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Retro Wrestle Respawn – ECW Heatwave 95

Good day to you all! Sorry for the lack of content recently, I’ve been going through the process of moving house whilst also doing extra hours at work and it’s practically annihilated all my free time. I actually had this review of ECW Heatwave 95 partly typed up from back in the summer but had ended up writing something else and never finishing it. Seeing as I wanted to put something out there, I decided to go back and finish the review for this week’s Retro article.

Heatwave 95 came at an interesting time for ECW, as the product was really starting to gain momentum amongst the more hardcore element of wrestling fandom. This owed mostly to the general staleness of both WCW and WWF, who were both presenting unimaginative products targeted mostly at the younger audience. Over in Turnerland, Hulk Hogan was still proudly wearing his red and yellow gear whilst regularly emasculating lead heels Ric Flair and Vader with unreasonable ease. Things weren’t much better over in Connecticut either, as Kevin “Diesel” Nash was floundering as WWF Champion, owing to a string of lame duck challengers and the fact that the company was hell bent on softening all of the sharp edges that had made him an interesting character to begin with.

With the two major American companies essentially ignoring the teen/young adult demographic, ECW was able to make an immediate impact with that subset of wrestling fandom by presenting a product high on violence and low on morals. Whereas WCW had Hulk Hogan feuding with the goofy “Dungeon of Doom” stable, ECW had street gangs pulverising each other with assorted weaponry. Whilst the WWF was presenting wrestling plumbers, monks and garagemen, ECW had scantily clad women engaging in sloppy cat fights. It was certainly not a product for everyone, but it’s target audience ate it up and gave the company a foothold in the industry.

Thus, Heatwave 95 would very much fall into ECW’s hot period (No pun intended) so this show should hopefully be an enjoyable watch. Why don’t we read on and find out?

The event is emanating from the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the 15th of July 1995

Calling the action is Joey Styles

The show starts out with heel referee Bill Alfonso coming down to the ring. Alfonso was the bane of ECW fans lives as he wanted to bring, gasp, rules and regulations to the company! As you can imagine, seeing that the blood thirsty and downright malevolent ECW audience liked healthy doses of violence and gore, Alfonso’s love of rules essentially made him the anti-Christ to the inhabitants of the ECW Arena. Sadly the sound system is pretty awful so I can’t really make out what Alfonso is saying, but the fans pelt the ring with garbage whilst he tries to speak so it must be his usual spiel. It looks like Alfonso is trying to shut the entire show down, so ECW Commissioner Todd Gordon comes down to the ring and looks for a fight. Alfonso of course doesn’t want any of that, but Gordon forces his hand by tackling him, which causes the ECW locker room to run down and break the fight up.

Opening Match
Mikey Whipwreck Vs Stormin’ Norman

I have no idea who Norman is, but he kind of looks like Eddie Kingston and Bobby Roode had a child. Norman jumps Mikey to start but Mikey comes back with arm drags and a scoop slam. Norman bails outside, so Mikey follows with an Asai twisting body block. This was clearly after the period in Mikey’s career when he never got any offensive moves. Mikey misses a dropkick back inside however and Norman starts working him over with some right hands.

Norman gets a flying head scissors to send Mikey out of the ring and then follows with an axe handle off the apron. The fans aren’t having Norman at all and serenade him with numerous vulgar chants. Norman stupidly jaws with the fans at ringside, despite having control of the match, and this allows Mikey to recover and send him into the guardrail. Norman is quickly back on top, but again allows himself to get distracted by the crowd.

This has been a very slap dash kind of match that hasn’t found any real rhythm at all. Norman has thrice had to cut Mikey off for the heat due to doing nothing and leaving Mikey to be forced to get back up to avoid looking like a chump. Joey puts Norman over on commentary as he finally gets some actual heat on Mikey, but it all proves for naught as Mikey gets a FrankenMikey out of nowhere to pick up the win and bounce Norman from ECW forever.

WINNER: MIKEY WHIPWRECK
RATING: ½*

The match had no real flow to it and the execution from both men was sloppy. If they’d structured the match more soundly then it might have been more enjoyable to watch.

Match Two
ECW Tag Team Championships
Champions: Raven and Stevie Richards w/ Beulah Vs Tony Stetson and Don E. Allen

This is early in Beulah’s ECW run where she was still shacked up with Raven. Raven’s feud with Tommy Dreamer was still in its early stages here, with Beulah supposedly being a fat girl that Dreamer rejected in high school who had grown up to become a Penthouse model because…

Thanks, Cenk.

Anyway, Raven and Dreamers feud supposedly spun from Raven being bitter that Dreamer was popular in school and Raven wasn’t. These days I could definitely see Raven getting a fair share of cheers, as coming back as an adult to get revenge on the popular kids is probably a sentiment shared by a certain section of wrestling fans. Stetson and Allen were leftovers from the early days of ECW that were used as little more than job guys by the time Heatwave 95 rolled around.

Despite this, Stetson gets to throw off his hockey gloves and swing some fists in Stevie’s direction. However, once Allen gets in he is soon cut off by Stevie and promptly DDT’ed by Raven. Whilst this is going on however, Stevie rolls outside to start making out with a woman in the front row who would eventually be revealed as being Francine. Before she managed the likes of The Pitbull’s and Shane Douglas, Francine’s first gimmick was that of being a Stevie Richards super fan.

Joey gets in the famous line of “I’ll be damned, Richards likes girls!” whilst Raven looks on disapprovingly in the ring. Raven eventually DDT’s Allen and heads out to drag Stevie off Francine. Unhappy with being shown up, Beulah heads outside and starts brawling with Francine in the crowd. Whilst all this is going on, the referee counts the champions out to give Stetson and Allen the win.

WINNERS BY COUNT OUT: TONY STETSON AND DON E. ALLEN (RAVEN AND RICHARDS REMAIN CHAMPIONS)
RATING: N/A

This was more of an elongated angle than an actual wrestling match so I don’t feel comfortable rating it. It was entertaining at least.

Security and officials try to separate the women whilst Raven and Richards head back into the ring to rough up Stetson and Allen. This leads to The Pitbull’s running down to the ring to make the save, but they get jumped by The Dudley Family of Dudley Dudley, Dances With Dudley and Snot Dudley. Tommy Dreamer follows them down to even the odds and everyone ends up brawling around the arena. Whilst the brawl is going on, Stetson grabs the mic and demands another shot at the tag titles. Raven and Richards sprint back down to the ring and lay them out again in a funny moment, only for The Pitbull’s and Dudley’s to run down to start up THEIR brawl again. Francine and Beulah end up in the ring fighting as well, whilst Dreamer breaks a couple of Raven’s fingers in retaliation for Raven doing the same to him on a previous show. Big Dick Dudley runs down to stop that though and lays Dreamer out, as the refs finally manage to separate the women. Wow, that was some segment. Big crazy conjoining segments like that can be good when done correctly, and it was done correctly here. Watching this you can understand why ECW was able to gain a strong niche audience when put up against the bland WWF and WCW products pre-Monday Night War.

Match Three
Big Val Puccio Vs Hack Meyers

Val is not to be confused with Big Sal E Graziano, who was a completely different large bloke who would go on to manage The Full Blooded Italians in the late 90’s. Big Sal was at least tall as well as being big, thus his girth looked more in proportion. Val literally looks like a poorly made Create A Wrestler from something like WWF Warzone on the PlayStation.

The story of this match is that fans chant “Shah” whenever Meyers does anything and chant “Shit” whenever Val does. Val clobbers Meyers with basic stuff like punches and splashes in the corner, which is about all he’s physically capable of doing. Meyers sells everything well at least. Val splats Meyers with The World’s Strongest Slam but neglects to go for the pin despite Meyers selling it big.

Val follows up with a 747 Splash, but again doesn’t go for a cover. For those of you who have ever seen a wrestling match before, I’m sure you can all see where this going. Indeed, Val goes for one move to many (On this occasion an elbow drop) and misses, which allows Meyers to roll on top of him for a flash pin fall victory

WINNER: HACK MEYERS
RATING: DUD

Yes, the finish was Val missing an elbow drop and then being unable to get up. What is he, a freaking giant tortoise or something? Val decides to be sore loser and delivers two more splashes to Meyers before rolling out to jaw with the crowd. Paul Heyman would soon realise that not even he could get something useful out of Val and it wasn’t long before he did a job to Mikey Whipwreck and wasn’t asked back.

Match Four
Raven and The Dudley Family (Snot Dudley and Dudley Dudley) w/ Stevie Richards Vs Tommy Dreamer and The Pitbull’s (#1 and #2) w/ Luna Vachon

This is your standard ECW violent brawl, with Luna and Stevie getting involved liberally. In a fun gag, Dudley Dudley is the only “pure” Dudley, in that he’s the direct offspring of Daddy and Mommy Dudley, whereas all the rest of the Dudley clan came about as a result of Daddy Dudley’s extramarital indulgences. So much is going on here that it’s hard to do accurate play by play.

Bill Alfonso decides to come down to the ring with the goal of stopping the match, which serves only to annoy the crowd. However, it looks like he was dealt with somehow as the tape cuts to everyone fighting again and the match appears to be ongoing. The Pitbull’s splat poor Richards with The Super Bomb, at which point Francine comes down to give him mouth to mouth resuscitation. This of course leads to her fighting with Beulah again, as this match just continues to get even wilder. The Pitbull’s hit Snot with a Super Bomb and that’s enough for them to pick up the winning fall.

WINNERS: TOMMY DREAMER AND THE PITBULLS
RATING: N/A

Seeing as the match was clipped it wouldn’t feel fair to rate it. It was essentially more of the high octane brawl from earlier, just with a pin fall to end it this time.

Match Five
Too Cold Scorpio and Dean Malenko Vs Eddy Guerrero and Taz w/ Paul E. Dangerously

This was prior to Taz’s neck injury and subsequent “Path of Rage” as he was still a babyface at this point. Sadly this match is clipped as well. Seriously guys, you had to chop up what was sure to be the best actual wrestling match on the whole tape? Eddy and Dean go through their usual great display of technical wrestling, but the tape then cuts to Malenko and Scorpio working over Taz’s left leg.

Watching Scorpio be the bull of the match and fling everyone around is kind of unusual, but I guess he is the biggest man in the match so it kind of makes sense. The heels continue to work over Taz’s leg but he eventually manages to make the tag to Eddy, who runs wild on Malenko and hits a tilt a whirl back breaker for two.

Eddy gets a vertical suplex and heads up top for the Frogsplash on Malenko for two, and the tape then cuts to Scorpio splatting Eddy with a powerbomb for two. Cut to Eddy getting a rana on Scorpio for two, before tagging in Taz who comes in with a lariat. Cut to Eddy and Taz drilling Scorpio with a Doomsday Device missile dropkick.

The cuts continue, as we go straight to Malenko and Scorpio hitting Eddy with a Rocker-plex for two. This has looked like an excellent match, but sadly all the cuts have ruined it. Scorpio eventually takes out Paul E., which ends up being a bad decision as it signals the music of 911. Taz is able to hit a distracted Scorpio with a head and arm suplex to pick up the win.

WINNERS: EDDY GUERRERO AND TAZ
RATING: N/A

Urgh, not only was the match chopped to pieces but they actually had the gall to do a music interference finish? This really annoyed me as the clips made it look like a hot match and we barely saw any of it and got a cheap finish at the end to boot. Bill Alfonso isn’t happy about this however and comes down to restart the match, which Malenko and Scorpio take advantage of to get quick flash pins on Eddy and Taz with Alfonso counting the pins.

Dangerously calls Alfonso back down to the ring, which somehow leads to Rob Feinstein coming down as well and bad mouthing Paul. Paul E challenges him over this but gets cheap shotted. This causes 911 to come down to the ring for real and he drills Feinstein with the choke slam, whilst Alfonso scurries away. Kind of a pointless segment that only really existed so that the fans could cheer about 911 choke slamming someone. It was good for a pop from the live crowd but didn’t really advance the storyline much.

Match Six
ECW World Title
Champion: The Sandman w/ Woman Vs Axl Rotten

Joey acts disgusted that the ECW World champion “Is a chain smoking, beer guzzling, Singapore cane swinging, bar room brawler”, but I honestly couldn’t think of a better suited candidate when you get down to brass tacks. Sandman jump starts Axl right from the off and wastes no time in delivering a flurry of cane shots. Realising he’s out matched here without a weapon, Axl heads to the backstage and brings out the barbed wire bat equaliser with him.

Sandman quickly bails out once Axl brings the bat into the ring. Axl grabs the mic and challenges Sandman to a bat vs cane match. Sandman seems okay with this but Woman definitely doesn’t and tries to talk him out of it at first but eventually lets him get back in. Sandman tries to use his cane but Axl is able to nullify it with the bat and rakes the barbs over Sandman’s body to try and bloody him up.

Sandman slugs his way back into the match and grabs the bat himself. He actually unravels the wire and wraps it around Axl’s face and throat in a pretty scary looking spot. Thankfully no serious arteries are slit open and both men are okay. The fight spills outside, where Sandman gets the better of things. Sandman leaps over the top rope to the outside with a cane shot and delivers a few more shots whilst out there.

Back inside, Sandman again wraps Axl in the wire and then comes in with a springboard senton. Axl manages to dodge a bat shot and unloads with some punches before pulling up Sandman’s shirt and wrapping him in the wire. Woman chooses this moment to come in and distract Axl, which allows Sandman to fight back with a clothesline. Sandman heads up top and comes down with a leg drop onto Rotten for the three count.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: THE SANDMAN
RATING: **

The match was light on actual wrestling, but I was entertained enough by it to go to two stars. Sandman as the bumbling heel drunk who manages to contrive ways to hold on to his title was actually a pretty effective character for him, but it was always going to a case of “if” and not “when” that he would turn babyface.

Match Seven
Cage Match
Stevie Richards Vs Luna Vachon

I’d call this lackey Vs lackey, but Luna was no one’s lackey. Either way, its Raven’s sidekick Vs Tommy Dreamer’s back up and Richards is not happy about getting into a cage with Luna. Luna doesn’t even wait for ring introductions to attack Stevie and sends him face first into the cage a couple of times. Stevie, to his credit, sells this big despite Luna being considerably smaller than him. Stevie was such an integral part of Raven’s act and he was so thoroughly unselfish when it came to stuff like this.

Luna actually draws blood on Stevie and then goes to an abdominal claw, which Stevie can only break with a thumb to the eye. Luna actually comes off the top rope with a pump splash to Richards but pulls him up at two so she can inflict more punishment. Richards comes back with an inverted atomic drop but Luna is soon back on top of things with some hairmares. Stevie gets a big sit out powerbomb onto Luna and then flings here face first into the cage.

Luna blades from this but hits Richards in the junk and follows with a DDT for two. Richards gets pretty much straight up and powerbombs Luna again for two. Stevie getting right back up like that looked pretty silly considering he took a DDT, got covered and was still up before Luna. Stevie heads to the top of the cage and leaps down right into Luna’s raised boot.

Luna drops Stevie with a swinging beck neck breaker and then comes off the cage herself with a splash, but she again pulls Stevie up at two. Luna shows why she let Stevie up though as she follows up with the testicular claw hold and Stevie understandably uncles at that.

WINNER: LUNA VACHON
RATING: **1/2

I can understand some getting squeamish at the idea of a man beating up a woman in a cage like this, especially as the woman bled. However, I think context is important in these situations. Stevie wasn’t an especially big guy to begin with and he’d been booked pretty much as a manager/valet up to this point, so it wasn’t like a genuine contender like Raven was destroying Luna like this. The fact Luna gave every much as she took helped as well, as she didn’t look like a helpless woman getting beaten by a man but instead looked like a tough fighter who was capable of looking out for herself. I get it if your sensibilities put you off this one though.

The Dudley Family and Pitbull fight starts up around ringside again, which allows Raven to come in during the commotion and lock the door. Raven drops Luna with a DDT, but Pitbull #2 rips off the cage door, which allows Dreamer to come in for the save. In a famous moment, Dreamer handcuffs Raven to the cage and then delivers the “chair shot heard around the world” to finally get some substantial payback on Raven after months of abuse. So yeah, women getting beaten up by men and unprotected chair shots to the head. I’d say this show was a product of its time but Lucha Underground is still doing this stuff even to this day, so I guess we haven’t learned much over the years. I have to say, sickening though the chair shot was; it was certainly an iconic moment in ECW history and a rare occasion where Dreamer got to one up Raven in their rivalry.

Main Event
Cage Match with Weapons
The Public Enemy (Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge) Vs The Gangstas (New Jack and Mustafa Saed)

I love Public Enemy’s music from this time frame. I remember them randomly playing it at Sunderland away a couple of seasons ago and I managed to get a few people in the away end waving their hands in the air with me. I’m not sure they knew why they were waving their hands to be honest but they seemed to enjoy themselves at any rate!

The Gangstas were actually heels here on their debut to ECW, but you can already see some of the fans making their hand signal before this match so a face turn was always going to be in their future. New Jack grabs a mic prior to the match and bad mouths both the fans and Public Enemy, but that doesn’t stop some of the crowd from still choosing to back them.

This match is exactly what you would expect it to be, that being both teams taking it in turns to hit each other with the assorted weaponry of road signs, chairs and even a frying pan. There’s really not much else I can say regards to play by play. One team will control things for a while and use the weapons, at which point the other team will take over for a bit.

I’m sure back in the day watching guys walk around a cage and bonk each other with weapons was pretty cool and something you didn’t see every day, but it’s been done so often now that it’s lost its lustre as a match type. At least in the earlier brawl guys could move between the ring and outside area, which kept things moving at a good pace and let guys switch over to new opponents.

It’s not long before both teams are bleeding. Rocco Rock goes for the Drive-By on New Jack, but he moves out of the way which allows Mustafa to cover Rocco for two. Rocco tries coming off the top of the cage with a body block onto Mustafa but ends up getting more of Grunge on the landing than his opponent, which causes the fans to suggest they botched it in their usual vulgar manner.

TPE end up bringing two tables into the ring and stacking them on top of each other. I often wonder how different the wrestling landscape would have been if TPE weren’t forced out of the WWF in 99 and had been given the table gimmick instead of The Dudley Boyz. New Jack ends up getting put on the top table of the table stack and Rocco comes off the top of the cage onto him. He only just manages to land leg first onto Jack though and ends up bonking his head off the mat on the way down in a nasty looking landing.

Rather than do something useful, like pin New Jack, Grunge instead goes over to check on Rock, which allows Mustafa to spray mace in his face and then roll him up for the winning pin fall. So you go to the trouble of booking a Cage Match with freaking WEAPONS and your finish is a roll up?

WINNER: THE GANGSTAS
RATING: *

Yeah I kind of have to give it something after that table spot, even though I found the match a chore to get through.

Final Thoughts

If they’d left the Scorpio/Malenko Vs Guerrero/Taz match uncut then this could have been a much more enjoyable show. As it was, it was a parade of terrible matches with some good Raven/Dreamer angles and a decent Stevie/Luna match. ECW Heatwave 95 was probably a good show if you were in the arena and saw everything uncut, but when it comes to the home release I’m afraid I can’t really recommend this show. The Raven and Dreamer stuff is fun, but it’s not enough to save things and the best match on the show getting cut to pieces in the edit really leaves a sour taste in the mouth. This one is for ECW fans trying to pad their tape collection out. If that’s not you then I suggest swerving this one.

Thanks for reading

Sticking with wrestling, why not have a goosey gander at Dom’s review of WWE 2K19? You can read his thoughts by clicking right HERE

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