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El Pasco Texas: Before Double Stomps Roamed the Earth – A Running Diary of Break the Barrier

by on July 8, 2011

 

 

“That old school stuff don’t play no more.” 
-The Maniac, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I couldn't find a picture of Al Isaacs, so here's Ben with a mullet.

By Ben Pasco

 

        It’s pretty funny to me just how much I’ve ripped off Bill Simmons. I think anybody who reads an article by him followed by a Ben Pasco article will see the similarities.  I’m huge fan of the Sports Guy and he’s an obvious influence on my writing. For those unaware, Simmons is a slightly obnoxious ESPN writer from Boston who consistently references pro wrestling, The Wire, and Rocky IV. Those things along with his instigating my total Blake Griffin man crush make me a huge fan of The Sports Guy. So seeing as I’ve already ripped off his writing, why don’t I take one of his trademark concepts and put my own spin on it. That’s right folks, It’s time for the first ever El Pasco Texas running diary. A running diary sounds exactly as you would imagine (I run and write about my innermost thoughts and feelings?) where I keep track of a show and provide my sparkling wit and banter.

 

What pray tell could be worthy enough to get the first El Pasco Texas running diary treatment? What show is worth enough to take two hours out of my life to sit and watch and type? (It ended up being three and a half because I don’t believe in research).   I searched long and hard to figure out what show would pop my proverbial cherry this evening. Frankly, there’s only one show that deserves the pleasure, and to find it all you need to do is break the barrier.

 

That’s right, The Break the Barrier show at the ECW Arena/ Viking Hall/ New Alhambra Arena/ Discovery Zone in South Philadelphia. (I found out Chuck E. Cheese were the ones to buy out and close down Discovery Zone and I felt ill. Even corporate America can destroy childhoods.) The show was put on by some guy named Al Issacs who apparently kind of mattered back in the day.  I’m pretty unaware of the history of this show except for the Pro Wrestling Illustrated special report I read about it. Keep in mind that as this show was happening I was 11 years old and probably still thought wrestling was real. I could attempt to explain the history of the show or I could just could cut and paste the Wikipedia article.

 

“Break The Barrier was a professional wrestling supercard held at Viking Hall, better known as the ECW Arena, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 15, 1999. The event was organized by the founders of Scoopswrestling.com, Al Isaacs, Remy Arteaga and Barbi Bistrowitz, and brought together some of the top independent wrestlers from around the country. It was one of the biggest interpromotional events in the United States and represented by 12 independent promotions including Allied Powers Wrestling Federation, Combat Zone Wrestling, Extreme Championship Wrestling, Independent Pro Wrestling, Independent Professional Wrestling Alliance, Maryland Championship Wrestling, Music City Wrestling, NWA New Jersey, New Dimension Wrestling, Southern Greatest Wrestling Fans, Steel City Wrestling, World Legion Wrestling and World Wrestling Organization. Pro Wrestling Illustrated has called it “one of the greatest supercards of all time”.”

 

This show really exemplifies the frontier days of independent wrestling. There are a handful of guys who ended up being something in wrestling but mainly its guys who I’ve only heard of in PWI 500′s. Before anyone asks, Cheetah Master, Vince Goodnite, The Codfather, Judas Young, Creeping Death and Trooper Gilmore are not on this show, which really takes the “super” out of “SuperShow”. (The Codfather is the most memorable gimmick I ever read in PWI. His gimmick was he was a grand banks fisherman in Canada and came out in rubber slacks and the like. I like to imagine he grew up to be El Generico.) However, on the show this evening are notables like Mike Quackenbush, Stevie Richards, “Beef Stew” Lou Marconi, (I remember a 1000 word article in PWI that I swear was just about how his name should be Lou Marconi and Cheese), Shane Douglas and TOM FUCKING BRANDI.

 

If you would like to watch these shows, you can find them on YouTube courtesy of Maffewownsyt.

 

(I should also mention that joining me in this endeavor is Mike and Tom contributor Alex Fitzgerald. We’re watching it over Skype and keeping track of our running thoughts.)

 

6:22 PM. We’re underway as I press play. I immediately realize that this show is layered main event to opening card meaning that it will not seamlessly play. I am immediately disappointed. I immediately make a vow to stop saying immediately so much.

 

6:22. A warning for those watching the grainy VHS about all the adult situations you are about to see. Most notable is that this show “includes violence, humor, sexuality, etc”. I can’t believe humor is considered a warning, though I expect there to be plenty of unintentional comedy later on.

 

6:23 The intro plays and all I think about is how it looks like the intro to Clarissa Explains it All. They both share the “remove random frames from a video and have it look like shit” technique.

 

6:23. Remy DavidArchuleta or whatever his name is our backstage interviewer. He gives the shill of the show and looks like a nervous gerbil on camera.  Remy is a strange looking dude and I can’t figure out who he looks like. Alex Fitzgerald says “He looks like what would happen if Todd Pettengill fucked Jeff Goldblum”.

 

6:24 Remy ArloGutherie the interviewer cuts to himself with Stevie Richards backstage.

 

6:24 Stevie Richards references the internet in his promo. Oh poor pro wrestling world, you have no idea how easy you had it back then with the internet.

 

6:25 Remy is seemingly distracted off camera by something as he won’t make eye contact with Stevie. To quote Fitz, “Why don’t you look at the guy you’re interviewing, fuckface?”.

 

6:26: AWWMAN (1) – the production value for this show makes me long for a children’s theater. The logo for the show looks like something made at a pep rally with colored pencils. Not only that, but the logo is masking taped to the ring apron. That’s right; they couldn’t even afford duct tape. To top it all off, I’m pretty sure they’re using a step ladder as ring steps.

 

6:28: The promoter, AI Issacs, comes out to open the show. Looking at the crowd, I’m glad to see the ECW Arena was always full of mutants no matter the year. Austin 3:16 and DX shirts are everywhere along with a lot of BWO and Franchise shirts. The sea of black shirts reminds me of how much I appreciated dudes like Larry Sweeney who made shirts in different colors other then black. Sometimes even having merchandise stand out is clutch.

 

6:28: Al Issacs introduces Shane Douglas for some reason.  The crowd loves Shane Douglas and I have to admit that I’ve always been super apathetic to “The Franchise”. Maybe it’s because I knew him as a schoolteacher before anything else, but I always thought he was super overrated.  He is given a microphone and Fitz and I are taking bets on how many times Shane says “fuck” in this shoot promo. Fitz has 17, I have 24.

 

6:28: First “fuck” of the promo.

 

6:30: Referring to the crowd, Fitz says “There’s more walruses here then the arctic circle”.

 

6:31: The crowd continues to go bananas for Dean. As a group of heffalump lookalike fans hold up the triple threat sign, Fitz remarks “That’s the amount of meals they had before the show”.

 

6:32 Shane Douglas is basically cutting a Shane Douglas “shoot promo”.

 

6:32: We’re already at 8 “fucks”.

 

6:33: Shane Douglas is now verbally masturbating himself about how good he is and how awesome he is and how nobody is better than him. He says he will walk away from wrestling before he lets anyone fuck him over. My history may be wrong, but weren’t there at least a PWI 500 list of guys better then Shane Douglas at this point in 1999?

 

6:34: This promo has gotten to be so typical and faux-edgy that Fitz and I are now discussing our favorite Pokémon instead of this. I say Gyarados, while he argues for Sandslash. That reminds me of a tattoo I’ve kind of always wanted.  I want to get a Magikarp tattoo on my back and then wait for somebody to make fun of it. As soon as they mock me, BAM, I turn around with a Giant Gyarados on my chest. It’s like Red Dragon, but it’s Blue Dragon. (Note from Fitz: Gyrados was a Water/Flying type and wasn’t even a dragon.)

 

6:36: Shane Douglas announces in his promo that he is quitting ECW. This later proved to be completely and utterly irrelevant. LOL, timing.

 

6:37: 14 “fucks”. This is the only time I have ever cheered for Shane Douglas in anything.

 

6:37: Stevie Richards comes out to, and apparently the crowd is going wild. It’s not like I’d have any idea though because the crowd noise is worse than any IPPV I’ve seen. The announcers talking over the situation don’t help matters either.

 

6:37: Shane Douglas and Stevie Richards dish out ECW nostalgia. Shane Douglas says he has “known Stevie Richards a long time”. It makes me giggle that he has known him for so long, yet still refers to him by his full name.

 

6:38: 17 “fucks” with only a minute left in the segment.

 

6:39: Several times throughout the segment they keep cutting to random shots of fans just sitting there. I’m assuming it’s to mask an edit, but maybe they’re onto something. Smart Mark Video needs more awkward cuts to unresponsive, apathetic South Philadelphia fans.

 

6:40: Stevie and Shane blow off some angle that apparently started five minutes before the show.  The final tally was 18 “fucks”. Shane decides to stick around and ring announce the first match as it’s a Steel City Wrestling match.  Steel City Wrestling is one of about 30 promotions I only know about because of reading Arena Reports in PWI. I am stoked though because the first match is Mike Quackenbush vs. Don Montoya vs. Lou Marconi.

 

6:40: Even though Shane Douglas is in the ring, they cut back stage to Remy Area51 backstage interviewing “Lightning” Mike Quackenbush. OH MY GOD! BRING BACK THOSE SIDEBURNS QUACK!

 

6:41: Quack refers to the interviewer as Lou Diamond Phillips, and I completely die laughing.

 

6:41: Don Montoya, Lou Marconi, and Lou Marconi’s manager all come in and interrupt the interview. Montoya, Quack, and Marconi then proceed to do Three Stooges spots in the backstage interview. These things happened and it was even better than it sounds.  Remy Artichoke stands around awkwardly as we cut back to the ring for the introductions.

 

6:42: Lou Marconi comes out to the Offspring’s “Pretty Fly for a White Guy”. Not only that, but I think he’s wearing mesh. Not only that, but his manager is wearing a Chris Jericho-style sparkly jacket. This show should have been on VH1’s I Recall Things From the 90’s. Marconi looks like an actual wrestler which is more than I expected from a man nicknamed “Beef Stew”.

 

6:43: The manager shows Shane Douglas he was on some magazine. Shane Douglas tells the manager he’s on the cover of Gay Times.  If I recall correctly, 5:15 pm, 6:35 AM, and 11:23 PM were all featured prominently in that month’s issue.

 

6:45: Don Montoya comes out followed by Mike Quackenbush. It’s startling that Quack looks almost exactly the same as he did over a decade ago. I’m not sure but it sounds like he’s coming out to the NBA on NBC jam.  For those keeping track at home, Quack is wearing his ridiculous “Des Moines, Iowa Fitness Instructor” Zubaz singlet attire and it’s hideously delightful.

 

6:46: They did not explain the rules to this match at all, but there’s a coin flip involved and there’s a bye or something. The BCS is less confusing then this.  I guess that one guy gets to sit out of the ring until he feels like getting involved in the match? The announcers for this match are not even sure what is going on which is always useful.

 

6:46: Shane Douglas leaves to a standing ovation. Reason #1 I hate the 90’s: Shane Douglas was relevant. He really is like the 90’s Christopher Daniels to me, except I’ve seen Daniels pull out matches that I’ve actually dug.

 

6:47: Fitz is convinced Reverend Bob Levy from Howard Stern and Opie and Anthony is one of the commentators on the show.

 

6:48:It’s odd to listen to the announcers talk about Quackenbush being some kind of epic high flyer. Obviously he flies high, but I’m used to “lucha technician” Quack. At this point it’s worth noting that I really have seen little footage from any independent wrestling show before 2002.  I fully expect to understand little subtext in tonight’s events.  The match about to start between Quack and Montoya as Lou Marconi won the coin toss, but not our hearts and minds.

 

6:49: GARY FROM SMART MARK VIDEO IN THE FRONT ROW!

 

6:49: I think Fitz and myself are in agreement that Quackenbush should probably bring this gear back for a night. Book it, Chikarason!

 

6:50: I hope Lou Marconi’s gimmick involves inventing the radio. #historyjokes

 

6:51: Lou Marconi wastes his bye and gets involved in the match already. His manager also interferes and yet there is no disqualification. Did John Zandig book this?

 

6:52: Tons of ducking, dodging and tomfoolery in this match. They all meet in the center of the ring and OH MY GOD MICHINOKU PRO SPOT!  FOLLOWED BY THE RUDO EYEPOKE SPOT…AWWMAN (2) AWWMAN (3).

 

6:53: Awesome dropkick to Marconi by Quack while Montoya holds him in a camel clutch. I love any tag move that involves kicking someone in the face while someone holds them down.

 

6:53: Montoya and Marconi go to the outside meaning that Quack will probably dive. AWWMAN (4) Quackenbush with a jumping spinning Corkscrew to the outside. MIKE QUACKENBUSH CAN DO THESE THINGS? This is like finding out you’re related to Brittany Murphy or The Unabomber. Holy fuck, that was awesome! I now completely understand Quack’s high-flyer reputation.

 

6:55: Wow! Montoya with an awesome Tornado DDT counter I’ve never seen before. Essentially as Quack went for the DDT, he let him spin out and turned it into a modified Spine buster. Someone steal this please.

 

6:57: Lou Marconi is eliminated, even though it was never explained as being its elimination. Bob Levy proclaims that “Beef stew is off the menu”. That line was legitimately awesome.

 

6:59: Quackenbush hits Montoya with a headbutt of the top. The commentator deems that headbutt as having “shades of Chris Benoit”.  It’s pretty insane how the phrase “Shades of Chris Benoit” means something completely different nowadays. Right, Kurt Angle?

 

7:00: Bob Levy is absolutely killing it on commentary, but it couldn’t possibly be the real Bob Levy. Right?

 

7:01: Mike Quackenbush wins with a springboard hurracarana. Surprisingly good match, but a pre back-injury Quackenbush is the highlight.

 

7:03: Fitz is currently tweeting Rev. Bob Levy him to find out if it was him on commentary.

 

7:03: There is a “Post-match let’s all shake hands and pretend about all the fighting we just did” moment. Quackenbush gets on the microphone and quickly declares he has to leave right now in order to “get in line for Star Wars tickets in 15 minutes”.  This joke is funny then, but incredibly depressing now. At least Darth Maul was awesome.

 

7:05: Coming up next, it’s for Romeo Valentino vs. Headbanger Mosh for the Maryland Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Title.

 

7:06: Romeo Valentine comes out first in all his tassels (and hassles) glory. I have declared him “Medium Guido”, because all tan Italians look alike. Fitz thought Tom Brandi was already booked.

 

7:07: “Get on your knees and stroke my cock” is the only part of Headbanger Mosh’s song I heard or understood.  I really need to figure out what song this is. The commentator says that he’s currently wrestling as Beaver Cleavage in WWF. Boom, independent contractor.

 

7:08: Crowd chants “Where’s your Mom” to Mosh.  Mosh says he is what he eats which makes him “The Beaver”. Somewhere Henny Youngman is rolling over in his grave. Did I really just make a Henny Youngman joke? Do I even know he is? Is he dead? Can we confirm if he’s dead?

 

7:08: He’s dead.

 

7:09: Mosh is jaw-jacking (such an awesome word) with a member of the crowd. The announcers keep mentioning it, but they don’t seem to realize we cannot hear the audio of the wrestlers. They also keep cutting to random shots of the crowd for three seconds at a time. The production for this show is really awful falafel. I used to film the Carver, Massachusetts Conservation Committee meetings when I was an intern at a cable access studio. With my stationary camera and static action, I provided more dynamic camera work and audio then this show.

 

7:13 AWWMAN (5) Headbanger Thrasher runs down to ringside and attacks Romeo Valentino while the referee is distracted.

 

7:13 Mosh and Thrasher hit the Mosh Pit, which I assume is their finisher. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of their tag moves connect. I barely remember them winning any match in the WWF. The move is actually pretty awesome as Mosh powerbombs his opponent on the mat while Thrasher leaps off the top with a legdrop.

 

7:14 Mosh wins the match, but his song is cut off. Mosh sits Indian-style in the ring demanding that they play his song. The crowd is waving their arms in slow motion to the beat and it actually looks kind of awesome. Turns out the song is called “At a Medium Pace” by Adam Sandler.

 

7:17 Now it’s time for Tom Brandi vs. Stevie Richards vs. Jimmy Cicero.

 

7:18 Tom Brandi is coming out to “Sirius” by Alan Parsons Project which is better known as Ricky Steamboat and Michael Jordan’s theme song.

 

7:19 Tom Brandi proceeds to get on the microphone and drop “Verbal Nagasaki” on The Arena fans. Brandi calls the crowd a bunch of retards and homos. Tom Brandi just essentially spit on everything the television show Glee tried to teach us. Tom Brandi is amazing.

 

7:21 Tom Brandi declares that ECW will be going out of business soon and likens it to the Titanic. He is utterly destroying the ECW fans verbally. The man is spitting knowledge like some sort of llama professor.

 

7:22 Tom Brandi’s promo is cut and awkwardly clipped. I’ll assume that shit just got too real for everyone.

 

7:24 Stevie Richards comes out and tries to attack Brandi with a chair. While Richards is chases him down with a chair with a chair, Brandi runs around talking shit on the mic. After an errant swing, Brandi declares “YOU MISSED”.

 

7:25 Jimmy Cicero comes out and looks eerily like “Stone Cold Steve Gillberg”.

 

7:27 For some reason Brandi and Cicero strip Stevie of his shorts and force him to wrestle in his underwear. While Stevie lines prone in the corner, Tom Brandi forces the ref’s head into Stevie’s crotch. Following this, Stevie fights back and assaults Brandi and Cicero with his pleather shorts. Indy wrestling.

 

7:28 CONFIRMED BY BOB LEVY VIA TWITTER THAT HE WAS INDEED THE COMMENTATOR FOR THIS SHOW!!!! This is so awesome and random, and now I finally care about the commentary. I don’t care for Stevie Richards essentially wearing a thong though.

 

7:30 At some point between the awkward camera cut of some guy wearing a sweater vest in the crowd and the match becoming a handicap match I realized something.  I realized that there’s more unnecessary dude ass in this match then a Jean Claude Van Damme film.

 

7:31 Cicero and Brandi awkwardly bump into each other. That miscommunication was so telegraphed that Western Union made profit off of it.

 

7:36 Stevie pins Jimmy Cicero and wins the match. Wait, never mind. Turns out the announcers thought it was single pinfall elimination, but they were totally misinformed. As if you couldn’t tell how mismanaged this show was before, I think not knowing the rules really gave it away.

 

7:37 I’d recommend this show if only for Bob Levy just murdering it on commentary.

 

7:38 Stevie wins for real this time with a Steviekick. This was a pretty mediocre match with the exception of Tom Brandi just soaking in the sea of South Philly hatred. After the match, a bitter Brandi steals fans’ chairs and throws them into the ring so people can’t sit down. Tom Brandi is everything right with pro wrestling.

 

7:40 Next up, Julio Sanchez vs. Cueball Carmichael.

 

7:41 Remy ArchieandVeronica is back interviewing Julio Sanchez and I’m realizing just how giant his mouth is. It’s huge and full of nothing interesting to say. I know Rob Naylor jokes about being a mark, but Naylor is Veteran McStoic compared to this goofball. For those who don’t know, Julio Sanchez ended up in ECW as Julio Dinero and in TNA as a tag team partner of CM Punk. Also, he was on the epic Heroes of Wrestling PPV for no apparent reason. These are the things you remember when you buy PWI Almanacs every year.

 

7:42 Julio cuts an okay promo and then Remy ArchyourBack is with Cueball Carmichael. Cueball is wearing a ball-cap and some NWO-style shirt with CWO on it. Man, I’m glad we’re past the “NWO parody shirts” era. Besides, my friend Dylan found the best one ever. A NWJ shirt, “Not Without Jesus”. I am currently realizing that Cueball Carmichael has hair, what is this crap?  What an awful name for a man with hair.

 

7:45 Cueball comes out to the ring and looks like I was wrong.  Turns out the hat he was wearing covered his baldness, as Cueball actually has a skullet of sorts. Cueball looks like that guy at indy shows who says he’s a worker, but he’s actually a kid diddler.  He’s one of those PWI 500 all-stars I mentioned earlier who I always seemed to read about in the issues. Let’s just say that he does not match my mental image.

 

7:46 Fitz thinks this match is going to be brutal. I’m inclined to agree.

 

7:46 The very first move was botched.

 

7:47 Cueball is slower then molasses on a turtle or as Fitz puts it “I’ve seen slugs jerk off faster than Cueball moves”.

 

7:48 Julio is hitting an array of flashy dives and quick moves. I wonder why Julio never really made it anywhere. He seems like a bigger dude who can do some more athletic and flippy stuff.  He’s kind of built lean like AR Fox, except instead he looks like a palm tree. Well, a palm tree or that skate park manager dude from Rocket Power. (Note from Fitz: I believe his name was Conroy).

 

7:50 Cueball is laying into Julio Sanchez with all the force of an amputee pillow fight. Fitz has “seen better strikes from the Writer’s Guild”.

 

7:51 These are the worst chops ever by Cueball. He did not deserve to ever reach the 400’s in the PWI 500. How can I ever trust another woman after Liz Hunter and Brandi Mankiewicz lied to me about this man’s value? Although, I do blame Brandi for some of my misogynistic tendencies over the years. In particular, my overuse of a four letter word that rhymes with “runt”. I’m pretty sure I first uttered the word after she made fun of Bret Hart one too many times in her column.

 

7:54 I’m so bored by this match that I get up to grab some lobster out of the fridge because I’m a straight thug. As I pour a drink, I watch my 5 year old neighbor next door breaking his toy race car. He keeps whipping it into the posts and smack-talking it. That match was completely one-sided and still more entertaining than this abortion.

 

7:55 Julio wins the match after hitting Cueball with brass knuckles that Cueball introduced. Cueball’s manager then slips the knux into the tights of Julio when he’s not looking. I have no idea how Julio didn’t miss the hand tugging at his ass, but hey, who needs logic? The referee finds the knuckles and looks like we got a Dusty Finish via brass knuckles. This was the first match that just sucked.

 

7:56 We’re super stoked for this next match as it’s 1999 and it’s Nick Gage vs. Justice Pain in a Staple Gun Match.

 

7:57 Nick Gage is out first, but turns out he is wrestling under the alias “Hardcore Nick”. I always have somewhat resented wrestlers whose name was an adjective and then just their name. Not even wrestlers, but people in general who do that.  Young MC is the exception to the rule though. Surprisingly, Nick looks essentially the same which is remarkable when you consider this was 10 years and one poor decision ago. He’s just skinner back then.

 

7:58 Speaking of skinny: holy Toledo is Justice Pain an emaciated looking fellow!

 

7:58 Before the match begins, Fitz and I take another bet. This time we are predicting the amount of unprotected chairshots. I am predicting 12 and Fitz is predicting 9.

 

7:59 Before I finished that sentence there was already a chairshot. Near as I can figure, the rules of the match are that once someone grabs the staple gun it is legal, but no pins can happen before that.

 

7:59 Match is underway and Justice Pain is flying around like Quackenbush was earlier. This is completely unexpected and pretty awesome.

 

7:59 Both of these fucking goobers have tried for pins multiple times already. When people consistently don’t know the rules of a match I get heated. I mean, Rest in Peace and all that, but fuck Randy Savage for trying to pin Yokozuna in the 1993 Royal Rumble. He let all of America down and because of him, Bret Hart lost the title to Yoko.

 

8:00 The match spills out to the floor, which is about as surprising as water being wet. With Nick Gage on the table Justice Pain does some chair to over the top rope kegdrop kind of deal. This is legitimately the most fun match so far. Sorry, Quack.

 

8:01 After seeing him continue to go for pins after being told he couldn’t multiple times, I’m beginning to be glad that Nick Gage is in jail.

 

8:01 Wow, Nick Gage just did an awesome wrestling move. Nick Gage lifts Pain for a press slam, then drops him back down and, in one fluid motion, does the Scott Hall fallaway slam. It was actually super rad.

 

8:02 At this point, Nick Gage and Justice Pain are doing ROH main event MOVEZ 2002-style with  the added bonus of weapons.  No lightubes, or barbed wire or anything crazy, but just tables and chairs. This is sweet.

 

8:03 Justice Pain botches a hurracarana from top rope to outside twice, and so Nick Gage calls an audible and just decides to end both their lives. Both take a gross fall through a table at ringside. Despite just looking like he joined the Christopher Reeves Club after that fall, Nick Gage jumps up. Psychology is overrated.

 

8:06 Justice grabs the staple gun from the top, but then tells the referee not to stop the match. It looks like technically the match is over, but Zandig Rules are seemingly still in effect.

 

8:08 Justice Pain throws Nick Gage from the top of the “25 foot entrance” way through A SINGULAR TABLE. Jesus H. Christ. The  “H” is for “Hank”.

 

8:10 Let me just try to clarify this as best I can. Nick Gage was thrown off the top of the stage 90 seconds ago. Within that minute and a half, he had recovered enough to beat Justice Pain with a shitty suplex onto a chair. Nick Gage should be studied by scientists or something. The final chairshot tally is seven.

 

8:10 As he celebrates, I realize that young Nick Gage bears an awkwardly astonishing relevance to current Danny Havoc.

 

8:11 Overall, I loved this match and I hope Tom makes it a Match Of The Day. This match had zero psychology, but they set out to steal the show and they did just that.  It’s also crazy to consider that there was virtually zero blood in this match.

 

8:12 The next match is The Tennessee Volunteerz vs. Christian York and Joey Matthews.

 

8:13 Oh my God! I didn’t realize that The Tennessee Volunteerz were Reno Riggins and Steven Dunn. I can’t wait for this match and what I’m sure will be a “Memphis-2k” kind of match.

 

8:14 As highly as I think of Joey Matthews, the name of The Badstreet Boyz makes me cringe like I’m watching a snuff film.

 

8:14 It’s clear at this point that Bob Levy on commentary does not give a fuck about this anymore. He made a goddamn Adrian Zmed reference.

 

8:18 As I predicted, this is a textbook Memphis tag except with more dives and such. The crowd hates it and is chanting “Boring!”, which makes Reno clamp on his headlock even tighter.

 

8:20 Fitz points out that York and Matthews look a lot like the Young Bucks. Their haircuts are even identical, which leads to question if one team is ahead of their time or if the other is stuck in the past.  As I type that, Dunn totally brains Christian York with the chair. In something of a “Duh!” moment, the heels cheat to win over the young bare-chested babyfaces. Memphis: boom, know about it.

 

8:21 I’m sure there’s a Burt Prentice/ Bill Behrens joke in there somewhere. I confuse my gay Southern wrestling promoters.

 

8:22 Scab vs. Natrone Steele in a Ladder Match.

 

8:23 Remy AnvilthestoryofAnvil is back again and I die a little inside. He’s backstage interviewing Scab, who looks like he is a backyarder who yards as Trent Acid.   He’s a real life late 90’s e-fed character.

 

8:23 Scab comes out for his match to some sort of grindcore song.  He’s dressed exactly as you think a wrestler in 1999 named “Scab” would dress. His song reminds me of a 45-minute fight my friends and I got into my ex-girlfriend about the differences between “hardcore” and “grindcore”. We argued that they were basically the same music and she said that it wasn’t. About forty-five minutes into the fight, I tried to switch sides to reach a compromise and said I saw her point. My friends yelled at me and she was already mad at me so I ended up getting yelled at by everyone. I suck.

 

8:24 Coming out next is another PWI all-star, Natrone Steele. Natrone Steele’s PWI 500 bio was responsible for one of my AIM screen names when I was 14. His PWI bio said he was in a group called the Anti-Social Society (LOL ASS).  Being the total windowlicker I was about stuff like that, I immediately tried to adopt it as my screen name. In a true twist of cruel fate, there are too many letters in it for an AIM screen name. My harebrained solution was to make my screen name AntiSocialSocety. I still suck.

 

8:25 Bob Levy says if he “has to pick, he is going to pick Scab.” Someone book this man.

 

8:25 I hate to get all Al Snow on everyone (“You can’t work, I’m the best, Avatar was awesome”), but these guys really do look like two guys they found in the crowd. I understand that it’s possible they dressed this way because it’s a ladder match and a feud ender. However, they look like they’re both auditioning to be a wrestler called the “Nu-Metal Maniac”. They took the “street” part of “streetfight” too serioulys.

 

8:26 Scab puts Steele under the ladder and then dives apron to floor to deliver an elbow drop. Elbow drops onto ladders always bugged me. With a senton onto a ladder, you justify it as using your weight, but with an elbow you’re just awkwardly smashing your joints into metal and looking like a goober.

 

8:28 Natrone Steele’s “Life is Short, Bump Hard” shirt should read.”Life is Short, just so you know this isn’t real…hard”. Don’t laugh Gabe Sapolsky; I remember those BJ Whitmer and Nigel McGuiness bump related shirts. I also remember the Carnage Crew getting their bags shit, in which I love in a completely non-ironic way.

 

8:29 For some reason, Natrone Steele’s manager is outside the ring and interfering on and off. Not to install logic into anything, but wouldn’t that make a lot more sense to just have him make it a handicap match?

 

8:29:  Scab to Natrone Steele with a sunset flip powerbomb from inside the ring to outside the ring and onto a ladder. That was straight up reckless and fantastic.

 

8:31 This match is really suffering from the awesome Gage/Pain match from earlier.  It would be coming off a lot better if it happened before that match. They’re doing some cool stuff, but it’s all standard ladder match stuff while there were about six crazier things from that Gage and Pain battle. When I typed “Gage”, the autocorrect changed it to “Gabe”.  Clearly my destiny involves Mr. Sapolsky.

 

8:32 Completely unrelated, but somebody tweet me and explain to me why Japanese tables are way sturdier then American ones. I’ve never seen a Japanese table break without some sort of Seppuku being performed on it, but American ones snap like Slim Jims.

 

8:33 Random face turn, by “Random Guy”.  Honestly, I wish I could have called this or explained it any better but I am at a total loss. Even Bob Levy doesn’t know what’s going on. The other commentator does know and tries to cram in the whole story like a third grader who hates public reading. I guess this is the end of some angle for WWO in the ECW Arena. This is brutal.

 

8:35 Two minutes have gone by without Fitz and me saying anything. This is remarkably unriveting.

 

8:36 Scab wins the match after pushing Natrone off the ladder through two chairs on top of a table on top of thumbtacks. The spot was awesome, but the finish even shows how lack luster it was compared to Gage and Pain. Nick Gage didn’t need chairs to break his fall, nor did he need a bandana. Scab celebrates after the match while I look for a pencil to jam in my eardrums so I never have to hear his song again.

 

8:38 Now it’s time from Derrick Stone vs. Steve Sharpe.

 

8:38 Remy Areyouhavingalaugh is backstage with Derrick Stone. For some reason, Derrick Stone is dressed like a sheik. I’m really hoping this is not a gimmick at all, but just that he dresses like that in everyday life.

 

8:38 Another awkward cut to Steve Sharpe cutting a promo this time. AWWMAN (6) Steve Sharpe’s promo is awesome.   Steve Sharpe is a giant black man in the vein of Ahmed Johnson. He proclaims that he is going to kick his “Ali Baba ass”. TOLERANCE!

 

8:39 Derrick Stone comes out to some awful grindcore music. Did Gabe Sapolsky pick the music for this match? I don’t know why I’m picking on Gabe today. I swear I legitimately enjoy 90 percent of the things Gabe does and I still think firing him from ROH was silly.

 

8:42 Derrick Stone addresses the shitty music situation in his promo. He refers to it as “garbage” and then cuts a typical “boo USA”promo. He is now a babyface to me/ At this point I’m realizing that the house lights are on which means either the merch table is doing well or the production value is doing bad. Derrick Stone calls out Harley Race and mentions his WLW title. Either this is for Harley’s WLW company or Derrick Stone is mental.

 

8:43 Big ole’ Steve Sharpe comes out and looks like he’s doing a Junkyard Dog deal. As I say that Steve Sharpe is introduced as “The Atomic Dog”. He’s basically Junkyard Dog 2000. Nobody let Rob Naylor watch this and get confused.  The announcers confirm that he’s the nephew of the original JYD.

 

8:44 Derrick Stone’s got a supple rack on him. There are 15 year old girls in Judy Blume books wishing for bosoms like that.

 

8:45 Steve Sharpe is a big dude and he just laid out Derrick Stone with a sweet dive. After the move, Steve Sharpe sticks his HGH enhanced tongue out to taunt Stone. Steve Sharpe’s tongue leads me to believe that he is in fact Terry Crews. Steve Sharpe then lays out Derrick Stone with a beautiful top rope dropkick.  I thought Ahmed Johnson flying was cool, but this is like art right here. Big Black Man in a Singlet fake fighting dudes art.

 

8:46 Stone and Sharpe brawl all around the arena. Impromptu brawling is my favorite thing in wrestling. Ultramantis Black and Ares at the Arena for Chikara was one of my favorite matches last year and there are dudes like Sami Callihan who are awesome at it. However, Sami has lost his crown as the “King of Impromptu Brawling” after Derrick Stone just sprayed mustard in the eyes of Steve Sharpe. Rake Yohn is pissed.

 

8:47 Sharpe pins Derrick Stone with an awkward move to the floor. Oh wait, this is one of those bullshit “pin the guy and then answer the 30 count to the ring “things. I hate these.

 

8:47 Watching him strut about and wear awesome tassels, all I can think is it’s a damn shame Larry Sweeney and Steve Sharpe never teamed together.

 

8:48 Apparently Abdullah the Butcher is somewhere backstage and the announcers keep being terrified about him. LOL hepatitis.

 

8:51 On the outside of the ring, Steve Sharpe is just punching Derrick Stone in the ear. That was pretty goddamn disgusting. Derrick Stone then knocks him out and produces a pair of handcuffs which he uses to HANDCUFF STEVE SHARPE TO THE PHOTOGRAPHER. This is absolutely awesome.

 

8:52 Steve Sharpe pulls the photographer around and then uses him as a weapon. Steve pins Derrick Stone and the referee counts it and it looks like Steve Sharpe wins? This is about the third match or so where nobody seems to know the rules.

 

8:53 Turns out the match is declare a No-Contest, but I couldn’t care less because Steve Sharpe is awesome.  Someone find out what happened to him. Derrick Stone flees with his title while Steve and 150 lbs of photographer stand in the ring.

 

8:54 STEVE SHARPE CLOTHESLINED THE PHOTOGRAPHER FOR NO REASON! JUNKYARD DOG WOULD FIND NO JOY IN THIS BEHAVIOR!

 

8:54 Steve Sharpe cuts a promo where he says, “there are no good guys or bad guys in this arena” and essentially he becomes Vince Russo masturbatory material. I think turning heel just got Steve Sharpe more over as a face. 1999 sucked.

 

8:59 Here we go again with Remy AreyoutheregoditsmeMargaret (Two Judy Blume references in one article). Can somebody kill this interviewer dude please? I’m longing for the days of Gary Michael Cappetta and “Sugar” Sean Price right now. Remy is standing by with Maxx Justice, who looks like Big Buddy Lee Parker. Maxx is representing All-Pro Wrestling in California and “Mr. Personality” himself, Roland Alexander. Maxx Justice messes up his promo three times before he introduces his manager. This brings up something I want to say to all independent wrestling companies: there is such a thing as “take 2”.

 

9:00 Remy ArkoftheCovenant is now backstage with Boyce LeGrande. Boyce Legrande is a black dude with straightened hair who looks oddly familiar. Nothing I could say about Boyce LeGrande looking like anyone would be construed as anything but racist. Naylor’d. Also, it looks like this is a stretcher match.

 

9:01 Maxx Justice comes out in this awful gear that makes him look like either a UPS Guy or the Green Mountie. He’s definitely the biggest guy on the show by far, but he looks like an idiot.

 

9:03 Maxx Justice tries to use a chair, but the referee refuses to allow such hijinks in his ring. No chairs in a stretcher match? The stretcher math does not compute.

 

9:04 Maxx Justice is wrestling with his shirt on and it’s beginning to aggravate me. With the shirt on, he looks like a giant turd.

 

9:05 Maxx Justice goes for a pin on Boyce which confuses me yet again. Every match has had a gimmick and every gimmick has not been explained. I thought stretcher matches were like casket matches or am I completely wrong?

 

9:06 BOB LEVY JUST SAID “AWWMAN”!  I didn’t count that one because I didn’t say it. Bob Levy legitimately said it. Bob Levy is awesome.

 

9:07 Yet another awkward crowd shot to mask an edit.

 

9:07 I just realized, Maxx Justice is the guy in “Beyond the Mat” who threatens to throw a fan over the railing for no apparent reason.

 

9:08 Maxx Justice wins with a top rope chokeslam.  I’m talking “he climbed to the top with him and brought the guy all the way down” kind of chokeslam. There is no stretcher for any reason and they cut away. I’m getting sick of being kept in the dark about this kind of matches. Break the Barrier is a drunk; I worship Raven now.

 

9:10 Next up is a First Blood match between Fang and Blade Boudreaux.

 

9:10 Remy Areyouafraidofthedark is backstage with Fang.  In an astonishing twist of fate, Fang has a vampire gimmick.  Fang is looking like “White Trash True Blood” and Remy is selling it like this isn’t the corniest shit in the world. I’m dreading see this match as Fang looks awful and Blade Boudreaux always sounded awesome. Every PWI guy I remembered has been the drizzling shits tonight so let’s hope Blade breaks the curse.

 

9:11 Fang comes out wearing a Gangrel shirt, which makes me just angry.  He’s essentially a cover band equivalent of a wrestler right now.

 

9:12 Out comes Blade and man, does Blade look like Billy Kidman’s dad.  He’s even got the generic babyface jacket. Actually he looks like a young Bob Holly as well. That leaves only one logical conclusion: Bob Holly is Billy Kidman’s dad.

 

9:14 This match is just absolutely awful. You are disappointing me, Blade Boudreaux!  Blade runs into the referee except the way he dove into him made it seem like he had a ref seeking magnet in his tights. This was straight up Jackie Gayda shit. On top of that, why is there a ref bump in a First Blood match?

 

9:15 Even Bob Levy is shitting on this match.

 

9:15 HE MISSED HIM WITH A CHAIR TO THE BACK WHILE THE GUY WAS LYING DOWN! Fang completely whiffs on a stationary chair shot to a lying-down Blade.

 

9:16 Fang wins. I have nothing else to add, I’m too mad I’ll never got those minutes back.

 

9:16 ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER IS OUT TO RINGSIDE NOW! WITH A COFFIN! AND TITTIES!

 

9:17 Abdullah is just forking both dudes all over the place. He doesn’t even have the decency to spoon them first. #hack

 

9:17 Abdullah is going to town on the headmeat of these guys. Honestly, I don’t care how many times I’ve seen it, seeing people get forked is still way too gross to me.

 

9:18 Abdullah is moving around with the speed and dexterity of a drunk dalrus. I guess to Abdullah, “Hepatitis C”, stands for “Cookie” and that’s good enough for him.

 

9:19 Abdullah rolls Fang into a coffin and then bangs on the outside with metal stairs. That will do something, right? Like, “hey I just stabbed you, but now you will feel slight pain in your ears!”

 

9:20 As if my stellar review didn’t give it away, that was the worst segment of the night by far.

 

9:20 Now it’s time for a random Scoops Wrestling commercial.

 

9:21 I’m glad this company/website went out of business. Their ad consists of showing clips from matches that happen on this DVD, including ones not yet shown. I hope it wasn’t like that when you bought it on DVD. I need to stop saying DVD because this is clearly a VHS. I still remember the first movie I ever saw on DVD, The Mummy Returns.  You have no idea how pissed I was when I realized The Scorpion King was barely in it.

 

9:22 I am so amped right now because next up is “Beastmaster” Rick Link vs. MANNY FUCKING FERNANDEZ.

 

9:22 Oh my god do I hate Remy AreyoubeingServed so much. I am going to find one of the many Italians on this show  and order a hit. There were about five Italians on the show and they were all heels. Nice boot-shaped country, jerk.

 

9:23 Beastmaster cuts an awesome promo in the back while Remy ArtCarney stands gape-mouthed. The match is for the Brass Knuckles title and I am super amped right now.  Also, I’ll get it out of the way now. Insert “Manny Fernandez forcing himself into this show” jokes here.

 

9:24 Cut to Manny Fernandez backstage and this is just awesome. Manny’s promo consists of him mainly saying “baby”, “daddy” and “bad”.  The last 30 seconds were like a limerick/haiku combo written by Dusty Rhodes. This rules, baby.

 

9:24 Raging Bull is out first. Turns out he is from El Paso, Texas. It’s destiny.

 

9:25 The announcer introduced Manny first when he shouldn’t of. This show has more production flaws then something that had a lot of flaws from the early 1990’s.

 

9:25 Turns out Rick Link is out first, and he is a total big fat slob of a man. He looks like a skinny death-match Bastion Booger with the decency to cover up. Bob Levy theorizes that Beastmaster must be a high-flyer. I love this man.

 

9:26 Two giant jacked dudes come out and the announcer says that they’re Manny’s bodyguards. Manny Fernandez has bodyguards? Manny jumps Beastmaster from behind! Manny is working heel! AWWMAN (7)…AWWMAN (8)…AWWMAN (9)

 

9:26 The non-Bob Levy commentator declares that this is a battle of legends. Beastmaster is a legend in this sport like Suddenly Susan was a legendary television show.

 

9:27 Outside the ring, Manny is clawing at Beastmaster’s heart with a hammer. Manny Fernandez rules.

 

9:28 Ref calls for a no contest as Manny and Rick awkwardly brawl around the arena.

 

9:30 This match is not awesome, but yet it’s totally awesome because it’s Manny Fernandez.

 

9:32 Not a lot of things to say about this match except Manny Fernandez frightens me.

 

9:33 Next up is Phi DeKappa U vs. The Pitbullz. I’m sure this will be classic.

 

9:33 Remy Arkanoid is backstage and walking over to interview Phi Dekappa U. Oh fuck! I didn’t realize it  earlier ,but Phi Dekappa U are better known as The Shane Twins/The Gymini/The Johnsons. I am so dreading this moment.

 

9:34 I do have to respect the fanny packs on Phi Dekappa U and their manager Ron Niemi. I also have to respect Ron’s sweater vest and plaid shorts.  I do not have to respect Niemi calling the fans “marks”. Tommy Wisseau’s ears just perked up.

 

9:37 PDU comes out and cuts a generic promo on how ECW sucks. Why anyone tried to out-heel Brandi is just beyond me. The Pitbulls are out now with Billy Reil and Trent Acid for no reason.

 

9:38 After asking where Johnny Kashmere was, Fitz told me he’s in the bathroom.

 

9:40 I still don’t know which Shane twin is which so I’m going to just make up names for them.

 

9:40 Lance Von Shane Twin just did an armdrag. I am so utterly confused.

 

9:42 As Gary Wolfe tangles with Shane Twin Dos, I realize how absurd the Pitbulls look. I can’t believe The Pitbulls’ gear was ever considered cool. They look like they’re going to an S&M club on a budget.

 

9:45 Pitbull Anthony and Jimmy Jack Shane Twin are doing stuff. I’m so bored.

 

9:46 Fitz is rearranging his Pokémon cards and I’m Googling Undertaker related gifts to get for the girl I’m kind of dating.

 

9:47 Something finally happened.  In a shock of shocks, it’s another unprotected chairshot. Chris Nowinski is shedding a single tear right now followed by forgetting where he was.

 

9:49 Joel Shane Twin and some Pitbull are doing stuff. I hate this moment in my life right now.

 

9:49 Beau Shane Twin has one of the Pitbulls in some headlock in the center of the ring. Today they don’t feel like doing anything, they’re just gonna rest hold in the ring.

 

9:54 To quote Jon Moxley, “This is torture”. I have a theory that drunken Jon Moxley impressions can enhance nearly everything in life. My friends have a theory that I’m annoying. We’re both right.

 

9:54 Oh thank merciful God, this match is over. The Pitbulls win and I come off the ledge of suicide.

 

9:55 Now it’s time for the Main Event: BATTLE ROYALE! oh wait…it’s just a battle royal. I was hoping Steve Sharpe would be slitting the throat of Cueball Carmichael.

 

9:56 As the ring announcer explains the rules, which probably won’t end up being true, the commentators are freaking out. There is lots of awkwardness about something that has happened backstage.

 

9:57 Maxx Justice and Scab starts this off outside the ring. All I can think of is how much I want one of these guys to go get new gear.

 

9:58 Next entrant is Derrick Stone.

 

9:59 There is definitely not a timed interval as I swear Derrick Stone was in the ring for three seconds before Beastmaster came out. I call shenanigans.

 

10:00 Reno Riggins is out. This is the closest he’ll get to the Royal Rumble without buying a ticket.

 

10:00 Steven Dunn is out. I have no idea how many people are in this battle royal.

 

10:01 Next out is…TOM BRANDI! TOM BRANDI! AND HE WAS CARRIED OUT BY THE OTHER ITALIAN GUYS! FUCK YOU DEL WILKES!

 

10:02 Tom Brandi just eliminated like six guys!

 

10:03 BRANDI WINS!

 

10:02 That was it…that was the entire battle royal. All six dudes…and Tom Brandi won in less time than it took him to be eliminated from the one Royal Rumble he was in. Brandi eliminated everyone in the battle royal within 30 seconds. This clearly was not the original plan.

 

10:03 Commentators cut out and then there’s awkward banter that’s trying to make it seem like the commentary wasn’t recorded weeks after the show.

 

10:03 For some reason, Tom Brandi power bombed the promoter through the table.

 

10:04 The promoter’s wife hits Tom Brandi, thenTom Brandi then calls out ECW some more. Tom Brandi has mastered foreshadowing.

 

10:04 This show had a totally weird ending as “King Heel” Tom Brandi stands victorious and the babyface promoter is power bombed through a table. This was the Empire Strikes Back of wrestling shows.

 

10:05 Done.

 

All in all, this was enjoyable. Some awful parts, but Bob Levy, Tom Brandi, Nick Gage, Mike Quackenbush and Justice Pain made this show worth watching. A strange piece of history indeed, but it could have been worse. It could have been December to Dismember. Well…there’s always take 2.

 

Boom, know about it.

 

-Ben Pasco


 

 

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