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!

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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…

Sigh…

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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??

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

NAIstalgia is a funny thing, my friends.  As Jason Moltov has said himself, it is nostalgia that is what keeps many of us WWE fans coming back for more, even when it’s not necessarily what we wish it would be.  We spend our time pining for the wrestling we remember, and as I’ve written about in each of the previous columns about ECW Hardcore TV, these small independent promotions used nostalgia to sell tickets.  

Consider the intro for ECW TV.  We see Jimmy Snuka, the British Bulldog, Jim Neidhart, Don Muraco, Nikolai Volkoff and Ivan Koloff, as if these six superstars are regulars on the show, despite the fact that the only one we’ve seen so far is Superfly, but that doesn’t matter.  If a fan saw the intro while flipping channels (and remember, back in 1993 it was much easier to do that), they might linger on the show in the hopes of seeing a running powerslam or. . . Whatever it was that Neidhart or Volkoff used as finishing moves.  If they watched more than one episode, as I did, they begin to get drawn in, starting to recognize names and faces.

 

ECW TV Episode 3

This is how our third episode begins, as I finally figure out the name of the Sean Mooney style play by play guy.  Jay Sulli is his name, joined as always by Stevie Wonderful, welcome us to another thrilling hour of television, and much the same as the previous weeks, out comes Hotstuff Eddie Gilbert, though this version is a bit more respectful and contrite when it comes to one Terry Funk.  Fans at ringside and at home immediately smell a rat, as they should.

 

Match 1 - Super Destroyers vs. Super Ninja and Wolfman

The ECW tag champions open the show, joined by their manager, yet another guy whose name I am now aware of.  He is Hunter Q Robbins III, so instead of Untalented Slick, we’ll call him the Illegitimate Son of Slick and Clarence Mason.  

While this is another squash for Super Destroyers, I must admit to being markedly impressed with their ring work.  Both talents, whomever they are, have some skill in the ring, and it makes me wish a bit that Konnor, Viktor, Akam and Rezar (or however you spell it) would take some time under the WWE Network learning tree.  These two, while the announcers still don’t know how to tell them apart, pull off the monster heel card very well.  I especially liked when one of them forced Wolfman (who looks exactly like his namesake except for the lack of hair on his head and the keg attached to his stomach) to tag in Super Ninja.

Following the victory (a nice side slam to senton combo), Terry Funk seeks an audience with Mr. Robbins III (or, as the Funkster called him, Turd), but in doing so, commits the cardinal sin of turning his back, which is what he promised not to do in the initial minutes of the episode.  He is then immediately attacked by a chair-wielding Gilbert.  We can all tell where this is going.

 

Match 2 - Jimmy Snuka vs. Tommy Cairo

Hotstuff remains at ringside, serving as advisor to Jimmy Snuka for this TV Title Semi-Final matchup.  He’s still wearing his PWI t-shirt (I wish I owned one of those) and he has obviously “borrowed” Terry Funk’s cowboy hat, as he is aping the Funkster on the ring apron.  He also, hilariously enough, begins doing commentary as Terry Funk, and sadly enough, it took me a minute or two to notice the difference.

The match itself starts out nicely enough but ends, to put it as Liam Stryker does, with one of those “5 paragraph endings”.  Gilbert tries to hold Cairo back, Snuka hits Gilbert, ref bump, Johnny Hotbody emerges, foreign objects change hands, and Snuka picks up the victory, advancing to the finals.

This entire episode has really been about Eddie Gilbert, who truly is a very entertaining heel to watch, unlike one Jimmy Snuka, who can’t seem to stop smiling most of the time (generally considered to be an unheel move).  Gilbert’s promo with Jay Sulli (who needs some on-air direction from Eddie on how to stand without completely blocking Snuka from camera view) basically announces ECW as Hotstuff International’s property.

 

Match 2 - Eddie Gilbert vs. Glenn Osbourne

Episode 3 of Hotstuff International Wrestling continues as Gilbert ditches the PWI shirt for his ring jacket to take on “The Madman from the Badlands” in the second semi-final matchup.  But first, another promo from Eddie, who tries to convince Osbourne to abandon the match now, saving himself from a Snuka beatdown later.  Gilbert claims that Glenn has 20 kids, which as we all know, is 2 and a half Heath Slaters’.

Like other Hotstuff matches, this one goes all over the place, with chairs and tables totally legal.  Sulli and Wonderful try their best to play Monsoon and Heenan here, but both seem like they are just blatantly reading lines from a script from Tuesday Night Titans or something.

We also learn that without HD, wrestling guys who wear face paint can look awfully awkward on TV.  There’s a lot of smearing, that’s all I’ll say.

Eddie Gilbert gets the win with a foreign object (just like last week), but once again, Jay Sulli leaves his post to inform the referee, who reverses the decision when the object is discovered.

So, in case you’re playing at home, Gilbert was allowed to use chairs and tables, including turning one over on Osbourne and standing on it like a surfboard. . . But the use of “brass knuckles” is a cause for DQ.

The tag line for ECW at this stage is “It’s not for everyone”, because some people demand logic and reason to their wrestling.   Not anyone I know, necessarily, but some people.

Understandably, Gilbert is upset, so he has words with Sulli, conveniently also turning his back.  Shockingly, Funk is back with his own chair, and the brawl is on!  Following a couple creative chair shots (holding the unfolded chair and smacking Gilbert into the seat end), Gilbert escapes to the back, and Terry Funk offers up a master class in promos, especially if you’re not given a script and are allowed to curse.

 

Match 3 - Rockin’ Rebel vs. Frank Cody

Rockin Rebel, the number one contender to Sandman’s ECW title, confronts Peaches the ring attendant, insisting on getting a kiss just like the champ got last week, but gets a slap for his trouble.  Incensed, he takes his fury out on Frank Cody (who doesn’t even get a namedrop by the announce team), winning in super quick fashion with a spinebuster.  Chasing Peaches down the aisle, Rebel brings her back by the hair, obviously intending on taking his kiss by force, but Sandman makes the save, only to be attacked by Tigra, the other ring attendant. (Attempts were made to find pictures of both Peaches and Tigra, but all searches wound up making me uncomfortable.)

Has any other promotion named their ring attendants?  Does WWE even have them anymore?

Taking advantage of the situation, Rebel smashes the surfboard over Sandman’s head, and we get one of my favorite wrestling tropes - “Generic Babyfaces in various states of street clothes running to the ring to help the fallen hero.”  Jay Sulli is very upset, claiming that Sandman might be dead, though since his body is about three feet from the announcer and he is obviously still breathing, maybe that proclamation was a bit premature.

Peaches goes to tend to the champ, but pretty much the first thing she does is cradle his head, and anyone trained in first aid will tell you that was a terrible move on her part.  You don’t know if Sandman’s neck is broken, Peaches???  STOP HURTING HIM!

(Fun and random DC Matthews fact - I spent a summer as a lifeguard and swim instructor.)

 

Match 4 - Jimmy Snuka vs. Glenn Osbourne for the TV title

Seriously, Eddie Gilbert has been out here for 80-90% of this TV episode.  Even Stephanie McMahon and Triple H aren’t THAT bad!

Having said that, I seriously love this guy.  Since Funk got hit with a chair and with Stevie Wonderful in the back checking on Sandman, Jay Sulli is joined by Tod Gordon at commentary.  Eddie Gilbert arrives and immediately tries to start negotiating his contract.  He then pretends to drive part of Sandman’s surfboard around ringside.  

No joke, I’m beginning to think WWF / WCW missed the boat not picking up Gilbert.  He’d have easily been another Jerry Lawler.

I’m guessing we all can predict how this match goes.  Ref bump, Gilbert shenanigans, the weakest backbreaker in history (I get it, Snuka is 50, but still . . .Geez), one Superfly Splash, and amazingly enough, the first ever ECW TV champion is the biggest star the company has.

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Stevie Wonderful is backstage checking on Sandman, but apparently someone in graphics wanted to have a little fun. . . Or they were just confused.

 

Either way, Peaches answers the door and in her best Carmella impression, lets us know Sandman is hurt and she can’t talk right now.  She makes sure to say that about twelve times before shutting the door.  Wonderful assures us we’ll get an update on Sandman next week.

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This was the weakest episode of ECW TV in terms of match quality, but it is worth watching alone just for the antics of Eddie Gilbert. Much like Matt Hardy did with TNA in 2016, Gilbert is doing his utmost to keep ECW alive, even in its relative infancy.

Will Sandman make a recovery?  Will Terry Funk step into the ring to settle his score with Gilbert?  Will Wolfman eat a large piece of meat on live TV?  We’ll find out next time on DC’s Network Diaries.

 

Until we meet again, my friends, I’ll see you around the NAIborhood.

 

I don’t know if you got the memo, NAIborhood, but there are over 7,000 hours of content on WWE Network.  You might not have heard, I think WWE has been downplaying it. . .

With almost 300 full days worth of wrestling to watch, some of you must be wondering why in the world I am subjecting myself to viewing the early days of ECW TV.  Before Van Dam, before Heyman, before even Taz or Tommy Dreamer.

Well, part of it is the small bits of OCD inside of me that insist on doing these quests of mine completely - That means from the very first episode to the very last one, no matter what horrors await me.  (Yes, I know you’re there, Tank Abbott wearing the shirt with the nipples cut out. . . )

Another reason is because of the lessons and connections one can make between wrestling of the past and today’s sports entertainment.  In that vein, let’s begin another THRILLING edition of DC’s Network Diaries.

 

ECW Hardcore TV, Episode 2

Once again, the episode starts with Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert trying to insert himself into the commentary team, only to be met with opposition from one Terry Funk.  Now, I’m sure we’ll cover the future Chainsaw Charlie in much more detail as these episodes continue, but I want to focus on Gilbert right now.

Full disclosure - I know next to nothing about Eddie Gilbert.  I’ve read his name a bunch and seen him a handful of times in various promotions, but I am generally completely oblivious to Mr. Hot Stuff.  However, as I watch these early promos and interactions, I can see that he’s influenced a fair share of people.  I’d venture a guess that without Eddie Gilbert, the heel side of Chris Jericho would look a lot different.  There are similarities (albeit small ones) in terms of the use of inflection and cadence.  Now, I’m not saying that Gilbert is the originator of that, but it’s worth noting.  I look forward to seeing more Hot Stuff in the future…

That sounded bad… Speaking of uncomfortable names, let’s get to our first match.

 

Match 1 - Glen Osbourne vs. Johnny Hotbody

It’s a testament to the times that a wrestler who looks like Johnny does can get away with a name like Hotbody.  He’s not a Playboy Buddy Rose or Adrian Adonis, but he’s also nowhere near a Lex Luger, either.  For those who might only watch independent wrestling, though, I suppose he could qualify.

He is, however, my favorite ECW wrestler so far, which I know isn’t saying much, since I’m an episode in.  Regardless, Johnny Hotbody is a pretty good wrestler.  I keep getting Luke Harper comparisons in my mind when I watch him, though to be fair, that’s probably solely because of the combover.

That’s Luke Harper, the 2016 winner of the Triple H Ponytail Memorial DDT Award for best hair!  Be sure to listen to all three parts of our end of the year podcast-a-palooza!

I also see some Harper in Hotbody (awkwarddddd) because of the moveset.  Johnny breaks out a German suplex (back in 1993, Suplex City hadn’t been built yet), a suplex to the outside and then a pretty impressive shoulderblock from the apron to the floor.  Again, those aren’t moves to set the world on fire, but considers this was just about a quarter of a century ago, they were enough to make me sit up and take notice.

As for Osbourne. . . Well. . . He had a decent look.  Like if Tatanka met The Ascension.  And that’s about all I can say.

Tommy Cairo makes an appearance to seek revenge on Hotbody’s interference from the previous week, and Osbourne picks up the victory, despite having almost zero offense in the match.  That doesn’t stop it from cutting your typical tough guy promo, where he claims that Hotbody was “just the first victim” in his quest for the TV title.  Apparently Glen assumes we didn’t see the match.

 

Match 2 - Tony Stetson and Larry Winters vs. Chris Michaels and Samoan Warrior

Stetson and Winters, who we saw in singles action on the premiere episode, are the number one contenders to the ECW tag titles.  Just goes to show, NAIborhood, as bad as we might think the RAW and SDLive tag scene is, it could always be worse!  These two have pretty decent double team moves, which was fun, but other than that look very much like any random duo of jobbers you’ve seen.  Just to make you uncomfortable, here's an awkward picture of Larry Winters.

Billy Ray

I might be Billy Ray Cyrus, but I might not be...

Chris Michaels sees the majority of the in-ring action for the opposition, and my guess is his ring name comes from the fact that it looks like he stole the hair from Rockers-Era Shawn Michaels and stapled it to his head.  To be fair, this is not uncommon. . . The name thing, not the stapling thing…

Remember what we talked about in the last column, indie promoters used to fill their card with generic guys and then find a couple headliners to sell tickets.  However, if they could “trick” a very casual fan (or, perhaps, a casual fan’s grandmother) into believing there were headliners there who actually were not, so much the better.  I remember reading in PWI about a promotion where the headline match was Buck Hogan taking on King Kong Button, or something like that.  Up and down the card were names that looked somewhat similar to WWF names, but obviously were not.  Tricky promoters!

As for the Samoan Warrior (or, as Terry Funk called him, the Warrior from Sah-Moe-Ahhh), his best moves where when he gave himself bumps.  When you added another wrestler, things went bad fast.

Stetson and Winters get the victory here, and as usual, Terry Funk interviews them to try to put them over, to various levels of success.  I think he tries to quote the Jeffersons theme song and is then interrupted by Untalented Slick, who needs a lesson in talking into the microphone.

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We get another look at Sandman and then the ECW champion is out to talk to Terry Funk.  He praises Funk and the fans, which is just hilarious when you consider his future of chain smoking and beer drinking.

 

Match 3 - Sandman vs. Kodiak Bear

Not surprisingly, Kodiak Bear is a 300 pound plus guy from Alaska, wearing the traditional Foley Flannel, albeit a couple years before Mick made it famous.  Even moreso than Johnny Hotbody, Bear looks like Luke Harper, provided Harper ate the Wyatt Family first.

The ring attendant is up on the apron, but Sandman just hangs his surfboard off the ringpost and apparently is going to wrestle in the faux wetsuit.  I swear, I am not making this up.  Actually, I mention the ring attendant because the commentary team spent a bunch of time this episode talking about how they couldn’t stop staring at the ring girls.  Classy move, gents.

Peaches (the name of the ring girl, and I assume the wife of Sandman) kisses the champion, then almost falls down the ring stairs.  Again, I’m not making any of this up.

After a quick match, Sandman wins with a missile dropkick, a slingshot shoulderblock and then a Cobra Clutch, which Stevie Wonderful dubs the Sandman Sleeper.  Now, perhaps he’ll prove me wrong as I keep watching, but I wasn’t aware that Sandman could do any of those moves.  I figured it was punches, kicks, Kendo Stick and then the White Russian legsweep (which is a pretty clever name for a move for an alcoholic gimmick.)

To celebrate his win, Terry Funk begins singing “Oh, Mr. Sandman”.  Not. Making. This. Up.

 

Match 4 - Eddie Gilbert vs. JT Smith

It’s our first in-ring look at Hotstuff (which is, apparently, one word) and not only does he give the ring announcer bunny ears, he does a pose which reminds me a bit of the “Drink It In, Mannnn” schtick.  Just saying.

Less than a minute into the match and we’re out among the crowd, and that’s after Gilbert hits Smith with a chair and bounces him off a table.  Apparently, disqualifications and count outs don’t apply here.  It’s also worth noting that the “barricade” which separates fans from the action looks like the same extendable seat belt things that banks use to signal how to line up.

JT Smith, another name from PWI lore, doesn’t do much in this match, though he has a nice fallaway slam and an impressive (albeit unsuccessful) moonsault.  Gilbert, having cheated the entire time, eventually picks up the win by hitting Smith with an international object.  Much offended, the play by play guy (whose name I still don’t know) runs out to inform the referee.  Imagine Mauro Ranallo doing that, or Michael Cole doing it as a babyface.

This serves as a good point to remind us all that this was once a thing.

To be fair, how many of us have biceps this good?

Match 5 - Tommy Cairo vs. Super Ninja

Another appearance by Ironman here as he picks up a quickish victory over Super Ninja with essentially what became a Deadlift German Suplex.  Super Ninja, according to Google, is indie wrestler Rick Michaels.  I only mention that because, on his Wikipedia page, is says he was signed by WWE in 2005, but as a tailor.  There’s a WWE Network series I want to see - The “Odd Jobs” of professional wrestling.  What is it like to be a tailor for WWE?  Do other former wrestlers do that?  What’s involved in the creation of wrestling gear?  I’m not kidding - I want this show!

Johnny Hotbody returns to continue his feud with Cairo, though he’s polite enough to run around the ring in a circle until Cairo gets the 3 count before attacking.  Chivalry is not dead, NAIborhood!  Cairo and Hotbody brawl “back to the dressing room”, which means they go up the stairs and onto the stage in this gymatorium.  (A gymatorium is a technical term in education for when small schools use a single space for both purposes.  I once worked in a school that had a cafegymatorium, where the physical education classes, assemblies AND lunches all took place.)

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Terry Funk and Tod Gordon preview next week’s show, where we get the semifinals (and maybe the finals - Funk’s been wrong before) of the TV title tournament.  Terry also makes sure to shake Gordon’s hand. . . This is a big thing for the Funker; I’m guessing he feels like being seen shaking the hand of a talent is a sign of approval.  I do give him a lot of credit for adding his name and reputation to such a small promotion.

Overall, I found Episode 2 of ECW TV to be better than the pilot.  The matches were generally of a better caliber and now that I’m familiar with some of the talent, following the stories was fun.

Plus, come on, you gotta watch just to see Sandman wrestle in a faux wetsuit.

Cowabunga...

Thanks for spending some NAIstalgic time with me.  Until we meet again, my friends, I’ll see you around the NAIborhood.   

 

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

Before ECW was Extreme...

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.

Which one is which? Does it matter?

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.

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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. . .

Wrestle Silly at its best...

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.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's Caucasian Guerrero!

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.

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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.

 

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