on the town? (They braid it, apparently)
Match 4 - Rockin’ Rebel vs. . . . Ernesto Benefico?
After his promo, which I didn’t listen to, Rebel gets showcased in the ring against. . .This guy. I think that’s what the graphic said, though Jay Sulli pronounces it in about 37 different ways over the course of this 2 minute squash match. All I know is that the guy looks like a young and blurry Borat.
I know that we’re dealing with 25 year old technology here, but how can WWE expect new fans, if any fan, to go back and watch some of these archived shows with the video quality like this? (This is where you whisper - “Hey DC, they don’t expect you to. . .In fact, you’re the only one who does!”)
HD has spoiled us. The person who figures out how to turn grainy old video into high definition gold is going to be swimming in money like Scrooge McDuck!
Tod Gordon is out with Hunter G Robbins and says that Stetson and Winters are willing to put their hair on the line in order to get another tag title match. Robbins quickly signs, not reading the fine print where he will have to be handcuffed to Tommy Cairo for this match as well. Robbins gets mad.
Don’t let it be said that I don’t keep you up to speed, friends.
We get another Suicide Blonds promo, which sounded just like the original one. It actually might have been the same one, if I’m being honest.
Match 5 - Tommy Cairo vs. Jonathan Hotbody
Now that they are a tag team, Hotbody and Candido want to go by their full names, because that’s how we know they’re serious.
This next image is for Doc Manson, who as anyone who listened to our commentary on the Cruiserweight Classic knows, is a fan of cheeky predicaments.
Seriously, who thought chaps and wrestling trunks was a good combo?
As the action unfolds, Hotbody is sent to ringside early in this match, and being the good teammate that he is, Candido gives his aching back a nice massage. Like I said, there’s nothing overt happening. But the innuendo is there.
We see the advantages of having the announce team at ringside, as Candido is able to offer some pretty funny commentary at points during the match, at one time screaming that his partner’s hair is blond, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Despite my high opinions on both Cairo and Hotbody, this match isn’t fluid. The best moment, when Hotbody DDT’s Cairo off the top rope, seemed to be a botched superplex. Cairo wins when the Blonds once again crash into each other, leading to an O’Connor roll and a victory.
(Full disclosure: Up until a couple months ago, I thought this move was called an Okada Roll, and kept trying to figure out why it was named after a Japanese guy who wasn’t on the WWE roster.)
Cairo and Hotbody brawl at ringside and for the first time, we’re out of time, and the show ends relatively abruptly, but actually, I think that’s a good thing. As I’ve written about before, the previous shows seemed to not have enough to fill the time, but this one did. Once again, forward progress.
The wrestling in this episode was probably the worst of the five episodes so far, but the promos were easily the best. Even Sal Bellomo was funny, if incomprehensible. The pieces are beginning to fall into place. I like where things are headed with ECW.
Until we meet again, my friends, I’ll see you around the NAIborhood.
While I am not a parent, I do have an appreciation for watching someone grow up. As an educator, I see it all the time, and it does warm my heart, even if it can be painful at times as well. That’s where we’re at with this week’s episode of ECW - They’re making small changes to improve things, taking their baby steps, but it can still be VERY cringeworthy.
Either way, onward!
ECW TV Episode 4
We begin, as usual, with Jay Sulli and Stevie Wonderful, but unlike the previous 3 editions of ECW TV, things look . . . Dare I say it. . . Professional! Maybe it’s the fancy new tuxedo Sulli must have stolen off a high school junior going to prom, though I would guess it has more to do with the fact that someone figured out how to turn the lights off in the gymnasium they’re taping in, but things look a bit better to start off the week.
Sulli and Wonderful run down the show, but our eyes are drawn once again to the MVP of ECW, Hotstuff Eddie Gilbert, who is wearing sunglasses despite the darkened conditions. Gilbert brags about running Terry Funk out of ECW and even has provided a VCR tape of their I Quit match as proof.
Now, kids, VCR stands for “video cassette recording”, and back before everything was in The Cloud, even back before DVD’s, video tapes is how you were able to watch your wrestling content. It was the dark ages, friends, and life was terrible. That’s all you need know.
There isn’t much to this video evidence, though at one point, Gilbert and Funk are using a moving dolly, though not really as a weapon. The video is then cut, and the voiceover (Tod Gordon, I think) tells us it is too graphic to be shown on TV, but rest assured, the Funkster will be back next week!
Continuing with the trend of improved visuals, we see a close up of Hunter Q Robbins III, manager of the ECW tag champs, Super Destroyers. Despite trying to look menacing in front of a wall of lockers (I’m telling you, this is a high school, not a college), this does look far better than any promo they’ve tried to do beforehand. Robbins mocks the number one contenders, Larry Winters and Tony Stetson (calling them Bart and Homer Simpson, which was part of pop culture even back then) and offers them $500 if they can beat his charges. Before we know it, it’s time for the match.
Match 1 - Super Destroyers vs. Larry Winters and Tony Stetson
As we get the ring introductions, I believe I have realized why the lights are low - There’s about 30 people in the audience. The “hard camera” side is practically empty.
This starts, as Doc Manson would put it, with the traditional tag formula. Hot start by the babyfaces, followed by Super Destroyers getting the edge by isolating Stetson. Once again, Sulli and Wonderful try to figure out which one is which, claiming they look identical.
First of all, one of them is about 30 pounds heavier than the other. Second, the armbands are totally different. One wears a red bandana around his bicep, while the other has. . . Polka dots? Hard to tell in a 1993 camera. Either way, someone could figure it out.
When it comes to commentators, I try to keep an open mind. I don’t have much of a problem with Byron Saxton, and I actually think David Otunga is slowly. . . SLOWLY. . . making improvements. Guys today are far better than some of the rough times of the past. I remember the days of Rob Bartlett, which were bad, and Mark Madden, which might have been worse.
Having said all of that, Jay Sulli might be the worst play by play guy I’ve ever heard. For whatever reason, this poor guy can’t seem to be able to say the full phrase “ECW Tag Team Championship”. He just refers to Super Destroyers as the “ECW Tag Team”, as if they are the only one. (Though, to be fair, he might be accurate in that sense.)
Add that to the general awkwardness, the lack of camera sense and the insistence on trying to help every babyface who has been hit with a Gilbert foreign object, and it is just terrible. My apologies, Sulli, but you stink!
Then there is Stevie Wonderful, who is at least borderline tolerable, if only because he borrows from the Bobby Heenan playbook as often as he can. I honestly think he has a stack of Heenanisms on the announce table and just goes through them at will.
The tag match mercifully ends when one of the Destroyers hits Winters with Robbins’ cane. I think I’ve figured it out - When the Super Destroyers wrestle squash matches, they look good. When they wrestle people who also need to look good, everything goes to pot.
Nobody bothers to mention that since Winters and Stetson technically won, they should be getting $500. Hopefully it is brought up later, but I’m not optimistic.
Match 2 - Glenn Osbourne vs. Salvatore Bellomo
OK, I officially give up. I’ve been trying to figure out whether or not Osbourne’s first name has one N or two, but even ECW can’t figure it out. It’s been listed as both on multiple occasions. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter, as Eddie “Takeover like a McMahon” Gilbert is back out with a big announcement, so the match never takes place.
We have a new member of Hotstuff International and it is “Dad at the Beach” Magnificent Muraco, who lumbers down to the ring with Superfly Snuka. Seriously. . . It takes a while.
Muraco, Snuka and Gilbert talk about taking over ECW… Or, at least, I think that’s what they said - Between the mic troubles and the general gobbledygook of their promo skills, it was hard to tell. Either way, ECW has been put on notice by a 50 year old and a 43 year old. Gotta love name recognition!
After the break, it’s big news! Finally, someone else you might recognize as an actual ECW guy! It’s Chris Candido!!! Now, I’ve always liked Candido, for reasons that I am sure will be discussed at a later date, but besides her turn as Skip in the Bodydonnas, I haven’t seen too much of his work. He’s here with Johnny Hotbody, who has somehow managed to put more hair atop his head, and they are putting ECW tag teams on notice, for they are the Suicide Blonds.
Except Hotbody currently has brown hair… No, really, look!
Match 3 - Suicide Blond and Brunette vs. Tommy Cairo and JT Smith
Despite the misnomer, the Suicide Blondes* have an entertaining entrance, weighing 600 pounds (if you count their egos) and being from “Anywhere but Philadelphia”.
I have given and will likely continue to give Jay Sulli a hard time for his lack of craft, but at least he opens the match by admitting the lack of blondness in Hotbody. I appreciated that, but 90 seconds later, he’s claiming Chris Candido has Tommy Cairo in a “double reverse chinlock”.
Sigh. . .
As for the only blond in the bunch, Candido handled himself relatively well for his first ECW appearance. A bit green, but there is obvious potential there, and he and Hotbody have the comedy heel schtick down pretty well already. (Lot of Cairo and Smith tossing one Blond into the other - That sort of thing.)
Couple quick points - First, how, exactly, is it less painful to be Irish whipped into your partner than the turnbuckle? Cairo makes the save on Smith at one point, leaning over the turnbuckle, but there’s padding there. I know - I’ve seen George Steele eat it. Wouldn’t a toss into somebody’s shoulder or ribcage be more of a problem?
Plus, while many of you might criticize the current formulaic nature of tag team wrestling, it was worse in 1993. Multiple times during this match, Candido or Hotbody would try to sneak into the ring, leading to Smith or Cairo doing it as well, but the referee would only admonish the babyface, leading to some heelish double teams. I’m talking four or five times in what was only a five to six minute match.
It was tactics like this that allowed the Suicide Blonds to pick up the victory, with Hotbody taking advantage of a distracted referee to attack Smith from behind, leading to the victory.
Muraco and Snuka are outside the lockers talking about the greatness that is Hotstuff International, teasing that there may be more to come. I only mention this because Snuka and I use the same acronym - TCB (Taking Care of Business).
Match 4 - Hotstuff International vs. Hellriders
Another squash tag match, another attempt by Sulli and Wonderful to try to tell people apart - This time being the difference between EZ and HD Ryder.
The only thing I found noteworthy was Muraco’s use of a “front face piledriver”, though to be fair, it might have been just a very bad shoulderbreaker. Made me wonder - Was it Undertaker using the move that caused it to be called a Tombstone? Or did that happen beforehand?
If you know, help me out - @DCMatthewsNAI
I swear, this man is the world’s first attempt at a Life Model Decoy, and it went horribly, horribly wrong.
Sulli is back by the lockers (for reasons) to introduce this video clip from last week, where Rockin’ Rebel took off Sandman’s head with his own surfboard. Following the recap, we join the championship match in progress, because why not?
Match 5 - Sandman vs. Rockin’ Rebel
Peaches and Tigra are at ringside cheering on their charges, though nobody has explained to me why Tigra has aligned herself with the Rebel, who generally comes across as not a good dude. She does have a funny moment, though, as she approaches the camera to brandish her claws (like Tigras always do), except the auto-zoom feature is too slow for her, so it just looks blurry.
Having said that, it’s nice to see some personality, as opposed to Peaches, who obviously took lessons from the Miss Elizabeth Institute of Anguished Facial Expressions.
The match is fairly one sided in the favor of Rockin’ Rebel, save for the final minute, which is when Tigra gets involved. In comes Peaches and the crowd goes crazy for the first time in my ECW viewing.
Seriously, the crowd has never been this vocal. It’s creepy.
After a recap of the TV title tournament, Hunter Q. Robbins is out again, infuriated because Bart and Homer have another shot at the belts next week, and oddly enough, that ends our show.
Obviously this is a company experiencing some growing pains and learning on their feet. They still can’t seem to figure out timing for their shows, as everything ends with something much less exciting than what came before. As much as it pains me to say it, the catfight between Peaches and Tigra was the real “main event” in the eyes of the fans (note: I have yet to see a female in the audience at an ECW taping), so doing anything after that would obviously be a letdown.
So we’ll give them a pass, though I’m hoping against hope to see Joey Styles come save the announce booth soon.
Thanks for reading, friends. I’m DC Matthews (@DCMatthewsNAI) and until we meet again, I’ll see you around the NAIborhood.