The Dance... A Look back at ECW's first PPV, and how
Bruce Mitchell and the Pro Wrestling Torch almost stopped it from happening...
"Ken, where the hell ya been whitey?"
"Ken, when will we be graced with the next Year in Wrestling."
"Ken, how come you're less consistent than Grandma's period?"
Hey guys, remember me?††
Life's been crazy in the last few months, especially since school started back up. Balancing six classes, side projects, graduation, and a serious girlfriend hasn't exactly been conducive to the penning of regular grapplin' columns, but then again, I've never been the kind of guy to post on a regular basis to begin with I guess. To tell the truth though, it's been really damn hard to be inspired enough in the last few months to sit down and write a 25 page column on wrestling when the current day product is about as inspiring as Ernest Goes to Camp. What makes it so tragic though is the fact that Vince McMahon is sitting on the best damn talent roster in the history of wrestling and has absolutely no idea how to use it. It's almost laughable that he has Hogan, Flair, Michaels, Angle, Benoit, Triple H, Lesner, Taker, Guerrero, and so many more on one roster, yet can't find a thing to do with them. Things are starting to turn around a bit fortunately, but we'll get on to that later... Back to what's been going on...
I've posted exactly two original columns in the last eight months or so, "Mr. Perfect is Dead," and "Dare to Dream." Both columns absolutely flooded my email box, so I wanted to quickly say thanks for reading, responding, and remembering me. I tried to get back to as many of you as possible, if I didn't, I'm truly sorry. The overwhelming response to a simple Curt Hennig story was amazing. About a thousand of you shared your thoughts, prayers, and memories of "Mr. Perfect" in the days following his shocking, tragic death. Without your permission, those emails were printed out on nice paper, bounded, and recently sent to the Hennig family. I figured they would appreciate how fondly Curt is remembered. Sorry I didn't have time to double-check with everyone that it was ok to include their emails, but it would have taken me a long, LONG time to organize. Let the lawsuits fly... .
"Dare to Dream" was another story. The column was met with some of the most heated and diverse reaction since the Over the Edge column a couple years back. A handful of readers said that the column brought tears to their eyes, and just as many said they would shoot me in the head if I were nearby. I've missed those reactions in the last few months. It's great to make people laugh with poor humor, but when someone emails you and says that your work brought tears to their eyes, it's a great feeling. It happened with Over the Edge, it happened with the column on the final Nitro and the significance of WCW, and it will happen again. I'm not sure in what form, but it will happen again.
I've tried to put a couple of columns together in the last few months, but most of them have gotten scrapped for one simple reason: they sucked ass. Alright, maybe that's a bit harsh, but they just haven't been up to par with what I want to put out there. One of the main reasons I don't post often is that if something isn't 100 percent perfect in my eyes, it doesn't see the light of day. I know it's trite for a wrestling website, but when I put my name on something, it's going to be quality, or it's going to be sent to the recycle bin.†
More editions of "The Year in Wrestling" will be coming eventually, but only when I'm 100% confident that they are good enough to be posted. Although I only did a few, these columns have gotten some of the most unanimously positive responses I've gotten since coming aboard the 411. Aside from the obligatory emails from *NWA EXPERTS* picking apart tiny mistakes I made about wrestling that took place fifteen years in the past, 99% of the email I received was extremely positive.
Even more interesting was the diversity of those who took the time to write. I recieved emails from Harvard professors, mailmen, attorneys, orthodontists, indy wrestlers, students, vice presidents of Fortune 500 companies, and an 8 year old boy wanting to meet Sting.†
That diversity is what I enjoyed so much about those columns, as well as some of the video reviews I've done here.
*Quick Challenge to some of the newer columnists here at the 411:
411 is LOADED with talent at this point, but I think certain demographics aren't tapped to their full potential here at 411Wrestling. There's only so many ways you can, "Oh, that Triple H, he makes me want to pull my hairs out!!!" Do something different boys. Tap into the old-school, the Indy's, the Orient, the weird, the different.
The sad thing is, even with 20 or so regular "columnists" here, I don't think ONE person branches out much further than current-day WWE. What we need guys is some differentiation. Make your work unique. Make it stand out. Make it the kind of column that someone skims over and KNOWS just from the format, style, and content that it is YOU, not some cooker-cutter internet writer. Hell, we don't even have a single regular TNA column here.
Think of the creativity that was flowing about two years ago. Columns like "The Main Event," "A Wrestling Tale," "Lyrical Stunt," "The Mean," and "Testosterone Soap Opera," were entertaining as shit, as well as incredibly distinct. That's what frustrates the hell out of me now. We've got some AWESOME talent, but it seems like a lot of the stuff posted here is the same column with different names. Take a chance. Try something different. You'll be glad you did.
Anyway, let's get down to business. I stumbled upon this rare gem of a column/review about a week ago on my hard drive. I'm not sure when the original was posted. It may not be my best work, but it's primitive, entertaining, and boasts one of the biggest All-Star lineups to ever participate in one column. Thanks to Flea, Rick Scaia, Don Becker, Justin Baisden, Jay Bower, John C, Mr. Tito, Aaron Marco, and Ben Morse for helping out. Minor adjustments have been made, but aside from that, it's intact.
The Dance... A Look back at ECW's first PPV, and how
Bruce Mitchell and the Pro Wrestling Torch almost stopped it from happening...
"We may be through the past, but the past is never through with us."
Ahhh, ECW Barely Legal. The first ever ECW PPV, and an event which almost didn't happen. One incident and one incident only almost cost ECW everything:
The Mass Transit Incident:
Without a doubt, the biggest disgrace ever dealt to a promotion that had it's fair share of disgraces... The year was 1996, and ECW was growing by the day. While the WWF and WCW were making the transition from old-school mentality to new-school "Attitude," ECW was blazing the trail in which both companies would inevitably follow. While Doink the Clown was busy heckling Jerry Lawler with his merry band of midgets, Tommy Cairo was blinding the beer-guzzling Sandman with his own cigarette. While Bob 'Sparkplug' Holly was working on his engine with his cartoonishly large monkey wrench, Chris Benoit was breaking Sabu's neck in front of a thousand jam packed fans in South Philly. While Loch Ness and the Yeti were giving Hulkamania a run for it's money, Cactus Jack and Terry Funk were fighting in epic street fights, one of which almost burnt down the ECW arena. While Hulk Hogan was having a pathetic ticker-tape parade at Universal Studies, 911 was chokeslamming Santa Clause through tables. And while the WWF was sticking to the same insulting formulas that had been in place for upwards of a hundred years, ECW was quietly blazing the trail by which all other future wrestling promotions would inevitably follow.
ECW was gaining popularity by the day, thanks in large part to the surge in popularity that 'smart' wrestling was experiencing as a direct result of one median.. the internet. From the ashes of RSPW sprung dozens of 'homepages' where established RSPW personalities could share their views, opinions, and news on a larger scale. Sites like Micasa, Wrestlemaniacs, NWWWO, Rantsylvania, Scoops, and even our own 411Wrestling (in a much more scaled-back form) emerged throughout the next few years. Anyway, the Buzz on ECW (not to be confused with the previously mentioned Keith's similairly titled book) continued to grow through strong word of mouth and a decent syndicated audience along the East Coast. It was just so completely different than anything that WCW or the WWF was attempting at the time. I remember the first episode I ever saw. My brother Jay mentioned seeing it for the first time the week prior at 3 am on Florida's Sunshine Network. It was 1995 or so, and we were both much younger (which I guess goes without saying). We came home around midnight that Saturday night and stayed up until 3 to watch ECW wrestling. What I saw that night blew me away and actually restored some of my interest in wrestling, which had been waning since Hogan's arrival in WCW. From the second the "E... C... W" of the intro flashed and fucking WHITE ZOMBIE blared throughout my room, I knew I was in for something special. I still remember seeing the ECW Arena that night for the first time in my life. It was a small, dirty venue, but it was PACKED and the crowd was the hottest crowd that I had ever seen in my life. They cheered their favorites, chanted derogatory and slanderous remarks towards their non-favorites, and just generally did not sit down for the entire show. From that point on, I was hooked.
ECW had cutting-edge angles, never before seen action, and riveting, deep characters. Their presentation was gritty, raw, and was all set to the sounds of some of the best music around at that time. I still remember the feeling I got the first time I saw ECW use "November Rain" to promote their flagship 'November to Remember' show. Eight and a half minutes of some of the best wrestling I'd ever seen, all set to one of the most amazing songs ever written.
Flash forward to late 1996...
The scene was the small town of Revere, Massachusetts. ECW was in the area running a quick show to get their name out and show the residents of Revere what exactly Extreme Championship wrestling was all about... Little did they know that they would get an up close and personal look at exactly what ECW was all about. Amongst the matches on the card, one prominent match featured D-Von Dudley and an unspecified tag partner against The Gangstas, a crass, cop-hating tag team who had almost been killed on countless occasions during their tenure in Smokey Mountain Wrestling. As the show near grew, D-Von's tag partner had still yet to be named. Out of nowhere, an overweight 17 year old mark named Erich Kulas walked into the 'locker room area' with his father to have a few words with the ECW crew. Erich wanted to be a part of the show. He wanted to wrestle. He wanted to be like Bret Hart, and Shawn Michaels, and Shane Douglas. Paul took one look at this kid and his eyes lit up. The Gangstas needed a believable opponent for the evening, and Kulas fit the husky, white-power redneck bill to a T. Kulas and his father were going to have their way. No one ever double checked his credentials, nor did anyone even as much as look at his drivers license to see his age. Erich was going to 'play' in the ring with some of this favorite wrestlers. What happened next was one of the most stomach-turning things that I've ever seen, let alone in wrestling. The only tangible account of what exactly happened next exists in the form of a shaky home video of the occurrence, which would forever go down in infamy as the "Mass Transit Incident."
Erich made his way to the ring, looking to be as out of place as anyone I've ever seen in my life. He made ridiculously amateur 'I'm tough' faces to the crowd before the Gangstas made their way to the ring to commence the fight. The 'fight' was far from two-sided. Early into the match, D-Von Dudley disappeared into the crowd, never to return. The Gangstas took turn beating the LIFE out of this 17 year old child who had no business being in the ring to begin with. And then it happened...
New Jack grabbed a heavy toaster and hit Erich as hard as humanly possible of the head with it. The kid looked like he was basically done for from this point forward. The plan was for Kulas to blade, but seeing that he had never even run the ropes before, he obviously wasn't able to blade himself. New Jack was more than willing to help out with the process. This is where things take a turn from fun to nightmarish. New Jack removes his razor blade (or KNIFE, by some accounts), stabs it into the face of Erich Kulas hard enough to tear the muscle in Kulas' forehead, and DRAGS the blade from one ear to the other. This isn't your typical shallow, short cut that a normal, 'safe' bladejob provides, this was ASSAULT. New Jack opened a cut so deep and so long that blood was literally SPRAYING from the head of the overweight 17 year old kid. Erich's father begins SCREAMING at New Jack that his son is only 17, and that New Jack needs to lay off of him. New Jack responded that he "Didn't care whether he lives or dies." With this being said, New Jack ascended to the top rope with a steel chair, threw his body off, and launched the chair in mid-air right into the face of the screaming minor. As New Jack pinned Kulas, the ring emptied for what seemed like minutes before anyone even so much as came out to help this kid. The ECW fans prove (time and again) to be complete and total trash. As this kid is lying in a POOL of his own blood, and as blood is spraying out of his face every time his heart so much as BEATS, the fans in attendance loudly chant, "YOU FAT FUCK!" over and over. If you see the video, then you know that there should be no doubt in ANYONE's mind that this kid is in serious trouble in the ring. That's just fucking tasteless. These are the same people who probably go to the World Trade Center viewing decks and chant "ECW!" Get some fucking respect and common human courtesy for God's sakes. It took the paramedics a MASSIVE amount of time to even control the damned bleeding, let alone help the kid. This KID could have realistically lost his life as the direct result of this horrific scene. It took SIXTY stitches to even close the gash. SIXTY stitches.
If you rushed to assume that ECW would do everything in their power to cover up this potential P.R. DISASTER, think again. Instead of trying to push a potentially DEVASTATING story under the rug, ECW actually had the gall to exploit it. Paul E. used the incident to vault the public perception of ECW as a take-no-prisoners jail riot loosely labeled as 'wrestling.' ECW even went as far as to MARKET the fucking video of the Mass Transit Incident. Genius, pure and utter genius. A little over a week later, better senses prevailed and the tape was pulled from the market. Don't foolishly believe the decision had anything to do with actual sensitivity though, Paul Heyman was simply afraid that the tape would fall into the wrong hands and could prove to be very detrimental to ECW in the future. Good call, Paul E.
The next part of the story varies depending on who you talk to, but I'm just going to try as best as humanly possible to try to accurately portray the vague series of events that almost cost ECW EVERYTHING.
In the early part of 1997, Paul Heyman was in hot negotiations with Request TV, Viewer's Choice, and DirecTV over airing an EXTREMELY risky ECW PPV in the next month or two. If the PPV failed, then ECW was dead. It was as simple as that. Around the same time, Paul Heyman conducted an interview with the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter, more specifically with Bruce Mitchell of the Torch. There was no secrets about the fact that Heyman hated the Torch, and that Heyman probably wouldn't be receiving a Christmas card from Bruce Mitchell anytime soon either. For obvious reasons, one of the first questions asked to Paul Heyman involved the Mass Transit incident, and more specifically, how it effected ECW's chance at a PPV slot. Paul Heyman grazed around the topic, before noting that everyone in a position of power with Request TV and Viewer's Choice had already viewed a copy of the tape, and they were more than willing to go on with the PPV regardless. The interview ended and for the time being, ECW's first PPV Venture, Barely Legal, was confirmed and ready to go...
"We may be through with the past, but the past just might not be through with us."
Several weeks later, a call was placed to Request TV by none other than Bruce Mitchell. Bruce was calling to
"acquire the PPV date." Whether those were his sole intentions in placing the phone call is something that only Bruce Mitchell can answer, but somehow over the course of the simple conversation, the Mass Transit incident was "accidentally" mentioned by Mitchell. Within a matter of days, a copy of the tape had "appeared" at the Request TV offices, and the higher-ups were NOT happy. In Demand backed out of the PPV, and for the time being, ECW's first PPV was dead in the water. While it's obvious that Paul Heyman lied to Mitchell in his interview about all the higher-ups being aware of the tape, it's rather low for the Torch to attempt to sabotage the PPV, if that was the case. Again, I don't know the answers so I can't comment on the situation, but whatever happened over the course of that conversation killed ECW's PPV hopes and could have realistically killed ECW itself as well.
Three months later, things were patched up between ECW and the PPV companies, and the stage was set for the historic first EVER ECW PPV, live from the venue that put ECW on the map... The ECW Arena...
We cut in with the rabid crowd loudly chanting "ECW!" over and over and over and over (and over).
The voice of ECW, Joey Styles, is standing in the middle of the ring and readies the crowd... "Welcome to Extreme Championship Wrestling's very first pay-per-view Barely Legal... I am Joey Styles, coming to you LIVE, from the ECW Arena in beautiful South Philadelphia Pennsylvania!!! (HUGE POP)."
ECW Tag Team Title Match:
The Dudley Boys vs. The Eliminators.
The Eliminators were claimed by many at the time to be the greatest tag team in the world... I don't think I'd go that far.... The Eliminators hit the ring and the Dudleys quickly retreat to the outside. Sign Guy Dudley jumps into the ring to do some damage with the cardboard sign, but the flimsy (yet recyclable) item does little to no damage. As a thank you, the Eliminators hit Sign Guy with a weak version of their patented finisher, Total Elimination. Many times this move looked to legitimately harm their opponents, but they were the "best tag team in the world," so a few broken necks were to be expected... it comes with the territory. Anyway, the Dudleys return to the ring and work over the Eliminators. Bubba Ray hits the powerbomb on Kronus and Devon follows off the top rope with a flying headbutt. Bubba gets the tilt-a-whirl on Kronus as the Dudleys continue the double-team offensive. Bubba Ray used to be straight up HUGE. I'm not talking Gary Strydom (har har) huge either, I'm talking Uncle Buck huge. The Dudleys talk some more shit to the crowd before attempting another double clothesline. Saturn and Kronus perform some more of their crazy, contrived flippity flop, leg sweep, flying spin-kick offense that has the carefully planned believability of a 3rd grade magic show ("Close your eyes kids, and when you open them, Mom will be on the other side of the room!!!"). More silly, yet aesthetically pleasing offense in which Saturn spin kicks Devon, Devon stumbles conveniently forward a few feet, and Kronus lands a spinning kick of his own. Things kick into goofy overdrive with the Eliminators, as they begin with a series of moves which look more like a synchronized swimming routine than a wrestling match. Goes a little something like this... Saturn and Kronus both hit Bubba with a couple of matching kicks to the chest, then each grabs one of his arms and throws him into the corner. Bubba conveniently bounces back, as both Eliminators go down on one knee. They look at each other, both raise their arms and hit Bubba with two elbows, which they manipulate into 2 backfists to follow up with. Bubba again cartoonishly falls into the turnbuckles, comes bouncing back, and receives a pair of matching side kicks by the Eliminators. I feel like the Nutcracker Suite should be playing while this little routine is going on. Bubba is playing a cartoonish heel straight of Home Alone tonight, leaving me hoping for his sake that there are no glass ornaments laying around ringside, and that there is NO tar on his boots. Saturn and Kronus stand in the MIDDLE of the ring and discuss their upcoming spots with each other in the most matter of fact way that I've ever seen, complete with pointing and head nodding. Both men choose a Dudley and give them synchronized scoop slams before climbing to the top rope. Both men give each other the old finger point and then come soaring off with admittedly impressive cartwheel splashes. They literally cartwheel in midair, which is VERY impressive, especially considering the fact that Kronus is damn near the 300 pound mark. The ECW fans start a loud ECW chant as the Eliminators hug in the center of the ring, as if to say "Our cartwheels were GREAT!!!" Saturn gets tired of waiting for the Dudleys to roll back into the ring, so Kronus links his hands together, Saturn puts his foot in Kronus' hands and proceeds to backflip from that position over the top rope. DAMN. Not exactly safe for the kids to try at home, but still, damn impressive. Meanwhile, as if the spot fest wasn't spotty enough, Kronus comes barreling over the top rope with a fucking SPACE FLYING TIGER DROP. The only other time I can think of that I've actually seen it performed in the U.S. was by the Great Sasuke in one of his two matches with Taka (net dweeb's proper spelling: TAKA) Michinoku. Anyway, some Japanese wrestler made this move famous. I have actually never seen a single non-US match in my life, so I would have no idea who exactly did come up with this move, but we'll just say it was Antonio Inoki and hope that no one double checks our facts :) Back inside, Saturn comes off the top rope with the elbow drop and Devon gets a double Dragon sweep performed on him. The Eliminators again take some time to blatantly discuss their spots. This match is just a straight up SQUASH so far. The Dudleys have literally not gotten in more than a punch or two for the entire match. More flashy offense as Saturn jumps onto the middle rope, springboards onto the top rope, springboards onto the adjacent top rope, and comes off with a moonsault onto Bubba Ray Dudley, who is just patiently laying on the ground waiting for it. Kronus heads up top and hits the 450 splash to a HUGE pop from the ECW faithful. Another huge ECW chant. The Eliminators do MORE contrived five part offense, which they cap off with the Total Elimination. The ref counts a rather anti-climatic three-count, but eventually the crowd pops huge. The pop dies down quickly as the crowd begins chanting "Fuck him Up!" at Joel Gertner, who has re-entered the ring at this time. He gives some kind of spiel about the Dudleys winning by a score of 86-83. The DVD sucks and butchers the event, so I really have no clue what exactly he is referring to. Total Elimination regardless. The crowd claps, Saturn and Kronus pose, and Kevin begins heating up the door knob with an iron. I guess this match did exactly what it set out to do.... establish the Eliminators as something "Special" to the PPV audience who might be checking out ECW for the first time. It's too bad it came at the Dudleys expense, but hell, I guess things evened out in the end for them, eh ? We'll give it a *1/2 and say that the Warlord owes us an eight of a star one day down the road (if you get that comment, I love you).
-Joey Styles lets us know that Chris Candido won't be able to compete against Lance Storm tonight because of a partially torn bicep. Candido does a little bit of screaming and yelling before we proceed.
Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm.
The fans dig into RVD immediately with their stupid backwater "You sold Out" chants. That's one thing that always fucking irritated me about ECW fans. Guys like Taz gave their heart and soul to ECW for years. They built what the ECW fans were chanting about so loudly and provided them with years of good memories. ECW was awesome in it's prime, but it never held a competitive candle to the WWF or WCW. They had no TV deal for the majority of their lifespan, their PPV's barely broke even sometimes, and the only thing they had keeping them hanging on was a solid, loyal, core audience. The 80/20 rule of marketing dictates that 20 percent of your costumers (the loyal, die hard ECW fans) account for 80 percent of your sales, and that certainly was true with ECW. Anyway, ECW simply did not have the resources to pay it's wrestlers the amount of money necessary to support their families and start saving for life post-wrestling. If an ECW wrestler went elsewhere where they could actually make enough money so that their wife didn't have to work a minimum wage job at Arby's, then the ECW fans stood on their chairs and chanting their smart-mark heads off about how "You sold out!" It's bullshit. The same exact thing with the Dudley Boys. They had offers from both WCW and WWF, but they stuck it out until they could no longer do so with ECW, yet the moronic, ungrateful fans still stood on their chairs and pointed their middle fingers at the Dudleys while screaming in unison that 'they sold out.' Guess what guys, it's WRESTLING. It's FAKE. The Dudleys have a real world outside of wrestling and they need financial stability. Not everything is about "staying true." Is easy for YOU to stay true because all you have to do is come to a monthly TV taping and chant "ECW" repeatedly like a trained goat. These ECW wrestlers had to make enough money during their ten year careers to support themselves and their families post-wrestling. Tough to do when Paul E. wasn't even handing out paychecks on time. Back to the matter at hand... Storm and Van Dam circle to start. Some nice chain wrestling ends with a clean break. Some silly camera angles let us know that YES! THIS IS PAY PER VIEW!!! Storm shoulder tackles RVD and connects with a solid clothesline. Some punches and elbows by Storm are countered by RVD, which he follows with some kicks and a nice springboard cross body. Storm is kicked to the outside. Rob Van Dam gets a full head of steam and comes BARRELING over the top rope with a springboard tope con no-ropes. Rob does the whole R-V-D thing, but the crowd isn't yet familiar enough to chant along. Van Dam goes back up top for another leg drop. Storm is whipped into the corner, jumps to the top rope, and comes vaulting off with a BEAUTIFUL back elbow off the top rope. Lance Storm throws RVD over the top rope and comes flying over the top rope with a pescado. RVD moves out of the way at least second, and Storm lands hard on the concrete. Joey Styles humorously quips in that there "Aren't any pretty blue mats here on the floor in ECW... It's not Disney World." Storm is whipped hard into the steel guard rail. Van Dam jumps onto the guard rail and comes careening off with a moonsault. RVD grabs a chair and the party is brought back inside. Storm is whipped hard into the corner, but as he bounces off the turnbuckle, Van Dam grabs the chair and just HURLS it into Storm's head. Nothing fancy about that. The crowd cheers for RVD wildly before resuming their "Sell Out" chant. Van Dam hits the butterfly facebuster and follows up with the FIVE STAR frog splash, but Storm kicks out at the two. The move wasn't as established as it is now. RVD continues with the chair offense, again bouncing the chair off the head of Lance Storm. Van Dam plays to the crowd as Storm sneaks up behind him and slams him head first onto the chair. A spin kick is followed up by a cartwheel splash into the corner by Storm. Storm springs to the top rope and comes off with a NICE should block splash for two. Storm sends RVD into the ropes, drops down, and floats into the single leg Boston Crab. RVD makes the ropes, but it doesn't stop Storm from pounding the shit out of him. Storm goes to slingshot in from the apron, but Van Dam kicks him down and comes flying over the top rope with a NASTY guillotine leg drop. It's just plain uncomfortable to watch. Storm ducks the Van Damninator and proceeds to deliver a chair shot to RVD so weak that even Hogan would be like, "You're a pussy.... BROTHER." Storm grabs Van Dams head and PLANTS him with a "Tiger Bomb" according to Joey Styles. Not sure if that's the right term for the move or not. It's not something that's going to be bothering me in my sleep or anything though. Storm sets RVD's head up on a chair and comes off the top rope with a nasty legdrop. More chain wrestling results in some silly antics. RVD goes for a slingshot elbow, slips on the rope, and only slightly grazes Lance Storm. The classy ECW fans respond with the always flattering "YOU FUCKED UP!!!!!" chants. I'd like to see half of these fat greasy bastards as much as fit between the ropes, let alone pull off a move of that difficulty level. Storm again grabs the chair and delivers an even WEAKER chairshot. The crowd almost boos him out of the building for that chair shot. He goes for another one and it's even WEAKER than the two before it. The crowd cruficies poor Storm, just in time for RVD to spring to his feet and KO Storm with the Van Daminator. A backflip splash is enough to put Lance out for the count at 3. The crowd cheers the man they've been booing. Lance Storm suggests the mutual respect handshake as the crowd continues with their fucking "You Sold Out" chants. What a bunch of morons. Van Dam 'shoots' as the smart Philadelphia crowd starts feverishly masturbating at the very though of a real life 'shoot.' RVD talks about how he doesn't give a shit what the boys in the back think of him, what Paul E. thinks of him, what the ECW fans think of him, etc... ***
Michinoku Pro Six-Man Match:
Great Sasuke, Gran Hamada, & Masato Yakushiji vs. Taka Michinoku, Terry Boy, & Dick Togo.
Alright, here's the deal. This match is over twenty minutes long. At most times in the match, there's at least three or four men in the ring. During at least half the match, all six men are in the ring. During the majority of the match, all six are performing moves that I've never seen and have no idea what to call. Oh yeah, plus I'm lazy as hell. Anyway, I hope you forgive me for not typing out five or six pages on this match, because that's what it would take. This match was pretty damn good though, albeit a bit overrated if you ask me. It did a really good job of introducing the American public to this brand of "NorthEastern" wrestling though, and blew away thousands of fans who had never seen action this high-flying, stiff, and intense. Anyway, there's countless recaps of this show available online, not sure where, but there are. Again, I apologize for not recapping the match, but it would honestly be a two-hour procedure. Thanks for understanding.
P.S. I left **** under the door for you to give this match.
Shane Douglas (w/ Francine) vs. Pitbull #2
Douglas comes out and brags about breaking Pitbull #1's neck amongst other things.
Pitbull #2 hits the ring and both men begin punching and kicking and punching and kicking and punching and punching and punching. Joey Styles lets us know that if Pitbull #2 loses tonight, than the masked man who's been taunting Shane Douglas must take off his mask tonight. Pitbull #2 clotheslines Douglas to the mat and attempts a few suplexes. Douglas doesn't seem to want to be suplexed. The crowd starts in the more lovely chants, more specifically "Break his Neck" chants. Douglas gets a front face lock of his own, which Pitbull #2 reverses into a side headlock takeover. This headlock is held for about 2 minutes before Douglas breaks out with some kicks. Back to the headlock... More neck wrenching... Riot officers begin to patrol the ring to make sure that no fans get into the ring. A few more minutes of front facelock fun are broken up by Douglas. Douglas locks on his own front face lock and holds for a few moments. Pitbull #2 breaks the hold by picking up the Franchise and crotching him on the tope rope. WEIRD miscommunications by these two slow down an already slow match. Douglas is kicked around the ring a bit more. Pitbull #2 drapes Douglas' neck across the top rope, a move so vile that it brings Francine to tears. More weird stuff. Pitbull #2 goes for the powerbomb, but Douglas takes him over the top rope with a headscissors variation. Riveting. Back inside, Douglas piledrives his decidedly canine adversary. Two more piledrivers further the damage to Pitbull #2. We see class in action as the ECW crowd starts chanting that Francine has herpes. A delayed vertical suplex by Douglas finds it mark. He follows up with the camel clutch, minus the pointy boots. More punching and kicking. In a really weird exchange, Douglas is whipped into the ropes, comes off the second rope with a high cross body, and is caught by Pitbull #2. Neither man looks sure as to what to do, so Pitbull #2 just holds Douglas for about 15 seconds before simply putting him back down on his feet. Another wierd sequence sees Douglas picked back up, held for a few more seconds, and then just kinda dumped over the top rope onto the time keepers table as a bit of an after thought. Pitbull #1 is watching at ringside and jumps the rail to do a bit of damage himself to the Franchise. The Riot Cops escort him out as Pitbull #2 throws a piece of the guard rail over the top rope. The crowd chants that "We WANT BLOOD!!!!!!!" Ahhhhhh yes. More misdirected brawling follows, with an occasional use of said guard rail. Pitbull #2 is thrown outside, and in a particularly ridiculous spot, Shane Douglas picks up the heavy guardrail and just DROPS it over the top rope onto his opponent. This could have PARALYZED Pitbull #2, but as long as the crowd gets their "blood" then I guess that's a sacrifice that can be made. Joey Style's mentions how Shane Douglas, like him or hate him, has earned his nickname of 'The Franchise.' "He earned it competing in the ring. Not from repelling from the ceiling on a bungee cord with his face painted like a cartoon character." HA. Not surprisingly, more punches are exchanged. Douglas comes off the tope rope, but gets dropkicked for his efforts. More brawling. Pitbull #2 powerslams Douglas for a 2 count. Dropkick, punches, clothesline, punches, blah blah blah. Douglas grabs some brass knucks from Francine and connects with 2 hard right hands. Douglas breaks a piece of the table over Pitbull #2's head, followed by a chair shot and a timekeeper's bell shot. Still can't keep him down. Damn. Pitbull #2 hulks up and starts to mount a superhero like comeback, but Douglas slows down the momentum with a couple of shots with his leathery TV title belt. Douglas discreetly unties his boot in front of the referee and removes a large CHAIN. Pitbull #2 gets a hold of it, does some damage, Chris Candido comes to the ring, everyone's distracted, and Douglas hits the belly to belly suplex on Pitbull #2. Hmm, a chairshot, chain shot, ringkeeper's bell shot, brass knucks shot, and TV Belt shot won't put him away, but a Belly to Belly suplex, which is basically nothing more than a glorified hug, knocks him unconscious. Ok. I'll buy it. **
-The masked man gets on the house mic and says he'll make good on his promise to unmask. He comes out from the back in a "Simply Ravishing" robe, leading the viewers to believe that Rick Rude is behind the mask. Wrong they are.. He says he wants Francine and kisses her to the mat. Douglas hits the masked man from behind and starts attacking him. In mid attack, one of the riot cops makes his way into the ring behind Douglas's back. He takes off his helmet to reveal that he is actually Rick Rude. The crowd EXPLODES. Douglas is oblivious as to what's going on, but he quickly unmasks the masked man to reveal him to be "Bulldozer" Brian Lee. Rude spins Douglas around and nails him with his billyclub. Douglas looks to be in shock, so Rude punches him square in the jaw. Douglas retreats, but ends up retreating right into the arms of a waiting Brian Lee. Lee chokeslams Douglas into the ground, Rude dances and the crowd celebrates amidst MASSIVE "Rude" chants.
Grudge Match, GRRRRRRR
Taz (w/ Bill Alphonso) vs. Sabu.
Due to size limitations, the recap of the "Grudge Match of the Century" had to be moved here. Give it a click..... you know you want to.
Stevie Richards vs. The Sandman vs. Terry Funk.
As things usually operate in ECW, we've got some crazy extraneous stipulations for this match. If we can agree on one thing and one thing only friends, I think it would have to be the fact that crazy extraneous stipulations are EXTREME. Stevie comes out with the BWO and the crowd EXPLODES. These guys were actually pretty damn funny... Ahhh, the days when wrestling used to be FUN. Joey Styles repeatedly refers to them as the "Insiders," a joke that never gets old. Anyway, out next is our old friend the Sandman. As usual, Sandman is belligerently drunk before he even steps out from behind the curtain. The man looks like he should be sitting in de-tox for a couple of days, not performing potential paralyzing wrestling grapples on his opponents. Oh well, I guess not being able to control your motory functions for the rest of your natural life is EXTREME too. Anyway, Sandman drinks three more beers by the time he even makes it to ringside, as the crowd sings along to "Welcome Sandman." Pioneer was nice enough to at least dub Motorhead's version over the top of the Metallica version which was originally on the tape. I'm not sure if it's Motorhead or not to tell the truth, but I won't be losing much sleep over it. Sandman stares drunkenly into the camera and repeatedly rams beer cans into his forehead. Before the match even starts, Sandman's head is cut all to hell and he's bleeding like a pig. At the same time, Joey Styles lets us know that the Sandman has "earned the respect and admiration of die-hard wrestling fans." Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. After Sandman's intro, which is about 2.6 times the length of HAMLET, Terry Funk makes his way to the ring. I really, really liked "Desperado" as Terry Funk's theme music. So did a lot of other people. Yeah, I know that last sentence was a fragment, go fuck yourself. Anyway, the kind folks at Pioneer seemed to have caught wind of the fact that we all enjoyed the choice of music, so they kindly removed it to save ECW the *cough cough* hefty royalty fees associated with using the music. Why even bother putting out DVD's if they are going to be as bastardized as this one is. Anyway, the crowd pops HUGE for the Funker, because they are "smart" and "smart" fans are supposed to respect tradition. Clap sheep, Clap!!! The back story here by the way is this..... Tommy Dreamer had a spot in the 3-Way dance, but he gave it to his idol, Terry Funk. Email me if you need the abridged version of the back story. Why do I have this funny feeling that someone's going to email me actually asking for the abridged version. Anyway, Sandman offers Funk a beer in a gesture of respect, and Funk respectfully declines. Sandman shrugs as if to say, "Hey, not everyone likes to get buzzed to the point of stage-four coma before PPV main-events, that's understandable." Sandman then (in an admittedly funny moment) chugs the beer, stopping only to spit a massive mouthful in Stevie Richards' face. All three hook up immediately, wasting no time in hitting some hokey, contrived 3-Way spots. Things eventually break down and they all just start chopping the shit out of each other. The crowd "Whoo's" accordingly. Quick note, this stuff is actually cutting edge for it's time. The 3-Way matches, Table Spots, "Whooos", etc. all gained North American notoriety in ECW first. Moving right along... Funk locks the spinning toe-hold on the Sandman, but Stevie Richards doesn't want to WIN the match, so he attacks Funk (note:: Sarcasm). Sandman and Richards take turns dropping elbows on Funk, while Tommy Dreamer talks about Terry in a manor which borders homoerotic at times. The Sandman disappears to the back for a few moments, stopping only to support himself on the ring post in his alcohol-induced haze. Terry Funk hits FOUR straight Rude Awakenings on Stevie Richards, but only garners a two-count for his efforts. Sandman comes back to ringside with a LADDER. Sandman casually tosses the ladder straight into the face of Terry Funk. NASTY yo. A few ladder spots follow, one of which borders on silly. Sandman suplexes the ladder on top of Terry Funk. That's right, he suplexes the ladder. The ladder is set up in the corner, and soon after Terry and the Sandman start climbing up opposite sides of the ladder. They race each other (in exaggerated slow motion) up the sides of the ladder, yet I'm not exactly clear as to why they would do this. In the normal ladder match, they are trying to reach the top first to get the belt. In this match, they are just trying to reach the top first for the sake of reaching the top first. I don't think the ref's gonna grab the house mic and say, "Well, it appears as if Terry was the first to slap the top of the ladder...... Ring the bell boys." Anyway, Terry reaches the top rung of the ladder, punches Sandman, and then MOONSAULTS off the top of the ladder onto Richards. Funk misses the moonsault BADLY, but since the fans are smart, they cheer loudly regardless. Some more wild brawling ensues, culminating with the near-legendary FUNK HELICOPTER LADDER SPOT. This oft-celebrated move is a move that requires both technical prowess and a good sense of balance. Funk puts the ladder across and his shoulders and starts SPINNING (or "whirling" for those with a fixation of gerunds which begin with "w") around in circles like a helicopter. Common logic would dictate that if a 53 year old man was spinning in circles with a LADDER on his shoulders, you would be wise to veer away from his direction. No common sense in place for this match. Instead, both Richards and Sandman walk right into the crazy old Funker, who looks more like an a Erector-Set toy than a real life geriatric. Tommy Dreamer makes me laugh out loud by feigning emotion and saying that "This is the greatest three way, hard way, match that I've ever seen." The Sandman is having a tough time even standing up in his drunken state. Joey Style's instead writes it off as "Spaghetti Legs." Richards warms up the band for like five minutes, which is also genuinely funny, but his Superkick only gets two on the Sandman. The action spills outside. In a spot that makes me laugh to even think about, Terry Funk and Stevie Richards are fighting in the crowd. The Sandman is in the ring, bounces off the ropes and comes barreling over the top rope with a tope. Funk and Richards are at least 10 feet away from him and he just splats straight down on the concrete. Back inside, a trash can is brought into play. Richards is double-suplexed onto the trash can for two. Both men continue double teaming Richards, hitting several more intricate trash-can spots. More trash can fun follows, and IT'S NOT EVEN _________ (insert YOUR trash day here)!!! Christ, this is reaching new levels of lameness. Alright, as if the previous Sandman spots weren't enough to fulfill the drunken injuries quota, we get one more to cap off the evening nicely. The ladder is set up against the ropes with Richards and Funk battling near by. In theory, the Sandman would attempt to jump off the top turnbuckle to the outside, landing on the ladder and knocking it into the faces of his opponents. Reality doesn't always mirror theory though unfortunately. The Sandman goes up top, throws his body off awkwardly, and nearly misses the ladder before splatting to the concrete. Because of the strange angle he hit the ladder at, instead of sling-shotting into the faces of his opponents, the ladder instead flies into the crowd. HA. A quick double powerbomb pins Stevie Richards. The Sandman retreats to the outside, gets a spool of barbed wire (which is cartoonishly covered with colorful streamers from the 6-Man match), and proceeds to enter the ring. Somehow in entering the ring, the Sandman manages to get his own shirt caught over the top of his head. Funk capitalizes and WHIPS the hell out of the Sandman with the barbed wire. In a pleasant dinner-time visual, the barbed wire actually gets stuck in the back of the Sandman. The Sandman regains the upper hand and does that spot we've all come to know and love referred to as the "Wrap the Drunk in barbed wire and let him run around trying to poke people," spot. Poke he does, but Richards makes a grand return to Superkick Sandman right in the jaw. Funk goes up top, hits the moonsault, and makes the pin at some undisclosed time. I should check Jason's website, but we just use him for the lesbians anyway. ***1/2
ECW Championship Match:
Raven (c) vs. Terry Funk.
Raven IMMEDIATELY runs to the ring and starts beating the hell out of Terry Funk. Funk is hammered repeatedly in the face with the championship belt as the crowd loudly chants "TERRY!" Raven sets up a chair in the middle of the ring and drop toe-holds Funk face first into the seat of it. Funk retreats to the corner and we see that is bleeding BAD. Seriously, it's just nasty. There's a huge gash on his forehead and you can literally see blood POURING off of Funk's body. Tommy Dreamer feigns emotion for the second time of the evening, as the ringside doctor enters the ring to check on Terry Funk. The fans chant wildly for Tommy Dreamer, but Tommy made a promise to Funk to let him fight his own battles for the evening. Raven continues to pound the HELL out of Funk, focusing most of his offense on the face of Terry Funk. Funk is laid on a table outside, and Raven jumps over the top rope with a WILD tope that nearly kills both of them in the process. The Flock hits the ring and they also take turns on the "Funker." Raven grabs the house mic and tells Tommy Dreamer that he's going to put Funk through 3 tables right in front of him, and there's not a damn thing he can do about it. Dreamer gets pissed and walks to the edge of the "Crow's Nest." Out of nowhere, Big Dick Dudley makes his return to ECW and sneaks up behind Dreamer. He attempts to chokeslam Dreamer off the side of the nest, but Dreamer kicks him downstairs and reverses into a chokeslam of his own. It's not so much a chokeslam as Dreamer grabbing the neck of Dudley, and Dudley proceeding to jump off the side of the balcony. Dudley falls awkwardly through a stack of three tables, as all hell breaks loose. Raven DDT's the referee inside of the ring as the crowd erupts into HUGE "ECW" chants. Dreamer rushes the ring and goes immediately after Raven, planting him with a VICIOUS DDT. He throws Funk on top as the referee comes back to his senses!! 1!!! 2!!! NOOOO!!!! Raven kicks out at the absolute LAST split-second. Funk small packages Raven again, and this time it gets the 3!!!!!!!!! The crowd is going EXTREME(!!!) as Joey Styles asks, "DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES!!" Dreamer storms the ring and embraces Funk. Funk celebrates as the fans mob him and loudly chant, "TERRY! TERRY! TERRY!" A great scene that would be even GREATER if fucking Pioneer would have put "Desperado" onto the damn DVD. **
-One part of me wants to label this show as one of the most overrated shows that I've ever seen. The show is comprised of awkward matches, strange crowd heat, and cookie-cutter action. On the other hand, if viewed for what the show really was and stood for, the show was definately a winner. The main goal of this show was to establish the ECW brand and introduce it's primary players. Both of these goals were achieved with flying colors. Alot of people love this show for purely sentimental reasons, and if you wanna say that, then the show is great. Because people tend to be so damn bipolar on this show, I decided to include a few other internet writer's takes on the show to end this bad boy. Thanks again guys for taking the time to write up your thoughts for me, it's really appreciated.
Rick Scaia: Online Onslaught/ Wrestleline (RIP) My main memory of "Barely Legal" is a living room full of wrestling fans being more genuinely excited about an event than we'd been in a long time. Monthly WWF PPVs still provided a good excuse for about a dozen of us to sit around and get wasted together, but I remember it being more like 15 or 20 of us for Barely Legal, with people actually caring about the show. Barely Legal took place right after WrestleMania that year, and the atmosphere was so much better for the ECW show than it was for the "Granddaddy of the All."
Was the show really that good? That's debatable, I guess. The Michinoku Pro six-man was undeniably outstanding, I think, and introduced a whole new style of action to most US fans. But outside of that, I'm not sure if anything else really stands out. At the time, it didn't matter, because the purpose of the show was to familiarize a national audience with ECW and its wrestlers. The Dudleys vs. Eliminators opener is a perfect microcosm of the show: it was pretty much a spotfest and a squash, sure, but it effectively served its purpose. Fans' eyes were opened to what the Eliminators ("The Best Tag Team in the World") were capable of while also being introduced to the Dudleys and their effective heel shtick.
I can't deny that it wasn't kind of special to see Terry Funk win the ECW Title that night, too.
But like I said, after further viewings, you do start to note the flaws in the show. The Pitbull/Douglas match was really quite weak, for example. But on the night of the show, it didn't matter so much because we were all waiting for the unmasking of Rick Rude. The production was kind of bush league, too, and the ECW Arena did not have the look of a ready-for-PPV venue.
There was still enough action and excitement to make the show a Thumbs Up, but I admit to having my initial (wildly favorable) opinions colored by the sheer excitement of seeing ECW on PPV. And that is a testament to Paul Heyman's ability to make the fans feel like they were a part of the show. That feeling went beyond just handing your favorite wrestler a frying pan to use as a weapon.. it extended to a feeling that if the company succeeded, you could take some small bit of credit for it. And when ECW made it to pay-per-view, I know I wasn't the only fan who felt like our work to make ECW a national brand name had finally paid off.
Don Becker: The Smarks/ Wrestline (RIP) ECW had hit its peak in 1995. They were the darlings of the Internet and
the sheets. They had one of, if not the best talent rosters in North
America, a weekly TV show that aired through most of the US, and a
dedicated fanbase. Not bad for what was essentially an indy. Putting on a
Pay-Per-View was one of Paul Heyman's dreams for some time, and despite
bumps in the road, he finally pulled it off in 1997.
The PPV itself was very well-received when it first aired. In fact, it won
the "Best Major Show" award in the r.s.p-w awards that year, beating out
Canadian Stampede by nearly 30 points. Of course, since Cablevision was
still sold on ECW being a haven for blasphemy and ultraviolence, I didn't
get to see the PPV until much later, when I got a copy of the show from
Luke Johnston of The Shooters. By that time, much of the luster and
novelty had worn off, and people started to find fault with the show.
Clearly, the matches ran the gamut from crap (Douglas/Pitbull) to sublime
(the Michinoku Pro six-man), but in the end, Canadian Stampede is
remembered as the better show.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the show is that ECW finally got
national exposure, meaning they officially no longer operated under the
radar of the Big Two. Perry Saturn, Raven, Stevie Richards, and The
Sandman would all find themselves working for WCW within a year. Brian Lee
and Rick Rude, who figured into a post-match angle with Shane Douglas, and
Terry Funk would join the WWF within months. Before the year 2000,
Lance Storm and Shane Douglas would jump to WCW, while Taz and the Dudleys
would jump to the WWF. ECW would continue to retool its roster until
bankruptcy forced the company to fold in 2001.
Ultimately, the greatest impact this show had was that ECW's roster got to
show their stuff, and most of the roster was able to take that opportunity
and transform it into a bigger salary from a larger wrestling company.
Aaron Marco: AaronMarco.net/ Wrestleline (RIP) -I absolutely HATED the Eliminators/Dudleys match.
-Ummm...Lance Storm still had that funky rat-tail, as I recall.
-The 6-Man puro tag RULED HARD. TAKA was still one of the best light-heavy
workers in the world. Funny how time flies when you're having fun, isn't it?
-Shane Douglas is known as one of my "guilty pleasures" (not in THAT kind of
way, you sick FFFFreaks!), but surprisingly I could NOT get into that match
with Pitbull2. Wonder if booking Pitbull1 would have made the difference for
me? I guess we'll never know.
-Taz was an unstoppable machine at this point, and Sabu was a spot blowing
machine at times. This match had the potential to either be great, or suck
BIG TIME. Turns out, it was somewhere in the middle for me. As fate would
have it, the Fonzie swerve saved it from being what it otherwise would have
been: A good match, but unmemorable.
-The Funk win in the 3-way elimination match was good for history's sake, as
it helped put ECW on the map. What can be better than a LIVING LEGEND as
your World Champ? Maybe emphasizing youth, but who am I to judge, right? I
remember it was kind of sad and fun to watch at the same time, y'know?
My overall opinion? Feh. A decent show, mind you. Just nothing spectacular
outside the puro match. Boy, the first ECW PPV, though. These days, it seems
even more of a symbol to me of how much FUN wrestling was back then. You
know what...What the hell? I'll watch it right now, and remember: WHAT COULD
Jay Bower: The Smarks The ECW's pay-per-view debut, Barely Legal '97, had the dual purpose of not only blowing off several fueds that ECW loyalists had been following for months, but to serve as a showcase for an entirely new audience who had never before been exposed to the mythical promotion with a cult-like following. The Eliminators basically put on an exhibition with the Dudley Boys to open the show and give new fans a taste of the ECW style that had already won over so many fans. The 6-man tag was amazing yet out of place on the show in my opinion. The rest of the card was solid if unspectacular with an extremely underwhelming blowoff to a Taz/Sabu feud that had been building for over a year. The pure emotion displayed by everyone involved from Joey Styles to Tommy Dreamer really exemplified the culmination of a small east coast Indy promotion's struggle to become one of the top three wrestling organizations in the country and a major influence on the path that professional wrestling as a whole took in the late 90's. While most of ECW's hardcore syle matches have not stood the test of time very well in my opinion, this event was something special and something that I will never grow tired of watching.
Mr. Tito: Lords of Pain When I bought the Pay Per View in 1997,
I was a HUGE ECW mark. Ever since September of 1996,
I watched all of the ECW informercials and I thought
ECW was the "shit" back then. I really loved the Pay
Per View back then.
Recently, though, I purchased Barely Legal via Pioneer
home video. Now, I believe it's an OK show, but not
as great as I initially thought it was while being an
ECW mark at that time. The match featuring the 6
Japanese wrestlers is still awesome in my book, and
the Main Event is fun to watch. I still like the Rick
Rude surprise at the end of the Franchise/Pit Bull 2
match, but the match actually sucked.
If I had to regrade it, I'd go B-, but barely.
John C: The Wrestling Oratory Since I live in Canada, I didn't get to see Barely Legal live so when I did
see it two years later on tape I knew what to expect. I think my opinion on
the show will differ from that of a person who actually watched ECW in '97
and knew about all the history involving the Taz/Sabu or the Raven/Dreamer
feud. I've been able to learn about it through videotape and people telling
me stories about it but I never got the chance to see it live on my own and
I regret that.
The PPV itself didn't have "great" matches from top to bottom but that
six-man tag with the guys from Michinoku Pro wrestling was jaw dropping. The
chemistry they had was amazing and the crowd was into everything they did.
Dick Togo is awesome and so was TAKA, which is why the WWF signed him
shortly after this match. I really enjoyed that match and felt that this
match alone warrants somebody to watch the PPV.
The rest of the show wasn't filled with particularly good matches but they
were all watchable. The big highlight was probably when RVD & Sabu beat up
Taz with Fonzie turning on the little orange midget. Seeing Funk win the
belt off Raven was a pretty cool moment with the rollup pin but I didn't
really get into the match.
All in all, I'd say it was a good show and one of ECW's better ones. The
crowd was very good, the stories were well thought out, the execution of
angles was done well and there was one terrific match so I will always think
of it in a positive light.
Ben Morse: 411 Wrestling I wasn't actually watching ECW when Barely Legal came about. I started watching a few months later, around when Raven and other left the promotion. I finally saw Barely Legal about a year after it first aired. It was cool for me because it was a chance to see a lot of guys in ECW who had since moved on. Random thoughts: the Michinoku Pro match was amazing, it was weird seeing RVD with a gut, Lance Storm could not do chair shots to save his life, the Douglas-Pit Bull match was awful, seeing Rude was great, seeing Stevie Richards in his prime was awesome (I started watching right before he left for WCW and was a fan, so I was disappointed I never got to see him doing much), it's amazing how much Taz(z) has changed in five years, and Funk winning was a nice moment (one I can appreciate more now having seen Beyond the Mat). But the highlight for me was the opener; I was a huge Eliminators mark and am even more regretful that they ever broke up today since neither has really gone anywhere. Not the greatest show ever, but something really different with a lot of fun stuff and good wrestling.
Flea: 411 Wrestling To be quite honest with you, the show was not all that memorable. I attended many, many ECW shows when I lived in that area (from 95ish to 99ish) but Barely Legal only stands out for two reasons. The atmosphere was electric as 1) it was the first ECW PPV and Paul E. worked overtime to brainwash us into thinking ECW was the greatest promotion on Earth (which at the time did have merit. Vince was in the process of incorporating the ideology of ECW into the Fed and 2) I (and pretty much everyone there) was a HUGE mark for Terry Funk. Paul E. needed a name to walk with the belt and at that time Terry pretty much signified everything that ECW stood for. Sure, he was washed up by then but the man must have spilt about 3 gallons of blood in that Bingo Hall to get the promotion over on PPV. Second reason was the Six Man tag match with the Japanese wrestlers. Even watching it on video years later that match blows my mind. You just didn't see that kind of stuff back then. Of course therein lies the reasons why this show still gets mad props. ECW was like NOTHING a majority of the wrestling mainstream had seen at that time. For that reason and that reason alone their first venture into PPV should be highly recommended and a part of any fans's collection. Even though it's really not all that good. Preach on, Ken!