September 18, 2010
Austin Atwood

"HARDCORE TV"
Date: Tuesday, October 10, 1995 (taped: Saturday, October 7, 1995)
Location: ECW Arena (Philadelphia, PA)

A history making promo opens this week's episode, as Steve Austin cuts what might very well be the bitterest promo in history. Story around the campfire is that Austin was bitching a lot backstage about how WCW treated him, so Paul Heyman turned the camera on and said, "have at it, Steve". So Austin does. He opens with a couple of great impersonations of Dusty Rhodes and Hulk Hogan while talking about how they held him down. Every idea he ran by them they shot down. Promises were made, titles offered, and none of it came to happen thanks to politics. He refers to himself as the "biggest potential superstar in wrestling". Hmm. Prophetic. He toes the line of exposing the business pretty close, talking about being asked to give Marcus Bagwell and Alex Wright "7 good minutes". He got hurt, Bischoff's secretary fired him and suddenly he was the biggest free agent walking. He chose ECW because apparently Tod Gordon offered him a truckload of cash (yeah right), but once he got to the ECW Arena he discovered what a dump it was. He then proceeds to lay into everybody in the company, dropping the now famous "it's a bunch of violent crap" line. He throws aside the "Stunning" Steve Austin moniker in exchange for "Superstar" Steve Austin, because no one in ECW can hold him back. Truly a tremendous promo, as he kept it cool and calm and just spoke in a real voice, without all the shouty wrestling BS. You had to take him seriously after that.

Opening montage. "ECW. John The Revolution."

Backstage Joey says hello then tosses it to Lance Wright over in Hype Central. This in-and-out camera stuff is nauseating. He mentions Sandman's upcoming defense of the ECW Title against Mikey Whipwreck in a Ladder Match.

We cut straight to Woman and Sandman backstage, but their focus is on Steve Austin, not Whipwreck. Sandman tells Austin he won't be resuscitating his career against the ECW Champion. "I'm nobody's iron lung".

Taz's turn, as he gets right to the point of telling Jason and Scorpio that he's gonna be taking them out. He mentions meeting Lou Thesz recently and how he was afraid to talk to him at first because he was ashamed of losing to Jason in a tag match a few weeks ago. Ultimately it's Scorpio's fault because he injured Taz and that led to Taz losing to Jason, something that never would have happened had he been healthy. For a guy who was uncomfortable behind the mic before the injury, he's taking to it quickly.

Backstage Joey talks about the Taz-Jason situation and mentions if Taz wants to get to Jason, he's probably gonna have to go through The Eliminators first. That segues into a video look at the team of Saturn and Kronus, including snippets from a backstage promo where they're dressed up like they're in a Barbarian look-alike contest. They call out the Steiner Brothers in their own twisted way. Kronus' demented laughter is awesome. It's a shame he never got his act together because between his psycho charisma and big-man agility, he could have gone farther than he did.

The Steiners offer a rebuttal from backstage. Nothing original is said and Rick couldn't even be bothered to take the chewing tobacco out of his lip for this one, so you know they're weren't working overtime to get their point across.

They replay the "Bealuah's Box" bit from last week with a "Coming Soon On ECW" banner.

Backstage Joey cuts into "this commercial" to show Bill Alfonso in the ring screaming his head off as apparently Taz wasn't cleared to wrestle. That doesn't stop Jason from attacking the Human Suplex Machine from behind, and I guess we're getting the match anyway.

TAZ vs. JASON
(referee: Jim Molineaux)

Jason struts around like a dork and throws some weak forearm blows. They exchange a duck of clotheslines and Taz goes for a belly-to-back Tazplex but Jason gets out with a mule kick to the giblets. Taz no-sells the nutshot and slaps on, for the first time, the Khata Hajime (Tazmission) and Jason taps out in seconds flat.
Result: Taz via submission (0:37).

Taz keeps the hold on for a bit before finally letting go. They show a quick replay then Joey interviews the victor as ringside where Taz, who never even got his t-shirt off, tells Scorpio he's getting choked out next. Damage Control is in the ring administering smelling salts to Jason, who flops around the ring like the dork that he is while Joey talks over the house mic about how the move is banned in Judo. We get another replay of the finish and now it's Jason's turn to talk, whining about the legality of the hold in a bit that would get pretty much stolen by Kurt Angle in 2000 when Taz debuted in the WWF. Jason continues with some story about being in a car accident (also telling somebody at ringside to "hush, hush, hush", but Joey says they have to get to a match. Jason has one of the all-time "sweetest mullets", as Chris Jericho might say.

Some skinny jobber in a mask is in the ring, but Jason is in too, with the mic. He claims to have built ECW and slaps the jobber (who it turns out is El Puerto Ricano, aka Pablo Pena) a bunch of times for his apparent disrespect. The sound is piss-poor so we can't hear Jason at all. El Jobbero Ricano gets him some, ripping the mask off to reveal… some dude. Well that was certainly an uneventful unmasking. Some chick in the crowd screams just as he grabbed the mask, I assume because she was expecting it to be somebody of note. Not to be, honey. He talks some smack to Jason (which we also can't make out too well) and they get to steppin! Knife-edge chops by Jason, but EPR comes back with a nice dropkick, then a second, then a third, showing off his varied moveset. Joey says we've got an impromptu match (Molineaux is still hanging around), but I didn't hear a bell. Ricano leaps to the top rope and then out onto Jason before rolling back inside, still looking for a match. Jason, having been just choked out by Taz and then shown-up by a nobody, decides it's probably not the time to push the issue and walks out.

Suddenly we flash ahead to Raven sitting in the corner as Bob Artese introduces Cactus Jack, who is apparently El Puerto Ricano's real opponent. Jack gets on the mic but says he's not fighting EPR, because "you don't fit into my plan". And while EPR has some nice moves and good future in the sport, he won't have that future if he fights the "former WCW tag champion". EPR responds with his favorite move – the dropkick! We've got a bell and…

EL PUERTO RICANO vs. CACTUS JACK (w/ Raven)
(referee: Jim Molineux)

The match officially underway, Ricano hits his first "official" dropkick (ok, we GET it), then ANOTHER (which whiffs) and Cactus rolls out, only to get hit with a nice Asai moonsault from the rookie. Back in they go and Ricano goes up top, but gets knocked off straight away. He spills to the floor and Cactus climbs up top to threaten a Cactus elbow to the floor, but the fans want it too much, so he gets down without doing anything. Ricano makes his way back in and Cactus takes him over with a side headlock then just sits there in the hold, quickly drawing boos. Joey is surprised to find Cactus knows how to "actually wrestle". Ricano tries to fight out of the headlock, but Cactus just keeps working it. He actually makes a great show of YAWNING in the middle of holding the headlock while Joey puts over on commentary how he's intentionally wrestling "the worst match of his career" to piss off the ECW fans, who themselves respond with… THE WAVE! That's just tremendous. Back in the ring they eventually get back to their feet and Cactus gets backed into the corner where Ricano spazzes away like an 8th grader. He even shoves Molineaux aside at one point. A couple of slaps send Cactus to the floor and then he SPITS on Cactus! Jack's had enough of that nonsense and tosses Ricano outside where Raven gives the lad a DDT on the floor. Back inside Cactus takes the hapless rookie and beats him with… a cradle. Awesome finish.
Result: Cactus Jack via pinfall (4:30).

Post-match, Raven tries to order Cactus to work Ricano over some more, but he's reluctant at first, still not wanting to give the fans anything worthwhile. He eventually relents and they deliver a spike piledriver. Raven goes to work on Ricano on the outside and here's Tommy Dreamer to take out Cactus! He blocks Jack's attempt at the double-arm DDT and delivers plain old DDT's to both Raven and Jack. Cactus gets tossed, so Tommy delivers the Cactus Jack Elbow that Jack refused to do. Back on the apron again Tommy grabs a chair to deliver another one, but he turns his back on Raven like a moron and gets shoved face-first into the guardrail. Joey says Raven "masterminded another heinous attack on Tommy Dreamer", but Tommy's the one who attacked them. Whatever. Back inside the ring they work the Innovator Of Violence over with punches, busting him open. The crowd chants for 911. They don't get him. Raven goes for a DDT on a folded up chair, but Cactus talks him out of it, so Raven settles for a plain old chair shot. They get into an argument because Raven wants Jack to use the chair on Dreamer, but Jack keeps refusing. He eventually delivers a double arm DDT on the chair before bailing, leaving Raven to continue the beatdown on his own. Another DDT on the chair and Tommy is pretty much a slug at this point. Raven heads out for a table and suddenly Cactus is back with some barbed wire wrapped around his arm. He drops an elbow on Dreamer. They set Dreamer on the table and Cactus delivers another elbow from the ropes, crashing Tommy through it. The Pitbulls then show up to chase off Raven and Cactus.

Back in WWE 24/7 land, Taz goes into a pretty good story of how the Tazmission came about before he and Joey decide to take the time to bury Lance Wright. I approve.

Backstage Joey promises an update on Tommy's condition but gets interrupted by a cackling 2 Cold Scorpio. He seems to be enjoying Dreamer's demise and is hoping for a replay, but Joey disappoints him by saying they won't show one. Good, Louis. Short but… pointless.

Once again it's Nausea-Cam as Lance Wright hypes an upcoming Tommy-Cactus match. He actually cuts the hype off and wonders "Why are we hyping this match? Raven's just gonna interfere." That was pretty funny actually.

Raven and Cactus Jack cut a promo from inside of Roger Murtaugh's new addition (Lethal Weapon 2 reference! Hip!). Raven tells Tommy that Cactus has taken Dreamer's place as the true friend he should have been. Cactus says a show of force became necessary, but now he's not so sure it was worth it, because apparently the ECW fans have clouded Tommy's mind. He talks about using WCW programming (with the volume turned down) to cleanse himself when he's not feeling right, and how he dreams of Tommy one day being a WCW tag champ. But the clock's ticking, because if Tommy doesn't go there soon, WCW will create their own Tommy Dreamer. In WCW, "you truly can be anything you want to be. I've seen it all a hundred times, Tommy, the magic they can weave. I've seen a tough Jewish kid from Brooklyn, became a black man from Macon". That wacky WCW. He goes so far as to say that even though he's heavyweight champion in another fed now, Kevin Nash (never actually mentioned by name) would have to admit that his current success is thanks to the love he received while going through five different gimmicks in WCW. That's a brilliant piece of work, just pissing all over WCW under the guise of praising them. He says ECW doesn't have the same magic, as instead it turned the Rottens, "two naive kids with fake English accents" into "scar-covered mutant freaks". He blames ECW for making it so you can't even have a five-word conversation with Mikey Whipwreck these days thanks to the all the concussions. As for Tommy, he's been turned into a "blood thirsty… women abusing… person on a roller coaster to hell". They add in some footage of Tommy piledriving Beulah, just to reinforce his point and make Tommy look like a tool in the process. As for why he doesn't go back to WCW himself, well he's damaged goods now thanks to ECW, but there's still time to deliver Tommy to the promised land. "The only friends you got are not those people chanting for your blood, but these two people praying for your soul".

Once again Cactus delivers the goods with an intricate and brilliant promo. It's hard to even see how he's the heel in this situation given how logical his thinking is, although the sucking up to WCW does the trick in keeping him on the fans' bad side. Meanwhile, Raven – per usual – adds nothing. His promos are about the most disappointing element of this trip in ECW's past, as I was lead to believe he was a genius, but I've yet to see it.

Back in the ring Tommy is out, sans a shirt (the moobs are back!), but once again sporting the Civil War head bandage that he likes to use whenever he's been worked over. It's so classically cheesy I can't help but love it. He's also got a Paul E. Dangerously Memorial Oversized Cellphone with him so that he can let his mystery partner hear the crowd's response when he announces that Terry Funk is gonna be his partner in an upcoming tag match. We cut to a final image of Funk backstage blowing on a flaming branding iron. And we're out!

Overview: Well, the two interviews that bookended this puppy were outstanding. Austin and Foley are just so ahead of everyone else, not only in ECW, but in most of wrestling then and now, that it's hard not to gush over their brilliance. These were two greats examples of their genius. Meanwhile, the wrestling in-between was almost non-existent. The Cactus Jack-El Puerto Ricano match was interesting from an angle standpoint, but that's about it. I like how they're building the Dreamer-Cactus feud, but I kinda wish Raven would get lost as he's bringing nothing to the table and is actually undermining Jack's stance. You'd think he'd like the mind games, but instead he just seems focused on beating Tommy up. Dude, you've been at it for ten months. Get a new hobby.

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