Brian: Not sure what possessed me to inquire if Adam would like to do a co-review on this seemingly random ECW show. A little background is in order. I attended both Heatwave '98 and '99 live. Both were in Dayton, OH and a short drive north. Had a great time both years highlighted by seeing Hayabusa before he became a cucumber. For 2000? They ventured to Los Angeles. While not there in the crowd live this event still holds a footnote in my memory. It was on my birthday July 16th. My 18th birthday to be exact. Hours before the show aired live on pay-per-view I found myself wrestling in a backyard event behind my friends' house. We'd recently folded our long-running "federation" inventing a new, short-lived group called Hamilton Wrestling Society. I jobbed that day. Yes, on my birthday, I lost a lousy throwaway match. Spirits were still high, though, as we cleaned up and ventured inside to watch the PPV. My friends weren't big ECW fans but followed wrestling and we settled in for a night of entirely forgettable action. I haven't seen this show since it aired live and remember next to nothing about it (save for Scotty Anton being in a showcased match). Even in the last year alone the way I watch wrestling has changed dramatically, in terms of how I look at it, what I appreciate, what intrigues me, keeps me coming back, etc. It'll be interesting seeing this event again with new eyes.
Adam: Brian proposed this co-review via text the other day and I immediately agreed, even though I was planning on holding off on reviewing this as part of my ECW pay-per-view reviews. A little bit of background before jumping into everything. This was the first (and only) ECW pay-per-view show I ever ordered. I was a pretty die hard ECW fan at the time along with Tim, Brian’s co-host on the Brian and Tim Show on Youtube, as he had just begun to get into wrestling. I haven’t seen this show in at least six years so I’m looking forward to revisiting it.
Brian: Show opens with a outlandish Blue Meanie promo on a beach where he vocally assaults a sunbathing man while Jasmine St. Clare laughs at his poorly delivered insults and verbal jabs. The camera pans over to the Sinister Minister who's creepier than ever and mentions being in "sunny Los Angeles" when the sky is dark and overcast and the wind is brutally blowing the surf in. This abomination ends with Mikey Whipwreck being revealed buried to his tubby chin in sand.
Adam: That Blue Boy promo I always thought was pretty dumb honestly but I was always a fan of the Sinister Minister. I believe he said that this show is being presented in the interest of “higher art and entertainment” or something like that. The openings they aired with him on every pay-per-view of this era were pretty entertaining. Speaking of Sinister Minister, if you haven’t seen the shoot interview he did with ROH back in 2005, I highly recommend it. Probably one of the best shoots I’ve ever seen.
Brian: I lean heavily on the fast-forward during the Styles/Gertner/Cyrus in-ring oratory.
Adam: The in-ring bullshit was used in every show of ECW’s later days and was the same shit, different day. At one point, Gertner says “I’m tired of it”. Yeah, so are we.
1. Balls Mahoney vs. Sal E. Graziano - B: 0 A: 1
Brian: For seemingly no discernible reason Sal E. Graziano and Tony Mamaluke come out and start shoving and assaulting officials. For a guy that punches so much Balls' sure suck. Sal E. in a humungous bowling shirt goes over in under two minutes. I suppose this was a lost cause attempt at booking him as some sort of monster but the only guy he's intimidating with that look was the shift manager at the nearby Golden Corral.
Adam: So 14 minutes into the show and we get our first bit of “action”. Not sure why Mamaluke and Sal decided to wander out and beat up officials. Sal’s shirt is big enough it could be used for a tent. Yeah, Sal looked like he’s intimidated quite a few Golden Corral managers. I give this a point only for the sick chair shot Balls administered.
Brian: Crowd was huge into Balls (and maybe balls) and just wanted to chant to his shtick but were robbed of even that simple (and simple) pleasure. Lousy booking.
2. Danny Doring, Roadkill, & Kid Kash vs. Simon Diamond, Johnny Swinger, & C.W. Anderson – A: 5 B: 3
Adam: Back in the day, I was a big fan of the Simon and Swinger tag team. Strange to think now, 12 years later, Simon is Kid Kash’s boss in TNA. Kash seemed on his game doing a big hurracanrana to the outside and doing some great bumping and selling for Anderson’s boss offense of hard hitting shit. Doring’s in ring work has aged about as well as moldy bread. The mandatory dive sequence starts off with Doring hurling himself like a bowling ball to the outside after springboarding off Roadkill’s back. Kash does the same thing, although his looked a hell of a lot nicer and I’d say that he probably got more air than Dominique Wilkins in the ’88 NBA Slam Dunk contest against Michael Jordan. The in-ring from everyone was surprisingly good and looked like everyone brought their A-game. Lots of legality issues at the end with the referee not enforcing anything. Kash’s double underhook piledriver was a pretty swank move to finish this off.
Brian: I was there live in Philadelphia at an ROH show the night the dive train sequence died due to the Vulture Squad (and many others). That being said I was pleasantly surprised with the gusto of the aerial car crashes on display here. I do need to properly define a term in the vernacular of my close wrestling nerd friends. Sometimes we call a guy a "Doring". What is that you're probably wondering: a "Doring" is a term coined after its namesake Danny Doring and defines the sole guy who, during one of these big, convoluted dive sequences, is on the outer rim of the group of guys outside the ring (the catchers as it were) who takes the least amount of impact but still sells the phantom damage. For example Kash isn't a big guy and if he's flipping on 5-6 dudes there's a good chance he's not going to make physical contact with all of them so undoubtedly one guy on the fringe will fly to the ground selling the force of a dive that never touched him. 99% of the time we began noticing it was strangely Danny Doring and that theory proved accurate here. Sabremetrics is becoming a bigger things in the analysis of pro wrestling and I'd love for someone to do the grunt work and figure out the team of Simon and Swinger's win-loss record percentage. Were they guys ever booked to go over anyone? This was more fun than I'd expected and the LA crowd has been very into this show which helps.
3. Steve Corino vs. Jerry Lynn - B: 6 A: 8
Brian: Not sure the backstory on this one but on paper it could be good. It's framed as ECW versus the Network according to Joey. Lynn does a nutty dive off the top onto Corino and Jack Victory. Almost turned his cranium into an omelette on the concrete floor. Throw a little green pepper and mushroom in there and you've got breakfast. Steve's almost as bad as one of his idols Tommy Rich at how blatantly he goes for the blade to gig himself. With both guys' careers puttering to an inevitable end soon its nice to see them 12 years prior when they still had that fire. Corino's bleeding worse than Hat Guy's hemorrhoidal asshole. Dug a blood covered Corino talking shit to fat rubes in the crowd. I didn't really get his appeal back then but his body of work has grown on me considerably. Lynn started off hot and dominant but Corino weathered the storm to mount his own offensive. This feels like it should be higher up the card. I wouldn't want to follow this (I'm looking at you Baldies). This was when Lynn decorated himself in Corino's hemoglobin as war paint. Ref bump was deflating and felt unnecessary. Lynn pulled it out despite the cheating, interference, etc. I haven't seen the bulk of ECW's pay-per-view output since they originally aired so can't say with much certainty put from memory this is one of the matches I've most enjoyed.
Adam: Shit, I’d forgotten how insane that dive was off the top to the floor. I was always confused as to why this went on so early in the show and I clearly remember that this was being pushed as one of the top matches on the show. The tornado DDT on the floor led to Corino bleeding buckets. Lynn took a brutal sit-out powerbomb on a chair off the turnbuckle. I forgot how good this match was, it’s halfway through and I’m loving every bit of this. It doesn’t feel like a “wrestling match” per say, more like a huge fight between two tough dudes who really don’t like each other at all. Lynn gives Corino a DDT on a chair that just destroyed Corino. I always loved the war paint spot and that’s probably what most people remember from this match. I think I remember Tim asking Corino earlier this year at an indy show about that spot. I believed Corino said it was improvised. If that spot though is the only thing that people remember from this match, then they’re missing out. The pace was fast, the action was brutal, and both guys brought all they had. Brian’s right, the ref bump was unnecessary and detracted from the match a bit. Finish was nice with a rolling nearfall sequence and an ill cradle piledriver. I’d say this was definitely Corino’s best ECW match and probably one of Lynn’s best matches in the fed as well.
4. The Baldies vs. Chris Chetti & Nova – A: 3 B: 1
Adam: So this begins by New Jack coming out, exuding as much enthusiasm as a corpse, and then getting assaulted and mugged by the Baldies until Chetti and Nova make the save. Nova and Chetti bust out some absolutely insane dives to the floor. Here’s a quick question, anybody remember that Chetti was signed by WWE as a “can’t miss” prospect? Chetti’s punches are just miserable. Nova looked like a fool going for a random swanton bomb. Felt like a TV match.
Brian: New Jack can be electric and any time you see him in public he'll be in character and conning so strange to see him so lifeless and droll. Must have stolen Francine's horse tranquilizers coupled with being told he had to go out and get Baldies heat. Now that I think about it I'd probably feel pretty downtrodden too. Nova is no Wally West but I love the bright red Flash get-up. Adam is quick to call out legal man issues and this match was rampant with them essentially feeling like a four-way as multiple guys were always in and out of the ring randomly. The lack of structure took some enjoyment out of this for me. Chetti with blinding bleached spiky hair and love handles looked like the clueless fodder for the piranhas in Piranha 3DD.
5. Four Way Elimination Match: Mikey Whipwreck vs. Psicosis vs. Little Guido vs. Yoshihiro Tajiri - B: 4 A: 4
Brian: Mikey was unannounced (both here and his mother's pregnancy) simply strolling to ring in a bad grunge shirt and eyesore necktie. He was quickly dismissed. Funny that mere years prior he was successfully defending a title against Steve Austin. Looked like a tubby college dropout with mall hair dye and wardrobe from Hot Topic gift certificate his folks gave him because they stopped trying to "get" him at 15. Match was really built as a Tajiri showcase which was fine. Wish Psicosis got to show off more but he was booked as an afterthought and got beat by the most unexciting and stolid German suplex ever caught on film. I liked the brainbuster on a steel chair for the finish on Guido but this felt myopic and like mid-show TNN filler.
Adam: Always thought it was pretty strange that Psicosis was just randomly booked in this match. Hell, when I watched this live, I had no clue he was out of WCW. Mikey looked like a dude who is seemingly going nowhere in life while living in his parents basement. Not sure it made much sense to me to have him eliminated so quickly. Tajiri and Guido were usually always in these type matches around this time. I was hoping for some inspired performances but it seemed like the same old stuff. I’m with Brian, I could’ve used some more Psicosis as was rather disappointed he was eliminated so early. Didn’t really see anything new or exciting.
6. The Sandman vs. Rhino - A: 3 B: 5
Adam: I’ve got better shit to do that sit through another ungodly long Sandman entrance so I promptly fast forward. To his credit, Sandman didn’t look as tanked as he did in some of the stuff I saw him from ’98 but he’s still sloppy and careless. Brawling on the outside goes nowhere. Lots of big bumps and spots with a length of guardrail. Never have I seen a guardrail get violated so savagely. Thus far, everything seems like it has no cohesion and just a random collection of spots. For what seems like no reason, Jack Victory and Steve Corino randomly interfere leading to Spike Dudley coming out and then promptly getting piledriven through a ringside table. Lame piledriver on the aforementioned railing ended this, mercifully.
Brian: I liken the rabid ECW fan base trying to convince the rest of us Rhino was the messiah as pure agitprop garbage. He's still doing the same thing 13 years later on the independent circuit and it still packs as much depth and dimension as a street corner busker's four-minute set break to eat falafel. Sandman is such an odd bird it's as if he's a roughly sketched Lena Dunham character. The drunken Sous-Chef that emerges from the basement pantry with a lit cigarette and worn paperback copy of Lowry's The Giver. There's a thread of longing running through this match that'd call to mind the films of Wong Kar-wai were it not for the ineffectual acting of Terry Gerin. He's like the high school talent show approximation of pro wrestler complete with monosyllabic speech pattern ("Gore!") so an unintentional satirization. The Spike Dudley segment at first seemed tacked on but strangely somehow necessary in a Grindhouse-like marrying of violent spectacle. The match-ending jumping piledriver on twisted metal guardrail seemed like a piece of neo-conceptual Blažej Baláž performance art. There was something perversely appealing about this like throwing caution to the wind one night and slumming it with your girlfriends downtown at a seedy boner factory with cheap drinks and a Filipino bartender working toward a Bachelor of Music in Theory upstate named "Condition Seth".
7. Rob Van Dam vs. Scotty Anton - B: 3 A: 4
Brian: So at the time my friends and I had a laugh at the idea of Scotty Riggs working semi-main on anything but a VFW hall. I will say after screening hundreds of matches for our WCW Nitro project Scotty was one of the few guys who's stock rose a bit in my eyes turning in some inspired performances not just dreck (in other words he's no Christopher Nolan). Starts off as a soulless RVD exhibition as he demonstrates all of his preposterous offense. Anton does a nutty bulldog off of the apron on Vam Dam that cracks Rob's face against the guardrail. Never saw him bust that out at an MGM taping. Couldn't suppress the laughter when Anton forced RVD to do "the clap". I don't think there's another wrestler in the modern area that sticks to formula more than Van Dam. I can imagine watching a "best of" compilation of his work being like a particularly debilitating fever dream. This was like a colonic in your eyes.
Adam: I can remember my initial thoughts on this match as I was watching it live. They went something like “that was lame”. Not sure if time will be kind to this match or not as I know I haven’t seen this particular match at least since it aired. Yeah, RVD’s offense at the beginning was the normal stuff but I really dug the bump he took into the railing from the top rope after taking a chair to the face. I’d forgotten about the bulldog spot off the apron but damn was it awesome! Let’s take a moment here and reflect on Scotty’s gimmick … seriously, how lame was this? A grown dude walking around clapping his hands and telling people he’s got “the clap”. Sorry, I just can’t take that seriously. To his credit though, he does a good job of making chicken salad out of chicken shit, and works pretty good as a heel. Van Daminator spot I saw coming from a mile away. End of this match has pretty much been known as the first appearance of RVD’s “Van Terminator” coast-to-coast dropkick move. A better match than I remember it being but nothing too out of the ordinary.
8. Stairway to Hell Match: Tommy Dreamer vs. Justin Credible - B: 4 A: 4
Brian: This started off with the XPW debacle in the crowd that saw security and a handful of buzzed wrestlers chase away the rejects. It did liven the crowd up which gave this bout a needed boost of energy. Starts off with some weak stuff like a real loose Credbile headlock then a rather placid crowd brawl. Things picked up a bit back in the ring until Francine tried to knock Dreamer off of a ladder and he landed squarely with all his girth right on top of her face. Not the only facial she'd receive in LA that night. Credible is a guy who I've routinely been down on for not taking the time to properly sell stuff seemingly always in a rush to get to the next contrivance -- that reputation followed him here and I saw little that altered it. Justin hitting That's Incredible onto a barbwire tumbleweed (twice) would have packed more drama had he sold Dreamer's finish for more then 15 sec. in-between spots. Dismaying ending to a dispiriting show.
Adam: I never was quite sure exactly what was happening with that XPW deal until I read about it years later. The crowd brawl seemed like it was never ending. One of the main problems I had with it was that the brawl over to the merchanside stand just so Tommy could take a bump off a ladder felt really staged and forced. The in-ring stuff was acceptable and Francine just got destroyed when Tommy landed on her. For all the promotion about “bringing barbed wire to pay-per-view”, it fell really flat. Barbed wire spots didn’t really account for much in the grand scheme of things with it used for only a small bit towards the end. Always thought the piledrivers on the barbed wire were lame and that thought still holds up today. After the show went off the air, and Tim and I were both disappointed that Tommy didn’t win the titleI remember Tim saying “Your TV is going to die”. Funny how the only thing I remember from this match is that random comment.
Brian: Not surprisingly your TV outlived ECW itself.