Throwback Thursday: ECW on TNN aka ECW Wrestling (Sept. 1, 2000), As Seen on WWE Network and Peacock

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This week Throwback Thursday takes a walk on the “extreme” side of the WWE Network and Peacock vault when we revisit one of the final editions of ECW on TNN that aired 22 years ago this month!

Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) was in the midst of a tortuously long, painful demise as this edition of ECW on TNN hit airwaves. The long-sought national cable television deal ECW found with TNN in the summer of 1999 proved to be more of an anvil than a liberator. After demanding increased production that the network refused pay for and refusing to properly promote the show, Viacom (parent company of TNN and MTV) inked a massive, five year deal with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) worth more than $140 million dollars to bring WWF programming to TNN and MTV. The five year deal included WWF Monday Night RAW, WWF LiveWire, and WWF Superstars moving to TNN while WWF Heat would air Sunday evenings on MTV.

At the time the deal was announced Brian Hughes, then the Senior Vice President of TNN Sports and Outdoors, blamed ECW’s TNN demise on a “lack of quality production” that made the promotion look “minor-league” compared to the WWF and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Hughes pinned the poor production on “a lack of resources” that made ECW look and feel as if it were “not at the level of the other two.” Hughes admitted that ECW had “consistently done OK” numbers on TNN while claiming that expectations for ECW’s success were “higher than they should have been”. While Hughes was quick to defend the ECW roster and crew, pointing out the difficulties ECW faced in competing with the production level of the WWF and WCW, Hughes laid the fault for ECW’s demise squarely at owner Paul Heyman’s feet. As this episode aired there was talk of ECW staying on TNN through October, and possibly the rest of 2000, to better assist ECW in securing another TV deal. Paul Heyman, furious at the mishandling and, in Heyman’s view, sandbagging of ECW by TNN, wanted to be done with TNN as soon as possible.

Looking to move on to greener pastures, and a better national television deal, Heyman rebuffed TNN’s short-term offers to remain on the network as they pursued a new TV deal. The reality, however, was that Heyman and ECW were running out of time, options, and (most importantly) money. Even with the series on TNN much of the ECW roster wasn’t being paid on a regular basis, some going more than a month without a valid check.

With house shows and TV tapings being canceled regularly the chances of making any money at all were rapidly dwindling. The loss of their cable programming on TNN, and the revenue generated from it, would force Heyman to rely solely on expensive syndication that Heyman was still paying out of pocket for. Around this time Paul Heyman, desperate for an infusion of cash, offered Smashing Pumpkins front-man Billy Corgan a 10% stake in ECW for a reported million dollars, an offer Corgan turned down. As Paul Heyman sought a new TV deal for ECW he was quickly discovering the the market for pro wrestling programming was cooling rapidly.

The wrestling boom of the mid-’90s was ending as quickly as it had begun, with only the WWF left as a viable competitor moving forward. To make matters worse, top talent like Rob Van Dam and Sandman were refusing to work ECW shows unless they were paid ahead of time or, in the case of RVD, paid a portion of what they were already owed. Now the hardcore promotion, known for its go-it-alone, blood and guts attitude, found itself in the midst of a very different, very real kind of death match. And the hardcore fans who had stood with ECW, some from the very beginning, could only watch as the wolves began picking the promotion apart.

 

 

The top story in ECW at the time this show aired was fan favorite Jerry Lynn’s pursuit of Justin Credible and the ECW World Heavyweight title. Another top story was Rob Van Dam’s continuing feud with Rhino, soon to involve the ECW World Television Championship, as well as Rhino’s ongoing war with Sandman. The ECW World Tag Team tournament, Joel Gertner’s long war with Cyrus, soon coming to a close, and the rise of Steve Corino from comedy act to main event player were all key stories as well. Away from the ring the number one song in the nation was Janet Jackson’s “Doesn’t Really Matter” while Nelly’s Country Grammar was the number one album. On network television the Tuesday night edition of ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was the top rated show of the week. On cable, meanwhile, the second hour of the WWF’s Monday Night RAW (drawing 8.54 million viewers) was the top rated program for the week heading into this edition of ECW on TNN while the first hour of RAW (drawing 7.63 million viewers) was the second highest rated program for the week. In theaters the hit Bring It On, starring Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku, Jesse Bradford, & Gabrielle Union, was the top film in the nation.

So, with all of that out of the way, let’s head on over to the WWE Network on Peacock, hit ‘play’, and see how well this edition of ECW on TNN holds up in 2022!

Aside from music, the chief edits offender in the ECW archives, edits aren’t an issue with this edition of ECW on TNN. All merchandise and ECW Home Video promos have been nixed, as usual, but this doesn’t alter the enjoyment of the show. Context, meanwhile, is excellent. All prior editions of ECW on TNN, ECW Hardcore TV, and all past ECW pay-per-views, as well as a growing list of supercards, is available for you to enjoy on the WWE Network and Peacock right now!

 

ECW on TNN #54 (WATCH)
Date: September 1, 2000 (TAPED: Aug. 25, 2000, ECW Midtown Massacre) – Location: Hammerstein Ballroom, Manhattan, New York City, New York
Attendance: >2,500 – TV Ratings: 1.12 (>1.5 million homes)
Commentators: Joey Styles & Joel Gertner – Interviews: Joey Styles

CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME:
ECW World Heavyweight Champion: Justin Credible (April 22, 2000, ECW CyberSlam 2000, from Tommy Dreamer; prior to the match Justin Credible relinquished his half of the ECW World Tag Team titles, which Credible held with Impact Players partner Lance Storm, vacating the Tag Team Championship)
ECW World Television Champion: Rhino (April 22, 2000, ECW CyberSlam 2000, from Yoshihiro Tajiri)
ECW World Tag Team Champions: VACANT (April 22, 2000, ECW CyberSlam 2000; then-Tag Team Champion Justin Credible relinquished his half of the Tag Team titles he held with Impact Players partner Lance Storm before successfully challenging the newly-crowned ECW World Heavyweight Champion Tommy Dreamer in an impromptu title match)

 

This week’s edition of ECW on TNN features a cold open in which we join one of the three semi-final round matches in the ECW World Tag Team title tournament already in progress.

 

Semi-Final Round Match of the ECW World Tag Team Championship Tournament – JIP (0:00)
The Unholy Alliance (Mikey Whipwreck & Yoshihiro Tajiri) w/Sinister Minister vs. Hot Commodity (EZ Money & Julio Dinero) w/Chris Hamrick & Elektra

We don’t get to see much of this one but the finish. This match would air in its entirety two weeks later on the September 15, 2000 edition of ECW on TNN, though as a regular match and not as part of the Tag Team title tournament. This was one of three semi-final matches in the 12-team tournament. The format would see six first round matches leading to three semi-final bouts, with the winners of the three semi-final matches then advancing to a “Three-Way Dance” to determine the new ECW World Tag Team Champions. Tajiri & Whipwreck defeated the F.B.I. (Little Guido & Tony Mamaluke) in the opening round while Hot Commodity defeated Christian York & Joey Matthews in the tournament opener.

As we join this one Tajiri and Whipwreck are taking the fight to Julio Dinero when Sinister Minster pulls EZ Money off the apron. As Tajiri & Whipwreck plot their next move Chris Hamrick leaps off the top rope into Tajiri’s mist. Hamrick then takes a brutal somersault bump off the apron to the concrete floor, all but eliminating Hamrick from the match. EZ Money tries to bring a chair into the ring but Tajiri kicks the chair into Money’s face before Whipwreck & Tajiri drop Dinero with an inverted double monkey flip and a double brainbuster for the 1-2-3 to advance to the final “Three-Way Dance” and a chance to win the vacant ECW World Tag Team titles.

WINNERS are The Unholy Alliance (Mikey Whipwreck & Yoshihiro Tajiri) w/Sinister Minister (Pin, 1:16, JIP time)

 

After the match the Unholy Alliance celebrates with Sinister Minster as Joey Styles hypes taking us through to the finals of the tournament on tonight’s show. Styles then hypes “shocking news” about Rob Van Dam to come later in the show before we jump to an abbreviated version of the ECW open sans highlights. Coming out of the open we head back inside the Hammerstein Ballroom where Joey Styles welcomes us to the show before handing the mic to Joel Gertner for a classic, five borough middle name gag involving the now-infamous former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

 

Joey then introduces their interview guest Steve Corino, who is joined by Smashing Pumpkins front-man (and future owner of the National Wrestling Alliance) Billy Corgan, who is playing Corino to the ring. Originally Corgan played a grungy version of “New York, New York”, but that bit has been, for obvious reasons, overdubbed here. Once in the ring Styles congratulates Corino on becoming the number one contender to Justin Credible’s ECW World Heavyweight Championship. Corino starts by thanking God that he can “perform here” in New York City, which prompts a loud “Philly sucks” chant.

Corino then says that it’s well known he cheated to defeat New Jack, cheated to get a win over Dusty Rhodes, and cheated to get a win over Tommy Dreamer, something he’s not going to apologize for. And Corino’s not going to apologize, he says, when he scores a pinfall over Justin Credible “because everybody knows the next ECW World Heavyweight Champion is…”—but just then Lou E. Dangerously, the “Network Music Consultant”, comes out and says the next Champion will be the same man who is “Champion now, was the Champion yesterday, and who will be the Champion at Anarchy Rulz”, Justin Credible.

 

After telling Styles & Gertner to leave the ring Lou E. calls Corgan the “millennium’s new answer to Milli Vanilli” and says that the only thing Corino is going to be a “contender” for is “the person whose ass I kick” after Lou E. is done with Corgan. That’s because, Lou E. says, he’ll whip Corgan, Corino, and everyone in the Hammerstein Ballroom tonight. Lou E. says he deserves the title shot at Anarchy Rulz and says he’ll fight both Corino and Corgan right now!

 

But, as Corino and Corgan look to square up with Lou E., World Heavyweight Champion Justin Credible slides in the far side of the ring and waylays Corino in the back of the dome with the Singapore cane. Credible drops the cane and stands over Corino to talk trash as Corgan picks up the cane and runs Lou E. off. As Credible turns around Corgan dives the cane into Credible’s chest and throat, driving Credible to the mat in the corner.

Corgan then stands over a choking Credible, posing as if he’s a discount D-X member, and all but dares Credible to come at him when Lou E. gloms Corgan in the back of the head with the brick-sized cell phone, leading to a hilarious bump from Corgan. Credible & Lou E. stand over the two, with Credible saying that’s not just the coolest or the best but, as Lou. E. tells us, “a message from The Network!” Credible’s music hits and the two celebrate their attack as we head to the first Peacock ad-break of the hour.

 

Coming out of the break we see TV Champion Rhino & ECW World Champion Justine Credible (with Francine) make their entrance before Sandman’s music hits and we head to the next Peacock ad-break. After the break we see the end of Sandman and Chilli Willi’s entrance. Sandman gives Willi a pep talk at the foot of the aisle before the two rush the ring to kick this one off!

 

First Round Match of the ECW World Tag Team Championship Tournament (11:20)
ECW World Television Champion Rhino & ECW World Heavyweight Champion Justin Credible w/Francine vs. The Sandman & Chilli Willi

The winner of this first round match moves on to face the winner of the first round match-up between Kid Kash & RVD and Tommy Dreamer & Jerry Lynn. This match is, surprisingly, a squash. Sandman & Chilli Willi charge the ring only for Willi to eat a gore from Rhino and Sandman to be dropped with a super kick from Credible. Rhino piledrives Willi as Credible and Francine bring a table into the ring. But, as Credible & Rhino set the table up in the corner, Sandman attacks the duo with his Singapore cane before dropping Credible with a White Russian leg sweep.

Sandman peppers Rhino with the cane before Rhino lifts Sandman and runs the former ECW World Champion across the ring, goring Sandman through the table for a near-fall. With Willi still on the floor Rhino lifts Sandman for a piledriver on a broken piece of table for the pinfall at 1:12 to advance to the semi-final round.

WINNERS are ECW World Television Champion Rhino & ECW World Heavyweight Champion Justin Credible w/Francine (Pin, 1:12)

 

Following the match Rhino & Credible catch their breath as we cut quickly to the next Peacock ad-break. After the break we see Simon Diamond & Johnny Swinger’s entrance, with C.W. Anderson, for the forthcoming semi-final match. As the trio come to the ring we see a replay Simon & Swinger’s first-round win over Chris Chetti & Nova after a miscue sees Chetti drop Nova with a superkick before Simon & Swinger hit the Problem Solver on Chetti for the pinfall. Next we see Roadkill & Danny Doring make their way to the ring as we cut to another Peacock ad-break.

 

Semi-Final Round Match of the ECW World Tag Team Championship Tournament (16:33)
Simon & Swinger w/C.W. Anderson vs. Danny Doring & Roadkill

The winner of this one heads to the finals to join the Unholy Alliance and the winners of the final semi-final pitting Credible & Rhino versus Dreamer & Lynn. Doring & Roadkill start out strong, taking the fight to Swinger until C.W. Anderson pulls Doring out of the ring as the referee tries to get Roadkill to leave the ring, ’cause, ya know, ECW and their rules. As Roadkill steps on the apron Anderson goads Roadkill to chase him, again distracting the referee and allowing Simon & Swinger to go to work on Doring.

As the match calms down Doring finds himself at the mercy of Swinger & Simon, who take turns taking the fight to Doring and scoring a number of near-falls. Despite their attempts to taunt Roadkill and distract the referee, Doring manages to clip Swinger & Simon with a double Bareback. Roadkill gets the hot tag and the big man goes to town on Simon & Swinger. Suddenly the match breaks down with Doring entering the ring illegally to help Roadkill while the once authoritarian referee starts to ignore the rules altogether. Doring, the illegal man, lands a guillotine leg drop from the top rope on Simon as Roadkill climbs to the top on the far side.

As Roadkill prepares to jump, though, Swinger pushes Roadkill off the top turnbuckle and through the timekeeper’s table at ringside. In the ring Doring avoids a sneak attack by Anderson and looks to put Simon away when Simon stomps on Doring’s toes and kicks Doring in the pills before landing the Problem Solver on Doring with Anderson’s help. Swinger, also the illegal man, scurries in and scores the pinfall on the still illegal Doring at 5:08 to advance to the final “Three-Way Dance” and a shot to win the vacant World Tag Team titles.

WINNERS are Simon & Swinger w/C.W. Anderson (Pin, 5:08)

 

After the bell, as Swinger & Simon begin to celebrate, we head to a Peacock ad-break. We come back from break with the third and final semi-final already underway.

 

Semi-Final Round Match of the ECW World Tag Team Championship Tournament – JIP (23:30)
ECW World Television Champion Rhino & ECW World Heavyweight Champion Justin Credible w/Francine vs. Tommy Dreamer & Jerry Lynn

As we join this one Tommy Dreamer is paired off with Rhino while Lynn is paired off with Credible. The pairs brawl all over the Hammerstein Ballroom, with Rhino cutting off a Dreamer onslaught to take control of Dreamer as Lynn continues to control Credible in the ring. As Dreamer and Rhino brawl at ringside, Jerry Lynn puts Credible down with a tornado DDT. Francine distracts the referee, however, and Lynn takes the chance to grab Francine, put her across his knee, pull up her skirt, and spank her in the center of the ring.

Lynn then prepares to hit the cradle piledriver on Francine but a Credible superkick puts Lynn down. Out of nowhere Dreamer DDTs Credible before Dreamer walks into a Rhino gore. Rhino then takes Dreamer to the apron and piledrives Dreamer off the apron through the timekeeper’s table at ringside. Rhino basks in the roar of the crowd as Spike Dudley, still recovering from a broker leg, hits the ring and begins caning Rhino before hitting the Acid Drop on Rhino.

Justin Credible then catches Spike with That’s Incredible, taking Spike out of the equation, as Lynn rushes in to try and drop Credible with his own version of the tombstone piledriver. The two swap positions, though, before Lynn manages to put Credible in position for the cradle piledriver. Lynn hits the cradle piledriver for the pinfall to eliminate Credible & Rhino and advance to the final “Three-Way Dance” with the Unholy Alliance and Simon & Swinger for a chance to win the vacant ECW World Tag Team Championship.

WINNERS are Tommy Dreamer & Jerry Lynn (Pin, 3:44, JIP time)

 

After the match Jerry Lynn tends to an injured Tommy Dreamer as we head to the final Peacock ad-break of the hour. Coming out of the break we see Simon & Swinger make their way to the ring and chat with the referee. The Unholy Alliance (Tajiri & Mikey Whipwreck), with Sinister Minister, are out next. Finally Jerry Lynn and an injured, bandaged Tommy Dreamer make their way to the ring as we see a replay of Dreamer & Lynn’s first round win over the team of RVD & Kid Kash with the help of Justin Credible and Rhino.

We see Dreamer in position for the Van Terminator when Credible canes RVD off the top rope before Rhino gores Van Dam. Dreamer, who didn’t see any of the interference, piledrives RVD before leaving the ring to go after Rhino. Jerry Lynn knees RVD a number of times before landing the cradle piledriver for the 1-2-3 to advance to the semi-finals.

 

Finals of the ECW World Tag Team Championship Tournament – “Three-Way Dance” (27:45)
Simon & Swinger w/C.W. Anderson vs. The Unholy Alliance (Mikey Whipwreck & Yoshihiro Tajiri) w/Sinister Minister vs. Tommy Dreamer & Jerry Lynn

This one is fun for what it is but is far from the best “Three-Way Dance” ECW put on. The match, for anyone who may not know or remember, starts with a member of each team and goes until two of the teams have been eliminated. Despite Simon Diamond’s best efforts the match starts as a back-and-forth battle between Lynn and Tajiri. Lynn lands a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker on Tajiri before getting the better of Diamond. Suddenly it’s Whipwreck, Swinger, and Dreamer in the ring with Dreamer getting the better of both his opponents, even after getting caught as he struggled to get his neck brace off.

The match slows down before all six men begin to brawl in the ring. Soon enough the brawls spread across the Hammerstein Ballroom. As Tajiri goes after Dreamer and Whipwreck battles Swinger, Lynn and Diamond return to the ring where Lynn tries his best to put away Diamond. Soon enough the other four find one another and brawl back to the ring where Tajiri helps Lynn wear down Diamond while Whipwreck and Dreamer pair up to go after Swinger.

After wiping out Swinger and Diamond with stereo Tree of Woe steel chair dropkicks, Tajiri turns on Lynn while Dreamer turns on Whipwreck. Moments later Tajiri and Dreamer cinch in stereo Tarantulas on Lynn and Whipwreck, respectively, before Simon & Swinger use the opening to level both Tajiri and Dreamer with basement baseball slide dropkicks. Then Whipwreck and Lynn hit stereo tornado DDTs on Simon & Swinger for stereo near-falls. Dreamer reenters and reverses Whipwreck’s Whippersnapper into a DDT only to have C.W. Anderson pull Dreamer to the floor before glomming Dreamer with a steel chair. Anderson rolls Dreamer back into the ring where Dreamer stumbles into the Problem Solver for the pinfall at 8:46, eliminating Dreamer & Lynn from the match.

There’s no pause, rest, or slow down, though, as Tajiri & Whipwreck look to put Diamond away at once to no avail. Swinger manages to take down Tajiri with the Swing Thing before Simon & Swinger nearly put Whipwreck away with a double STO. The bulk of the locker room then comes out stands around ringside, awaiting the crowning of new Tag Team Champions, as Tajiri wipes out an interfering Anderson. Swinger hoists Tajiri up on his shoulders as Simon goes up, a la the Doomsday Device, only for Tajiri to spit the mist in Simon’s eyes.

Tajiri gets free of Swinger before hitting a big German suplex on Swinger. Whipwreck then scales the ropes and hits a super Whippersnapper on Diamond for the 1-2-3 at 10:11 to with the tournament and become the new ECW World Tag Team Champions! This marked the Unholy Alliance’s first Tag Team title win as a unit but was Whipwreck’s third overall.

WINNERS and NEW ECW World Tag Team Champions, The Unholy Alliance (Mikey Whipwreck & Yoshihiro Tajiri) w/Sinister Minister (Pin, 10:11, last eliminating Simon & Swinger)

 

Following the match the Unholy Alliance celebrate their title win with Sinister Minster before the locker room at ringside enters the ring to celebrate with them, hoisting the new Champions on their shoulders and parading them around the ring. Joey quickly hypes next week’s Tag Team title match between the new Champions and the F.B.I. and the Rhino/Kid Kash World TV title match before we go off the air with Tajiri embracing Whipwreck to the roar of the ECW faithful!

 

Final Thoughts

As with most of the ECW archives, some of this show doesn’t age all that well. That aside, this is a fun, manic edition of ECW on TNN that features a lot more wrestling than the typical ECW show of the era. Between highlights and actual matches we end up seeing seven of the tournament’s 10 matches. The opening segment between Credible and Corino is also fun and worth a watch as well. The show, while feeling a bit overcrowded, is a prime example of ECW, despite the myriad of problems facing the hardcore promotion at this time, able to produce exciting, engaging, entertaining programming that, by and large, has survived the cruel test of time.

In truth, some of this action would hold up well on NXT or AEW TV today, if not rival it. In other words, what are you waiting for? Whether you’ve seen this edition of ECW on TNN or not this is a show that deserves a second (or third) look. Trust me, you won’t regret it. Who knows, you may actually like it, and that’s never a bad thing!

Already subscribed to the WWE Network on Peacock? Then you can relive the classic edition of ECW on TNN 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 Throwback Thursday, click here!

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

 

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