What the World Was Watching: ECW Three-Way Dance (1995)

Joey Styles does commentary for this show, which originates from the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  According to Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer for April 17, the show drew a crowd of 1,150 fans.  Styles says that Sabu is a no-show due to Japan commitments.

Raven, Steve Richards, and the Broad Street Bullies come out.  Richards tells the Bullies that they need to win their match tonight to prove themselves.  If they lose, they will be fired.  Richards tells Raven that he has recruited the Pitbulls, who will be better than the Bullies.

Opening Contest:  The Pitbulls (2-1) defeat the Broad Street Bullies (w/Raven & Steve Richards) when Pitbull #2 pins Tony Stetson after a superbomb in 58 seconds:

The bigger Pitbulls annihilate the Bullies with power moves to continue their push through the tag ranks.  The victory also lends them some credibility since the Bullies were former ECW Tag Team champions.

After the match, Raven tells Richards he is finally impressed with him.  The Pitbulls vow to win the ECW Tag Team Championship and give the belts to Raven because he is their master.  Richards tries to boss the Pitbulls around, only to hide behind Raven when they scowl at him.  When the Pitbulls leave, Richards tells Raven that he found a girl who broke his heart at a summer camp.  Tommy Dreamer was also at that camp and somehow this girl plays into why the two men hate each other.  Raven is initially incensed because the girl was overweight and unattractive, and he does not want to see her.  However, when she walks out, she is thin and attractive.  The woman’s name is Beulah McGillicutty.

Raven (w/Steve Richards & Beulah McGillicutty) (1-0) pins Tommy Dreamer (4-1) after a DDT on the concrete at 8:44:

Although this is the first official singles match between these two, they tear into each other because they were childhood enemies.  They brawl through ECW Arena for six minutes and exchange near-falls in the ring, with Raven spamming DDTs that do not put Dreamer down.  While this happens, Richards puts the moves on Beulah and forces a kiss.  When she slaps him, Richards begins choking her, causing Dreamer to come to her aid.  However, it is all a setup as she puts hair spray in his eyes and Raven follows up with a DDT on the floor to prevail.  The sight of Richards strangling a woman was unsettling, but it gave a nice twist to the finish.  Rating:  ***

Ron Simmons, looking like the lost member of Men on a Mission, tells Mikey Whipwreck that he should go to the locker room to avoid a beating.

Mikey Whipwreck (2-2) beats Ron Simmons (1-1) via disqualification at 5:28:

Simmons ragdolls Whipwreck, causing fans to work up a loud “911” chant.  This is all helped by Whipwreck masterfully playing the underdog role with his facial expressions and selling.  The 911 chants become louder when Simmons plants Whipwreck and referee John Finegan with chokeslams, the latter of which gets Simmons disqualified.  All of this was more story than match.  Rating:  *

911 comes out, catching Whipwreck when Simmons gorilla presses him over the top rope.  911 and Simmons brawl and Simmons uses a low blow to block a chokeslam and hits a chokeslam of his own.  ECW fans are not sure what to make of that and jobbers flood the ring to check on 911’s condition.  All of them end up eating chokeslams, with 911 incensed at what Simmons did to him.

Styles interviews Chris Benoit in the ring, who calls Sabu “a pussy” for not coming and ECW fans erupt at that accusation.  He calls out Taz to prove his manhood.  Taz answers the challenge, only to be attacked from behind by Dean Malenko.  However, before the tag team champions can do any damage, Rick Steiner makes the save and will presumably be Taz’s tag team partner in the main event.  He gets an INSANE reaction and when the heels are cleared from the ring, fans work up a loud “Fuck Sabu” chant.

Television Championship Match:  Eddie Guerrero pins 2 Cold Scorpio (Champion) (3-1) after a front roll to win the title at 14:50:

Guerrero was a relative unknown in the United States prior to this show, working in Mexico for Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) and Asistencia Asesoria y Administraction (AAA).  While in AAA he formed a tag team with Art Barr, with the two losing a hair vs. mask match to El Hijo del Santo and Octagon at When Worlds Collide in November 1994, the first lucha libre pay-per-view to air in the United States.  The backstory of the match is that Scorpio defeated Hector Guerrero, Eddie’s brother, at Return of the Funker, so Eddie is here to defend the family’s honor.

Scorpio is wearing a big bandage on his left shoulder for undisclosed reasons.  Eddie brings more to the table than Hector, eschewing wrestling on the mat for high spots, winning over the crowd with a dive to the floor, tornado DDT, and super hurricanrana.  Scorpio gets back to his aerial roots late in the match as a moonsault gets two.  He makes the error of pulling Guerrero up after the Tumbleweed, though, and that costs him the title when Guerrero surprises him with a front roll off the ropes.  Scorpio’s matches since his return have been disappointing but he found a good groove here.  Only the underwhelming finish hurts it.  Rating:  ***½

After the match, Guerrero and Scorpio shake hands, with Guerrero apparently promising Scorpio another title shot down the line.

Hair vs. Hair Match:  Axl Rotten (1-1) beats Ian Rotten (1-1) after using a chair to the face at 9:53:

After these two tore themselves apart with a barbed wire baseball bat at Return of the Funker, it is tough to buy into a hair match as something worse.  The fans do not take to it either, booing the two when blood does not flow freely seconds after the opening bell.  So Axl and Ian appease them by getting color after brawling into the crowd like they did at Double Tables.  The senseless mutilation continues when Axl gets the timekeeper’s hammer and digs it into his brother’s flesh for a while.  Then we get more brawling in the crowd, an exchange of chair shots, and Axl recovers from a piledriver on a chair in record time so he can smash the chair into his brother’s face to win.  This is barely what one would consider wrestling.  Rating:  ¼*

Afterward, Axl cuts what little hair his brother has and tosses it into the crowd.  Ian gets a tray and smashes Axl with it and then digs the scissors into Axl’s head as Styles lets us know that the feud must continue.

Hack Myers (0-2) pins Dino Sendoff after a brainbuster at 4:11:

Sendoff was a longtime ECW jobber who makes a fool of himself here by tripping over Myers after Myers whips him into the ropes and drops down.  Sendoff gets to work the shoulder for a while, when the better booking would have been for Myers to win in less than two minutes.  Eventually Myers gets tired of selling and hits a brainbuster to earn his first victory of the year.

ECW Championship Match:  Shane Douglas (Champion) (3-0) pins the Sandman (w/Woman) (0-4) with a small package at 3:20 shown:

Before the match, Douglas gets Commissioner Tod Gordon to ban the Sandman’s Singapore cane from ringside.  The Douglas-Woman storyline is also furthered as she refuses to slap Douglas when the Sandman urges her to.  The VHS release of the show is clipped, with almost all of the play given to the end when the Sandman lights a cigarette after he gets Woman to retrieve the cane from the locker room.  Woman tosses the cane to Douglas, though, who low blows the Sandman and rolls him up to win.  Rating:  ¼*

After the finish, Douglas embraces Woman as the Sandman pouts in the ring smoking a cigarette.  He does a backstage promo, ranting about how Woman made him beat up his wife and that same treatment is coming to her in the near future.  The Sandman swears revenge at Hostile City Showdown on April 15.

Douglas and Woman put down the Sandman, saying he does not have what it takes to be the ECW World Champion.  Woman says she is not scared of the Sandman’s threats.

Three-Way Dance for the ECW Tag Team Championship:  The Public Enemy (2-1) defeat Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko (Champions) (1-0) and Taz & Rick Steiner (w/Paul E. Dangerously) when Rocco Rock pins Dean Malenko after the Drive-By at 19:57:

Other Elimination:  Taz & Steiner eliminated when Malenko pins Taz after a Benoit flying headbutt at 6:53

The match functions under elimination rules.  While the hype for the match was great, it misses the craziness that Sabu would have provided since none of the participants outside of Rock are prone to doing insane spots.  Also, the match’s flow is a mess as Steiner and Taz suplex everything that moves to start, only to get eliminated in less than seven minutes when the Enemy pull Steiner into the crowd and beat him up and Taz succumbs to a Benoit and Malenko double team.  Instead of leaving for the locker room, though, Taz and Steiner beat up the other teams until they do their suplexes too close together and almost injure Malenko.  Steiner is also shaken up when Taz drops Rock on top of him.  Can Taz and Steiner do something other than deliver the same suplexes to people?

The ensuing Benoit/Malenko-Enemy showdown is a big styles clash, with the teams going through some boring brawling until Rock misses putting Benoit through a table with a Drive-By.  Action picks up when things head back to the ring, but the champions fail to finish off Rock after Benoit superplexes him through a table.  Johnny Grunge counters a double backdrop with a DDT, and Rock flies off the top shortly after with a Drive-By on Malenko to make the Enemy champions again.  Again, this was just a mess.  It was almost like someone sat down and decided to book a match that played to none of the strengths of the teams involved.  Rating:  *½

After the bell, Taz and Steiner come in to fight with Benoit and Malenko, clearing the ring so the Enemy can celebrate their third title win.  That celebration is short-lived, though, as the Pitbulls attack and leave them laying.

The Last Word:  While the build to this show was great, the main event was a disaster.  On the bright side, this show furthered the entertaining Raven-Tommy Dreamer storyline by debuting Beulah McGillicutty, and Eddie Guerrero has shown up, which is sure to revive a dormant Television title division.

Backstage News*:        Sabu was fired from ECW because of missing the Three-Way Dance event at the ECW Arena.  Sabu missed the show because New Japan booked him for a Heisei Ishingun show on the same day at Korakuen Hall.  According to Paul Heyman, Sabu was told of the April 8 ECW date on March 20, which is when the show was moved up from April 15 because Chris Benoit could not make it because of a Japanese commitment of his own.  New Japan reportedly told Sabu of the Heisei show on March 21 and Sabu told both promotions he would make the shows because of the time difference.  New Japan was building Sabu through a series of matches so that he would wrestle for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title on May 3 at the Fukuoda Dome.  When Sabu talked to booker Riki Choshu about missing the April 8 Heisei show, he was told he would be fired if he did not make it.  Sabu realized that he was causing problems by double booking himself but chose New Japan over ECW for financial reasons because he reportedly makes $3,000 to $4,000 per week for New Japan versus $750 per show for ECW.  The problem is, according to Heyman and Tod Gordon, Sabu told them on April 2 that he would make the Three-Way Dance and that is why a replacement was not announced on the April 4 edition of Hardcore TV.  According to Sabu, he only told Heyman on April 2 that he was going to attend the Three-Way Dance because Heyman would not let him off the phone until he agreed to work the event.  Sabu is not happy that Heyman opened the Three-Way Dance with a long speech about how Sabu took more money and screwed over the audience, telling fans that the only way Sabu was coming back to ECW was if the fans wanted him back.  The last part polarized the audience and while there were anti-Sabu chants throughout Three-Way Dance there was another part of the fan base that loves Sabu and wants him to return.  For his part, when Sabu wrestles in the United States again it will likely be for rival promoter Dennis Coraluzzo.  And Sabu has been unhappy with other wrestlers using tables, chairs, and brawling all over the building, which he considers to be trademarks of his gimmick, and prefers to be a singles wrestler rather than tagging with Taz.  Sabu could also be contacted by WCW as he met with Eric Bischoff in Tokyo in January, with Bischoff offering Sabu a part-time deal to work on pay-per-views and house shows when it did not interfere with his New Japan commitments.  The reception to Three-Way Dance might bring Sabu back at some point since fans were disappointed in the main event.

*In talent relations news, Jason was also fired for walking out on promos.  This is why the Pitbulls are now programmed with Raven.

*Backstage news provided courtesy of Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer for April 17.

Up Next:  ECW Hardcore TV for April 11!

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