ECW Gangsta’s Paradise Review

The impending fall of 1995 was one of great memories for wrestling fans. World Championship Wrestling debuted its live Monday night event entitled “Nitro” that would eventually become direct competition for the World Wrestling Federation’s flagship show that aired on the same night, “Raw”. For Extreme Championship Wrestling, the eventually dubbed “Monday Night Wars” caused the little company in Philadelphia to suffer talent loses/raids. The announcements of Eddy Guerrero, Dean Malenko, and Chris Benoit’s leaving ECW for WCW sent shockwaves through the company as the three had become the company’s go-to guys for exceptional technical wrestling not seen anywhere else in America.

By the middle of September, Tod Gordon and Paul Heyman put together a show that would not only make the disappointed fan base forget about their woes, but also make the ECW fans realize Extreme Championship Wrestling was truly a vanguard of innovation in an otherwise stagnate North American wrestling scene. Lets find out if the minds of extreme completed their goal in creating a classic event.


Gangstas Paradise


Gangsta’s Paradise

Philadelphia, PA

September 16, 1995

1. Bull Pain defeated Broad Street Bully

2. The Dudleyz (Dances With Dudley & Dudley Dudley) defeated Don E. Allen & Chad Austin

3. Hack Myers defeated J.T. Smith

4. The Eliminators & Jason Knight defeated The Steiner Bros. & Taz

5. The Pitbulls defeated Raven & Stevie Richards in a Two Out of Three Falls Double Dog Collar match to win the ECW World Tag Team title

6. Rey Misterio Jr. defeated Psicosis

7. Mikey Whipwreck & The Public Enemy defeated ECW World champion The Sandman, ECW TV champion Too Cold Scorpio & New Jack in a “Gangsta’s Paradise” Cage match




History is Made: The Pitbulls, after failing to attain champion status in ECW, challenged Raven and Stevie Richards to a double Dog Collar match for the belts. The only way Raven would accept the stipulation was if The Pitbulls lost, they would split. Shockingly, Raven entered the bout alone; with his valet/lover Beulah informing everyone that Richards was suffering from a broken arm. With the two-on-one advantage, Beulah requested that the match gain a Two Out of Three Falls stipulation. The Pitbulls agreed with Pitbull #2 (Anthony Durante) attaching himself to Raven and beating the snot out of him as Pitbull #1 (Gary Wolfe) headed to the back to find Richards. Wolfe returned with a bleeding Richards in his clutches after Raven felt the power of Pitbull #2’s chair swinging technique. Using the time #2 took to push a table into the ring to recover, Raven jumped Durante, piledriving him through the table for the three count and the first fall.

The challengers refused to be stopped even when the champions used a double team DDT on Wolfe. Blood started flowing from #2’s head, infuriating him enough to slam Raven and grab another table. The profusely bleeding Richards was prone for the double team Pitbull Super Bomb through the new table. Durante made the cover, evening the score.

As the fans went wild, the action spilled into the crowd. With chairs flying and blood oozing, the champions were at a disadvantage. Thankfully for the champs, they had the Dudley Boyz in their back pockets. The Dudleyz came out, attacking the challengers before using the Super Bomb against both Pitbulls … but it didn’t even hurt Wolfe and Durante!

Just as it seemed the end was near for the champions, Raven drove Pitbull #2 through two tables after knocking him out with an ether-soaked rag. Raven unhooked himself from Durante, giving the champions a two-on-one advantage. Richards’ ex-girlfriend (the future Francine) tried to help, but got DDT’ed by Raven. Suddenly, Tommy Dreamer hit the ring, using the DDT on Raven after chaining himself to his rival. Dreamer made the cover, winning the match for The Pitbulls and finally pinning Raven … or so we thought.

Referee Bill Alphonso ran out, overruling the ref’s decision. Commissioner Tod Gordon tried to restore order, but got clobbered by Alphonso. High on power, Alphonso ruled the choke slam maneuver legal so “Big” Dick Dudley could choke slam Dreamer without an issue. Forgetting the reason why he banned the choke slam, Alphonso was confronted by 911 – the master of the choke slam. Delivering one of the biggest choke slams ever, 911 finally gave Bill Alphonso his comeuppance; almost blowing the roof off in the process.

Pitbull #2 hit the ring, setting up Raven and Richards for a double Super Bomb. Tod Gordon jumped into the ring, counting down the deciding fall to give The Pitbulls the victory.

This is considered one of the best matches in ECW history. Not because of the action, which was mostly typical garbage brawling, but due to how many stories were intertwined in this twenty-minute battle. You had The Pitbulls versus the champions; Raven and Dreamer; Richards’ scorned lover; Bill Alphonso attacking Tod Gordon; Alphonso finally getting what was coming to him; the Tag title change. Was it overbooked beyond overbooked? Yes. But it perfectly represented the golden age of ECW – violence, blood, great storyline builds, and even better feud finales.


Lucha Libre Invasion: This was the ECW debuts of not only Rey Misterio and Psicosis, but also Lucha Libre wrestling in ECW. Following the typical, very choreographed-looking, yet awe-inspiring opening sequence, we got down to business as Psicosis started tossing Misterio around like he was weightless. The fans were into everything the two masked men were offering, especially when Misterio made a roaring comeback following a beautiful springboard hurricarana.

Misterio’s attacks were almost too fast to keep up with and left announcer Joey Styles mesmerized. Just as everything seemed to be going well for Misterio, he tossed himself into the turnbuckles thanks to a moving Psicosis. Taking a page out of the book of extreme, Misterio countered a flying Psicosis with a chair to the head. Yet, it didn’t stop Psicosis. What did halt Psicosis’ attack was Misterio taking his fellow luchador into the crowd thanks to a springboard cross body block. Psicosis, though still fighting, didn’t have much left in him as Misterio stopped Psicosis from scaling the ropes, spiking him on his head with a frankensteiner to pick up the three count.

What an introduction! The action was crisp, innovative, and had the crowd going crazy. There’s not much more you can ask for in a debut.


“You’re Steve Austin!”: As The Public Enemy argued with their upcoming opponents New Jack and 2 Cold Scorpio, Joey Styles encountered a man dressed as Hulk Hogan. Styles quickly realized that this man wasn’t some random fan, but the former WCW U.S. and Tag Team champion Steve Austin. Austin cut a hilarious promo about patterning himself like Hulk Hogan (Steve-A-Mania) to become the star he should’ve been. Then Austin realized Steve-A-Mania or anything Hogan-like wouldn’t get over anywhere, much less ECW. Austin stormed off, promising to be a real star.

This is one of the most iconic promos in ECW history, featuring Austin switching from full-blown parody to a serious, extreme version of himself in less than two minutes. If you haven’t seen this promo, you’re not a wrestling fan.


A Gangsta Mash: Originally, New Jack’s fellow Gangsta Mustafa was supposed to be in the main event to face of with Public Enemy (Johnny Grunge & Rocco Roc), but got arrested prior to the show and 2 Cold Scorpio was forced to replace him. Mikey Whipwreck, who had been building up to be a future ECW World champion after being a whipping boy. Whipwreck was in full P.E. gear, and even stole the ring announcer’s wallet and watch.

The match was everything you’d expect from an ECW Steel Cage match with an open door. Not even three minutes in did we see Johnny Grunge bleeding profusely as he stole The Sandman’s beers. Jack took a dive off the announce area balcony, dropping a big elbow on Grunge as Sandman suplexed tables on top of Rocco Roc and Whipwreck. Blood spilled, weapons were broken, and the crescendo saw Scorpio send Roc and himself off the top of the cage through three tables before hit the Superfly Splash off the cage’s top to pin the ECW champion, The Sandman.

More violence broke out when Whipwreck got locked inside the cage with Sandman, getting whipped with the Singapore cane and dropping a huge leg off the top of the cage. Whipwreck and P.E. gained a measure of revenge minutes later, leading to a brawl all the way to the back.

You know what you get from this type of match, so you’ll either love it or hate it. It’s a Right simply because it lived up to what it was promoted as – a crazy, brawl in and outside of a cage.




Do Everything, Mean Nothing: Instead of kicking this one of with something special, the illegitimate love child of the Brooklyn Brawler and The Goon (yes, I know how impossible that is on so many levels) – The Broad Street Bully – took on Bull Pain. Announcer Joey Styles informed us before the bell that this wouldn’t be a scientific classic. Not only was Styles right, he underestimated how bad of a wrestling match this would be as well. To appease the hardcore fans, Bully and Pain beat each other with chairs, tables, clotheslines, low blows, and, of course, a hockey stick. Though they were doing everything you’d think would get the fans on their sides, the ECW faithful loudly chanted, “Boring!” and, “Bull****!” as these two men sloppily brawled around the ring and tried to kill each other.

By the end, the fans were begging for this thing to end. Thankfully for them, after eight minutes of sad-looking brawling, Pain ended The Bully’s night with a face plant DDT. By “face plant,” I mean Pain actually dropped himself face first on the mat during the fall as well. Not only was this not a good opener, it was also a bad match.


Highway to Squashville: Chad Austin and Don E. Allen had the privilege of taking on The Dudley Boyz of Dudley Dudley and Dances With Dudley. DWD dominated Austin before Dudley Dudley (the only legitimate Dudley because of his father and mother having the same last name; thus making him the leader of the clan) used an elbow drop-stomp combination over and over again. This went on for several minutes until DWD helped his brother finish off Allen with the slam-Sloppy Splash double team combination. Seriously, the name of the finish was the “Sloppy Splash” because it was one of the worst Superfly Splashes in history.

Move along, there’s nothing to see here.


No One Screws Up Better Than An Italian: Before the match, the only African-American full blooded Italian in wrestling history, J.T. Smith, took on Hack Myers in a match that was actually clipped on their tape release. The highlights included Smith demanding his fellow Italians to cheer for him, Smith missing a plancha to the floor, Smith being back dropped in the bleachers, and J.T. actually costing himself the match by posing on the ropes before slipping and falling through the ringside table and getting counted out. A count out in ECW? Was that a first?

Though Smith’s antics were funny, this isn’t something you’d pay to see ever again.


The Great Clip Show Extravaganza: In what should’ve been a classic bout, the Steiner Brothers took it upon themselves to join Taz – who severely injured his neck prior to this bout – to face The Eliminators, Jason, and 2 Cold Scorpio. Of a reportedly twenty minute match, we got a three minute highlight reel of Rick Steiner’s Steinerlines, Scott Steiner’s suplexes, Taz throwing punches at Jason until the point Jason was bleeding, and Scorpio kicking Taz’s neck so Jason could pin the stunned and hurt Taz. What a disappointment.


Is It A Classic: With a strong final stretch, people forget how poor the first third of this 100-minute show is. To make matters worse, the best matches of this show have been released on compilation DVDs in recent years, taking away some of the show’s luster. But there’s always something special about seeing an ECW event in its pristine, VHS-quality style. If you’ve seen or own the final three matches of this show, there’s no point in picking this one up. If not, make sure you do your research beforehand so you can understand why the final three bouts made sense and stole the show.

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