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Looking back from now, the Public Enemy aren't looked at fondly. In 1995, Rock & Grunge would get an opportunity in WWF, but would instead opt for Ted Turner's offer. They were over-exposed in a WCW which was, at the time, in its peak as a brand. A week-long title reign would just about sum up their time there - definite potential, but not 'the' guys. Years later, they would take the chance with WWF which failed due an apparent lack of 'fit' in Vince McMahon's locker-room; and the 'highlight' of their return to WCW while the Company was in it's terminal demise was a handicap loss to Goldberg to form part of The Streak. So far, not the ideal CV for the 'Flyboy' and his brawling buddy.
But, for a team to be given two shots at the two national federations in the USA over 5/6 years, they must have done something right, surely? Enter the breeding ground for the lost boys, ECW. The 'Enemy were a constant of Eastern- and they would make the transfer to Extreme Championship Wrestling. And as memorable as some of their matches were, there were some just-as-memorable moments at the same time.
There's a reason the Road Warriors' mic-time was a few seconds to scare an opposing team and the Legion of Doom were reduced to one or two minutes with Gene Okerlund. They were in-ring hosses, but couldn't be put in a position where they risked losing their appeal. They weren't great talkers. They never sold worth a dime. But, in their day, they could - and would - give arenas the ovation of the night. Every night. Now, while Rocco & Johnny would draw few comparisons to Hawk & Animal, this was a different time.
WCW was stuck in a 1980's re-run with Hacksaw Duggan, John Tenta & Kevin Sullivan. WWF's vision of the 1990's involved bright colours and cartoon gimmicks. ECW wasn't just the best place for the Public Enemy - it was the only place for the Public Enemy. They were able to show off what they were best at in front of a crowd who could appreciate it. Some of 1994's best promo's were pre-tapes of the 'Enemy. From Paul E Dangerously & 911 going into the 'hood' to recruit them, to Rocco regaling the TV audience with tales of their upbringing and five-finger discounts; even Johnny Grunge was able to give a good promo by the end of the year leading in to 1995.
The two upstart-hoodlums were able to come across as a truly tough tandem, but could also have you laughing out loud at their outstanding comic timing. Their brawls with Cactus Jack, Terry Funk, Sabu, Tazmaniac, Chris Benoit, Dean & Joe Malenko... were all brutal & eye-catching. Their homecoming video diaries touring New York City when they became ECW Tag Team Champions were some of wrestling's few actuallly comedic moments. They brought hip hop to a generation who were still on a hangover from grunge- and garage rock. As for glorious images of what the Industry was like at this point in time, few could rival PE being buried under a steel mountain of chairs at the hands - and quite remarkable throwing aim - of the Philadelphia faithful. The crowd also weren't shy in joining Rock & Grunge for an in-ring, almost-Crip-dance; which inevitably led to the collapse of the ring itself.
In short, don't believe everything you see in this modern age with regards to what was going on in the mid-nineties. If you do, Shane Douglas will merely exist as an under-card jobber in the WWF, Steve Austin will be a moaning, injury-prone mid-carder in WCW; and the Public Enemy will be an over-hyped, under-able pair of hooligans. Trust me, they were as good as you could get for the time and, like it or not, changed the Industry. And for the better.
Dollar, dollar bill; y'all. Dollar. Dollar. Bill.