Throwback Thursday: ECW Hardcore TV (July 25, 1998), As Seen on WWE Network

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This week Throwback Thursday returns to the “Land of Misfit Wrestlers” on the WWE Network as we revisit this classic edition of Extreme Championship Wrestling’s Hardcore TV that aired 22 years ago this Saturday!

By the late summer of 1998, Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) was easily one of the most talked about wrestling promotions anywhere in the world. Thanks to their continued PPV push and work with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) more fans than ever were aware of and watching ECW. For those who couldn’t find the promotions syndicated TV in their area (a common problem) there was always tape trading and home video outlets, like RF Video, that helped fans discover or stay plugged into ECW, as well as the so-called “Apter mags” and other wrestling publications. On TV the major story at the time had to do with The Dudley Boyz “breaking” Beulah McGillicutty’s neck on the June 6, 1998 edition of Hardcore TV. McGillicutty, the real life girlfriend of Tommy Dreamer, had (in reality) made the decision to step away from the wrestling business to pursue her college education. The angle, coming just three weeks before the infamous Undertaker/Mankind “Hell in a Cell” at the WWF’s King of the Ring ’98, was one of the most controversial moments in wrestling, adding fuel to the fire of critics who claimed that professional wrestling was out of control.

 

 

This edition of HCTV aired only two weeks before ECW’s HeatWave ’98 PPV in Dayton, Ohio. The Tommy Dreamer/Dudley Boyz story is the main story for the hour but the other major stories at the time, Taz wanting Shane Douglas, and the continued wedge between Lance Storm & Chris Candido are also prominently featured.

Edits are, as always with the ECW archives, a bit of an issue. Any and all ECW Home Video and merchandise promos have been cut and a scant few “WWF” mutes remain. Much of the music, as well, has been overdubbed. Context, meanwhile, is excellent. All prior editions of ECW HCTV, as well all past ECW PPVs and a growing list of supercards (a slew of which were added just this week), are available for you to enjoy on the WWE Network right now!

 

ECW Hardcore TV #275 (WATCH)
Date: July 25, 1998 (TAPED: July 18, 1998) – Location: ECW Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Attendance: <1,400 – TV Rating: N/A
Commentator: Joey Styles & ECW World Heavyweight Champion Shane Douglas – Interviews: Joey Styles

CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME:
ECW World Heavyweight Champion: “The Franchise” Shane Douglas
ECW World Television Champion: Rob Van Dam
ECW World Tag Team Champion: ECW World Television Champion Rob Van Dam & Sabu
FTW World Heavyweight Champion (Unrecognized): Taz

 

This week’s edition of ECW Hardcore TV opens in the ring with Joey Styles welcoming us to the show, and to the ECW Arena, as fans start chanting about New York sucking. Styles then introduces this week’s guest commentator, ECW World Heavyweight Champion Shane Douglas, joined by Francine. Douglas talks about it being hot, sticky, and moist but decides he’s talked enough about Francine, which causes Joey to drop the microphone. Joey bends down to pick it up and sneaks a peek up Francine’s dress. Yeah, it’s the ’90s. Francine pulls Joey up and gives Styles a playful kiss on the cheek. This is followed by the usual, awesome ECW open that hypes the upcoming HeatWave ’98 PPV.

 

In the “Eagle’s Nest” Joey Styles tries to hype the upcoming HeatWave ’98 when Taz comes to the ring. Styles attempts to stop Douglas from baiting Taz to come find him but a threat from Francine to stop any future “peek-a-boos” stops Joey short. Taz, with his FTW World title, grabs the microphone and beings to explain the origins of the “F-T-W” phrase. Taz talks about Shane Dsouglas jumping to the WWF after losing the ECW World title and says that Douglas may call the FTW title fake but that Douglas is no “Franchise” because Douglas didn’t “stick it out” with ECW and its fans. Taz says he’s been to all the shows, like Sandman and Tommy Dreamer, while ECW paid its dues, staying loyal to ECW. Shane Douglas didn’t. Douglas may have been a foreman in the building ECW but Douglas left, Taz didn’t. So just as Douglas held up the ECW title in 1994 and said “f**k the world”, Taz holds up his FTW title and says “f**k the world”. Taz talks about Douglas being handed his job back in ECWand being handed an ECW World title shot while the workhorse guys get TV title shots. RVD may be over, Taz says, but it was Taz that made the ECW TV title mean something. So, when and if Douglas decides to step out from behind the commentary desk and put his World title up against the FTW title, Taz is ready and willing. Taz then challenges anybody to come to the ring and fight him for the FTW World title and out comes “Triple Threat” member Bam Bam Bigelow!

 

Unrecognized FTW World Heavyweight Championship – “Impromptu Grudge Match” (WATCH – 12:02)
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Taz(c)

This match is more of an angle than a match but it’s a good, fast-paced fight while it lasts. Taz starts fast but Bam Bam quickly turns the tide. Taz tries to make the comeback but gets cut off. Taz finally puts Bam Bam down with a trio of lariats before landing a DDT from the top rope. But just as Taz goes for the katahajime out come Chris Candido and Lance Storm, who jump all over Taz, giving Taz the win by DQ at just 1:51.

WINNER and STILL Unrecognized FTW World Heavyweight Champion, Taz (Disqualification, 1:51)

 

After the bell rings Candido & Storm continue to beat on Taz until the ECW World Tag Team Champions, RVD & Sabu, make the save and clear the ring. With the ring cleared Bill Alfonso offers a hand to Taz as RVD & Sabu stand by. Taz grabs his FTW title instead, holds it up, and the four seem to come to some mutual understanding as Champions.

 

Back from a break Joey hypes the big matches at HeatWave ’98, including the six-man war between the Dudley Boyz and Tommy Dreamer, Sandman, & Spike Dudley, the stipulation of which will be determined by a “best-of-three falls” single match series on this week’s ECW HCTV.

 

—“Best 2-out-of-3 Falls Challenge Series: Match #1” – Winning Team Chooses Stipulation for 6-Man Tag Team Match at HeatWave ’98 – “Grudge Match” – HIGHLIGHTS (WATCH – 18:08)
Buh Buh Ray Dudley w/Joel Gertner, Sign Guy Dudley, & Jeff Jones vs. Tommy Dreamer

We only really get to see the highlights here. There were few feuds in ECW as personal and heated as the feud between Tommy Dreamer and the Dudley Boyz. We see the slow start and some of Dreamer’s offense before seeing Buh Buh turn up the heat. At one point, in a quintessential ECW moment, the fans in the front row help Dreamer to this feet as Dreamer makes the comeback. Soon enough Gertner, Sign Guy, & Jones save Buh Buh from certain doom. After dropping Jones & Sign Guy with stereo DDTs, Jack Victory rushes the ring with a small guitar. Dreamer then drops Victory with a DDT before walking into a vicious guitar shot from Buh Buh Ray Dudley that gives Buh Buh the win and the first fall of the series.

WINNER is Buh Buh Ray Dudley w/Joel Gertner, Sign Guy Dudley, & Jeff Jones (Pin, 4:48, Highlight time; Dudley Boyz: 1 – Tommy Dreamer, Sandman, & Spike Dudley: 0)

 

After the match we head back to the “Eagle’s Nest” where Francine cuts a promo on Beulah McGillicutty for being out of commission while Francine is still riding high in ECW.

 

—“Best 2-out-of-3 Falls Challenge Series: Match #2” – Winning Team Chooses Stipulation for 6-Man Tag Team Match at HeatWave ’98 – “Singapore Cane Match” – HIGHLIGHTS (WATCH – 23:49)
D-Von Dudley vs. The Sandman

Typical Sandman highlight package here. It’s Sandman early, taking the fight to D-Von as Sandman recites his own “commandments”. D-Von eventually makes the comeback. Soon enough D-Von goes for the kill, reciting the Dudley Commandments, until Sandman ducks the last swing of the cane, hitting the side Russian leg sweep for the win to even the series at one fall apiece.

WINNER is The Sandman (Pin, 2:38, Highlight time; Dudley Boyz: 1 – Tommy Dreamer, Sandman, & Spike Dudley: 1)

 

After the match we go to the “Eagle’s Nest” where Joey hypes the final match of the series as Douglas gives Francine a peck on the cheek.

 

—“Best 2-out-of-3 Falls Challenge Series: Match #3” – Winning Team Chooses Stipulation for 6-Man Tag Team Match at HeatWave ’98 – “Grudge Match” – HIGHLIGHTS (WATCH – 29:45)
Big Dick Dudley w/Joel Gertner, Buh Buh Ray Dudley, & D-Von Dudley vs. Spike Dudley

This is yet another match that we don’t see that much of, and maybe that’s for the best. We see Spike nearly win it early before seeing Big Dick Dudley go to work on a bloody Spike. Spike makes a comeback and goes for the Acid Drop when Big Dick turns the move into a Torture Rack bomb for the win, giving the Dudley Boyz the pick of the stipulation for HeatWave ’98, which ended up being a “street fight”.

WINNER is Big Dick Dudley w/Joel Gertner, Buh Buh Ray Dudley, & D-Von Dudley (Pin, 1:11, Highlight time; Dudley Boyz: 2 – Tommy Dreamer, Sandman, Spike Dudley: 1)

 

After a break Joey Styles tosses to a pre-taped promo from former World Tag Team Champions Chris Candido & Lance Storm. Storm tries to speak but a hyper-nervous Chris Candido distracts him. Storm then grabs a chair and performs a successful “trust fall” to prove to Candido that Storm trusts Candido. With that out of the way Lance Storm talks about Chris Candido suffering a horrendous injury to his ear in Boston and how Storm rode to the hospital and stayed with Candido, thinking all the while of avenging the injury to Candido and proving they are the best tag team in the sport. Back in the “Eagle’s Nest” Joey & Shane talk about Candido’s ear injury before tossing to the ring for our World Tag Team title main event.

 

ECW World Tag Team Championship – “Tag Team Grudge Match” – HIGHLIGHTS (WATCH – 31:12)
Chris Candido & Lance Storm vs. ECW World Television Champion Rob Van Dam & Sabu w/Bill Alfonso

This, like the rest of this show, is just highlights. There isn’t much of the match that’s shown aside from high spots, which are, naturally, good for what they are. The only trouble is that the match is so cut up that we can’t tell what the story of the match really is. We hear from Douglas & Styles that RVD’s back is bad and Candido’s bandaged ear is at risk but we just have to take their word for it since we don’t see any of it for ourselves. Lots of leaping into the crowd late as we see Sabu trap Candido in the Camel Clutch. Near the end we see RVD & Sabu go for the tandem table dive, but Candido rolls out of the way, leaving Storm to take the brunt of Sabu’s leg drop through the table. Moments later Candido and Storm are Irish whipped into one another and Storm slaps Candido in the bad ear before storming off, leaving Candido to the wolves. RVD & Sabu take advantage and land their diving leg drop/splash combo for the win to retain the Tag Team titles. Afterwards we see Storm charging through the curtain, still ranting about Candido.

WINNERS and STILL ECW World Tag Team Champions, ECW World Television Champion Rob Van Dam & Sabu w/Bill Alfonso (Pin, 5:12, Highlight time)

 

Back from break Joey Styles announces that Chris Candido has challenged Lance Storm to a match at HeatWave ’98, leaving Styles to wonder who will challenge RVD & Sabu for the World Tag Team titles.

 

This leads to a promo from Bill Alfonso, RVD, & Sabu. Alfonso goes ape about the PPV being right around the corner while RVD tries to calm Alfonso down, mocking Alfonso for not “being cool”. RVD takes the obligatory backhanded jab at Sabu and talks about the rumors of who will face them at the PPV, saying he knows they’ll walk in the Champions and walk out the Champions. (RVD & Sabu would end up facing FMW’s Jinsei Shinzaki (the former “Hakushi”) & then-FMW Double Champion Hyabusa.) RVD then says he’s got a reputation for being “stiff” and says “RVD 4:20 means I just smoked your ass!”

 

Somewhere else Joel Gertner, with the rest of The Dudley Boyz, says the Dudleys had a “Penthouse Pet”, referring to Beulah McGillicutty, “spayed, neutered, and fixed”. But the Dudley Boyz aren’t to be blamed, Gertner says, as the Dudleys are “a product of their environment”. No one invited Beulah to “Dudleyville” and if Beulah is looking for someone to blame, look no further than Tommy Dreamer. Buh Buh takes over, saying Dreamer’s been around for a while and made the “biggest mistake of all” by bringing his girlfriend into a wrestling ring, which the Dudleys call “Dudleyville”. But anywhere the Dudley Boyz are smashing skulls is “Dudleyville” to them.

 

The worst thing Dreamer could have done, Buh Buh says, was bring Beulah to the ring, and that they don’t care if Dreamer brings a child or his grandmother to the ring, “Dudleyville” is their world. Buh Buh says that Beulah will never be in the ring with Dreamer again because she felt the 3-D, which snapped Beulah’s neck. Dreamer should feel like “crap” because Beulah’s blood is on Dreamer’s hands. As Buh Buh continues to talk we see a replay of the 3-D on Beulah over highlights of Beulah’s ECW career and Tommy Dreamer’s anguish.

 

Next we head to the locker room where Tommy Dreamer talks about the current issue with the Dudleys being different than settling scores with Raven or Jerry “The King” Lawler. Dreamer talks about a wrestler’s life being “an open book” in the sport and how young talent jumps on the old. But with Dreamer, he says, it’s different. They don’t just come after Dreamer himself but they come after Dreamer’s friends, and everyone gets hurt. Dreamer talks about Spike Dudley and Sandman paying the price for being with Dreamer. Dreamer slinks to the floor, crying about losing Beulah, who was supposed to be with Dreamer “forever”. Dreamer headbutts a locker as he recites the martial vows, shouting that for the Dudley Boyz, it’s “til death do us part!” The show then fades to black.

 

Final Thoughts

Though we only get one complete match (If you can call it that), the Taz/Bigelow opener, and a ton of highlights, there is a lot to like about this edition of HCTV. The promos, as usual, are good to great, and the major stories of the day are intelligently advanced and never overdone. With so much going on in ECW at the time it would have been easy for ECW to produce a disjointed, incoherent hour of TV. In the end, ECW leaves fans wanting more, brilliantly building heat for the PPV and the six-man war to come at a breakneck pace, cramming a two-hour show into a 60-minute sack.. If you haven’t seen this edition of HCTV, or it’s been a while, it’s worth your time, especially if you’ve never seen ECW prior the exodus of their top talent in 1999. Who knows, you may end up liking it!

Already subscribed to the WWE Network? Then you can relive this classic edition of ECW Hardcore TV right now or experience it for the very first time! As always, let us know what you think in the comments section below!

For pre-WNN editions of TBT, click here!

Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!

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