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Thread: ECW Hostile City Showdown 1996 Review

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    ECW ECW Hostile City Showdown 1996 Review

    Hostile City Showdown
    April 20, 1996



    Joey Styles opens the show by bringing out The Gangstas. New Jack cuts a promo on The Eliminators, admitting that they did a rare thing - they kicked his ass. Ever since he got out of jail, he’s been regrouping and he’s ready for The Eliminators. During this promo, there’s multiple WWE Network edits by inserting bleeps. I thought it was just the N word, but it seemed to be some fucks too. Anyways, The Gangstas call out The Eliminators with Saturn and Kronus immediately running out to start a brawl. After brawling in the crowd, they returned to the ring where lowcard wrestlers rush out to pull apart the top two teams. Styles ends the segment by hyping the upcoming ECW Tag Titles match between The Eliminators and The Gangstas. Although the date hasn’t been announced yet, Styles believes it will be huge.

    El Puerto Ricano vs Super Nova
    This would be the ECW debut of Nova. Prior to this, Nova had appeared on WWE TV as a jobber and wasting away on the New York and Pennsylvania indie scene. With his superhero gimmick and gear, he’s a bit goofy looking, but Nova busts out some big moves including a dive over the ring post and lifting Ricano’s legs up in the corner to sit down with a power bomb. The crowd predictably chant “Power Ranger” at Nova, but eh, Joey Styles described him as a “Deranged Power Ranger” so I can’t judge the crowd. Anyways, The Eliminators ran out to kill both Extreme rookies. Nova and then Ricano suffer Total Elimination. Not bad for what it was and it’s fun seeing debuts for guys who would have a lengthy or important ECW run. Not Rated.

    The Eliminators got on the mic and called out The Gangstas to continue their fight. Another brawl breaks loose with Saturn battling New Jack and Kronus with Mustafa. It goes in the crowd and back in the ring before the lowcard wrestlers again run out to pull them apart. JT Smith and Little Guido got in the middle of the ring with Smith getting on the mic to ask why they can’t all just get along. He sings a bit, but D-Von Dudley rushes in with a chair, prompting Smith to use his cousin as a shield before bailing. Everyone eventually went back to the back with Hack Meyers getting in a brief fight with The Bad Crew.

    The Pitbulls vs The Dudley Boyz w/The Dudleys
    The Dudleys tonight are Sign Guy, Chubby, and Dances with Dudley. Poor DW has his ribs taped up and is in a wheelchair tonight. This is the historic first ever tag match featuring Bubba Ray teaming up with D-Von. Although it’s “D-Von’s” first ECW match, he previously worked a fancam event earlier in the year as A-Train. That historic note about this match may have played a role in why I enjoyed it more than most ECW garbage tag matches. I do think that they handled things better than usual with everyone trying to play their part. D-Von is the angry guy who is having far more luck against The Pitbulls than Bubba Ray, The Pitbulls are absorbing a lot of pain, even at times noselling chair shots. Francine and The Dudleys on the outside get involved with Pitbull #2 closelining DW out of his wheelchair. From there Francine attacked both DW and Chubby. It’s a pretty fun visual with the camera going back and forth between the action in the ring to suddenly showing Francine either stepping on or using a chair to continue the beat down on one of the poor lesser Dudleys. D-Von nailed both Pitbulls and the referee with chair strikes before chasing Francine for what she’s done to his half brothers. Rather than helping Francine, The Pitbulls decide to have fun by giving the referee a Super Bomb. With that, the match just sorta...ended without a finish. The match was kind of fun, but how do you forget to book a finish? **


    Before the next match, Taz and Fonzie came out to bad mouth the Philly Flyers. I believe this is during the 1996 Stanley Cup Playoffs, thus explaining the cheap heat attempt. Anyways, Fonzie calls out anyone to come challenge Taz. The open challenge is accepted by “Dangerous” Devon Storm.

    Taz w/Fonzie vs Devon Storm
    Storm is the future Crowbar of WCW fame. Joey Styles hypes Storm up as a WCW wrestler despite the fact that he only appeared on WCW TV a couple of times in 1996. That’s like saying Brock Lesnar is a member of the WWE roster just because he pops up a couple of times. It’s far more accurate to refer to Storm as an east coast indie wrestler. At this stage in his career, it’s pre-dyed black hair and beard, instead looking like a rejected New Rocker. His match against Konnan on Nitro back in February was flat out ugly. This is build as his ECW debut, but he popped up on Hardcore TV back in early 1994 as Chris Ford. With Storm being a cheap knock off of Sabu, this is a preview of sorts for Taz vs Sabu. Although I typically really dig Joey Styles, I found him off putting in this match due to his narrative of Storm being a WCW guy. I get that there’s a story there to tell with an ECW guy beating up a WCW guy, but Storm literally worked two matches in WCW. Two. That’s it. Meanwhile, there’s a far bigger potential story to hype up with Storm being so Sabu-like that you’re failing to cover. Like in Konnan match, Storm tries some crazy spots, but the spots rarely look great. The match is cut short as Storm is given an overhead Tazplex that was meant to put him through a table on the floor below, but Taz didn’t toss him hard enough over the top rope. The result is that Storm landed dangerously on his back and neck on the concrete, bouncing just slightly off of the table. The referee opted to just count him out to wrap it up quickly. Third match in and we’ve yet to see a pinfall or submission. SQUASH.


    After the match, Taz decides to lock in the Tazmission on a guy that could have easily broken his neck 30 seconds earlier before returning to take a shot at Sabu’s expense on the mic. Something I’m starting to seriously question this year long epic build-up with Sabu and Taz is why didn’t they ever touch? Are you telling me that Sabu is too much of a coward to come out during any of these call outs? How about the fact that Taz refuses to interfere in any of Sabu’s matches? It’s getting a little awkward in that they’re always wrestling on the same shows, but they’re incapable of ever being across from each other despite one's obsession with the other.

    Axl Rotten vs Little Guido w/JT Smith
    During Smith and Guido’s entrance, Joey Styles officially refers to them as The Full Blooded Italians. Neat. Of course Rotten and Smith have been having problems since the start of the year that Guido essentially married into. For an Axl match, this was pretty fun all thanks to Guido. Guido is a bumping machine in the first half, allowing Rotten to absolutely destroy him. During one back body drop, Guido landed basically on the ropes. Later in the match, Guido eventually gained a bit of an advantage thanks to Smith, but it wasn’t going to last long with Rotten regaining the advantage and putting Guido away with a Dominator to win. Guido is already proving to be a great addition to the ECW roster. ** ½


    After the match, Smith tries to smooth everything over. Rotten seemed torn between wanting to beat up Smith and simply finding him to be really annoying.

    2 Cold Scorpio and The Sandman w/Missy Hyatt vs The Bruise Brothers
    Ugh. WHY? It’d be nice if the ECW TV Title actually gets defended. They started the year off on such a high note with Scorpio/Mikey and even the first Sabu/Scorpio match, but everything else has either been additional Sabu/Scorpio time limit draws or Scorpio thrown in garbage tag matches with The Sandman. Go defend the title against someone like JT Smith, Stevie Richards, or even Axl. At least the TV Title is about to become a focal point again real soon though. To the credit of Heyman, this wasn’t the expected garbage match. The first half was even just a traditional tag match with Scorpio acting as the face-in-peril against his bigger opponents. Granted, it’s not particularly good since it is Skull and 8-Ball, but I dig that it’s a tag match. There is some weirdness in the middle with Bruise Brothers pulling a normal belt out of thin air and using it to whip Sandman across the back while Missy cheers them on and encourages them to whip him harder. Then Sandman made his own comeback and celebrated by pouring beer on Missy’s chest and licking it up. Moving on from that odd sexual segment, they mostly stayed on track even when things got out of control with all four men battling on the outside. Sure, they went into the crowd, but they mostly stood in one place and battled with it being a brawl rather than it turning into a proper garbage match. The finish is even pretty simple with Scorpio hitting a moonsault on one Ron or Don to get the clean pinfall at just eight minutes long. I expected to completely hate this match, but this ended up being perfectly fine. Still an utter waste of Scorpio, but better than your average Sandman or Bruise Brother matches. ** ¼

    Tommy Dreamer vs Brian Lee
    During Lee’s entrance, Joey Styles again refers to Lee and The Bruise Brothers as Raven’s Triangle of Terror. Was that their proper alliance name in ECW? I can’t say I’m a huge fan of it simply because when I hear Triangle of Terror in a wrestling context, I immediately think of Sgt. Slaughter, General Adnan, and Col. Mustafa. This was a short garbage match with the two quickly battling into the crowd. For the first half of that battle, ECW couldn’t get a cameraman in position, causing us to miss it all, instead just seeing fans. They battled towards the Eagle’s Nest with Dreamer diving off of it. Back in the ring and there’s a ref bump because of course there is. That brings out The Bruise Brothers, but just to wait and watch at ringside until Dreamer seemingly has the match won with a DDT. Dreamer covers, but the referee is still down. Why bother covering then? That’s Bruise Brothers’ cue to jump into the ring and break the cover with a chair shot. They repeat the rad spot they did at Massacre on Queens Blvd with Lee holding chairs on either side of Dreamer’s head with the Bruise Brothers hitting big boots. That allows Lee to get a nearfall once the referee woke. Again, Dreamer hits a DDT, but again The Bruise Brothers interfere. This time Lee pulls out a cinder block, which he places on Dreamer’s crotch before slamming a chair on the cinder block for a pretty crazy spot. Dreamer sells it big time as Lee covers to win the match. As a match, it was pretty nothing, not to mention it was pretty overbooked despite just being six minutes long. That being said, the cinder block spot will have to be one of the more memorable hardcore ECW spots of 1996. Along with the double big boot spot with The Bruise Brothers and the upcoming big spot at High Incident later on in the year, this feud between Dreamer and Lee are at least producing great spots. **


    After the match, Joey Styles hypes some big announcement coming later in the program, suggesting that Dreamer’s night isn’t over with yet.

    Sabu vs Rob Van Dam
    Here it is, the first ever ECW match between RVD and Sabu. It’s time to make RVD a star in the company. RVD is still dealing with a broken arm, but he’s apparently okay enough to wrestle with a cast. Meanwhile, poor Sabu is dealing with the bruised tailbone he suffered in the match against Mikey Whipwreck. I legitimately felt bad for Sabu as he was in clear pain for the majority of the bout. At times, Sabu struggled to run. Meanwhile, he’s still Sabu. Not only is he wrestling when he should really be resting, but he’s still doing crazy spots such as crashing through multiple tables on the outside. You can say so much bad about Sabu, but the guy is absolutely fearless when it comes to working regardless. This is the same lunatic who broke his neck at November to Remember ‘94 against Chris Benoit and then proceeded to wrestle again two weeks later. Anyways, this was a true coming out party for RVD. It’s a true star making match and performance. The story revolves around the fact that RVD is absolutely outperforming Sabu at every turn. RVD even made a special point to set up a chair just so he could somersault dive over the chair and the ropes to land on Sabu on the outside, just to prove that, unlike Sabu, he didn’t need the chair to assist in the jump. This is where Joey Styles dropped the ball though as he mistakenly claimed that RVD did use the chair though. Meanwhile, if it wasn’t bad enough that RVD was outperforming him, Sabu also suffered from the fact that he was putting on a sloppy performance from the tailbone injury. This is an example of a legit injury and botches actually helped tell a story. At times, Sabu looked like shit, but every time he blew a spot, it was a reminder of what awful condition he was in. For a Sabu match that tends to last too long and drags, I found this one just flew by. In the end, despite everything great that RVD did, Sabu still proved to be the superior, despite the injury, by busting out the triple jump moonsault to win clean in the middle of the ring. Obviously, it’s not always the prettiest of matches, but there were some awesome looking spots when they came off well and ECW now has a new significant star in RVD. Hell of a job at making RVD look great in defeat. *** ¾


    After the match, Sabu looked to continue his nice and respectful streak by showing RVD respect and offering a handshake just like he did with Mikey, but RVD surprises everyone by blowing Sabu off. Considering how super rare Sabu showing respect to another wrestler was, this quickly made RVD stand out as an asshole. Not only did RVD become a star tonight, but he gained a character.

    Before the main event is another legendary segment. ECW Champion, Raven, came out to the ring with Stevie Richards and The Blue Meanie. The Fabulous Ones gimmick seems to be completely dead now with Richards and Meanie imitating Shawn Michaels and Diesel, like they did to a lesser degree at Massacre at Queens Blvd. Challenger, Shane Douglas, then came out with Raven’s former valet, Kimona. Douglas got on the mic to drop the first bombshell - Beulah wasn’t just cheating on Raven with Tommy Dreamer, she was also cheating on Tommy at the same time. That brings out an annoyed Tommy while Douglas drops another bombshell - Beulah lied about her pregnancy. An enraged Dreamer demanded to know who was the other man, but Douglas corrected him by stating that it wasn’t a man. That’s Kimona’s cue to grab the mic and to scream, “It was me!” That brings out Beulah to make out with Kimona in the ring. Dreamer would grab them both by the hair. While holding them, Dreamer then states, “I’ll take them both, I’m hardcore!” Dreamer makes out with Kimona before moving onto Beulah, making the women make out, before bringing all three together. It’s an iconic ECW segment and quote. I’ll say this though, although Dreamer should absolutely have some fun with Beulah and Kimona, he should then think with his actual brain. Beulah has cheated twice and lied about a pregnancy. Like...that’s not the type of person you should be dating!

    Raven © w/Stevie Richards and The Blue Meanie vs Shane Douglas - ECW World Title
    Three of the last four ECW events I’ve covered has featured this match. Although the matches haven’t been bad, they also haven’t been particularly great, I’m ready for Raven to get new a new challenger. The first half was all Douglas as poor Raven was all despondent and heartbroken over the revelation that Beulah had been cheating on him with yet another person. The fact that Douglas chose to reveal this right before his title match again showcases his brilliant puppet master character. This one felt more wild than the other two and even featured a spot where Douglas used a cheese grater on Raven’s forehead, busting him open. There’s still a ton of interference though. At one point Brian Lee ran in, but Tommy Dreamer was quick to make the save for his alliance partner, but in doing so, the referee was distracted and missed a Douglas pin attempt. Meanwhile, all Douglas saw was Dreamer, making him think that Dreamer was responsible. They had a brief argument in the ring before deciding to hug it out only for Douglas to turn on Dreamer, dropping him with a belly-to-belly suplex. There’s also interference from one of the Bruise Brothers, a failed attempt of interference from a moonsaulting Blue Meanie, and Richards knocked out Douglas with a Stevie Kick for a nearfall. It’s overbooked sure, but there’s a fun value in the second half. There’s some smart strategy by Douglas to work over Raven’s recently injured foot, including pulling off his boot. That strategy would ultimately be his downfall as there’s yet another distraction allowing Raven to load up his removed boot and knock Douglas out with it to retain his title. A wild match, but one that’s fun, albeit really overbooked. ** ¾

    After the match, Joey Styles is in the ring with Douglas. He’s quite upset over yet another loss, particularly with all he’s been doing to manipulate things into his favor. The Franchise makes the claim that the ECW World Title is the only title he cares about and the only one worth a damn in this industry. Douglas really sells the fact that the belt is so much more important than all others. That ends up bringing out the ECW TV Champion, 2 Cold Scorpio, unhappy that Douglas, by extension of putting the ECW World Title on a pedestal, is insulting the worth of the ECW TV Title. Scorpio enforced the idea that he’s got a belt and Douglas doesn’t and attempts to goad Douglas into accepting the challenge of wrestling for the TV Title. Douglas isn’t interested though. He puts over Scorpio as a good wrestler, but he’s simply does not care about the TV Title. Douglas turns his back and begins to leave the ring while a dejected Scorpio did the same. One Scorpio’s back is turned, Douglas pounces, attacking him. Scorpio is laid out with shots from his own title. The Sandman ran out to try and protect his buddy, but ends up doing more damage than good since it merely gives Douglas access to Sandman’s Singapore cane to use on Sandman and Scorpio. The show ends with Douglas standing tall and a new program created. Sometimes with ECW’s best segments, they don’t really build to anything. Thus far this year, we’ve seen two amazing Beulah segments revolving around confessions, but did either hype a match or make you more interested in seeing Dreamer vs Raven? I’d say no. This segment was money though. It did a great job in making me interested in seeing the upcoming TV Title clash between Scorpio and Douglas. The fact that Douglas has recently been exposed for being a manipulator and a puppet master also makes you skeptical that Douglas was ever not interested in getting a TV Title shot and that he didn’t care about the title. When Douglas isn’t trying to feed his own ego by shooting on the WWE or WCW, he’s a fantastic character.

    Overall
    Hostile City Showdown ‘96 was a show built around hyping up future matches and new programs. As much as I struggle to be excited about actually seeing The Eliminators vs The Gangstas, ECW is doing a grand job of making that future match feel as it matters so much. Whenever the match does end up happening, it feels as if he’s going to be the most important tag match of the year. The RVD coming out party is just begging for a rematch between RVD and Sabu to either give RVD a victory or to allow Sabu to beat some respect into his new rival. I haven’t been shy about expressing my frustration at the lack of attention that the TV Title has been garnering lately, but the show closing segment did an amazing job at hyping the next big TV Title match. Taz’s match against Devon Storm was an effective form of doing a slight preview for a future Taz/Sabu match rather than just having Taz wrestle someone random and then cut a promo on his desired opponent. I’d say there’s even some intrigue with Raven with what he’ll do next since he’s seemingly dispatched of Douglas, Dreamer is now busy with Brian Lee, and who knows what’s up with The Sandman. I know that on this board especially, RVD has his fair share of critics, but I loved the guy back in the day and his match tonight against Sabu is the biggest reason to watch the show. A great performance for what was essentially a guy with a broken wrist vs a guy who struggled to stand. The reveal with Beulah is an ECW classic and while it is a bit of a silly male fantasy, it’s still a fun segment. It was just in my review for Massacre on Queens Blvd that I expressed how Mikey Whipwreck is becoming an under the radar great performer for 1996, but one of the difficulties in him standing out more is how many shows he’s been missing. Well here we are, Hostile City Showdown, and Mikey doesn’t appear. Overall, Hostile City Showdown only had one must see match, one that plenty won’t agree on, but it was a pretty decent show that managed to not have the lows that all of the other 1996 shows I’ve watched thus far had. We even saw a match involving The Sandman and The Bruise Brothers, but it wasn’t bad. A nice unexpected treat.

  2. #2
    WAKE UP

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    Re: ECW Hostile City Showdown 1996 Review

    I mean, that's one way of looking at Sabu vs RVD, I just thought it was a sloppy pile of shit spotfest. I had almost no memory of the match though, other than I remember thinking it stunk, but the injuries atleast give it more of an excuse. Generally not a fan of their series though I think they get better as they go along.

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    American Ninja

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    Re: ECW Hostile City Showdown 1996 Review

    Heyman cuts a pretty epic promo on one of the HCTV episodes in the build up to RVD vs Sabu stretcher match where he gives some kayfabe explanation for why Sabu and Taz never confronted each other for so long. It's been a while since I've seen it but a big part of the Taz vs Sabu feud was Taz vs Heyman, which goes back to Taz's heel turn at November To Remember 95 where Taz puts Heyman on blast.

  4. #4

    Re: ECW Hostile City Showdown 1996 Review

    If you can figure out the date of the Heyman promo, I'd like to watch it.

  5. #5
    American Ninja

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    Re: ECW Hostile City Showdown 1996 Review

    I tried looking for it but couldn't find it. I noticed a few things about the storyline when watching through the tapes years ago, they played up the fact that Sabu was the Paul Heyman guy. They hinted at Sabu and Heyman being friends and pushed the idea that Sabu was Heyman's big star that he wanted to push. Somewhere in there Heyman cut a promo saying that Sabu gave him his word he wouldn't go near Taz for some reason I forget, eventually Taz prodded him and called him out so much Sabu had to go back on his word and confront Taz 1 year after Taz did the heel turn at N2R 95 where he was bitter about how he was treated when he had a broke neck, he called out Heyman for having a fat fucking jew laywer for a dad that got him to where he's at in life. Taz tipped off RVD on how to hurt Sabu's neck because only 3 people knew the specifics of the injury(when Benoit broke his neck), Sabu himself, Heyman, and Taz, whom at the time Heyman begged and pleaded for Sabu to team with to help his career(this was stated in a promo by Heyman in the build up to Hardcore Heaven). So when RVD used the info from Taz to fuck up Sabu's neck then all of a sudden Muay Thai kickboxers and UFC fighters started popping up in ECW to go after Taz and they went right after his neck that had been broken, it was never outright implied but the subtext was that Heyman had brought these guys in to go after Taz and put him out, it backfired on Heyman and just made Taz stronger because he plowed right through them.

    So it was like Taz was jealous of Sabu and Heyman's relationship and how Sabu was Heyman's chosen one after he left them hanging at 3 Way Dance 95, Taz was bitter about how he was handled when he broke his neck after that show so he turned into the bad guy. Heyman protected Sabu from Taz for all that time and Sabu gave Heyman his word to stay away from him, things got out of hand and there was nothing left to do but for Sabu to take him on because there was nobody else that could stop him(he had ran through the whole ECW roster).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHZfaq3Ms7E
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzOhc4JSANE
    Last edited by ShinobiMusashi; 08-01-2019 at 09:54 PM.

  6. #6

    Re: ECW Hostile City Showdown 1996 Review

    Aspects of that is amazing. ECW during their prime could do some fantastic angles and characters. I think you fairly stated why Sabu never touched Taz since despite being a loner, Sabu at least had respect to Heyman. Likewise, it explains why Sabu eventually decided to go back on his word once Taz crossed an unstated line when he told RVD about the details in the neck injury.

    It doesn't answer why Taz wouldn't try to get physical. It's not as if he respected Heyman or felt any loyalty to Sabu. At various points in 1996, Sabu is going after the TV and Tag Team Titles and Taz is just fine with it? All Taz wants is for Sabu to answer the challenge, but Sabu is not only not giving Taz what he wants, but is also potentially finding success.

  7. #7
    American Ninja

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    Re: ECW Hostile City Showdown 1996 Review

    I think Taz may explain some of that in some of his promos along the way, I can't remember it's been 5-6 years since I watched the tapes. I'm about due for a rewatch, these reviews certainly get me in the fucking ECW mood, great stuff bubba.

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