Monday, 17 September 2007

ECW/NWA World Title Tournament 1994 - DVD Review

In this edition of The Two Sheds Review, we’re going to take a trip back in time to 1994, to take a look at one of the most important events in the history of professional wrestling. A few weeks ago I was browsing the merchandise section of www.wrestlingepicenter.com, and I came across a DVD that captured my attention immediately - the NWA World Title Tournament from 1994. Having seen, heard and read a great deal about this tournament, I knew that I just had to get a copy of this.
The DVD begins with an old broadcast of NWA Eastern Championship Wrestling, hosted by Joey Styles from the eagle’s nest in the ECW Arena, as he hypes up the upcoming NWA World title tournament. Following this, we see promos from some of the wrestlers in the tournament. Dean Malenko gives an interview that doesn’t really hold anyone’s attention. Shane Douglas is his usual feisty self, while, as always, Paul E. Dangerously gives the best promo of the lot, hyping up the chances of his man 911, who doesn’t know who his opponent is as Terry Funk pulled out of the tournament so he could team with Cactus Jack against Public Enemy.
Then it’s on to the tournament itself. First up, Paul E’s 911 goes up against the wild card entry, Doink the Clown. The ECW fans absolutely hate Doink, and are more than pleased when the big man choke slams him into the middle of next week - three times, getting the pinfall after the third choke slam. 
Joey Styles then returns for a brief moment, and then, sadly, we get only highlights of the rest of the tournament. Douglas beats the Tazmaniac (aka Taz) with a roll-up and a handful of tights. 
There’s confusion in the Chris Benoit/2 Cold Scorpio match, as Benoit super-plexes Scorpio, but there’s a double-pin afterwards. The ref awards the match to Scorpio. 
Then Shane Douglas faces Dean Malenko. Douglas takes Malenko out with two piledrivers before getting the pin. 
Scorpio then goes up against 911. The big man overpowers the high-flyer, but is then distracted by Doink. Doink’s attack on Paul E. distracts the big man, who goes out of the ring to save his manager, and as the two of them brawl at ringside, Matt Borne, to the confusion of many, clobbers 911 with a chair. (The twist here is that Matt Borne was the first man to play the part of Doink in the WWF). The second Doink turns out to be Shane Douglas, and they cost 911 his chance in the tournament as he’s counted out.
On to the final, as Douglas faces Scorpio. Apart from the Doink/911 match, this is the only match from the tournament shown in it’s entirety. The match itself is okay, not over-spectacular, but it’s a cleanly fought contest, with Douglas winning after Scorpio missed a moonsault, and Douglas got the pin after a belly to belly suplex.
Then, came that moment. Having won the NWA World title, Douglas throws the belt down, and giving one of the best promos in the history of professional wrestling, he declares himself the ECW World Heavyweight Champion, declaring the NWA dead and buried. It certainly is one of the most powerful moments in wrestling history.
The show continues with NWA guy Dennis Corraluzzo, claiming that Douglas is still NWA World Champion, and that he’s going to get things sorted. But ECW President Tod Gordon hits straight back, announcing that he’s folded NWA Eastern Championship Wrestling, replacing it with Extreme Championship Wrestling, and recognising Shane Douglas as their first World Champion.
Public Enemy appear, spraying graffiti on the ECW sign, changing the word Eastern to Extreme, and promising to get more hardcore than before.
We then go onto a couple of interviews from Shane Douglas. The first one features Douglas talking to reporters, while the second features Matt Borne discarding his Doink gimmick, talking about how they buried the NWA, with Douglas saying that he’s beginning the transformation of professional wrestling. 
On to singles action, as Douglas defends his ECW World title against Ron Simmons. Joey Styles returns to tell us that Douglas defended, but attacked Simmons after the bell. We then see Douglas attacking Simmons, only for Simmons to be saved by Scorpio, as they double-up on him. Another segment follows, as Douglas calls his former manager, Sherri Martel, then working for WCW and managing Ric Flair, for help. Douglas then reveals he’s bringing in a partner for a match against Scorpio and Simmons - “Stunning” Steve Austin.
On to the match, and Styles announces that Austin is injured and won’t be wrestling. Sherri then announces Austin’s replacement, also from WCW, none other than Brian Pillman. Again, it’s edited highlights, which spoils the flow of the match, although most of what we do see here looks good, especially the exchanges between Pillman and Scorpio, who were both at the top of their game back in ‘94. In the end Sherri turns on Douglas, putting Scorpio’s foot on the ropes during a pin attempt, and then attacking Douglas from the top rope. In the end Simmons got the pin on Douglas after a power slam, and Douglas piledrives Sherri for her treachery, when it’s revealed that it was actually Ric Flair who sent Sherri to cost Douglas the victory.
In conclusion - I don’t really know whether to label this DVD as good or bad. I got the impression while reading the Wrestling Epicenter site that this release would include the entire title tournament, which it obviously doesn’t. No mention is made of the fact that it is really ECW TV shows from 1994. There’s also no mention of the matches featuring Ron Simmons and Brian Pillman.
So although this is a very interesting look back at one of the most controversial moments in wrestling history, I am slightly disappointed, and I can’t help but feel a little bit cheated.
To purchase a copy of this DVD, visit www.wrestlingepicenter.com and go to the Merchandise section.