Friday, January 22, 2016

ECW Unreleased: Vol 2

Welcome to the second part of the ECW Unreleased trilogy of blogs. Part two I will be covering 2013’s ECW Unreleased: Vol 2 (trailer). WWE stuck to the same formula as the first volume with Joey Styles introducing the feature, and chiming in every few matches to set up the next chronological match in ECW’s history that was never before released on a WWE home video product. Vol 2 sees Joey Styles gain a cohost in Tommy Dreamer. The two are a great pairing and seem to have actual meaningful insight to give on past ECW talent to help establish the matches, and Tommy is a hoot poking fun at himself and how he will never retire, ribbing Zach Ryder for casting him out of WWE’s ECW in 2009 and surprised how ECW stayed in business as long as it did. Tommy obviously is still passionate about ECW’s legacy, so it was cool to see him and Joey reminisce about the product every few matches.

Like the previous volume, there is a ton of content on here with a whopping 27 matches on this BluRay, with six of them exclusive to BluRay that totals to nearly nine hours of content on two discs. Like the last volume, a majority of the entrance themes are overdubbed with painfully generic house themes from WWE. I feel guilty for starting to remember which overdubbed generic themes belong to what wrestlers now. I will also give props again for WWE allowing the option of subtitles here, which especially helps in the 1993/94 years when ECW’s in-arena microphone left a lot to be desired.

Bear with me again as I try to quickly march down most, but not all of the matches on here to point out what stood out, and what is skip-worthy. The first match from 1993 is a blast from the past in Tommy Dreamer’s ECW debut as a ripped, yes ripped-and-green-suspender-wearing Tommy faces off against a furried-up Tazmanian Devil (aka Taz). I remember hearing stories how ECW got special permission to use Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton from WCW for one match in 1994, and Styles and Dreamer make sure to give the lowdown on how that all came to be and it was great to finally see that match as Eaton tagged with Sabu against Arn and Terry Funk in a great match with an entertaining mix of old school wrestling and ECW’s brand of hardcore.

I was bummed to see a Cactus Jack/Terry Funk match get thrown out after Public Enemy interferes and the four just wind up brawling as the match got thrown out. The same happens in one of the BluRay exclusive matches with the Dudleyz and a returning Public Enemy match in 1999 after interference from Joel Gertner, Sign Guy Dudley and New Jack results in a big schmoz and the match getting thrown out. These “matches” are actually nice palette cleansers with enough interesting action as a little breather inbetween the longer matches featured. Probably the shortest match on here is another BluRay extra with 911 obliterating Doink in a 1994 contest after three quick chokeslams.

Sandman has always been a dumb fun garbage wrestler. I was happy he got a little over one year stint in WWE to make some decent money, and wished they would have used him a bit more when he got drafted to RAW from ECW. I remember when he almost won that battle royal to become commissioner of RAW and for a brief moment thought of all the dumb goofy hijinx he would come up with before William Regal surprise dumped him out to win. Anyways, there is a great vintage Sandman hardcore match on here against Tommy Dreamer in an I Quit match which features the most bizarre ending to an I Quit match I have ever seen. Did you know the Steiners had a short run in ECW after leaving WWF before returning to WCW in 1995? I forgot about it too, but we have an awesome six-man tag featuring them and Eddie Guerrero taking on Scorpio, Cactus Jack and Dean Malenko in a pretty damn entertaining match that saw the ECW crowd surprisingly receptive of the Steiners. Then again, this was pre-Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner we are talking about.

Moving on there is a couple of nonsensical matches filled with extra weapons and blood everywhere that the crowd ate up for the time, but seem rather overkill now. Those bouts are a 1995 match between Dreamer and Raven and Public Enemy’s last match before going to WCW in 1996 against the Gangstas. Vol 2 features not one, but two Chris Jericho matches. One Styles admits is a debacle to endure, which is billed as a “Hardcore Shoot Fight” against Taz and features all kinds of dumb shenanigans with ECW attempting to cash in on UFC’s first wave of popularity in 1996. The other bout is much better in an entertaining spotfest against Sabu. Like a lot of Ring of Honor matches, there are a lot of nonstop spots in here with no real consistency or story to the match, but I got a little more out of this since it was the first time I saw Jericho bust out a ton of moves I have rarely seen him do before as he kept up with Sabu move-for-move with surprisingly no botches from Sabu!

On the last volume, I recall griping that some of Shane Douglas’s ECW Title matches were a little too slow and plodding as Shane never really appeared to be a true main event caliber player to me. While we do get one of those on here in a mediocre match (until the final minutes) against Al Snow, there is a surprisingly good traditional, technical match against Scorpio for the TV title that mostly sticks to just straight up wrestling with minimal use of weapons (for ECW standards anyways) that I found to be pretty damn impressive.

If you remember ECW’s first PPV like I do, you remember the six-man Japanese match stealing the show with their lightning-fast, nonstop, high-flying action. I had no idea they had another match in ECW a month before that with Dick Togo, Terry Boy and TAKA Michinoku taking on Hamada, Niniwa and the Great Sasuke in another epic affair that is definitely worth watching. There is also another bout filled with nonstop high-flying action as Rob Van Dam & Sabu take on Chris Candido & Lance Storm for the tag titles in another cannot miss bout. Another awesome tag title match is one of the Dudley’s final matches in ECW as they take on Spike Dudley & Balls Mahoney in a match filled with all kinds of risky and scary-to-watch weapon spots.

In Vol 1 I referenced a match where the arena was so hot you can see parts of the crowd shirtless and dripping in sweat due to poor arena conditions. Rest assured there is one of those in Vol 2 in a triple threat for the FTW title with Sabu, Taz and Bam Bam Bigelow where Sabu gets his manager to dump water on him a couple times throughout the match in attempts to cool off. As Vol 2 rounds off with the final years of ECW, a couple matches highlight their cruiserweights that found varying degrees of success in WWE. There is a really good three way dance between Tajiri, Jerry Lyyn and Super Crazy, and if you have the BluRay then you get another awesome encounter between Super Crazy and Tajiri in a “Japanese Death Match.” A couple final BluRay extras worth watching are a pure chaotic cage match featuring Sandman, Scorpio and New Jack take on Public Enemy and Mikey Whipwreck and getting ecstatic in a MVP showing from Stevie Richards as he nearly wins the ECW Title in a four way dance against Raven, Sandman and Terry Funk.

That puts a wrap on ECW Unreleased: Vol 2. Like the previous collection, this one has a well rounded mix of vintage hardcore matches filled with tons of weapons and blood, along with a good dose of traditional and hardcore tag team matches, and a dose of high-flying spotfest matches, and a small-yet-noticeable dose of traditional, technical matches. There were a couple patches where I needed a breather from a few too many hardcore matches in a row, but for the most part the matches are paced pretty evenly. Overall though, this is another recommended collection of matches, with mostly highs and the few lulls seemingly intentionally peppered in so you can catch your breath. I will give the slight nod to this collection over the first with the welcomed addition of Dreamer cohosting with Styes as it was a blast to watch the two get nostalgic over the product.

Past Wrestling Blogs

Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2
Biggest Knuckleheads
Bobby The Brain Heenan
Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes Yes Yes
Dusty Rhodes WWE Network Specials
ECW Unreleased: Vol 1
For All Mankind
Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection
Its Good to Be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story
Ladies and Gentlemen My Name is Paul Heyman
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story
Memphis Heat
OMG Vol 2: Top 50 Incidents in WCW History
RoH Supercard of Honor V
RoH Supercard of Honor VI
RoH Supercard of Honor VII
RoH Supercard of Honor VIII
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Superstar Collection: Zach Ryder
Top 50 Superstars of All Time
Tough Enough: Million Dollar Season
Warrior Week on WWE Network
Wrestlemania 3: Championship Edition
Wrestlemania 28
Wrestlemania 29
Wrestlemania 30
The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestling Road Diaries Too
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials Second Half 2015

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