Saturday, 31 May 2014

ECW Unreleased Volume 2 - DVD Review

We’re heading into the land of extreme for our next review. With Joey Styles and Tommy Dreamer as our guides we’re going to delve into the archives of Extreme Championship Wrestling as we take a look at ECW Unreleased Volume 2.

As always with these reviews we’re going to start at the beginning with…..

Disc One
October 19th, 1993
Our co-host Tommy Dreamer makes his ECW debut, taking on the Tazmaniac on Hardcore TV.

This is certainly a very interesting match. It’s a short and sweet affair with two good performances, and it’s also a good way of seeing how Dreamer and the future Taz performed before their gimmick changes.

This is actually the first time I’ve seen the Human Suplex Machine in this guise, and he’s clearly borrowing a great deal from the Wild Samoans, while Dreamer is more or less the generic pretty boy baby face that ECW fans thought he was until his encounters with the Sandman.

The debutant, despite putting on a good show, fails to come out on top though, with the Tazmaniac taking the pin with a northern lights suplex.

May 14th, 1994
You could say this is a court-ordered match, as Terry Funk and Arn Anderson take on Paul Heyman Dangerously guys Sabu and Bobby Eaton at When Worlds Collide.

Anderson and Eaton were appearing as a result of a copyright case with WCW, and instead of taking a wad of cash from Billionaire Ted the powers that be asked for two wrestlers instead.

On paper this looked like a dream match, but in reality it’s a bit of a mess. There’s just no flow in the action, and things take a slight turn for the worse when it splits up into two fights. There’s also an appearance from Public Enemy, who attack Funk’s ever weakening knees. Sabu weakened them even further before synching in a half Boston for the submission win.

August 13th, 1994
It’s the old student versus mentor kind of match as Cactus Jack faces Terry Funk on Hardcore TV.

Now this is one for the history books, but not for the match itself. The action was okay, and I’ve seen better from these two, especially from that certain tournament in Japan. The flow is broken up a little when Public Enemy make another appearance and attack Funk again, but their efforts to help Cactus out go unappreciated, which leads them to attacking Mrs. Foley’s baby boy as well.

A few moments later Cactus and Funk, annoyed by the attack, grabbed a few pieces of broken table before going backstage and dragging Public Enemy back to the ring, and after a few well-placed frying pan shots there’s possibly one of the most famous scenes in 90’s wrestling history, with the ECW faithful throwing dozens and dozens of chairs into the ring. Funk took one on the back of the head and sold it like his life depended on it.

As for the result, who cares!

October 4th, 1994
It’s another piece of iconic ECW history as Tommy Dreamer faces the Sandman in an I Quit match on Hardcore TV.

Well, this is basically one big brawl, with a few wrestling moves thrown in for good measure. Both guys beat the proverbial out of each other in an attempt to get the other to say those magic words, but despite hitting each other with everything except the kitchen sink (and from what I’ve heard they didn’t have sinks in the ECW arena) neither man is able to get the job done.

Then came the pivotal moment, with the Sandman deciding to light up a ciggie, with Dreamer knocking it into his eye. The former pretty boy then added a little insult to injury by grabbing a kendo stick and clobbering him in his other eye. The Sandman quit immediately as the gravity of the situation suddenly hits everyone as it becomes one of those worked shoot things, with the drama level carried up a notch with footage of Mr. Styles reporting from outside a hospital.

August 5th, 1995
It’s dream match on paper time again, as TV Champion Eddie Guerrero teams with the Steiner Brothers against 2 Cold Scorpio, Dean Malenko and Cactus Jack at Wrestlepalooza.

This is a pretty decent match. Guerrero and Malenko looked great against each other, the Steiners did their usual routine to much applause, and Scorpio looked great as well. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen Scorpio in a bad match.

There was a nice spot near the end where the Steiners lifted each of their opponents onto their shoulders so Guerrero could take them down with various moves before our Eddie got into it with Malenko once again, with the man of a thousand holds rolling Guerrero up for the three count. Nice stuff.

December 29th, 1995
Hey, you couldn’t have an ECW compilation without one Raven versus Tommy Dreamer match, could you? This one took place during the Holiday Hell Tour.

Before the match began Raven’s flunky Stevie Richards announced that the man from the Bowery was injured, and that the Blue Meanie would be taking his place. Dreamer promptly took care of both Richards and the Meanie, but when he tried to do the same to Beulah Raven made his appearance.

Cue one massive brawl which takes in the ring, ringside, the crowd, and even the snow covered streets outside. There’s blood, tons of weapons shots, tons of interference and referee nap time before Raven scored one of his countless wins after a DDT on a chair. Pretty decent stuff.

January 5th, 1996
It’s Public Enemy’s last match in ECW before they head off to the bright lights of Ted Turnerville as they take on the Gangstas at House Party.

Like the Raven/Dreamer match this is one big brawl, with Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge looking to go out in style. There’s plenty of weapons, and a couple of pies as well. I was thinking of putting in a pie face reference for comedic effect, but decided against it.

As brawls goes it’s not too bad I suppose, but then again I was never a big Public Enemy fan. The boys did the honourable thing by taking the fall, with Mustafa executing the drive-by for the winning pin.

Disc Two
April 13th, 1996
It’s meant to be a legit bout, an Extreme Hardcore Shoot Fight between Chris Jericho and Taz.

In the segment before the match the esteemed Mr. Styles badmouthed this encounter to his heart’s content. Me, I thought it was okay. An air of legitimacy was added to it with a martial arts practitioner, whose name I couldn’t catch, as the special referee, and with Bill Alfonso handcuffed to Commissioner Tod Gordon at ringside.

The early exchanges were okay, but the proverbial all hell broke loose when one of the Team Taz guys attacked the outside referee and freed Fonzie. Several chair shots during the referee’s nap time followed, with our gi-wearing referee giving Taz the win after he synched in the Tazmission. A few moments later it was revealed that the referee was on Fonzie’s payroll after he clobbered Gordon with a chair.

May 11th, 1996
It’s the first title match of the collection, with Shane Douglas challenging 2 Cold Scorpio for the TV title at A Matter of Respect.

These two had a bit of history. Scorpio was the other guy in that NWA World Title tournament final, and in the run up to this match Douglas had gone out of his way to belittle a title he didn’t really want.

The match itself is very good. These two were well suited to each other, and it showed throughout. Douglas was at his heelish best, and he was certainly better as the Franchise than he was as some nerdy bloke spouting about the definition of words, while Scorpio, well, he’s one of those guys who can have a good match with anyone.

But for a guy who didn’t really want the title Douglas went all out for the win, countering Scorpio’s top rope attack with a super belly to belly suplex for the three count. Afterwards it looked as if there was going to be a re-enactment of that incident in ‘94 until Douglas praised Scorpio, asking him to put the belt around his waist. Scorpio puts it around his head instead before leaving to the cheers of the crowd.

August 2nd, 1996
It’s yet another dream match on paper with Sabu taking on Chris Jericho.

It’s the cheap and cheerful side of ECW here folks. Strictly fan-cam footage, although it does have Mr. Styles on commentary. It’s a pretty decent affair, with Sabu doing his usual edge of the seat stuff and Chris Jericho showing just why WCW wanted to take him away from the land of extreme. He also takes a few legitimate licks for the cause, although I can’t remember just where he smashed his nose in. Possibly during the DDT through a table.

The crazy man came out on top here, with Sabu taking the pin after hitting Jericho with the triple jump moonsault for the three count.

March 27th, 1997
It’s onto six man action of the Japanese variety as Dick Togo, Terry Boy and Taka Michinoku take on Gran Hamada, Gran Naniwa and the Great Sasuke on Hardcore TV.

Billed as a preview match for the Barely Legal pay per view this is a fast paced, all out action packed affair. It was the kind of match which made me glad that I never try to write down everything anymore, such was the pace of the match. All six guys put in good stints, and Taka and Sasuke impressing the hell out of me.

So without going into hyperbole mode, let’s just say that this was great, and that Togo took the win with a top rope senton and powerbomb.

May 17th, 1997
More title action, a three way dance with the Gangstas and the Dudleys (but not the ones you’re thinking of) challenging the Eliminators for the Tag Team titles.

I think crazy would be the best way to describe this one. It began with Devon and Big Dick, taking the place of Bubba Ray, who was at ringside with a broken ankle, brawling with the super-over Perry Saturn and John Kronus. New Jack and Mustafa turned up late for the party, and things got even crazier. Even Bubba with his bad wheel took a few decent bumps. Oh, and let’s not forget Mr. Styles’ Dudley-related jokes. Something about Big Dick working stiff here.

So after a bucket of blood, a ton of weapons shots (I’m getting a feeling of deja-vu here), the Eliminators eliminated both of the opposing teams at the same time when they took Mustafa and Big Dick out with their awesome looking total elimination move at the same time for the double three count.

Disc Three
January 5th, 1998
It’s an inter-promotional war (and I mean that in the loosest of terms) as the Sandman, Taz, Tommy Dreamer and Al Snow, representing ECW, taking on the WWF’s Sabu, Rob Van Dam, Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon on Hardcore TV.

You’ve probably realised that this isn’t a proper inter-promotional match, it’s just the top ECW guys against guys who have either worked for Mr. McMahon or who were about to. Before the match began it looked like the ECW boys would be at a disadvantage because, as the legend goes, Taz wasn’t a team player. The Human Suplex Machine arrived on the scene though, thus kicking off the big punch up.

It’s basically eight men beating the proverbial out of each all over the place, with Sabu putting Sandman through a table with one of those triple jump things of his. Eventually the action spills into the ring, and once there the Sandman took a four on one beating while Taz, ever the traditionalist with his arm outstretched, waited patiently for the hot tag.

The tag eventually came, with Taz cleaning house until some guy called Luke Wright appeared for the distraction. This was when things started to get a bit messier. There’s a brawl between Bill Alfonso and Beulah, with Sabu clotheslining the future Mrs. Dreamer. This all lead to Snow clobbering Furnas and LaFon with Head for the winning pin.

May 3rd, 1998
It’s back to title action with Head’s buddy Al Snow challenging Shane Douglas for the World title at Wrestlepalooza.

Our boy Shane went into this one in a right state, with a broken palate in his mouth, a fractured cheekbone, and a broken arm. But despite all this Douglas decided to go on with the show.

It’s a pretty decent affair considering Douglas’ handicaps. It’s a good piece of storytelling, although Douglas is clearly the underdog here, despite his heelish leanings. There’s also some attempted interference from Douglas’ Triple Threat buddies Chris Candido and Bam Bam Bigelow, as well as from the lovely Francine, before Douglas reversed Snow’s sunset flip attempt for the title retaining pin.

There’s also a nice moment at the end, with the roster paying their respect to both combatants.

June 29th, 1998
The title action continues with Sabu and Rob Van Dam challenging Chris Candido and Lance Storm for the Tag Team titles.

After the initial introductions the match was joined “in progress” after a commercial break, and once again it’s a pretty decent affair. I vaguely remember watching this when it was shown on British television way back when, and I remember thinking that Sabu and RVD were a pretty decent team.

There’s plenty of table action of course, culminating in RVD and Sabu flying off opposite corners and putting the champions through a table at the same time for the title winning pin. Nice stuff.

August 8th, 1999
It’s a three way dance for a title that wasn’t officially recognised, with Sabu and Bam Bam Bigelow challenging Taz for the FTW title.

If you like a good old fashioned brawl you’ll love this. It began as a regular falls count anywhere encounter between old rivals Taz and Sabu, with Bigelow joining in as they brawled around the bingo hall. The referee tried to stop him from interfering further when they got back to the ring until Taz said what the hell and let him into the match. Hey, it’s his title after all.

So what became two guys beating the proverbial out of each other became three guys beating the hell out of each other. As with other matches on this collection there’s plenty of claret and plenty of weapons shots, but despite throwing everything they could at each other all pin and submission attempts fail. Eventually the thirty minute time limit expired, with the calls for five more minutes falling on deaf ears.

August 23rd, 1999
Time for a Dudley family feud, with Devon and Bubba Ray defending the Tag Team titles against Spike and his pal Balls Mahoney on Hardcore TV.

This was Bubba Ray and Devon’s swansong in ECW, and before they left for Titan Towers they promised to drop the belts at the feet of the McMahon family once they got there.

By now you’ve probably worked out how this match went. It started in the ring before breaking off into two brawls, but while Spike and Bubba ended up in the concessions area Devon and Balls found their way back to the ring. The only problem there was that they had no referee to count any pin attempts.

Eventually they all met up again for the OMG moment when Spike was sent crashing through two flaming tables. Balls was able to handle things on his own though, because after Devon accidentally clobbered Bubba with a chair Balls took him down with the nutcracker suite for the title winning pin.

October 1st, 1999
ECW makes it to network television, and to celebrate Rhino challenges Mike Awesome for the World title on ECW on TNN.

Forget what you saw of Awesome in WCW, with his retro period and liking for fat birds, because this Mike Awesome was an altogether different beast.

Awesome more or less dominated Rhino, throwing the man-beast around the ring like a stuffed toy. Rhino managed to get in a few blows, but this was Awesome all the way, power bombing Rhino from the ring through the time-keeper’s table before sealing the deal with a frog splash off the top rope. Awesome stuff. (Pun intended.)

November 7th, 1999
Watch out air traffic control. It’s a three way dance with Yoshihiro Tajiri, Jerry Lynn and Super Crazy, accompanied by his buddies Steve Corino and the wheelchair bound Jack Victory, at November to Remember.

Super Crazy was the first to go. Lynn did the first damage, taking him down with the cradle piledriver, but after Tajiri broke up the pin he took the Mexican down with a brain buster for the three count.

As expected fast paced action was the order of the day here. Tajiri came in with two targets on his back, one from his old luchadore rival and one from Lynn, courtesy of the broken ribs suffered at the hands, or rather feet, of the Japanese Buzzsaw.

This was yet another of those pretty decent encounters, and surprisingly it featured a brawl through the crowd. Thankfully they didn’t stay there long, and when they returned to the ring the fun really started. As for the eliminations…..

This left Lynn with Tajiri, and after the Buzzsaw delivered a few well placed kicks to those injured ribs Lynn made his comeback, taking Tajiri down with the cradle piledriver for the win.

Lynn’s work was far from over though, with Corino jumping in and attacking him from behind. Lynn quickly countered, and after dropkicking miraculously recovered Victory off the apron he sent Corino packing with another cradle piledriver.

January 28th, 2000
The ultimate underdog, although he wasn’t much of an underdog considering he was a triple crown winner, Mikey Whipwreck, challenges Rob Van Dam for the TV Title on ECW on TNN.

By this time RVD had been the champ for nearly two years, with everyone thinking that former champion Whipwreck was the man who could take the title off him. He had defeated a certain Stone Cold before after all.

All of this led to this fast paced affair, with Whipwreck attacking RVD as he greeted the ringside fans. Bill Alfonso helped his man take control a few moments later with his usual chair-based offence.

Whipwreck made a brief comeback, but after failing to connect with the whipper snapper RVD scored with the Van Daminator before dropping down with a frog splash for the pin.

September 29th, 2000
It’s the final match of the collection, with Francine guy and World Champion Justin Credible defending his title against Jerry Lynn and Steve Corino in a three way dance on ECW on TNN.

This one was a tad crazy throughout. While the exchanges between the three protagonists were okay there was also a brawl between two referees while the original one was taking a snooze, a cat fight between Francine and Dawn Marie, as well as the inevitable brawl through the crowd. As for the eliminations…..

Lynn was the first man to go. As he was about to take Credible down with a tombstone Corino connected with a superkick. Credible then reversed the positions so he could take Lynn down with his own version of the move, the that’s incredible.

This left Corino with Credible, and after the aforementioned fight between Francine and Dawn Marie, Francine clobbering Corino with a kendo stick, and several near falls, Credible finally put his man away with the that’s incredible for the title retaining pin.

In conclusion - I was one of those guys that got into ECW quite late, so late in fact that just as my interest grew they closed down, which is why I find these releases quite invaluable.

But let’s not kid ourselves here. While there is this romantic notion that ECW was the best thing since sliced bread it did also have it’s poor points. There’s no doubt that this collection features some great matches, but there’s also some here that are a bit of a mess, and some that are a little overbooked, and after seeing so many matches where the wrestlers brawl through the fans you do tend to get a little bit bored.

I was impressed with the presenting team though. Joey Styles and Tommy Dreamer worked really well together, and their interplay was well worth watching, especially their sly little digs at each other.

So with that being said, despite being a little let down in places this set does get the thumbs up.

With thanks to Fremantle Media and Fetch Publicity for supplying a copy of this release. ECW Unreleased Volume 2 is available to buy online at

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