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A couple of days ago, I reviewed the recently-released ECW: Extreme Rules and mentioned how that title didn't exactly receive first pick when it came to the "extreme" matches thanks to the earlier release of this set. With that in mind, I thought that it would be a good idea to get this one listed on the site as well, so here we are. I don't think that a history lesson is in order this time, so this review will probably be considerably shorter than the previous review. Each match is introduced by Paul Heyman who gives his thoughts and a little background about the match-up at hand, and the match listing for this excellent two-disc set goes as such:
Review by Chad
Added: February 05, 2007
* Cactus Jack & Mikey Whipwreck vs. Public Enemy (Hardcore TV 8/27/95)
* The Sandman & Terry Funk vs. Cactus Jack and Shane Douglas (Extreme Warfare Vol. 1 3/18/95)
* Axl Rotten vs. Ian Rotten (Taipei Death Match - Hardcore Heaven 7/1/95)
* Rey Mysterio vs. Psicosis (Mexican Death Match - November To Remember 11/18/95)
* Shane Douglas vs. Chris Jericho vs. 2 Cold Scorpio vs. Pitbull #2 (Four Corners Match - Heat Wave 6/13/96)
* Tommy Dreamer vs. Brian Lee (Weapons Match - Hardcore Heaven 6/22/96)
* Rob Van Dam vs. Sabu (Stretcher Match - The Doctor Is In 8/3/96)
* Terry Funk vs. The Sandman vs. Stevie Richards (3-Way Dance - Barely Legal 4/13/97)
* Terry Funk vs. Raven (Barely Legal 4/13/97)
* Sabu vs. Terry Funk (Barbed Wire Match - Born To Be Wired 8/9/97)
* Beulah McGillicutty vs. Bill Alfonso (As Good As It Gets 9/20/97)
* Tazz vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (ECW Death Match - Heat Wave 8/2/98)
* Tazz vs. Shane Douglas (House Party 1/16/99)
* The Dudley Boys vs. Spike Dudley & Balls Mahoney (Chicago Street Fight - Hardcore TV 7/5/99)
* Mike Awesome vs. Spike Dudley (Guilty As Charged 1/9/00)
* Rhino vs. The Sandman (ECW on TNN 2/25/00)
* Super Crazy vs. Tajiri vs. Little Guido (3-Way Dance - ECW on TNN 3/3/00)
* Tommy Dreamer vs. C.W. Anderson ("I Quit" Match - Guilty As Charged 1/7/01)
* Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka (ECW One Night Stand 6/12/05)
* ECW Music Video Recap
* Axl Rotten on the Taipei Death Match
* ECW & Blood
* Extreme Measures: The Flaming Table
* Balls Mahoney on the flaming table (hidden easter egg)
* C.W. Anderson on his "I Quit" Match with Tommy Dreamer
* Danny Doring & Roadkill get into the business
* The Pitbulls
* Justin Credible on being ECW champion
* Public Enemy Vs. Cactus Jack & Mikey Whipwreck History Video
* The Gangstas Vs. Public Enemy (House Party 1/5/96)
This set is the perfect thing to pick up for those wrestling fans who never got a chance to check out ECW or whose experience with the company is limited to the horrible WWE programming running under the guise of those three letters. You'll get a little bit of everything from this release: the unpredictability of the company (Cactus Jack & Mikey Whipwreck getting the upset win over the dominant champs Public Enemy), the introduction of lucha libre (Rey Mysterio vs. Psicosis, long before either man would show up in WCW), the technical wrestling displays (the four corners match, which ran for well over thirty minutes), and of course, the violence.
While not every match features gallons of blood and dozens of weapon-shots, the ones that are included are definitely some of the best of the bunch. The Taipei death match in particular is a match that doesn't get a lot of attention in other, similar releases, but it's definitely one of the nastiest affairs. The "rules" of the match were quite simple: two men tape their hands up, dip them in super-glue, and then dip them into broken glass before going at it. Needless to say, a lot of blood is shed during this encounter. Of course, I couldn't leave out the infamous barbed wire match between Terry Funk and Sabu, a match which saw Sabu tear his bicep to shreds and which featured a rushed finish due to the fact that Funk was "extremely" close to cutting open an artery in his throat after getting hopelessly entangled in the pile of barbed wire. This match was so brutal, in fact, that it turned out to be the first and only match of its kind in the company: owner Paul Heyman claims that nobody could top it, and he couldn't in good conscience let anyone try.
Some of the matches found here either aren't overly graphic or aren't exactly classics for the wrestling alone, but they do feature important moments in the history of this company. For example, the 1995 match involving Terry Funk saw the introduction of the flaming branding iron, an item that would go on to be used prominently throughout the course of his latter career. The match involving Public Enemy found within the bonus features was the last ECW match that they were involved in (during their first and main run with the company, anyway), and it ends with them saying their goodbyes to the crowd. Of course, I couldn't leave out what was, in my view, one of the best matches from ECW's history: the main event from Barely Legal '97, which was their first pay-per-view. This match may not have been the bloodiest and it may not have been a mat classic, but the emotional ending of it in which Terry Funk wins his first championship and celebrates in the crowd while commentator Joey Styles nearly breaks down and cries is a moment which won't soon be forgotten.
There are some flaws with the set, with the main one (in my eyes) being the omission of nearly all of the ring entrances. While that may not be a huge deal in every single case, it's pretty disappointing in many. The Sandman's entrances are usually one of the highlights of his matches as he comes through the crowd and drinks beers with the fans, but these entrances were all scrapped for this release. This is a minor gripe, granted, but it would have been nice if these extra few minutes could have been left intact for the DVD release.
Overall though, it's a great set for ECW fans or for those who never got a chance to check out the company during its prime. 9/10.