Friday, July 25, 2014

Random Network Reviews: Anarchy Rulz '99

Anarchy Rulz
9/19/99 – Odeum Expo Center in Villa Park, Illinois

ECW was on a pretty big high during this time in 1999. Not only were they being followed by their rabid fan base, but they had just scored a deal with The Nashville Network, which was becoming the National Network, to air ECW on Friday nights. While this would turn out to be much more harmful than helpful, at the time, it was a big deal. Also, ECW's World Heavyweight Champion, Taz, had just signed a deal with the WWF, while former ECW Champion Raven, had just returned from his WCW stint and won the Tag Team Titles with his all time rival, Tommy Dreamer. Also of note, this was the biggest crowd to ever watch an ECW event at just about 6,000 and was on the List of 10 Surprising Shows on the WWE Network.

Masato Tanaka has a failed interview because he doesn't speak English. Jeff Jones interrupts and gets his head slammed on a car. Cyrus and Joey Styles welcome everyone to the show. Man, Cyrus could draw heat. 

Jerry Lynn vs. Lance Storm w/ Dawn Marie
Dawn Marie looks pretty hot tonight and gets announced as Lance Storm's “own personal bytch”, that's b-y-tch. The crowd is very hot which will help these matches. Really solid wrestling sequence starts things and the crowd appreciates that for sure. Chops in the corner from Jerry Lynn before they counters each other's moves on the apron until Lynn hits a springboard dropkick. More chops on the outside. Back inside Lynn gets a near fall with a crucifix and then hits a judo throw into a headlock. More counters from both guys until EDDIE GILBERT hot shot from Storm and Joey Styles actually mentions Gilbert. Bless him, Joey is great. Beautiful dropkick from Storm. Showing off his athleticism like he's RVD or something, Storm hits a cartwheel splash into the corner. Lynn gets a sunset flip for a near fall and goes for a German suplex but Storm blocks it with a low blow. Leg drop from Storm gets two. Hip toss reversals end with Storm outside as Lynn hits a splash off the top. Missile dropkick back in from Lynn gets a near fall. Jawbreaker from Storm leads to a fist fight and Lynn tosses Storm in the air and kicks him low as he comes down. Storm counters the cradle piledriver and we get a series of near falls that seemingly never ends. Bridging German also earns Lynn two and a standing ovation from the Chicago crowd. Reverse DDT gets another near fall for Lance as Dawn Marie tosses two chairs into the ring. He wedges one in between turnbuckles but is the one sent into it. He does manage to set Lynn up on the top, but Lynn gets a top rope sunset flip bomb for two as Dawn pulls the referee. Storm ducks a chair shot and goes for a powerbomb, but eats a DDT on the chair. Dawn Marie again gets involved by putting Storm's foot on the bottom rope. Backbreaker from Storm who is focusing on the back/ribs. Another series of reversals ends in a Stunner from Lynn for two. Hurricanrana from Lynn gets yet another near fall. That's got to be like, 30 two counts. A kitchen sink followed by a half nelson rollup earns Lance the three.

Winner: Lance Storm in 16:38
Really good opener with plenty of near falls. The ending was a bit anti-climatic but made sense. What didn't make sense was Jerry Lynn taking another loss. He could've used this win after dropping two straight PPVs to RVD. ****

Cyrus and Styles argue about the “office” that Cyrus keeps mentioning. Back in the ring, Simon Diamond has a problem. He needs a tag team partner and asks Tom Marquez, who is at ringside. He tells Tom to be his partner, but when he tries to, Simon didn't say “Simon Says” so he makes Tom sit down. He says no man wants to be his partner, so Jazz shows up so shut him up. Close enough to a dude right? According to Simon it is as he tells her to get her “flat chest and ghetto booty” out of here. She attacks and he sics Tom Marquez on her.

Jazz vs. Tom Marquez w/ Simon Diamond
After the way Simon treated Tom, I don't know why he jumped in for this match. She goes for a cross body and he catches her before dancing and slamming her. He poses over her and she grabs a handful of crotch. Testicular claw is broken by a thumb to the eye but Jazz hits the Jazz Stinger to win.

Winner: Jazz in 0:58
Just used to get Jazz over, but it was lame. *

Simon attacks Jazz and he's randomly joined by Tony DeVito. Nova and Chris Chetti arrive and an ECW impromptu match begins

Chris Chetti and Nova vs. Simon Diamond and Tony DeVito
Nova and Chetti use innovative offense to take the early control. They constantly try to put over how innovative Nova is and how his moves appear on Monday nights after he invents them. Snapmare on Simon but Tony goes low on Nova. Tony STOMPS A MUDHOLE in Nova in the corner. Sloppy powerbomb from DeVito before Simon comes in and hist the Three Amigos before it was cool. Chetti seems to be very hurt on the outside. Nova ducks a clothesline and they botch a uranagi but Tony does it again and gets it right. Roadkill and Danny Doring run out and attack Simon and Nova. A disqualification is called.

No Contest in 3:52
Nothing match that was probably hampered by Chris Chetti's injury. DUD

Doring and Roadkill continue the beating as Miss Congeniality is with them. Man, you could totally tell that Lita got implants. Roadkill was going to splash Jazz but jobbers show up to stop them. A brawl breaks out, which of course brings New Jack out. It's so hard to watch anything New Jack related on the WWE Network thanks to the god awful generic music. “In the ghetto, in the ghetto, in the ghetto” is all you hear. The brawl goes how you'd expect with New Jack and Nova beating on everyone. Angel takes a beating from Jack in a precursor to their feud the following year. 

Three Way Dance
Little Guido w/ Big Sal vs. Super Crazy vs. Yoshihiro Tajiri

The FBI have some terrible generic music. Quick start as Guido and Tajiri go after Super Crazy's knees. Tajiri sends Guido onto the aisle hard. Flying head scissors from Tajiri sends Crazy outside but he comes back in with a springboard dropkick, only to eat a springboard cross body from Guido for two. Camel Clutch on Crazy and Tajiri dropkicks him in the face. He goes for it again and kicks Guido this time. Tajiri monkey flips Crazy into a clothesline from Guido. Crazy and Guido all brawl outside and both end up in the first row. Tajiri pulls out an Asai moonsault into the crowd and onto both men. Early on, this is like, the Tajiri show but Big Sal gets in the ring and slams him. A powerbomb in Crazy as well gives Guido the advantage. Top rope famasser on Tajiri, but Guido stupidly covers Crazy instead for two. German from Tajiri for two on Guido. Outside, he front suplexes Guido onto the guardrail and they fight into the crowd. Super Crazy now one ups Tajiri with a top rope Asai moonsault into the crowd on both guys. Back inside, he springboards dropkicks Big Sal off the apron and through a table. Super Crazy blocks a sunset flip, but Tajiri holds on and locks on the Tarantula, allowing Guido to dropkick Crazy. He's fine though as he puts Tajiri in a surfboard stretch and rolls around with it. He turns it into a dragon sleeper before turning it into a camel clutch. Guido joins and puts on the Sicilian Crab with it but no tap out. Unprettier from Guido gets two. Guido gets set up in the tree of woe, but avoids Crazy's dropkick, only to get kicks by Tajiri. Moonsault from Crazy eliminates Guido. “These foreigners are diabolical” says Cyrus in a great heel line. The foreigners counter each other for a while before Crazy gets a near fall with a moonsault. Ten punches in the corner while the crowd counts in Spanish. Handspring elbow from Tajiri gets a pop. Shortly after, Tajiri blocks a dragon sleeper but ends up taking a reverse tornado DDT for two. Crazy's moonsault combination is blocked and he gets two kicks to the head. Tajiri finishes with the BRAINBUSTAAA to win.

Winner: Yoshihiro Tajiri in 14:38
Pretty much just a spot fest, but it was a fun spot fest and that's all I wanted from these three. Good stuff. ***

Steve Corino, Rhino and Jack Victory are backstage. Corino says that he was going to bring in ICP to face Tommy Dreamer and Raven for the Tag Team Titles tonight. The ICP manager canceled because they knew they would lose. Himself and Rhino will challenge for the belts instead. Thank god.

Justin Credible w/ Jason vs. Sabu w/ Bill Alfonso
Credible tried to weasel out of the match with a restraining order but there aren't rules tonight. BECAUSE ANARCHY RULZ! Sabu arrives and attacks Credible. Moonsault gets him two. They spill to the outside and Sabu throws him around for a while. Credible gets Sabu on a table on the aisle and splashes him through it. That gets him a near fall, but Sabu comes back with a dropkick and baseball slide. He springboards from a chair to the top and front flips onto Justin in the crowd. Sabu goes to put Credible through a table but he moves. Sabu hits a stupid guillotine leg drop as Credible had to literally hold himself in place for it. Sabu ends up putting him through a table anyway, before springboarding and hitting it again on the already broken table. Justin is busted open as Sabu applies a camel clutch and botches a leg drop. Distraction from Jason allows Justin to connect with a superkick. Justin now uses a camel clutch. A table gets set up in the corner as Justin dropkicks a chair into Sabu. Sabu botches another DDT for two. Stunner from Credible, who then sloppily puts Sabu through the table in the corner. Sabu gets back in control with a triple jump moonsault before a triple jump leg drop. Sabu counters That's Incredible but eats a Singapore cane shot from Jason. Alfonso enters and kicks Jason as Sabu kicks out. Someone slides in a chair that hits Sabu in the head. Multiple That's Incredible counters until Justin hits one on a chair for the 1-2-3.

Winner: Justin Credible in 14:06
Sloppy and, despite all of the table spots, kind of boring. I've never been a big fan of Sabu as he botches a lot and tonight was no different. *1/2

ECW World Heavyweight Championship Three Way Dance
Taz (c) vs. Masato Tanaka vs. Mike Awesome w/ Judge Jeff Jones

Fans knew Taz was leaving as he was greeted with “you sold out” chants, even though I can't blame him. His career was winding down and going to the WWF was the best choice. Jeff Jones is in the crowd with Mike Awesome and Taz challenges him to join the match. Tanaka and Awesome brawl once the bell rings because they hate each other, while Taz sits back. When he joins, Tazplexes for both of them. NAPOLEON RAMPAGE! More Tazplexes until Awesome lays him out. Awesome Bomb on Tanaka before he goes up top. Top rope Tazplex but then Taz eats a Roaring Elbow. Awesome Splash off the top and a double pin eliminates Taz and guarantees a new champion. The locker room comes out and Taz tells Awesome and Tanaka to go at it. Awesome launches himself outside to take out Tanaka. Sitout Awesome Bomb gets two. He sets up a table outside and is looking to Awesome Bomb him out there but Tanaka gets free. Masato botches a springboard clothesline and gets some steel chairs. They get on the aisle and Tanaka runs past the parted locker room to knock out Awesome with a chair. Tornado DDT off the chair continues Tanaka’s momentum. He follows with a missile dropkick to the back of the head as the bloodthirsty crowd wants tables. Tornado DDT onto two chairs only gets two. He places a chair on Awesome's face, climbs to the top and smashes another chair into his face. Sheesh. That only gets a near fall. Botched bomb from Tanaka that lands softly. Awesome counters a bomb and launches Tanaka outside and through a table with an Awesome Bomb! Alabama Slam once they get back inside and Awesome goes up top. Awesome Splash connects but can't finish it. Tanaka now no sells chair shots to the head, which still amazes me to this day. He nails Diamond Dust, as that's the third Stunner variation I've seen on this show. Awesome ducks the Roaring Elbow and hits a release German, but Tanaka no sells and charges, only to be met with a Spear for two. Awesome comes off the top with a chair shot and sets up a table. Awesome decides that he's tired of this and it's Awesome Bomb off the top through a table time and that is finally enough.

Winner and New ECW World Heavyweight Champion: Mike Awesome in 13:48
Absolutely brutal match. The Taz stuff was done with quickly, which was wise as it allowed one of the classic Tanaka/Awesome battles. It's not great wrestling, but dammit if it's not fun. ***1/4

Taz gets back in the ring, to massive heat, and hands the World Title over. Ironically, he would return the following year and win it back. Taz and the locker room are emotional in the aisle as the fans now chant “Taz.” 

Talk about going back far in your video package. The next match gets a video buildup starting in 1996. Interestingly, it's the first ever ECW show I saw which is when Beulah says that she's pregnant with Tommy Dreamer's kid. Tommy comes out and says that even though he's hurt, he will compete. Steve Corino comes out and sends Rhino in after him.

ECW World Tag Team Championship
Tommy Dreamer and Raven (c) w/ Francine vs. Rhino and Steve Corino w/ Jack Victory

Rhino is on the offensive until he takes a hangman's neckbreaker. Corino is 23 here. Wow. Corino tries to get involved but is chased away by Tommy. Tommy does a slingshot cross body back in against Rhino but ends up taking a spinebuster. Corino brings a ladder out but gets taken out. Francine kicks Rhino but then he powerslams her. Rhino is in control until Raven shows up and hits the Evenflow. Jack “High Spot” Victory comes in as he and Corino work over the Champions. Dueling DDTs finish this off.

Winners and Still ECW World Tag Team Champions: Tommy Dreamer & Raven in 3:24
Short, and it kept the crowd into it, but it wasn't much. **

For some insane reason, Axl Rotten challenges Mike Awesome to a title match. I always found Rotten to be terrible. He's cut off by the Impact Players and Johnny Smith. I don't remember him at all but he's scheduled to face RVD. Rotten attacks them but succumbs to the numbers game. Balls Mahoney to the rescue with Spike Dudley. Spike helps by hitting Dawn Marie with the Acid Drop. Balls knocks out Smith as the Impact Players retreat. RVD needs an opponent now so he gets Mahoney.

ECW World Television Championship
Rob Van Dam (c) w/ Bill Alfonso vs. Balls Mahoney

I get that RVD was main eventing a lot of shows because he was the most popular guy on the roster. But this shouldn't be going on last. Balls isn't great and you had a historic World Title match in the mid-card? Things kick off with a back suplex from Balls. RVD retaliates with some kicks but takes a clothesline. Leaping side kick gets RVD back in control, which he follows with a top rope cross body. Unique rollup gets him two and then he dropkicks Balls, who throws himself out of the ring. Outside, Balls takes a beer from a fan in the middle of the beating down on RVD. He gets Balls in the crowd and Mahoney sees the Van Daminator coming, so he throws the chair at RVD. Mahoney is on his third beer from the fans. A series of kicks in the ring from RVD is stopped when Balls connects with a belly to belly suplex. Cyrus and Joey do their best to put over Balls as a wrestler and not just a brawler. The action spills back into the crowd and RVD hits a Van Daminator. RVD goes in the ring, climbs up and somersaults into the crowd. Years later, that's still impressive. Back inside, RVD gets two with a spinning leg drop. Both guys are on top and Balls shoves RVD to the mat. He hits the New Jersey Jam (second rope leg drop) for a near fall. SKY HIGH from Balls, that he calls the Ball Breaker, but D-Lo Brown wouldn't have any of that. Frog splash from Balls but it's not five stars so it doesn't get the win. Second rope suplex from RVD and Alfonso gets in with a chair and does a full roll out of the ring, leaving the chair behind. Hilarious. Rolling Thunder onto the chair is good for a near fall. Balls counters a monkey flip into a powerbomb for two. Again a counter from Balls, this one from a Northern lights suplex into a DDT, gets a near fall. RVD always sells the hell out a piledriver and it's no different here. Vicious chair shot from Balls but he decides to taunt instead of pinning. Alfonso breaks up the count with a chair shot. Balls goes after Alfonso but he ducks the chair shot and RVD hits a top rope Van Daminator. He takes long to cover so he only gets two. It's okay though, Five Star Frog Splash ends it right after.

Winner and Still ECW World Television Champion: Rob Van Dam in 19:39
Decent little TV Title match. Not on the level of some of the things that RVD was doing at the time, but Balls Mahoney surprised me. This had no business in the main event slot though. **3/4

Overall: 6.5/10; Above Average. A good show from ECW with a great opener, two fun three way dances and a decent Television Title match. It's a historic show though as Mike Awesome wins the ECW World Title and wasn't even advertised to be on the show. A lot of ECW stuff I fondly remember, but it doesn't hold up over time. Next on “Random Network Reviews” will be Survivor Series 1989.

NXT and Superstars Report

Just like last week, things kicked off on NXT with a good old fashioned tag team contest. What made it really old fashioned was that it was a squash against two jobbers for the NXT Tag Team Champions, The Ascension. This was fine for what it was supposed to be, but with the tag team division steadily improving on NXT, The Ascension need this to keep them busy. However, until I see them against real competition, I won't truly be impressed by them. They do look rather imposing though.

The number one contender for the NXT Championship, Tyler Breeze, returned to action from his career threatening hand modeling injury. Let me just say, that this was a brilliant spin for his character on a broken finger. Just so perfectly done. Anyway, he would face my least favorite superstar on NXT, Mojo Rawley. After winning squash matches nearly every weekly and winning at ArRival, he was beaten down by Rusev at TakeOver and has been featured less and less. Tonight, he might have hit his bottom as Prince Pretty bested him in less than a minute with the Beauty Shot. I love Breeze and how he lives and breathes the character, but he is in dire need of a better finisher.

NXT Women's Championship was on the line next and once again, the NXT Divas get time to shine. Summer Rae and Charlotte had a relatively long match and the storyline of the BFFs imploding. This wasn't on the level of some other NXT Divas matches as I still don't believe Charlotte is that great yet and Summer is not on Natalya's level to help carry the match along. It even got some "boring" chants, which I think were a bit unfair. Charlotte retained the gold with the "Bow Down to the Queen".

As I stated earlier, the tag team division continues to rise on NXT. The tremendous Vaudevillains interrupted Kalisto during a backstage promo last week so he challenged them for tonight as he'd get a partner. He picked Sin Cara. So maybe Kalisto doesn't know much of the WWE roster. However, we were treated to a good bout as the Vaudevillains are entertaining as hell as Kalisto stole the show. Sin Cara looked so bland next to his brand of lucha style offense. Kalisto won for his team after a great looking shiranui.

In the NXT main event, NXT Champion Adrian Neville would face the "Bulgarian Brute" Rusev. Lana cut one of her trademark promos about Vladimir Putin before the match as well. This was an interesting clash of styles that worked pretty well. Every single time Neville tried to use his speed or flying ability, Rusev was there to knock him down and crush him. I figured we wouldn't get a clean ending to keep both guys protected, and we didn't as Tyler Breeze came down and knocked Neville off the top rope before he could hit the Red Arrow. This left Neville to be crushed by Rusev to close NXT.

Another solid edition of NXT, though not as good as last week. We move into Superstars, which opened with Heath Slater going one on one with Adam Rose, in a rematch from four weeks prior. The match itself was nothing special, but we get some actual storyline progression on Superstars! Poor Heath Slater has lost Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal recently, plus his tag team with Titus O'Neil, known as SLATER GATOR hasn't taken off the way he'd hope. All he had left was Hornswoggle. But, the Rosebuds picked him up and crowd surfed him. Next thing you know, he's dressed like a Rosebud and dancing, allowing Rose to hit the Party Foul on Slater and win.

In the Superstars main event, we had another rematch from a few weeks back as Alberto Del Rio faced R-Truth. Again, not a bad match, but nothing special. Alberto Del Rio doesn't seem to enjoy working Superstars and he shouldn't. This is a guy who was World Heavyweight Champion less than a year ago and he can still go as evidenced by his battle with Sheamus on Main Event recently.

All in all, fans were treated to another solid Thursday night of wrestling, which is all we can ask for. NXT continues to be my favorite show of the week and Superstars is fun since the addition of Renee Young to the commentary table.

Until next time, follow me on Twitter @the_kevstaaa