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Retro Wrestle Respawn – ECW Buffalo Invasion 97

Last week we took a look at ECW’s very first pay per view in Barely Legal. Not content with just having that show fulfil my 1997 ECW fix, I decided to take a look at an event that happened not too soon after in Buffalo. This show is a essentially a house show that they filmed for home release and used portions of it for Hardcore TV as well.

The event is emanating from Buffalo, New York on the 17th of May 1997

Calling the action is Joey Styles, with “Ravishing” Rick Rude occasionally popping in to do colour

Opening Match
The Full Blooded Italians (Tracey Smothers and Little Guido) w/ “Wildfire” Tommy Rich
Vs
The Pitbulls (Pitbull #1 and Pitbull #2)

Rich antagonises the fans on the microphone pre-match. The joke here is that neither Smothers or Rich are actually Italian, but pretend they are. Smothers is even introduced as being from “Nashville, Italy” just to really drive the point home. The Pitbulls we first met at Barely Legal, as #2 battled for the ECW Television Title against Shane Douglas.

The Buffalo crowd makes it very clear that they will be cheering for The Pitbulls here, demanding that the original Dogs of Extreme tear the faux Italians a new one. #1 overpowers Guido to start and shoves him down. The funny thing is I reckon Guido, a legit shooter, could probably take everyone in this match if given the chance.

Guido works a headlock, hanging on to #1 by pulling his hair when he tries to get out, and then works an arm bar with even more hair pulling. #1 is soon back on top of things though and chucks Guido across the ring before tagging in #2 for a double back elbow. The Pitbulls wear Guido down with basic stuff, and he sells it well.

Guido makes the mistake of chopping #1, which only serves to anger him, and he gets dropped with a neck breaker for his troubles. Smothers tries to help out, but both FBI members have their heads rammed together by #1 and #2 adds a top rope shoulder block to both of them for added measure. I must have quite liked the Pitbulls in my younger days, as I recently discovered that I went to the trouble of making CAW’s of them on WrestleMania 2000. I’m not sure what it was that inspired me to create them, but I’m guessing it’s because their attire looks a bit like what Prince Albert was wearing at the time, thus making them relatively easy to create.

Smothers and Pitbull #2 go at it now, with Smothers getting the worst of a knuckle lock and having his hands stomped on. #2 powerbombs Smothers, but Guido breaks up the pin and distracts the referee, allowing Rich to low bridge #2 and then drop him crotch first on the guardrail for the cut off. FBI now get the heat on #2, showing decent chemistry as a team.

Guido gets a very nice slingshot elbow drop onto #2 from the apron and Smothers then comes in with a modified side slam, which looked good also. Rich makes sure to cheat when he can whenever the referees attention is diverted. #2 is finally able to thwart the FBI’s double teaming with a double clothesline and makes the hot tag to #1.

Stereo powerslams from The Pitbulls causes Rich to head up onto the apron, but #1 clocks him to a big pop. This leaves Guido alone in the ring to get Super Bombed, giving The Pitbulls the victory.

WINNERS: THE PITBULLS
RATING: **

Standard tag opener, where they worked the formula and the fans were into it. No issues with this at all, a good effort from all involved, especially Rich on the outside who drew good heat as a nefarious manager.

Match Two
Wild Bill Wyles Vs Balls Mahoney

I had no idea that Wyles was working for ECW all the way back in 1997. Wyle’s kind of looks like a less imposing Rick Steiner here, wearing a singlet and having similar facial hair. Balls doesn’t bring a chair down to the ring with him, so this must have been before he added that aspect to his character.

Wyle’s would eventually go on to team with CW Anderson in 2000 before doing an Elvis Presley gimmick as “Blvis Wesley”, but he’s just a generic heel at this stage. Wyles does okay in the ring, but once it spills outside Balls gets the upper hand due to being the superior brawler. Wyles gets a nice clothesline from the second rope back inside, which gets him a two count.

Some douchebags in the crowd start chanting “boring” but soon chant “ECW” when Balls takes Wyles over the top rope to the outside with a spin kick. Fans start chanting “Chair”, which suggests Balls had started using one by the time this show came along. Balls misses a charge in the corner and Wyles gets a school boy for two.

Fans are not even remotely having poor Wyles here, treating him as enhancement talent for Balls and getting actively annoyed when he has any offence. Balls hits Wyles with a super kick and the heads outside the ring to find himself a chair and brains poor Bill with it to pick up the three count. Always nice to see a clean and scientific end to a match like that eh folks? Who said sportsmanship was dead?

WINNER: BALLS MAHONEY
RATING: *

Not much of a match, just a way to let Balls smash someone with a chair to get that part of his character  over.

Match Three
Taz Vs Spike Dudley

Rick Rude joins Joey Styles for commentary on this one. Joey makes a point that Taz was already angry, but getting beaten up by Sabu and Rob Van Dam at Barely Legal has only made him even madder. Spike doesn’t even get an entrance, already being in the ring when Taz comes out. Both men get the ECW TV graphics, which makes me think this was originally shot for Hardcore TV.

Spike does his best to hang with Taz in a wrestling contest but he’s massively overmatched and gets taken down with ease. Spike manages to pull off a dropkick to send Taz out of the ring and then follows with a dive from the top rope to the outside. Back inside, Spike goes for an up and over but Taz catches him and then brings him down with the Alabama Slam.

Spike tries a back slide, but Taz muscles him over to his feet and then smashes him with a clothesline. Taz gets an incredible release German Suplex which ends with Spike actually landing on his face. Taz takes a moment to yell at Sabu through the camera and flip him off, which gives Spike an opportunity to get a low blow and some pinning combinations, but Taz kicks out of them.

Spike actually gets the Acid Drop, but Taz kicks out of two. He goes for it again, but Taz manages to counter it this time and drills Spike with a T-Bone Suplex. Spike tries to come back with a DDT, but Taz hits a release Northern Lights Suplex to block that. Spike keeps coming however and tries a flying head scissors, but Taz blocks it and then transitions to the Tazmission to pick up the win.

WINNER: TAZ
RATING: **1/4

That was quite fun actually. Spike was given enough offence to not look like a jobber but Taz still got a dominating clean win. It’s hard to pull that balance off but they managed it, so bravo. Taz yells at the camera post-match, telling Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon to kiss his derriere.

Match Four
ECW Television Title
Champion: Shane Douglas w/ Francine Vs Chris Chetti

This has been a very pacey watch so far, with it just being match after match with very little filler. Douglas has some promo time before the match, comparing himself to Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali, and says he has nothing against Chetti and just wants a great match tonight. We’ll see how long that lasts as this match progresses.

Chetti had the all-time loser gimmick of being “The Rookie” here, which is practically a kiss of death to any young guy trying to get over. Douglas teases leaving to start as he’s annoyed at the fans chants, but he eventually gets back in. The fans now turn their chants towards Francine, which causes Douglas to roll outside and flip them the double bird.

Douglas attacks Chetti with strikes, but Chetti fires back with dropkicks to send him outside the ring to regroup. Chetti works a wrist lock as the fans continue to make unpleasant claims about Francine that I won’t repeat here. Douglas comes back with a clothesline and drops Chetti with a Rude Awakening, as he was feuding with Rick Rude at the time.

Douglas gets a nice piledriver on Chetti and then works in the rolling neck snap for two. Douglas continues to work Chetti’s neck with a head scissors before delivering a hanging brain buster. Chetti blocks a suplex with a suplex of his own and then heads up top for a leg drop, but Douglas moves and gets a cover for two. Douglas gets a nice underhook suplex and then goes to a single leg Boston Crab, but Chetti is able to make the ropes. Douglas chokes Chetti on the ropes and then distracts the ref, which allows Francine to rake the Rookies’ eyes.

Outside we go, where Douglas slams Chetti on the floor and then gets a two count from it back inside. Chetti dropkicks the knee in desperation and then goes to a figure four, to “WOOOOOO’s” from the crowd. This draws Francine into the ring and she breaks up the hold. This draws Rick Rude down to the ring, who pulls up Francine’s dress and then carries her to the back in a very lewd manner. This gets by far the biggest reaction of the match because…

Thanks, Cenk.

Douglas is now limping due to the figure four, but heads up top, only to be crotched by Chetti, who brings him down with a superplex for two. Chetti hits Douglas with a trio of clotheslines for two and then gets a swinging neck breaker for another near fall. Chetti gets a thrust kick and goes for a springboard moonsault, but he misses and Douglas picks him off with the belly to belly suplex for the win.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: SHANE DOUGLAS
RATING: **1/2

Solid stuff there, as Douglas gave Chetti a lot of offence and made him look like a credible threat before beating him clean, thus making both of them look good. That’s what wrestling is all about folks!

Match Five
Dream Partner Tag Team Match
Raven w/ Chastity and Lupus Vs Tommy Dreamer w/ Beulah

So Raven has to pick a partner and so does Dreamer. Todd Gordon is in the ring to oversee the selection process. Beulah has a neck brace on due to an attack from Louie Spicolli. The Raven/Dreamer Feud had been going on for over two years by this point and was starting to get a bit tired in all honesty. There’s just so many times you can see the same guys work with one another before it gets old.

Dreamer names his mentor Terry Funk as his partner. Lupus mucks around with a toy lightsabre, so Gordon drops him and then asks Raven to name a partner. Raven names Stevie Richards, who he was actively feuding with at the time, which would seem to be a questionable choice. Stevie is bemused that Raven would pick him

Raven and Dreamer start off and Raven tags out immediately. Dreamer thinks that Stevie and Raven are back on the same side again, despite Richards protestations to the contrary. Raven keeps grabbing the mic and giving Stevie unhelpful hints whilst he tries to wrestle Dreamer. Funk comes in and works with Stevie, with both men trying to wrestle rather than letting things get dirty.

Dreamer hits a suplex and then tries to get Raven to tag in a limp Richards, but Raven backs off the apron instead. Stevie continues to get worked over by Funk and Dreamer but Raven refuses to tag out and keeps berating Stevie on the mic. Stevie finally manages to tag Raven in, but Raven then tags out again immediately, which allows Funk to attack a distracted Stevie and throw him outside.

Funk now starts brawling with Raven, whilst Dreamer fights with Richards. Raven splashes Funk through a table and then drags him into the crowd for some brawling. Richards and Dreamer join them this match disintegrates into a wild tornado tag brawl. Back in the ring, Raven hits Funk with a chair and then kicks Dreamer low.

Raven gets the drop toe hold onto a chair on Funk and then tags in a reluctant Stevie, who drops Funk with a piledriver for two. Stevie and Raven now actually start working as a team after a shaky start, and hit Funk with a double suplex for two. Raven holds Funk and demands Stevie hit him, but Stevie snapmares him and goes to a chin lock instead, not wanting to cheap shot The Funker.

Raven brings the remains of the table from earlier into the ring and whips Funk into them a couple of times. Dreamer keeps trying to come in and help Funk, but keeps getting foiled. Stevie and Raven keep having issues, as Raven yells at Stevie whilst he has Funk in a leg lock and demands to be tagged in, where he hits Funk with an Evenflow DDT.

Raven goes to the spinning toe hold on Funk, which causes Dreamer to come in again to fight with him, whilst Stevie keeps working on Funk. Raven subdues Dreamer and then comes in to yell at Stevie, making it clear that he wants to be the one who gets the winning fall. Stevie and Raven start shoving each other and Raven DDT’s Richards before going to the toe hold on Funk.

Tommy makes the save and DDT’s Raven, but the ref got momentarily bumped, which means there is no one to count. Louie Spicolli runs in to attack Dreamer, but takes a low blow for his troubles. Raven and Dreamer brawl in the aisle, whilst Spicolli tries to hit Funk with a Spicolli Driver. This allows Stevie to deliver a Stevie Kick to Louie and then pin a still dazed Funk for the three count.

WINNERS: RAVEN AND STEVIE RICHARDS
RATING: **

This match was all storyline and it meant there was little in the way of good wrestling as consequence. It was one of those classic Heyman style matches/angles where he almost got too cute with the booking and it ultimately overtook the actual wrestling.

Match Six
ECW Tag Team Titles
Champions: The Eliminators (Perry Saturn and John Kronus) Vs D-Von Dudley and Big Dick Dudley w/ Bubba Ray Dudley and Joel Gertner Vs The Gangstas (New Jack and Mustafa)

Bubba suffered a legit broken ankle at Barely Legal, so Big Dick is filling in for him here. The bell rings and The Eliminators and Dudley’s start the match, with The Gangstas choosing to be fashionably late. Well, they are from Los Angeles I guess…

Saturn and Big Dick do some stuff to start, with Saturn getting the better of things. D-Von tries his luck with Kronus, as the fans make sure to let him know that they think he sucks. D-Von actually holds his own with Kronus quite well, but gets cocky and taunts the fans, which gives Kronus a chance to fight back. Bubba drags Kronus outside and starts attacking him two on one with Big Dick, whilst D-Von and Saturn fight inside.

Kronus gets set up on a table by Bubba on the outside and Big Dick choke slams Saturn off the apron onto him. That looked really unpleasant as the table didn’t break and it looked like Saturn hit nothing but concrete in the end. With The Eliminators down for a bit, this allows The Gangstas to finally show up, complete with a garbage can full of weapons.

The Gangstas run through their usual collection of weapon shots, with the choice of weapons including VCR’s, stop signs, guitars and mail boxes. The Eliminators recover now and the brawl is on, as everyone fights all over the building, hitting each other with anything not tied down. Saturn gets a dive onto Bubba in the crowd, whilst Kronus hits D-Von with a 450 splash inside.

Bubba is stupidly in the ring taking bumps despite his injury, including a top rope elbow drop and a frankensteiner from Saturn. Saturn actually hits a springboard moonsault onto Bubba’s injured ankle. Did we really need Bubba taking bumps when there are already six guys in this match? Why not just pay him to take the night off or something?

There’s too much going on here to do detailed play by play, but it’s basically organised chaos, with everyone fighting in the ring. Kronus is wearing a full crimson mask and starts attacking everyone with a croquet mallet, but Big Dick refuses to sell anything and swats him aside. Saturn and Bubba Ray fight in the crowd, whilst everyone else fights in the ring.

Saturn eventually gets back into the ring and clears it out with Kronus before hitting New Jack with a frogsplash for two. More aimless brawling goes onto until Mustafa and Big Dick start throttling each other, which gives the champs a chance to hit them both with TOTAL ELIMINATION! With both Mustafa and Dick down, Saturn and Kronus both pin one of them and thus eliminate them both at the same time to win the match

WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: THE ELIMINATORS
RATING: *

Huge pop for that finish, but the match wasn’t up to much. A messy brawl that went on for too long.

Bubba, despite his broken ankle, still comes in to take TOTAL ELIMINATION!!

Bill Alfonso joins us in the ring and insults the crowd until Todd Gordon comes out to shut him up. Gordon says ECW will be coming back to Buffalo in the future, which gets a great pop, and then takes out Alfonso with a low blow and a clothesline. The locker room empties to split the two non-workers up. Alfonso gets dragged to the back as the segment comes to an end. Not sure why they bothered putting that on the tape to be honest.

Match Seven
Louie Spicolli Vs Tommy Dreamer

Louie, as previously mentioned, injured Beulah’s neck with a Spicolli Driver and comes out here wearing a Beulah t-shirt to rub it in. Spicolli says Dreamer got beaten up earlier so he won’t be coming out here and commands the referee to count Tommy out. Spicolli was great on the mic there. Tommy of course comes out and the fight is on.

We go straight into the brawl, as they fight around ringside with Louie getting the upper hand on a tired Dreamer. Inside the ring we go, where Dreamer crotches Spicolli on the top rope and then brings him down with a superplex. And after our brief sojourn to the ring, it’s back to the outside for more brawling.

Both men fight all over the arena, climbing the bleachers and up the steps. Tommy flings Louie through a table and then hits him with a garbage can, but Spicolli low blows him and then throws him down the bleachers. Dreamer didn’t take it easy on that bump at all and rolled all the way down to the bottom, bouncing very high on some of the steps. I’m personally amazed Dreamer can even walk these days after all the years of punishment he suffered.

Back to the ring we go, where Spicolli tries the Spicolli Driver on Dreamer. Beulah comes in to stop him, which causes Louie to use her as a human shield from Dreamer. Beulah brings an end to the stand off by mule kicking Louie, allowing Dreamer to get a DDT for the win.

WINNER: TOMMY DREAMER
RATING: *1/2

I feel bad not giving it more after that insane bleacher spot, but this wasn’t a great match. It was a decent brawl that held my attention, but that’s about it.

Louie hits the Spicolli Driver post-match and berates Dreamer on the mic. Dreamer, despite being left a broken mess, still pulls himself to his feet and gets a pop from the crowd. That’s his career in a nutshell right there.

Main Event
ECW World Title
Champion: Terry Funk
Vs
Raven w/ Chastity and Lupus
Vs
Stevie Richards
Vs
The Sandman

Chastity teases showing some skin before the match, but then doesn’t to the expected heat from the room of angry young men. The roster must have been pretty thin for this show with so many people working twice. Raven actually attacks Sandman during his entrance, and then tries to team up with Stevie on Funk, but the Hardcore Legend is able to hold his own.

We now have another brawl, which is about the fourth one tonight. I’m fine with a match or two on the card involving some crowd brawling, but it’s gotten to the point of overkill on this show, even though all four men are good in these sorts of matches. Raven delivers DDT’s to Sandman and Funk and then berates Stevie, telling him to pin one of them. To be fair, this is an elimination match, so it’s a sound strategy.

Stevie refuses however and Steve Kick’s Raven, which allows Funk and Sandman to both pile on Wrestle Fest style to eliminate him. Funk and Sandman try to team up on Stevie to eliminate him, and hit him with a spike piledriver, but Stevie is able to kick out at two. Sandman demands a double powerbomb next, but Stevie is still able to kick out.

Sandman gives Funk a neck breaker and then delivers a DDT to Stevie before heading outside and bringing a piece of guardrail into the ring. Sandman sets the guardrail up in the corner and whips Stevie into it before getting a school boy for two. Funk whips Sandman into the rail, but he’s able to kick out at two. Funk now picks up the guardrail and swings it at everyone before resting it on the ropes.

Before he can use it however, Sandman throws him outside and grabs it himself, only to get Stevie Kicked and pinned by Richards. However, just after the ref counts the pin, Funk drops the guardrail onto Stevie’s neck, causing him a legit injury and nearly ending his career in the process. Not surprisingly, Stevie can’t get up from that and Funk pins him, to noticeable boo’s from the crowd.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: TERRY FUNK
RATING: ***

I don’t think this match really needed Raven in it to be honest, as they could have just done more of what we saw at Barely Legal between Funk, Sandman and Stevie and it probably would have been really good. In a TNA Moment™, the DVD just ends a few seconds after Funk gets the win. No post-match celebration, nothing.

Final Thoughts

This was one of those shows where I blew through it in one sitting and found it to be relatively watchable, but it lacked any of the blow away matches at Barely Legal and had far too much brawling. The Douglas/Chetti match was a nice enough change of pace, but after that it was all brawling all the time and it hurt the show as brawling had become blasé by the end of the main event.

I wouldn’t strongly recommend this. It’s quite a middling show and there’s better 1997 ECW out there, which we’ll hopefully see during next week’s review.

Thanks for reading

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