In case you’re a relative neophyte to the DDTWrestling experience, let’s take a minute for some education. Doc Manson and DC Matthews began their online careers as writers, going back and forth in Google Docs. If you can imagine a written version of our podcast, that was essentially it, only without any song parodies or food discussion.
As the podcast grew, the writing dwindled, to the point where I can’t even remember the last time I put fingers to keyboard, as it were. This is a strange feeling - I’m not even sure I remember how to log into ddtpod.com! This could be a disaster…
Regardless, while I didn’t sit down and scribe out resolutions for 2017, I did have a couple of goals in mind. One of them was to dive back into the WWE Network archives. Since the brand split, I haven’t had the time or the energy to watch anything other than the current WWE / NXT / 205 Live product. On the most recent episode of Doc Talk, my partner in crime was effusive in praising my wrestle-nerd-dom, citing my perusal of “The Vault” as his prime example. So, really, I have no choice in the matter.
Plus, Doc laid down the unspoken gamut by writing his own column about the puzzle that is the Emmalina booking. Truthfully, I just think he was looking for a reason to post pictures of Miss Tenille without the Captain of the household (that would be Mrs. Manson, for those of you playing at home) questioning his motives. Either way, though, now I feel like I need to contribute as well. Thanks, Doc…
(Author’s Note: Another resolution for 2017 - To have my podcast vocabulary expand to as similar a level as possible as my written one. I don’t feel like I use such expansive words aurally. Perusal, effusive, gamut. . . I’ve got to step my game up when it comes to my verbal verbosity.)
In an effort to mix the best of both worlds, let’s dust off the old “DC’s Network Diaries”, shall we? As tempting as it was to head right back into the wonders of WCW, circa 1995 / 1996, I feel like I should start something new, especially if I’m going to be writing about it on the regular.
So, Mr. ECW, let us dance. Michael Cole and Byron Saxton just LOVE bragging about how the “complete” ECW library is on WWE Network. Now, that’s what Lewis Black would call a “Liar, liar, pants on fire situation”, since I don’t think I can find Marcus Cor Von or Kevin Thorn as much as I’d like to, but I do get what they’re saying. Even WWE employees won’t count the Sci-Fi ECW as part of the canon.
Thus, our journey takes us back to April of 1993, and the first episode of EASTERN Championship Wrestling on TV. Join us as we head into a high school gymnasium (though the announcers insist on calling it a college athletic center), won’t you?
ECW Hardcore TV: Episode 1
Our announcers are Terry Funk, Stevie Wonderful (a name worthy of every E-fed I was ever a part of as a kid) and . . . . Joey Sussi? Jimmy Stewie? Josh Suggi? I don’t remember his name, but I do recall that he was doing as much as he could to look just like Sean Mooney from WWE, even down to the very gelled hairstyle.
We get a bit of banter between Funk, ECW President Tod Gordon (they weren’t making enough money to afford the second D, apparently) and Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert. More on him later.
Match 1 - Super Destroyers (ECW Tag Champions) vs. The Hellryders (EZ and HD)
I don’t know what HD Ryder is supposed to mean, and I am too uncomfortable to ask.
The Super Destroyers, according to Google, peaked with this tag title run. I found nothing else of note for either of these two, masked or not. Neither did the announce team, apparently, since most of the match is spent trying to figure out which Destroyer is which.
I like the archives because even though this match happened likely before most of you were born, you can watch it and still make connections to modern day wrestling. For example, the Super Destroyers make you wonder why in the world the Authors of Pain ever took the masks off. Rule 368 of pro wrestling: Monster heels should not have baby faces, unless they are covered up by Strowman style facial hair.
The match ends with an assisted powerbomb and then a somersault senton, which was pretty impressive for what I was expecting. A successful title defense from the Super Destroyers.
After the match, the manager of the Super Destroyers, who shall be known as “The Untalented Slick” cuts a promo, but his voice was so Urkelish I couldn’t understand what he was saying.
We are then treated to a promo package hyping the ECW Champion, The Sandman. Now, if you’re expecting Metallica, kendo sticks and self-induced beer can injuries, think again. Back in 1993, The Sandman was a surfer.
Why? I have no idea.
Match 2 - “Wildman” Salvatore Bellomo vs. “Ironman” Tommy Cairo
This is what I love about the WWE Network archives. Both Bellomo and Cairo are names that I recognize from my days avidly reading Pro Wrestling Illustrated. For those Internet natives reading this, PWI was what we called a magazine. Ask your parents for more information.
Sal Bellomo is dressed like a Roman centurion if said centurion didn’t have on any pants, and he is managed by Generic Grand Wizard Ripoff #3. Tommy Cairo, on the other hand, is the first guy to step between the ropes who looks like he could actually pass as a legitimate wrestler. Decent musculature, good look, fair to middling promo skills. This takes nothing away from Bellomo, who actually had some good moves, but if he were in either WWF or WCW during this time, he’d be Norman the Lunatic or Mantaur.
Man. . . I miss Mantaur. . .
The match ends when Johnny Hotbody, who apparently is feuding with Cairo, tries to interfere but messes up, and Cairo picks up the victory.
Did I mention that there’s a tournament going on for the ECW TV Title? No? Well, there is, and people are even ranked! I love that!
Somewhere around this point we also get our first glimpse of Hat Guy, an ECW standard. Just thought I’d mention it.
Match 3 - Tony Stetson vs. Rockin’ Rebel
For my money, this was the match of the first show, as it could have been on Monday Night RAW in 1993 and fit in relatively well. Rockin’ Rebel is another guy who “looked like a wrestler”. Imagine if Luther Reigns (remember him?) had an Eddie Guerrero mullet and you have a pretty decent idea of what he looks like.
I don’t have as much to say about this match because I actually wound up watching it without taking too many notes, which is usually how I know something is good. Stetson looks like the progeny of the Brooklyn Brawler, but was a decent wrestler (to be fair, so was Steve Lombardi) and Rebel proved why he was the number one contender to the ECW title.
Following his victory, Rebel calls out Sandman, who must have been too busy hanging ten to respond.
Match 4 - Jimmy Snuka vs. Larry Winters
Back in the day, the key to these little independent wrestling promotions was to stuff your card full of no-name guys like the Hellryders and Tony Stetson (no offense), and then get one or two “big names” to sell tickets. The ECW TV intro is proof positive of this, as guys like British Bulldog and Nikolai Volkoff are seen, along with a bunch of “other” talents.
Snuka comes out and, from what I could discern, cuts a typical face “shucks, it’s good to be here” promo, but then Eddie Gilbert returns to announce he has signed Snuka to join his stable, which may or may not be called Hot Stuff International. (I know that was a stable of his, thanks to PWI, but not sure if that’s what he called it this time).
Superfly then goes on to have a heel match against Larry Winters, which is what Glacier’s real name would have been had WCW gone that way. Actually, on second thought, it would have been Cole Winters…
Not surprisingly, Snuka wins (Even at 50 years old, that splash was still beautiful to watch), then does the very heelish thing of throwing his opponent out to the floor, but then doing nothing else with him.
Match 5 - Salvatore Bellomo vs. the Unnamed Caped Man
My guess is that the folks at ECW wound up needing to fill more time on their TV show, because Wildman Bellomo comes out to protest his loss and demands competition, and thankfully there is a teenager in a cape in the ring (for reasons, obviously), so Sal squashes him.
That’s pretty much the end of episode 1 of ECW TV, though Terry Funk makes a point of letting everyone know that this is new for all of them and so things will get better. Admirable from the Funkster, but it doesn’t fill me with optimism, especially since he’s obviously not sure what matches are when and who the champions are. We also get a sneak preview of other matches in the TV title tournament (using the same type of computer graphics I learned how to do during my single semester television and media course I took in high school), along with an appearance from World Champion Sandman.
All in all, it was a nostalgic hour of wrestling, which is what you say when something isn’t very good but you don’t want to insult it too badly. I enjoyed the Stetson / Rebel match and it was nice putting faces to the names off of the PWI 500. Is it something I recommend the NAIborhood watch? No, not really, despite being educational and a bit fun to mock.
In which case, actually, yes, I do recommend it. Go watch it right this second, and stay tuned, because I’ve already started Episode 2, so I imagine there will be another edition of DC’s Network Diaries coming at you real soon.
Thanks for reading, and until we meet again, my friends, I’ll see you around the NAIborhood.