Last week on Retro Wrestle Respawn we looked at a WWF Christmas Eve Raw from 2001. Sticking with seasonal themed content, I thought we’d go back to 1995 for another Christmas Eve wrestling show, this one being ECW Hardcore TV. I don’t expect there’ll be much in the form of actual matches on this one, but there should hopefully be some enjoyable extreme festive fun to be found!
The wrestling portions of this show emanated from the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Calling the action is Joey Styles
Joey Styles starts out this episode of Hardcore TV by narrating clips of Rey Mysterio Jr and Psicosis’ prior matches in ECW. Mysterio won the first match but Psicosis replied by winning the rematch. Tonight on Hardcore TV, we get to see the rubber match, as both men will do battle with one another in a Mexican Death Match.
Hardcore TV Opening
Back from the intro, Joey Styles is in front of an ECW banner, where he explains that going into 1996, Woman holds all of the ECW gold in her stable, due to Sandman and Too Cold Scorpio holding the tag titles and also the World and TV titles respectively. Styles then goes on to mention that WCW World Champion Randy Savage now wants her to go there and manage him. Styles says that Woman has stated she will remain in ECW however. These words ended up being hollow as Woman did indeed jump to WCW in 1996.
Mexican Death Match
Psicosis Vs Rey Mysterio Jr
The way to win here is to get a pin fall or submission over your opponent, at which point they will have a ten count to reach their feet or be counted out. Should they manage to make it up before the count of ten, then the match continues. I’ve never been an especially big fan of this particular match type, as it often leads to lots of quick pins and submissions that wouldn’t happen in a normal match. I also find the “beat the ten count” stipulation to be lacking in genuine drama sometimes as well, especially when it’s used multiple times in a match.
Case in point, Mysterio immediately pins Psi mere seconds in with a top rope dragon rana, but Psicosis is quickly back to his feet. So Rey essentially won the match with a couple of moves, but due to the stipulations it must continue. Rey rana’s Psi over the top rope to the outside, but then slips when trying to jump off the guardrail and that allows Psicosis to put him back inside the ring for a top rope missile dropkick. Psicosis heads up top and hits Rey with a moonsault for a three count, but Rey is able to get up before ten.
Psicosis dominates Rey for a while, using his size advantage to literally fling him around the ring at points. The size dynamic between these two always played a big part in the rivalry, as it allowed Psicosis to be a great bully whilst also allowing Rey to be a great gutsy babyface. Rey gets pinned a few times but manages to break the ten count on each occasion, although he starts to get up slower and slower as the bout wears on.
Psicosis gets frustrated at Rey continually getting up and goes outside to grab a chair. He lays the chair over Rey and comes off the top with a moonsault for the pin, but amazingly Rey is once again able to drag himself to his feet, so the match continues! Rey blocks another moonsault attempt by holding up the chair and then knocks Psicosis to the outside, where he follows with an Asai moonsault onto Psi in the crowd.
Both men brawl through the crowd, with Rey getting the better of things, and Rey hits Psicosis with a chair at ringside before going back amongst the people. The fight spills through the bleachers and finally up to towards the Eagle’s Nest, where Joey Styles supposedly did the commentary for these live events. Rey leaps off the stage with a rana onto a chair, and then makes the cover on Psicosis, as pins apparently count anywhere in this contest. Not surprisingly, Psicosis is unable to get up and Rey is declared the winner.
WINNER: REY MYSTERIO JR
This was revolutionary stuff for the time, with Rey and Psi combining the usual Lucha Libre spots in their arsenal with the hardcore brawling of ECW to create an inventive and exciting hybrid wrestling style. The previous two matches in the feud were probably better due to not being hamstrung by the Death Match rules, but this was still an innovative and entertaining scrap.
Back from the break, Joey Styles shows us some EXTREME replays from the match we just saw. Watching these clips you can understand why this was such a big deal back in the day, as you just didn’t see stuff like this back in 1995. We cut back to the ring, where heel manager Jason Knight tries to recruit Rey Mysterio to his stable of wrestlers. Rey refuses, but Jason won’t take no for an answer and attacks him. Rey fends him off comfortably, but this draws out Jason clients Perry Saturn and John Kronus (The Eliminators) for an attack. Rey gets beaten down two on one, but gets surprisingly rescued by the huge 911. 911 was a pretty rubbish wrestler who literally had size and a choke slam to his name, and nothing else. His main role in ECW was to come out and choke slam people to a big pop, which is what he does here to The Eliminators. Rey and 911 celebrate together, forming a David and Goliath friendship, whilst The Eliminators skulk away.
Pairing Rey up with 911 is one of those things that sounds fun on paper, but really didn’t make sense in real life, as all 911 would ever do is anchor down a guy like Rey, mainly because he wasn’t a good worker. Heyman used smoke and mirrors to keep 911 over by literally having him do choke slams and nothing else, but once it came down to 911 trying to wrestle, it was all over.
Lance Wright hypes up ECW’s ”House Party” event on the 5th of January 1996 by announcing some of the matches, including 911 and Mysterio Vs The Eliminators and The Sandman Vs Konnan, after each match announcement we get a quick promo from some of the participants.
We cut back to Joey Styles, who gives us the history on the long running feud between The Eliminators and The Pitbulls. The Pitbulls defeated The Eliminators at November to Remember 1995, but The Eliminators laid them out post-match. The Eliminators were able to win the December to Dismember rematch thanks to interference from Jason. The Eliminators and Jason tried to attack The Pitbulls’ manager Francine after that match, but 911 made the save to prevent that and add more heat to his match with The Eliminators at House Party.
Back from the break, we get a recap from last week’s Hardcore TV episode, where Buh Buh Ray Dudley danced with The Public Enemy, only to get jumped by The Heavenly Bodies of Jimmy Del Ray and Tom Pritchard. Buh Buh finally gets over his stutter however to call them into the ring for a fight, at which point he sends them packing and starts dancing again.
Joey Styles informs us that The Public Enemy will be making their final ECW appearance at House Party before leaving for WCW. He then brings in Buh Buh Ray for a promo, as he will be facing Jimmy Del Ray on the same event. Buh Buh stutters his way through a promo but manages to blurt out that he’ll beat Del Ray like the red headed stepchild everyone knows he is!
Back from the break, Joey Styles is with The Sandman. Joey asks Sandman if his broken hand puts the World and Tag Team titles in jeopardy. Sandman says he doesn’t care about having a broken hand and states that there is no price he won’t pay in order to hold on to his titles. To accentuate the point, he rips off the protective covering on his broken hand and puts out his cigarette on his palm whilst Joey shudders.
This leads to a “Pulp Fiction” montage of quick-fire promos, where various members of the ECW roster deliver short soundbites whilst music blares in the background. This was something ECW really became known for back in the day, and I’ve always thought it was an excellent way to get a multitude of storylines over in one segment, whilst also avoiding any of the weaker promo cutters from getting exposed. WWE should definitely consider bringing something like this back on Raw or Smackdown.
During the montage, we get a “Hardcore Home Video” from Cactus Jack, which sees a clean shaven Cactus wishing all of us happy holidays from the Foley residence. Cactus had recently turned heel and had decided that the best way to anger the ECW fans would be to strip away his entire hardcore persona and become a bit of drip. Cactus talking about sneaking up on carol singers and chanting “ECW” whilst they sung is hilarious. This whole promo is comedy gold, and was a precursor to the more comedy friendly character that Mankind would become in the Attitude Era.
The Pulp Fiction Montage ends with Steve Austin guaranteeing he will become ECW Champion (He’d jump to the WWF before he could achieve that goal) whilst Cactus and his family go to a fun fair. Cactus shouting “This is Extreme!” whilst on a tame ride at the park is absolutely brilliant. He just totally got that character and knew exactly how to push the ECW fans’ buttons.
This is a very easy watch, with a great wrestling match sandwiched between promos and recaps to advance the ongoing storylines. The Cactus Jack Christmas skits are some of the funniest stuff in the history of Hardcore TV, and are definitely worth a watch. If you want to get an idea of why ECW was so popular back in the day, you could do far worse than checking this episode out. Innovative wrestling, good storytelling and hilarious comedy, it all went towards the cult popularity that ECW enjoyed during this time period.
I hope you enjoyed another slice of festive wrestling pie. I hope you have a wonderful festive period!
Whilst you’re here, why not take a goosey gander at Samantha’s review of Chef: A Restaurant Tycoon Game? You can find what she thought by clicking right HERE