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Thread: ECW Holiday Hell 1996 Review

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    ECW ECW Holiday Hell 1996 Review

    Holiday Hell
    December 7, 1996



    The last 1996 ECW Arena show Iíll be covering thatís made up of Hardcore TV and best of comps. The following matches have never been released:

    Balls Mahoney (ECW debut) vs Devon Storm
    Gary Albright (WHAT?!) vs Rick Rage
    Sabu vs Perry Saturn

    Hardcore TV - December 10th

    Before the match, D-Von Dudley got on the mic to trash someone, but based on where the video began, Iím not able to tell who heís talking about. That brings out The bWo complete with their newest member - 3 Ĺ. 3 Ĺ is a play on Syxx and played by some pedophile. Anyways, The bWo got on the mic to insult Axl Rotten some by bringing up his weight and his brother. That led to D-Von and Rotten attacking The bWo. The Gangstas would interrupt the fight, attacking their opponents leading to...

    The Gangstas © vs D-Von Dudley and Axl Rotten - ECW Tag Titles
    On paper, this was easily the weakest match of the night, but Iím pleased to see that the match was clipped pretty heavily. The Gangstas came out by tossing a garbage can in the ring. Rather than using a garbage can filled with weapons, they instead used an actual can with trash. Once Rotten and New Jack gets busted open, theyíre forced to roll around the ring with open wounds and literal trash. Why would you ever do that? We then cut to New Jack diving off of the Eagleís Nest onto D-Von through a table. Meanwhile, Rotten nailed a Pedigree on Mustafa, but Big Stevie Cool came out to deliver a Stevie Kick to Rotten. Yet another cut and New Jack delivered the 187 on Rotten to win the match. Since itís just a bunch of highlights, this is a Gangstas match that I had no issues with. Not Rated.

    After the match, New Jack put on a bWo shirt and some respect is shown between The Gangstas and The bWo in how they helped each other out tonight.

    Louie Spicolli vs Brian Lee
    Chris Candido joined Joey Styles for some guest commentary. This is interesting as Candido and Spicolli briefly teamed in the WWE back in late 1995 and Candido and Lee were SMW Tag Champions in 1994. Although given the name by Shane Douglas at November to Remember, it seems as if Lee has completely ditched the Primetime name in favor of ĎBulldozerí Brian Lee. While Lee has been in the company since April 1996, Iíve generally hated his matches. Heís always involved in these mindless brawls that fails to include any story. With that being said, I can finally say that I really dig one of his matches with this being far away his best since coming into ECW. Since Spicolli is a workrate sort of wrestler, heís not someone who brawls in ECW or even goes outside of the ring much. Yet, in this match, Lee forces him to work a garbage brawl. Thereís actually a story! As good as Spicolli is, heís at such a disadvantage working a style heís not used to, made worse when Lee pulls out a foreign object (We never got a clear shot of it, but itís about the size of a fork, but Iím 90% sure that it wasnít a fork) to bust Spicolli open above the eye. So whatís worse than having to work a style that youíre not used to? How about essentially being blinded in one eye due to the blood running down into his eye. This adversity is also a chance for Spicolli to further elevate himself up the ECW ladder by eventually mounting a comeback and showing Lee and the ECW fans that he can work a hardcore match too. Using a chair in the crowd, Spicolli got in several good shots on Lee. During all of this, Candido is really entertaining as the color commentator, where heís a perfect mixture of adding some laughs by trying to compare his ďFluĒ to Spicolli working a match with blood in his eyes and also giving some solid insight in the match. All of this built up to Spicolli seemingly moments away from victory, but the loss of vision caused him to accidentally grab the referee and pick him up for a Spicolli Driver. That was Candidoís cue to run out to the ring to try to interfere, but Spicolli again comes out strong by thwarting the interference and laying Candido out with a Spicolli Driver. Youíd think that this would set up Lee hitting the Primetime Slam for the win, but again, Louie is put over so strong by hitting a Spicolli Driver on him as well. Instead, Shane Douglas ran out to pull the shirt off of the unconscious referee and put it on. Between the combination of faking being hurt and Spicolliís being blind, the babyface is unaware that when he covers Lee, itís actually Douglas performing the count. Since Douglas isnít the referee, itís not the end of the match and you could argue that this was pretty unnecessary, but thatís the thing. Douglas is a piece of shit. Heís playing mind games with Spicolli for shits and giggles, allowing Spicolli to think that he got the victory until Spicolli could finally make out through his cloudy vision that the referee in front of him was Douglas. Spicolli fought him and nearly got the best of him only for Lee to finally hit the Primetime Slam and pin Spicolli with the real referee finally waking up to count to three. Not only did this match create a story for a garbage brawl, but Louie was made to look like a mega star and itís the creation of something even bigger. I canít believe Iím saying this, but could Brian fín Lee produce the MOTN?! *** ľ


    After the match, the heels triple team Spicolli until Pitbull #2 rushes out to make the save. While initially getting in some offense, the numbers advantage for the three heels was far too much of a threat for Pitbull. The heels stand tall to end the segment.

    Hardcore TV - December 17th

    Taz w/Fonzie and Team Taz vs Rob Van Dam
    Earlier in the year, Taz/Fonzie and RVD worked out a deal for Taz to share the secrets of Sabuís broken neck so that RVD could take advantage of it. Now, months later, since RVD and Sabu are on the same side, Sabu has shared secrets about Taz to RVD to give him an advantage going into this match. This match reminded me a good deal of Spicolli/Lee with the match designed around making the babyface look great in defeat. Weíve already seen that RVD can fly around and impress in those conditions, but this was his chance to prove that he could be tough enough to go toe-to-toe with Taz. Multiple times RVD was allowed to out tough Taz with Taz having to bust out a new Tazplex (A Tiger Suplex) while showing clear signs of being phased by the crowd chanting for Sabu. Joey Styles hyped the fact that this was the first time that Taz seemed distracted by the Sabu chants. Styles really hyped up the fact that we might see an upset with RVD even managing to hit an early Van Daminator, but Taz eventually locked in the Tazmission. As Taz had it applied really poorly, RVD was able to keep fighting it, dropping Taz with a sorta Side Russian Leg Sweep and later attempting the corner to push himself backwards into a pinning position on Taz (ala Bret/Austin Survivor Series), but Taz kept the Tazmission on and rolled over. Finally, after two minutes of the Tazmission sorta being locked in, RVD is finally forced to pass out, giving Taz the victory. I would complain about RVD lasting two minutes in the Tazmission, but Taz was struggling to keep his hands clasp for the entire duration of the hold. Itíd be one thing if it was a proper Tazmission, but it wasnít. Good match though with both men looking good. ***

    Hardcore TV - December 24th

    Before the next match, Little Guido came out to trash JT Smith and his awful decisions that led to him being forced out of ECW for a month. He dares Smith to ever come back to ECW to fight him. With that, we have the creation of the Little Guido led FBI.

    The Dudleys w/Sign Guy Dudley vs Little Guido and Davey Pazano
    Pazano is just Kid Kash working a fake Italian character at the insistence of Guido. Meanwhile, this is the short period where the main Dudleys tag team is Bubba Ray and Spike. Although this match is clipped, it doesnít seem as if weíre missing much of the match as the ring announcer states that the match went six minutes and change. I quite enjoyed it as an opening match sort of bout. The match went something like this, if Bubba was in the ring, the smaller Kash and Guido were tossed around like ragdolls. If Spike is in the ring, The FBI could double team LSD and be in control for awhile. The fans seem to be pretty into Spike in this early portion of his long ECW run and he immediately feels like such an upgrade over the previous Dudleys that had hung out with Bubba Ray. After a face-in-peril sequence with Spike, LSD finally got the hot tag to Bubba and he immediately killed Guido with a Bubba Cutter. Kash tried to interfere, but he suffered the same fate. From there, Bubba sat on the top turnbuckle to allow Spike to stand on his shoulders and leap off in a splash, pinning both men. Obviously, Bubba would be just a couple months away from something great that would forever make his career, but this team with LSD was pretty darn fun. Meanwhile, other than some house shows, this is it for Kashís first run in ECW. He wouldnít appear at the ECW Arena again until Hostile City Showdown 1999. ***


    Pioneerís ECW: Extreme Evolution DVD

    Shane Douglas and Francine vs Tommy Dreamer and Beulah
    This match had a ton of heat to it, adding to the enjoyment quite a bit. Douglas was so hated in the ECW Arena that when Douglas and Dreamer were fighting by the steel railing, a fan hit Douglas with a steel chair. Most of the action just involved the men, but when the women got involved, it was pretty fun. Whether it was Dreamer hitting spots on Francine, Francine destroying Beulah with a shot to the head with a cookie sheet, or Beulah...attempting a moonsault on Douglas. The moonsault looked like shit, but I appreciate the effort. Douglas, again being the absolute best ECW heel of 1996 finished the match by hitting a Belly-to-Belly suplex on Beulah, even hooking the leg for extra heat. A fun match on a surprisingly fun show. ** ĺ


    With this being the final ECW Arena show of 1996, letís take a quick look back at Raven vs Sandman at the ECW Arena thus far this year:

    Unnamed Late Jan - Raven def Sandman to win the ECW World Title
    Cyberslam Feb - Raven def Sandman to retain ECW World Title
    Unnamed Late March - Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, and Shane Douglas def Raven and The Bruise Brothers
    A Matter of Respect May - Raven def Sandman and Pitbull #2 to retain ECW World Title
    Heatwave July - Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, and Terry Gordy def Raven, Stevie Richards, and Brian Lee
    The Doctor is In Aug - Stevie Richards def Sandman to retain Ravenís ECW Title

    The Sandman © vs Raven - Barbed Wire Match - ECW World Title
    In a really nice touch, Joey Styles brings up how both the referee and Raven are dressed. For Raven, heís wearing extra tape on his arms while the referee is wearing a long sleeve shirt under his refereeís shirt and gloves. In addition, Raven has his hair tied back. All of these little changes are done to sell how dangerous the barbed wire can be. Although hardly the first ever barbed wire match in ECW, the match is still rare enough that it feels like quite the attraction to see the ring ropes replaced with barbed wire. The biggest appeal of this match was the lack of interference. In something that has been such a regular occurrence, to suddenly see a Raven ECW Title match without a single bit of interference is not only surprising, but also refreshing. Sandman really brought the offense in this match by coming up with more unique ways to use the barbed wires. By using some wire cutters, he was able to not only wrap the barbed wire around Raven, but also himself to add extra damage when flinging his body towards Raven. Much like their November to Remember Ď96 match, this was surprisingly pleasant. The sole downside of the match was the finish. Raven attempted to hit a piledriver while both men were on a table, but the table gave in. Rather than try to come up with a new finish, Raven instead just picked Sandman up and delivered a DDT on the already broken table to score the pinfall to become the NEW ECW World Champion. After the botch, I donít think anyone thought that it would be the finish, so Raven winning moments later created an uninspiring finish. Still, I really liked the fact that this was a clean match that just relied on the gimmick to carry the match. A good way to wrap 1996. ***


    Overall
    For a show thatís so under the radar that it was never released on VHS, Holiday Hell 1996 was a hell of a way to wrap up 1996. While thereís not any MOTYCs on this event, pretty much everything actually recorded and shown was at a three star level. Chances are, Saturn vs Sabu wasnít bad either, even if we didnít get to see that match. The thing about ECW 1996 is that while you can sometimes find great matches, bad matches are so common. On paper, Holiday Hell 1996 may not seem very impressive with a slew of three star matches, but this type of show, at least what we saw was really entertaining. The biggest piece of importance on this show, perhaps even more than the crowning of a new ECW World Champion was the unofficial creation of The Triple Threat...well, the new version of it. Considering the fact that Raven and Sandman had been feuding since for the entire duration of 1996, the title going back to Raven isnít as important. This version of the Triple Threat with Douglas, Candido, and Lee, is typically not the version most thinks of when it comes to the Triple Threat, but itís quite a big deal that the group has been reformed. Beyond that and the title change, Holiday Hell was just a solid show with even Brian fín Lee producing a good match.

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    Re: ECW Holiday Hell 1996 Review

    this looks like a great show. i may one day get the network again so i can watch ecw 1996
    ROH!!!ROH!!!ROH!!!

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