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As if it ever wasn't at this stage in time, ECW entered 1996 in a state of change. Steve Austin was now "The Ringmaster" in the WWF, Cactus Jack was nearing his own departure and this very show had been setup as a celebration and farewell show for The Public Enemy before they joined WCW. So used were the fans to this constant upheaval that the "Please don't go" chants that accompanied the departures of Dean Malenko and Eddie Guerrero were replaced by "You'll be back" ones at the end of this show.
While not wanting to understate the quality of the show, the card going in didn't seem to be much of note. The Public Enemy's opponents for the night would be the Gangstas, a match that while months in the making had been on somewhat of a backburner as the Gangstas hadn't apepared much in the weeks prior to this show. Elsewhere this card was largely just a set of matches without a ton of build, although Too Cold Scorpio was attempting to regain the Television Title at the first attempt over Mikey Whipwreck, who's own rematch for the World Championship would have to wait as Sandman was defending against Konnan.
Literally within five seconds of Joey Styles introducing the show Bill Alfonso showed up. Alfonso proved once again why he became one of the best acts in all of wrestling around this time, pleading the case for his man Taz, wanting to know why he doesn't get more interviews. Fonzie works himself into a frenzy before Styles snaps. Alfonso gets angry, out comes Taz, out comes Tod Gordon, out comes 911 – we get a pull apart between Gordon and Alfonso, as the bodies subside Taz hits El Puerto Ricano with a brutal half nelson suplex.
911 and Rey Misterio Jr. vs The Eliminators (Saturn and Kronus w/ Jason)
They handled 911's in ring debut very well here – in the melee of the previous angle he was attacked by the Eliminators, inadvertently starting the match without Misterio, who came out and worked hard to fight off both men as 911 sold the attack. He would later be choked by Taz elongating his recovery time. Alfonso is going nuts with his whistle at ringside as Kronus hits Misterio with a brutal looking powerbomb. We end the match with Misterio standing on 911's shoulders and Saturn sat on Kronus'. Misterio launches himself off, hitting a text book hurricanrana for the win. Amazing finish that got a round of applause from me, even if it was a little sign-posted.
After the match, The Eliminators do their total elimination finisher (double head/leg take down) on Misterio. Out comes the Pitbulls, who go after them, and Francine, who goes after Jason. The Eliminators then do the total elimination move onto Francine, which looks like a brutal bump such was its speed. An odd hush falls over the ECW arena. Jason comes back around, hits both Pitbulls with a chair, they see him off and Francine does a stretcher job. Everything you've read about this show so far happened in one absolutely barmy 20 minute opening segment.
Axl Rotten vs Rob Van Dam
A young RVD here (it's jarring to hear his introduction without the "Rob... Van... Dam" cadence or thumb pointing). This isn't too dissimilar to the act that Van Dam gets over down the road, but you'd be hard pressed to say it worked here, too much of his "offense" was wasted movement, and the crowd showed with "Kick his ass Axl, kick his ass" chants. We see a flying splash from the top (minus frog) for a two count, Van Dam actually wins it with a split legged moonsault.
Too Cold Scorpio (w/ Woman) vs Mikey Whipwreck © for the ECW TV Title
Not for the first time this month, Scorpio's evolution into an utterly bizarre wrestler that can do a wide array of massively impressive high flying moves, yet not want to pin his opponent with any of them. The action here is good, although Mikey's character is in a real odd state of flux, despite having improved a lot he's still an incredibly clunky if fearless wrestler. Scorpio beats the piss out of him, doesn't try and get a three count. Mikey rallies, Raven DDT's him, Scorpio hits a lovely moonsault leg drop and wins the match and regains the title.
Hack Myers vs Taz (w/ Bill Alfonso)
Another good spot for Myers here after his outing at November to Remember with Sabu, but it would be fair to say this match was all about Taz and Bill Alfonso. Alfonso was an absolute riot at ringside, flailing his arms around and blowing his whistle. Myers fights hard but the story is Taz using skill to chop down the size of Myers, hitting an impressive German suplex before locking in his half nelson choke that will soon be known as the "Tazmission". Good action this.
Buh Buh Ray Dudley (with Sign Guy Dudley, Chubby Dudley, Dances With Dudley and Big Dick Dudley) vs Jimmy Del Ray (w/ Mr Hughes).
Dr Tom Pritchard joined the WWF at the end of December joining the Bodydonnas, so Jimmy Del Ray is at a bit of a loose end – emphasised here by the slightly arbitrary pairing with Mr Hughes. A short match with some nice movements, Buh Buh Ray picks up the win with a DDT. After the match Hughes berates Ray's lack of English, but he knows someone that can teach him... SHANE DOUGLAS IS BACK! He says he's been in purgatory these last six months (he's not wrong), but the World's Greatest Wrestler and the World's Greatest Teacher is back. The fans chant "Dean is dead".
Mid show segment
“Studley” Stevie Richards came out and wanted to get a bit frisky with Beulah, who declined. After multiple attempts, Beulah protested that she didn’t want anyone touching her because… she was pregnant. Out stormed Raven, demanding answers – but the baby wasn’t his. Nor was it Richards’ (who was about to get snapped in half by Raven)… it was Tommy’s. The crowd exploded, Dreamer came out to protect not only his woman, but his unborn child. If it wasn’t already, Dreamer and Raven was becoming a soap opera.
Sandman (w/ Woman) vs Konnan for the ECW Heavyweight Title
Konnan actually manages to coax some quite decent mat wrestling out of Sandman early on, it's not long before the match breaks down into a more Sandman friendly brawl. After a brief fight in the crowd, Sandman bites Konnan on the forehead, exposing a wound that is pouring blood. As Sandman sets up a table, the fans chant "Bye, bye Konnan", before Konnan sends Sandman flying through the table. Woman distracts Konnan, lobs Sandman a cane, Rey Misterio runs out and throws a cane to Konnan, the two have a sword fight. We end with a ten count, Sandman wins after Woman essentially props him up. Decent-ish match, but Sandman's overness belies the entertainment he puts on in the ring.
"Studley" Stevie Richards (w/ The Blue Meanie) vs Sabu
Well, what d'ya know? Another entertaining and long-ish Sabu match. A back and forth match, with plenty of high flying Sabu action throughout – he manages to do as much damage to himself as he seems to do to Richards. Later in the match, Sabu does a slingshot legdrop sending Richards through the table. Richards levels Sabu with a lovely superkick but Sabu kicks out. Sabu finishes it with his Atomic Arabian Facebuster. Since his WCW departure, Sabu is 2 for 2 in really good matches that seem to be a lot longer and a lot more even that before he left.
The Public Enemy ("Flyboy" Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge) vs The Gangstas (New Jack And Mustafa)
Fans chant "You'll be back" at the Enemy, New Jack says "when you see them pussy bitches Harlem Heat, tell them I invented this". This is your standard Public Enemy brawl, if you like this kind of match then you'll like this match. We got cookie sheets, we got tables being broken, we had action by the eagles nest. In the end, Rocco Rock hits his Drive By finisher on Mustafa and wins the match. The Enemy leave ECW on a winning note and they call some of the fans and people from the back for one last dance.
Score Rating: 7/10
Go Back And Watch: An entertaining enough, busy enough show that you'll get your times worth. I'd say seek out the opening 20 minutes, the Raven/Dreamer angle and the Sabu/Richards match if you're looking for specific stuff, but this is a decent show throughout.