I want to type more and I’ve never seen any of ECW’s run on TNN so let’s dive in.
ECW signed a deal with TNN for a three-year contract with the stipulation TNN could cancel their deal at any time for any reason. Grim. Seems weird Heyman the master manipulator was put in a position like that but the later years of ECW were filled with confusing moments.
ECW on TNN #1 08/27/99
”This is not WWF, this is not WCW, this is ECW on TNN!” Joey Styles shouts as both a reminder and a warning. I didn’t mind ECW telling the audience they’re not mainstream because they were an alternative, it sucked that for years afterwards small indy companies would mimic them. ”We’re not the WWE!” they’d shout at their fans and people like me would reply ”Yeah we know, WWE could fill a legion hall.” But anyway.
We’re in Tuledo, Ohio but I’ll take Joey’s word for it as he’s stood in front of an ECW logo so he’s probably in Heyman’s kitchen.
We get a run down of wrestlers who have held the ECW TV Title which includes Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Too Cold Scorpio, Bam Bam Bigelow and Taz. Funny they’d plug the recognisable wrestlers on WWF and WCW’s roster and then mention Taz to make him look good but he’d soon hand in his notice. The current TV Champion Rob Van Dam and he’s probably the best says Styles.
Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn (from ECW Hardcore Heaven 1999)
So famously/infamously they shot a full show for the debut episode but Heyman didn’t like the crowd reaction or the look of the show so this first episode is supposed to be an introduction to ECW, I guess. Starting with a RVD vs. Lynn match is a good a way as any.
”He’s called Mr. PPV as every match he has is worth parting with money to see.” Apart from this free TV match, obviously. The commentary’s newly recorded btw.
Styles reminds us that RVD is currently the longest reigning champion in any promotion as he was at a year and a half at this point. Apparently the plan was to have RVD lose to Lynn and then have RVD beat Taz for the World Title but plans changed. That’ll be a running theme for this era of ECW. This is the rematch of their Living Dangerously 1999 encounter, which went to a twenty minute time limit draw and Lynn the challenger being declared the winner by the ref. Lynn declined to win the title that way and requested more time and lost via pin-fall instead. It’s my favourite ever ECW match and arguably the moment that turned Lynn into The New F’N Show.
They go through a fast-paced I-know-your-moves-fuck-you sequence that’d make Ricochet and Will Ospreay wet themselves finally ending with RVD missing a flipping leg-drop and both men standing off at each other before that became a mega-cliché. Crowd goes nuts but it’s mostly for Rob Van Dam. Jerry got some new fans thanks to this feud but RVD is still the favourite by a country mile. Before they resume action we get some clips of Lynn hitting the Cradle Piledriver on various opponents. Bit weird but it makes sense if this is supposed to be Idiot’s Guide To ECW episode. RVD tries to springboard but gets sent onto the apron and takes a springboard dropkick to be sent outside. Jerry dives off the top rope to the outside with a cheeky Sign of the Horns before he flies. Lynn’s only hint of personality was liking metal. Lynn cuts off RVD as he tries to get in the ring and gives him a Sabu-esque leg-drop as he’s stuck through the ropes. Lynn chops RVD as we get Bill Alfonso commentary at ringside. C’MON BABY RVD’S THE GREATEST BABY HE’S GONNA KICK JERRY’S ASS BABY. Lynn plants RVD with a bulldog off the second rope and RVD makes it look like death as he lands like a javelin. Lynn goes up top but Bill shakes the ropes and crotches him. RVD’s so over he has an interfering annoying manager and the crowd still love him. They try for the chair-assisted Van Daminator but Lynn ducks it and pushes Bill off the apron. Lynn strikes with the chair and the crowd boos him. I’d actually forgotten how insanely over RVD was during this time. Lynn runs at RVD who crotches him on the top rope and kicks him to the outside.
This moment would appear in video packages for years. Sadly Lynn lands face-first and is knocked out for a bit oh wait, we get adverts instead.
”THE MOST INTENSE EVENT OF THE MILLENNIUM, ANARCHY RULZ 1999!!” declares Paul Hypeman. They changed half the card at the last minute but it’s still fun overall. Er, I think. All I remember is Lance Storm vs. Jerry Lynn and Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka vs. Taz.
We’re back and we’ve cut out Lynn getting KO’d. Well they’d have been daft to keep it on for a TV version. Lynn’s sat in the front row and RVD hurls himself over the guard-rail. Lynn’s either doing a really good job of selling or he’s still loopy as he starts throwing dropkicks on the outside like a mad bastard. And we cut away to show a replay of the KO kick. Fucking hell that was badly timed and when it’s over we’re back inside the ring. Horrible place for a cut and annoyingly they play music over the replay too. Lynn tries for a tornado DDT but RVD turns it into a Northern Nights Suplex for two and crowd really appreciates that. They fight on the top rope with Lynn getting a Sunset Flip Powerbomb for two. Brutal short-arm clothesline which Styles calls a receipt for Lynn’s nose getting broken. Lynn gets a table and sets it up on the outside but RVD cuts him off and knocks him over the guard-rail again. Bill & RVD play Pass The Chair and RVD nails Lynn with the Van Daminator in the mass of fans. And we cut to another break. This match isn’t built for multiple breaks. Back from the break we’re in the ring and RVD is kicking a chair into a dead Lynn’s face. RVD sets up Lynn on the top rope with the idea of hurling him through the table at ringside but Lynn wants a Tornado DDT. RVD clotheslines him in the ring instead and gets a two-count off a springboard leg-drop. RVD tries to send him through the table outside again but Lynn tells him to fuck off and destroys RVD with a Sunset Flip Powerbomb again. We get another EXTREEEME Replay and I’ll GIF it to show what late nineties production looked like . For full effect, hum your favourite Limp Bizkit song.
When we return, Bill tries to throw a chair at Lynn, Lynn grabs it, tries to hit Bill, Bill ducks, RVD tries to strike Lynn, Lynn ducks, Lynn hits RVD with the chair, Lynn takes out Bill by hurling the chair at his three remaining teeth, Lynn German Suplexes RVD for two. Hell of a sequence. These two were tremendous at not only pulling them off but making them look believable too. Lynn tries to fly off top and RVD stops him and as they’re both on the top they fuck up and fall down with both selling but neither hitting. RVD hears the crowd chant ”You Fucked Up” and goes for a pin instead of lying down. Lynn throws the chair to RVD and gets a two-count off his own Vam Daminator. Sunset flip pinfall sequence gets turned into a Cradle Piledriver attempt which gets turned into another two-count from RVD. Crowd claps the shit out of that. RVD gets another near-fall off a Split-Legged Moonsault. Lynn tries to slow him down with a snapmare but RVD tells him no and gives him the Five Star Frog Splash. As he goes to pin the presumably-dead Lynn, Lynn gets a small package but it’s only for two. Crowd was biting their nails at that. RVD manages another Van Daminator to a chair-holding Lynn and RVD finally puts Lynn away by jumping about twenty fucking feet in the air with another Five Star Frog Splash.
Winner and still ECW TV Champion: Rob Van Dam (I don’t think it’s as good as Living Dangerously 1999 because of Lynn getting knocked silly and the top rope botch but that’s also because the LD ’99 match is flawless in my eyes. Excellent stuff here if you ignore RVD having a bad guy manager who never shut up and you can see why ECW would highlight this match for a national audience as the other two companies weren’t putting out this hybrid style. If you’re going to watch the match, find the proper PPV version on the Network or elsewhere as those replays were boner-killers.)
The crowd give it a standing ovation but they cut away to hear Joey talk some more. Oh come on. Styles hypes Rollerjam and the title Steve Austin wanted but couldn’t win, the ECW World Title. OH WHILE WE’RE DROPPING NAMES here’s clips of Cactus Jack, Konnan, Perry Saturn, Rick Steiner, Ron Simmons and Chris Benoit. They all wrestled for the ECW Title at one time apparently.
Highlights of Shane Douglas winning the NWA Title, throwing it down and declaring himself the new ECW Champion. The title that’s been held by Raven, The Sandman, Terry Funk, Bam Bam Bigelow and Sabu. Alright enough names currently in WWF and WCW how about some wrestlers on the actual roster?
Taz vs. Rhino
This’ll do. We jump immediately in and Styles explains Steve Corino was too much of a coward so he sent in the not-yet-a-Rookie-Monster Rhino. He’s getting himself ready by slapping himself so Taz tells him not to that as he’ll happily oblige. Tough guy Taz was cool. Bell rings and Rhino powerbombs Taz who immediately gets up. He’s ROAD WARRIOR TAZ. He flips off Rhino but they censor it in a weird way and it looks like Taz is dissolving into sand like The Mummy.
Taz clotheslines Rhino to the outside and casually walks after him like it’s no big deal. Back in, Taz drops Rhino on his head with a T-Bone Tazplex. Taz would murder people with those head-drops. A top rope overhead Belly-To-Belly Tazplex thankfully sees Rhino land on his back. Rhino still tries to fight back but Taz ignores him and gets a table as a graphic tells us this is an ECW Title Match. I’m calling bullshit on Rhino earning a title shot in 1999 but Taz kills him shortly after the graphic disappears.
Tazmission gets the submission. Rhino is tossed into the remains of the table just for kicks.
Winner and still ECW Champion: Taz (Squash but worth watching just to see Taz sauntering about like he’s the baddest man alive.)
Sabu video package and there’s plenty of tremendous ”oh God what was he thinking?” moments. Styles wonders what will happen when Sabu and Taz meet.
Advert for Monster Truck Madness 64 featuring Kevin Nash.
Spike Dudley vs. Big Sal Graziano
This match is thrown at us the second we come back from break. It’s very amateurish, as is Sal’s wifebeater vest. LSD gives him the Acid Drop and pins him.
Winner: Spike Dudley (It took longer to moan about the bad editing than it did for the match to end.)
Jason (The Sexiest Man In The World), Lance Storm, Justin Credible and Dawn Marie get a chance to talk backstage with Dawn out-shining all of them. ”I’m a star on TNN! Er honey, how’d you spell that?” Her third name Bytch is censored here, even when they go ”no it’s spelled B-Y-T-C-H” thus killing the barely-a-joke. I wondered what caused them to remove part of her name. Cyrus shows up and takes credit for ”hot-shotting the territories” and tries to get camera time because he’s under-utilised. The Impact Players agree and think Cyrus should co-host ECW on TNN and clips of them beating up the Dudleys, Shane Douglas, Sid Vicious, Tommy Dreamer and Jerry Lynn play over their bragging. That’s more like it, if you’re going to show clips of guys from other shows at least show current roster guys giving them a good hiding.
Music video package showing off highspots & nipples set to Bawitdaba by Kid Rock ends the show. Of note is Uganda making an appearance. A Kamala homage/rip-off made it onto ECW TV? Yeesh.
Oh we’re not over yet as Taz dismisses the flaming barbed wire and tables as he doesn’t need a weapon. His hands are weapons. You can tell Taz believed every word he said. He brags about tapping out Shane Douglas, Chris Jericho, Bam Bam Bigelow, Too Cold Scorpio, Chris Candido and Jerry Lawler. ”I’m the guy your mother warned you about!” All the promo involved was Taz talking to the camera in a dark room for a few minutes and it was GREAT. Another ”you only get this in ECW” trademark.
Overall: Odd mix of clips, a great match and too many HEY THIS GUY CURRENTLY IN WWF WAS IN ECW ONE TIME moments. Lynn vs. RVD is essential viewing but it’ll be interesting to see what ECW does next week when it has to make a ‘real’ show.