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Thread: ECW Heat Wave 1996 Review

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    ECW ECW Heat Wave 1996 Review

    Heat Wave
    July 13, 1996

    Is it “Heat Wave” or “Heatwave”? Since I became a viewer of ECW back in 1999, I’ve yet to figure out this answer for sure. Sometimes it seems like it’s Heatwave, but other times it seems like it’s Heat Wave. At least when I see people spell Summerslam as “Summer Slam” I know to just chuckle at them for being so foolish. Who am I supposed to laugh at?! The Heatwave spellers or Heat Wave spellers? I have to know!

    The Gangstas vs The Samoan Gangsta Party
    I was really dreading this one, but it ended up just being The Gangstas killing the Samoans and the referee throwing the match out. Samu and Rosey got in zero offense. The entire thing lasted a minute or so. ANGLE.

    After the match, The Gangstas cut a promo on The Bruise Brothers and The Eliminators. The Gangstas are looking to take out all of the competition~!

    Mikey Whipwreck vs Paul Lauria w/Damian Kane
    According to Joey Styles, this match is a result of Kane failing to beat Whipwreck, so he pulled a name out of Mikey’s past to get the job done. It’s already pretty weird since Whipwreck defeated Kane way back on the March ECW Arena show. Meanwhile, Lauria was on the ring crew with Whipwreck back in the day. They were allowed to eventually start wrestling on the shows, originally as the masked The Young Dragons. Then around early 1995, the pair feuded with Lauria then abruptly disappearing in early 1995. On paper, this match is somewhat interesting since it is a blast from the past and Lauria is an even more generic version of Whipwreck, but Mikey ended up quickly eating Lauria up and pinning him. SQUASH.

    After the match, The Eliminators ran out and attacked both Whipwreck and Lauria with Lauria receiving Total Elimination. Saturn then got on the mic and cut an unintentionally funny promo directed at The Gangstas. Saturn kept struggling to use “Us” or “We”, instead claiming that “I” won the ECW Tag Titles, before correcting himself. This happened twice. The gist of the promo is that The Eliminators are down for any sort of match The Gangstas want, but the implication is that it will be a four-way match with The Bruise Brothers and Samoan Gangsta Party, but the opening segment made it feel as if Gangstas already got revenge on The Samoans. Anyways, Saturn then turned his attention on Sabu and Whipwreck, poking fun at them and their recent show of respect, challenging them in the process. That led directly to…

    The Eliminators © vs Mikey Whipwreck and Sabu - ECW Tag Titles
    Not only is this match, on paper, the sort of thing I’ve been dying to see The Eliminators in, before the match properly began, Saturn told the referee that it would be a traditional tag match. So now it’s two awesome teams and it’s not a garbage tag match! I really dug this one as both teams went hard. Mikey played the face-in-peril for a bit while The Eliminators heeled it up by being the ones who wanted traditional rules, but then they switched out without tagging behind the ref’s back. They’re hypocrites! Can you believe that heels can be untrustworthy?! When the babyface are able to get in spots, such as when Sabu got the hot tag, they’re pretty awesome with Mikey outshining Sabu, partly because Sabu’s attempt of a triple jump moonsault on both Eliminators was botched terribly. Joey Styles tried claiming it was a rare sight to see Sabu botch. Right. Things look up for the babyfaces though as Whipwreck nails a nice looking slingshot Frankenmikey to Kronus on the outside while Sabu draped Saturn across a table while the table was propped between the steel railing and ring apron. However, disaster strikes as Sabu attempts the chair assisted dive through the table, but Saturn was prepared for it, standing up on the apron and assisting Sabu in crashing and burning through the table. Mikey tried to combat both Eliminators in the middle of the ring, but suffers the fate of a Total Elimination for the finish. So not only did The Eliminators want a traditional tag rules despite not following tag rules, but they also pinned the illegal man. Maybe it’s because I’ve been frustrated at the booking of The Eliminators since they so rarely are able to show off what they can do in the ring against the likes of The Gangstas or Pitbulls, but this was awesome. We’re only in July, but it’s becoming more and more difficult to see anyone beating out Mikey as ECW worker of the year. *** ½

    Before the next match, The FBI comes out to the ring. Sal Bellomo is still part of the group, so he’s out there with JT Smith and Little Guido. There’s some early comedy with Guido confusing “Bilinguel” for “Bisexual” causing Guido to initially deny being bilinguel when Smith called him it. Getting to the purpose of this promo, there’s always so many Dudleys to contend with so Little Guido has called in his little brother to assist The FBI. Initially, Smith is pretty reluctant since Little Guido’s little brother sounds like some tiny guy, but Guido tries to reassure him before calling out his little brother - Big Guido. Big Guido is billed as a seven foot monster, portrayed by former WWE jobber, Mike Fury. Seeing the size of Big Guido, Smith is suddenly ecstatic. With that, it’s yet another memorable arrival for ECW.

    The Dudleys then make their way to the ring for this Bubba Ray and Big Dick tag match, but before the match began, D-Von appeared standing over in the Crow’s Nest to cut a promo. He insults everyone in the ring, including The FBI, but focuses his wrath on Big Dick. The Dudleys belong to him, not Big Dick. He challenges Big Dick to come fight him right now.

    The FBI vs The Dudleys
    This is less of a proper match and more of an all out brawl with everyone involved, despite it technically being Bubba Ray/Big Dick vs Smith/Guido. With Big Dick bailing on The Dudleys to go after D-Von, The Dudleys are overwhelmed by The FBI until D-Von, being a dick who lured Big Dick away so that he can get into the ring, attacked The FBI with a chair proving that he may be a colossal dick to his family, he’s still technically on their side. Still, D-Von ends up losing his cool and dropping The Dudleys with chair strikes. Bubba initially looked as if he was finally going to get revenge on D-Von with a chair strike of his own, but D-Von pleaded for mercy and Bubba Ray just wasn’t able to do it, allowing for D-Von to hit a low blow. Meanwhile, Big Guido was mostly really protected. The times when Bubba Ray or a returned to the ring, Big Dick, attempted anything on Guido, Smith and Guido were there to prevent the newest member of The FBI from having to take a bump. The chaos continued with Bubba Ray vs D-Von, D-Von vs Big Dick, and Big Dick vs Big Guido being the most teased showdowns without much of a payoff. There’s even some randomness with Bubba’s buddy, Hack Meyers, running out to go after D-Von after D-Von destroying The Dudleys allowed The FBI to target Big Dick. The finish saw Big Dick being the only one to knock Big Guido off of his feet by killing him with a stiff chair shot for the pinfall. Like I said, Smith and Little Guido were the actual members of The FBI in the match, but it’s Big Guido who is pinned. As a segment, it was effective as it showcased multiple issues, but as a match it was a total clusterfuck that ended in someone who wasn’t in the match to be pinned. How do you rate something like that? ANGLE.

    Axl Rotten vs Tarzan Goto
    Goto is a hardcore guy from IWA-Japan and FMW, where he’s the current IWA Japan Champion. With The FBI growing as a faction becoming more compatible with The Dudleys rather than Axl Rotten, I feel as if Rotten is becoming a little irrelevant now. For a guy who was Smith’s main rival back when Smith was a one man Italian act, Rotten can’t keep up with Smith growing The FBI out. I expected to hate this, but this was oddly entertaining. It was a predictable wild brawl with stiff shots and plenty of chair strikes. I suppose part of the appeal of the match is that since Goto isn’t an ECW regular, it felt like a special attraction match. At various points in the year, Heyman has tried to force Axl Rotten into feeling special with The Sandman and Shane Douglas showing him respect, but this felt like a more natural form of using Rotten in a special way. There’s one sequence where Goto just absolutely murders Rotten with a series of chair strikes while Rotten is down on the mat. While Goto was working the chair strikes by hitting the mat first to do damage to the chair, the chair got so damaged that it was easy to buy into the idea that Rotten was being brutalized by Goto. Rotten tried to return the attack with his own series of chair strikes, but it lacked the impact. Goto would win after dropping Rotten on his head with a brainbuster on the broken chair. A bit surprised that Goto went over here. ** ½

    Joey Styles brings out Taz and Fonzie. Taz cuts a promo about everyone he’s choked out thus far in 1996 including Bam Bam Bigelow and Devon Storm. From there, Taz turns control over to Fonzie who fires Styles, whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean in this context. He announces Taz’s new personal announcer - Joel Gertner. Heel Gertner is here! Gertner is already getting comfortable in his new role, trying to get under Styles’ skin. The payoff of this segment was the return of 911. It’s a big reaction as the old Taz/911 feud seems to be back on. Gertner receives a choke slam and Taz takes one too. However, Taz does the unthinkable, he no sells the choke slam. Taz drops 911 on his head with a German Suplex and then chokes him out with the Tazmission. Behind the scenes, this was a bit interesting since 911 was fired by Heyman at the start of the year since 911 thought he was above losing to Taz. Months later, 911 is allowed back, but he had to unofficially job to Taz. We’re still a good deal away from Gertner being the heel announcer for The Dudley Boyz, but we’re now a step closer to it with Gertner being a heel.

    Chris Jericho © vs 2 Cold Scorpio vs Shane Douglas vs Pitbull #2 w/Francine - ECW TV Title
    YES! Way back in 1999 or 2000, I bought ECW’s Path of Destruction VHS, my first chance to watch a little older ECW. This match happened to be on the tape with the match really delivering despite my lack of awareness of the angles. Anyways, this is the battle of the recent TV Champions. All four men have been TV Champion at least since May 1996. Shane Douglas can be a pretty polarizing figure in wrestling. Some consider him to be an amazing wrestler who revolutionized the 90s. Others see Douglas as some overrated fraud that often wrestled in too long of matches. I know I’ve been negative on Douglas in 1996. With that being said, this match is Douglas at his absolute best. This show may just be taking place in some little bingo hall, but Douglas legitimately comes across as one of the best heels of all time here. Everything he does is very calculating. It began with Douglas sneak attacking Pitbull #2 during his rival’s entrance, busting Pitbull open. From there, for a large portion of the first fall, Douglas refuses to be in the ring with Pitbull. This sort of chickenshit attitude extends to the others as well, but not as much. This strategy of being hated by everyone worked so well for Douglas that there’s even fights over who gets to eliminate him, allowing Douglas time to keep from being pinned. Meanwhile, the crowd is so loud from start to finish, mostly focusing on chanting jeers towards Douglas. While Douglas is carrying the match from a character perspective, there’s some great action between Scorpio and Jericho whenever they’re in the ring together. What starts as an exhibition-like exchange descends into a grudge with the pair fighting in the crowd. Meanwhile, the longer the first fall goes, the more Douglas is forced to interact with Pitbull, so Douglas is there to tag himself in when Pitbull isn’t prepared or he tries to bring the action to the outside where he can use weapons to get the best of Pitbull #2. The end of the first fall ties together the two big stories of the fall - Douglas being a calculating asshole and Jericho/Scorpio’s growing issues with Douglas refusing to tag himself in to battle Scorpio. This causes Jericho to become distracted, forcefully tagging Douglas in. When Douglas doesn’t step into the ring, Jericho gets surprised with a super kick from Scorpio. Like the piece of shit that he is, Douglas then tags Jericho back in. This all allows Scorpio to finish Jericho off with the Tumbleweed. So after nearly thirty minutes of action, Jericho is still technically the TV Champion, but he’s forced to watch the rest of the match from the back and we’re guaranteed to see a new champion crowned.

    The second fall continues one of Douglas’ strategies of working together to get eliminations. He managed to con Scorpio into an unofficial alliance to eliminate Jericho. Yet, when Douglas tries to lure Scorpio into another alliance to eliminate Pitbull, Scorpio isn’t interested and attacks Douglas. However, Scorpio’s biggest flaw comes to light again - he’s too damn cocky. Instead of just trying pin Douglas, he’s trying to be flashy, similarly as he was in the final minutes of the first fall. The result is that Pitbull #2 gets involved and we get the surprise of Douglas talking Pitbull #2 into briefly working together to get rid of Scorpio. Pitbull reluctantly agreed since all it entails is sitting on the top turnbuckle and waiting for Douglas to lift Scorpio up and place in The Franchise’s arms. One Super Bomb later and Scorpio is eliminated after five minutes. The final fall is where the story really kicks in as it’s time for Pitbull to get revenge on Douglas. They battled on the outside and Pitbull power bombed Douglas on a chair. However, after there’s a ref bump after Francine gets in the ring, the betrayal occurs as Francine tosses powder into the eyes of Pitbull #2 before removing her skirt to reveal “Franchise” on the back of her bikini bottoms. That brings out Pitbull #1, whose arm seems to be in better condition, and it’s time for The Pitbulls to get some revenge. Shane is taken out and The Pitbulls deliver a Super Bomb through a table to Francine to a giant reaction. However, while The Pitbulls are busy with Francine, it gives Douglas time to recover, dropping Pitbull #1 with a Divorce Court on his bad arm. Douglas uses the TV Title to knock out Pitbull #2 and covers, but Pitbull kicks out. The crowd erupts again. Douglas then grabs a piece of the broken table to smash over Pitbull #2’s head to cover again, but yet again Pitbull kicks out. Douglas pulls out a pair of brass knuckles to hit Pitbull with, but Pitbull #2 still manages to kick out. Douglas finally pulls out a steel chain from his boots, but even that doesn’t beat Pitbull. Pitbull #2 tried to mount a comeback, but ends up missing a spinning heel kick in the corner, causing Pitbull to take a vicious bump over the top rope to the concrete below. The match is now forty minutes long, Pitbull #2 was attacked and busted open by Douglas before the match began, fought far more in the match than Douglas since Pitbull never avoided tags, he’s received four different weapon shots moments ago, and took a big bump to the outside. Yet, Pitbull still managed to get back to his feet and back into the ring, but he’s immediately hit with a Belly-to-Belly suplex, and Douglas, the man who used every weapon he could get his hands on in the match, ends up winning the third fall with a wrestling move to become the NEW ECW TV Champion. This match is pure perfection by ECW standards. You could argue Pitbulls shouldn’t have gotten their hands on Francine on the same night that she turned against them, but it’s ECW. Things move so quickly there. Not to mention, there’s such big things still to come in the feud that ECW isn’t missing out on anything by not delaying the revenge. As I said at multiple times in the review, the crowd was so into everything. It felt like a huge match with the most dastardly heel of all time manipulating his way to victory. To think, this is the same guy who just a couple of months ago downplayed the importance of the TV Title. This match sums up all of ECW’s strengths and at this point in time, I think it’s the best match in the company’s history. *****

    After the match, Douglas carries Francine to the back.

    Louie Spicolli vs El Puerto Ricano
    This is billed as Spicolli’s ECW debut, but he actually debuted the previous night at a house show against Ricano. Spicolli, as Rad Radford, was last seen on TV back in January when he was defeated by Skip on WWE Superstars to end their partnership. He’s now had a buzzcut and looks like a distant relative of the Andersons. A big improvement over his Radford look. Anyways, Spicolli quickly attacks Ricano, drops him on his head with a Spicolli Driver, and smashed a chair over the head to get the victory with a single finger on Ricano’s chest. I’m excited to see what Spicolli ends up doing in ECW. He’s got this huge reputation, but with my only experience of him being comedy guys in WWE and WCW, I never saw what was so special. SQUASH

    After the match, Sabu, wearing a neck brace, runs out to the ring. Joey Styles informs us that Sabu was Spicolli’s original opponent, but after Sabu was injured in the tag match, he was pulled from this. This leads directly to…

    Sabu vs Louie Spicolli
    Joey Styles sells Sabu’s desire for competition really strongly by hyping the Stretcher Match that’s signed for August 3rd against RVD, yet Sabu is not only booked tonight, but he willingly wrestled The Eliminators, able to get out of this match, but still opted to wrestle it. This match was fairly decent, but it just ultimately went on for too long. By the final few minutes, Spicolli seemed completely gassed and the pair just seemed clueless as to what to do, but the spots just kept going. Yet before that? It was solid. Spicolli came off looking like a star by countering a bunch of Sabu’s spots, which is good enough for a Spicolli “Victory” despite the fact that Sabu was obviously going over. Sabu would win with an Arabarian Facebuster. ** ½

    Raven ©, Stevie Richards, and Brian Lee vs Tommy Dreamer, The Sandman, Terry Gordy - Rage in a Cage - ECW World Title
    I don’t have to watch the rest of 1996 ECW. This is by far the worst match of the year. It’s not that it’s boring or that it’s a garbage match (Even though I’m clearly not a fan of the garbage tag matches), this match is god awful because it makes zero sense. The match had three starting points for the pairs. Raven and Sandman started inside of the cage, Richards and Gordy started at the Eagle’s Nest, while Brian Lee and Tommy Dreamer started outside of the ring. Now, if Gordy or Richards gets a pinfall on the other, the one who got a pinfall can automatically walk inside of the cage. Does that mean the same for Lee and Dreamer? Who knows! Is the one pinned able to eventually go inside of the cage? I don’t know either! Even though it’s a team match, Raven’s ECW Title is on the line, BUT Richards is the one actually defending the title, so pinning Raven doesn’t mean anything. Then there’s a new question of if Gordy pins Richards on the outside, that means he wins the ECW Title, but does the match actually continue or does the match only end when there’s a pinfall inside of the cage? Not that it matters though as Gordy eventually walked inside of the cage, apparently without pinning Richards. Richards, Lee, and Dreamer would all eventually come inside of the cage, although Gordy and Lee ended up battling out of the cage and into the crowd. Speaking of Gordy, during his short time in the cage, he attacked The Sandman, proving that even the wrestlers didn’t understand the rules of the match! The pure shit continues as Dreamer and Sandman focuses too much on trying to pin Raven even though pinning him means absolutely nothing. There is some more Raven/Sandman angle on display here. Dreamer would handcuff Raven to the cage, allowing Sandman to prepare to kill Raven with some Singapore cane shots, but Lori showed up, forcing Tyler into the cage to shield Raven. This caused Sandman to refuse to hit Raven, but Dreamer didn’t have a problem with potentially hurting Tyler, which caused issues between Dreamer and Sandman. The distraction allowed Super Nova to uncuff Raven from the cage. There’s a big spot where Super Nova set up a triple decker with the tables on the outside with Lee delivering a Prime Time Slam to Dreamer through the tables. Joey Styles sold the spot well, but the spot didn’t look so hot. Dreamer just sorta fell backwards with a couple of the tables not breaking. In the end, Sandman managed to pin Raven to win the match for his team, willingly denying himself a chance to regain the ECW Title because he couldn’t be bothered to pin the right guy. Seriously, this match is absolutely awful. The fact that the Doomsday Cage match from Uncensored 1996 gets so much hate, but this one gets little talk is incredibly unfair to the WCW match. Sometimes in wrestling, companies try way too hard to update a gimmick match, but instead of succeeding, they make it convoluted for the sake of making it more complicated. ¼ *

    After the match, Brian Lee began choking out Missy Hyatt. Beulah and Kimona try to save Missy, but Lee chokes them out as well. The show ends with Lee and Gordy getting into a little scuffle.

    Heat Wave 1996 (aka Heatwave 1996...seriously, is there a space or not?!) sure showcases the best and worst of ECW in 1996. When it comes to the best, there’s the ECW MOTY with the four-way elimination match. Like I said in the review, it’s a chaotic experience that was absolutely perfect for ECW. It’s weird to think that this would be my overall MOTY over matches like HBK/Diesel or Bret/Austin, but it’s also not a match that could have succeeded as much as it did anywhere besides in ECW in that building. On the flip side, the Rage in a Cage match made zero sense and was ultimately a gigantic waste. It wasn’t just one thing wrong with the match logic wise, but there was so much wrong. The rest of the show wasn’t bad though. The Eliminators vs Sabu/Mikey was my favorite tag match thus far in 1996. The Dudleys angle continues to be a heated lowcard program. Rotten vs Goto ended up not being as bad as I expected. The debut of Louie Spicolli made him look good, even if the match went on for too long. Overall, Heat Wave had all of the potential to be a standout ECW event in 1996, but the main event drops the quality quite a bit. Still, go out of your way to watch the four-way, although beware that you may not enjoy it as much as me.

  2. #2
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    Re: ECW Heat Wave 1996 Review

    That 4 way is the best match in ecw. I also gave it 5 stars. Its amazing.

  3. #3

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    Re: ECW Heat Wave 1996 Review

    I don't think it's quite THAT good but it's certainly up there as one of the best matches the promotion ran. My memory of it was hazy but yeah, great shit and all of the best of ECW.

    I really liked the cagematch even if it was a total clusterfuck, but maybe that's done to "it's ECW"

  4. #4

    Re: ECW Heat Wave 1996 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by King Steventon View Post
    I really liked the cagematch even if it was a total clusterfuck, but maybe that's done to "it's ECW"
    I can't understand the appeal of a match that has such fundamental flaws as not understanding 90% of the rules. Maybe Hardcore TV did a better job of explaining the rules, but what we got on the official home release was Vince Russo levels of overbooked shit.

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