June 2, 2009
Austin Atwood

"HARDCORE TV"
Date: July 27 (31), 1995 (taped: July 21, 1995)
Location: Expo Park (Tampa, FL)

Things jump-start right in the middle of a wild hardcore melee. It's mindless weapon shots and the like on the outside, with The Pitbulls, Tommy Dreamer, Luna, Vampire Warrior, Raven, and Stevie Richards all involved.

Backstage Joey time, as he hypes the Tampa Bay Brawl, which is apparently a Battle Royal with the winner getting a title shot against the Sandman immediately after. We see Sandman's entrance, as he'll be at ringside for the Brawl.

TAMPA BAY BRAWL
(referees: Jim Molineaux & Frankie Reyes)

Joined in progress. I'll try my best to follow who's in there, but I make no guarantees for accuracy. Raven is working over Ian Rotten. Vampire Warrior and Pitbull #1 are going at it. Hack Myers is in there, as are Pitbull #2, Marty Jannetty, 2 Cold Scorpio, Bull Pain, Mikey Whipwreck, Tommy Dreamer, Dudley Dudley, and Stevie Richards (hanging out on the outside). Pitbull #1 goes out courtesy of the Warrior, who then gets dropkicked out by Pitbull #2. Dudley Dudley takes PB2 out with a clothesline to the back of the head. CLIP. Dreamer climbs out through the ropes to toss Stevie in. Once inside, he chucks him out over the top. Thanks for playing, Stevie! Raven takes that opportunity to toss Dreamer out, but Mikey dropkicks Raven out before he even knew what hit him. Hack Myers and Dudley get put out at some point (probably during the chunk that was clipped). Crowd is behind Mikey now as we're down to him, Jannetty, Scorpio, Rotten and Bull Pain. Rotten backdrops Pain out as Scorpio powerbombs Mikey. CLIP. Nothing happens. CLIP. Jannetty dropkicks Rotten out, as he had been perched on the top rope. Mikey turns a Scorpio powerbomb into a Frankenmikey and Jannetty clotheslines Scorpio out. Meanwhile Sandman is pissed that there's no bartender on the premises. He gets on the mic and antagonizes the two guys left, wanting to know if either guy is man enough to challenge for the title. Jannetty controls the match until Mikey gets a flying headscissors! Armdrag! Hiptoss! Mikey's on fire! CLIP. And now Marty's in control. Wow, that clipjob was deflating. Ugly spinkick by Mikey, but he pays for it by eating a superkick! Jannetty has Mikey right where he wants him, so like a moron he charges Mikey against the ropes and gets backdropped out.

Result: Mikey Whipwreck via stipulation (4:17 shown).

Jannetty comes back in to shake Mikey's hand, but as they're celebrating Sandman sneak attacks. Out goes Jannetty and now Bill Alphonso is in the ring. Outside Jannetty is pretty pissed, but the refs won't let him exact any revenge.

*ECW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP*
MIKEY WHIPWRECK vs. THE SANDMAN © (w/ Woman)
(referee: Bill Alphonso)

Before things get officially underway, Sandman just BLASTS Mikey with a cane shot. Umm… ouch? Alphonso becomes the official official, since Molineaux and Reyes are busy taking Jannetty to the back. Sandman just taunts Mikey, slapping him like a child. Front suplex drops Mikey gut-first across the top rope. Top rope guillotine legdrop by the champ. He takes his shirt off and continues to humiliate Mikey. Sandman picks Mikey up for a piledriver, giving each side of the arena a look before delivering the move. He hits it and scores the pinfall with ease. Sandman didn't even break a sweat. And might I add, DAMN those are some nasty scars on Sandman's stomach. No wonder he usually wears a shirt.

Result: Sandman via pinfall (1:32).

Opening montage. Kind of late in the game for that, wouldn't you say?

Backstage Joey has an interview with Mikey Whipwreck, who challenges Sandman for a rematch, offering to take 10 lashes with a cane if he loses. He lights up a cigarette to prove his toughness (against Joey's protests), but of course coughs it up. We go to a commercial and when we come back Joey announces that Sandman has accepted the challenge. That was quick.

Taz, sporting a neck brace, is backstage somewhere with his new partners, The Steiner Brothers. Scott and Rick throw a challenge out to 2 Cold Scorpio, Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit. Taz says he does his talking in the ring. And to think, this guy eventually became a commentator.

2 Cold Scorpio raps his way into a promo. He talks about "dropping the bomb on yo' heiney". Yes, he really said "heiney". The Steiners can kiss his ass, Shane Douglas couldn't keep up, and it's on like a hot pot of steaming neckbones. Not a bad promo actually. A little redundant (he "dropped the bomb on ya" like four times), but it showed some charisma which I don't recall seeing from him up till this point.

*ECW TELEVISION CHAMPIONSHIP*
DEAN MALENKO vs. EDDY GUERRERO ©
(referee: Frankie Reyes)

I fear this will be clipped into oblivion, just like every other time these two meet. I like watching these two wrestle as much as anybody, but Joey constantly putting their rivalry over as the best thing to ever hit American wrestling soil is kind of insulting to the likes of Flair/Steamboat and others. Anyway, lock-up, headlock, headscissor, stand-off. Eddy works a hammerlock and actually managers a hair pull on Dean even though there is almost none to work with. Dean comes back into an arm-wringer and they go through the usual sequence of rapid fire reversals into another stand-off. The word "smooth" just doesn't do these two justice. Test of strength, but neither man has much of an advantage here. It ends in a rolling monkey-flip by Malenko and another stand-off. Heel trip by Dean and he works the knee a bit. Some jackass starts chanting "boring", but thankfully he gets shouted down quickly. They work the mat for awhile before Eddy gets fired up with a jumping back elbow and hits the slingshot senton for a two-count. Motorbike stretch by Eddy. Malenko reverses to one of his own. Into the corner for a break and Eddy takes some cheapshots to take over. They actually botch a waistlock sequence but everything comes so fast and furious it's excusable. Eddy takes the knee out with a dropkick then goes to work on it, taking his cue from Dean's style. He switches into an STF that goes on for a bit before Malenko makes the ropes. Knee to the gut turns Eddy inside out as he's coming hard off the ropes and now Dean's in control. Fireman's carry gutbuster wakes the crowd up some. Dean delays and then goes for a pin but it only gets two. Abdominal stretch follows. Eddy gets a surprise roll up off a knee to the gut by Malenko, then gets another two off of a pumphandle backbreaker. Gory Special by Eddy, but Malenko pulls out a reverse victory roll for two. Eddy back in command with a powerslam and then it's up top for the frogsplash! Nails it! ONE! TWO! NO! Blind charge eats turnbuckle and Malenko comes off QUICKLY with a cross-body! ONE! TWO! THR-NOO!! They fight over a suplex with Eddy eventually getting it for another two. Up top again, but Dean ain't having it. Superplex? No! Sunset flip off the top by Eddy! ONE! TWO! Nope. Sick powerbomb by Malenko and ANOTHER two! Dean hits a brainbuster for two, but Eddy comes back with a Frankensteiner! ONE! TWO! NO!! Scoop and a slam, but again Eddy is too slow going up top and Dean catches him. With Eddy on his shoulders, Dean flips over the top and both guys spill outside. Back in Eddy gets a missile dropkick to the back and a German suplex! ONE! TWO! NO! Fisherman's suplex! AGAIN for two! TIGERBOMB BY MALENKO! FOR TWO!! Hurricanrana by Eddy! PINFALL REVERSAL SEQUENCE… AND DEAN WINS!! Damn, how often do you see that?! For all those who bitch that that sequence is nothing more than flash, there you go, it actually won the match. Suck on it.

Result: Malenko via pinfall (15:37).

That was a tremendous match (and fully in tact!). They built so well, firing off these rapid sequences in the early stages mixed in with the stand-offs and rest holds to work the crowd. Then they kicked it up a notch coming down the stretch and worked in all these great exchanges until one guy caught the break he needed and scored the win. Post-match Eddy wants to hand Dean the belt personally, which he does. AND THEN RIPS DEAN'S HEAD OFF WITH A CLOTHESLINE!! Awesome! He spits on the new champ for good measure. Ahh. Heel Eddy is so satisfying.

*ECW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP*
#SINGAPORE CANE MATCH#
MIKEY WHIPWRECK vs. THE SANDMAN © (w/ Woman)
(referee: Jim Molineaux)

So we're getting the re-match on the same show? Interesting. Although logical, given how short the original match was. Mikey attacks from behind on the outside. Opening bell rings even though they're outside. WTF? Inside they go and Mikey gets a one-count off of a dropkick. He then gets two off of another dropkick. He tries a third, but Sandman has had enough of selling dropkicks. Boot to the head for the champ. Mikey hits a… spinning knee? Hmm. That must be what he was trying for in the earlier match when I though he just horribly botched a spinning kick. Sandman catches him with a gutshot coming off the second rope. Snapmare and a legdrop and then *another* dropkick from Whipwreck gets a two-count. Sandman turns the tide briefly, but Mikey comes out of the corner with a bulldog. He gets a piledriver and Joey seems to think we're gonna have a new champ. Up top he goes, but he falls off the top! Ha-ha! Dork! And Sandman… pins him? Really? Off of THAT?! Joy.

Result: Sandman via pinfall (2:44).

The ending sucked, but the good news is that the match wasn't really important anyway. The real fun comes via the stipulation. The ring announcer (whoever the hell he is – woops; Ron Lemieux, sayeth Joey), then announces, "ladies and gentlemen, due to the stipulations of this match… oh my god… Mikey Whipwreck must receive… ugh… ten lashes… with the Singapore cane" in the most defeated voice possible. That's just awesome. Woman demands Mikey "assume the position, little boy". Oh, like YOU wouldn't if she asked YOU? Sandman gets one lick in, when Jim Molineaux steps in to offer to take the rest of the shots in Mikey's place. Woman don't play like that, homey. Shot number TWO from Sandman and now Woman is in ecstasy over the violence. Shot three pretty much shatters the cane. Now Lemieux comes in and HE wants to take them, but again, Woman gets no pleasure from seeing Sandman cane nobodies. "You're not even Bob Artese". Ouch. That hurts, Woman. Shot four and if you were just listening to Woman, you'd think Mikey's was giving her the high hard one. "Yes! Yes! Yes! YES! MIKEY!!". Shot five. Six. Sandman is holding NOTHING back on these, by the way. Woman is just gold on the mic during all of it. Seven! Commissioner Gordon is out and so is Hack Myers with a stretcher for Mikey. Woman demands the last three shots though! And here comes Fonzie to grant her wish! The best part of all this Fonzie stuff is that he's almost always totally in the right! Of course him calling it "false advertising" isn't necessarily true since this stipulation wasn't advertised, it was decided on during the card, but the thought is nice. Anyway, Sandman leaps over the ropes and delivers shot eight on the fly! Nine is kinda garden variety, as is number ten. But Sandman makes up for it with two more, then a good half-dozen more on Marty Jannetty who has come out of nowhere to throw himself on top of Mikey. That whole segment was fantastic.

Backstage Joey pimps the video for Sunshine State Slaughter, which is apparently the best of the Florida shows. He then throws it to a locker room promo with Mikey and Jannetty. Marty cuts a REALLY good promo. Just straight shootin', sounding relaxed and real. Didn't know he had that in him. He shakes Mikey's hand and leaves, so the littlest Whipwreck decides that his mom is gonna kill him for getting all banged up. He promises to take Sandman to the extreme though. And we're out.

Overview: This episode is GOLD. We got a Malenko-Guerrero in FULL! Plus a tremendous segment with the caning business. They even kept the actual Mikey-Sandman matches nice and short. Throw a couple of surprisingly good promos from unlikely sources in there for some added spice and this might just be the best episode I've seen yet. I've said it before, but I really like Sandman as a character, so when they keep his actual wrestling to the bare minimum, I'm on board. Plus this was the first time I've seen Woman actually serve a purpose, so that helped. And what can I say about Malenko-Guerrero that hasn't already been said? Call me a mindless internet mark if you like, but I could watch those two guys go all day. Even when they mess stuff up it looks like it's coming out of the competition not out of laziness or stupidity. Great stuff this week.

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