“Not that’s how you make an impact!” was the statement made by, arguably, the last great ECW Tag Team champions, Justin Credible and Lance Storm. The self-proclaimed “Impact Players” dominated the ranks of ECW’s Tag Team division until Justin Credible unceremoniously won the ECW World Heavyweight title after throwing down the only ECW championship he had won up to that point. Credible’s former ally, of course, took the act as a declaration of war – a war that would decide who is worthy of being ECW’s most impactful champion.
Hardcore Heaven 2000
May 14, 2000
A Battle of Wills (and Balls): Following a bush league opening segment that saw “Network” representative Cyrus sic Kintaro Kanemura on everyone’s favorite pervert Joel Gertner to steal Gertner’s spot as the color commentator alongside “The Voice of ECW” Joey Styles, the show kicked off with an affair that had no reason not to be anything short of brutal: Balls Mahoney vs. former ECW World Heavyweight champion Masato Tanaka. Shockingly enough, the two actually tried to wrestle before the match deteriorated into a full-blown brawl featuring chair shots to the head (three straight connecting swings never dropped Tanaka), a tornado DDT on the entrance ramp-way, and even a chair duel (imagine a sword fight with chairs).
Balls seemed to be on the verge of victory after avoiding the Roaring/Rolling Elbow and hitting his Nutcracker Suite/Michinoku Driver finisher that actually didn’t end the bout. The reality was this was Masato’s night as he recovered from the piledriver variation, exploding with not only one, but two Roaring Elbows sandwiched between a super chair shot from the top rope to pin the New Jersey native. As expected from these two, a very brutal and barbaric opener that started the action-packed evening on a high note.
Simon Still Has a Problem: ECW’s latest resident comedy figure Simon Diamond had a problem with being considered a joke (yeah, like the entourage featuring a wannabe musketeer did Simon any favors in ridding him of that perception). Though surrounded by jokes, Simon promised to show how he was a blue chip athlete. But Simon was a minor note in a match featuring two men starting a feud. ECW grand slam champion Mikey Whipwreck had accepted the dark side under the tutelage of The Sinister Minister; resulting in the duo blinding Little Guido’s bodyguard Big Sal E. in one eye with a fireball. Though Guido and Whipwreck were obsessed with each other, Diamond refused to be denied as the action never let up during the match’s opening minutes. All three men were landing leg drops and going for their signature maneuvers early in the bout. Just when it seemed Simon Diamond was about to eliminate one of his opponents (following a short alliance with Mikey), the lights went out in the building.
The wrestlers were literally fighting under a spotlight; seemingly confusing Diamond enough to force his entourage to interfere. Big Sal easily obliterated the four members of Diamond’s crew; leaving Simon shocked and prone to the recovering Whipwreck – who took flight right before the Sal E. destruction to almost wipe out everyone on the floor – and Mikey’s Whippersnapper (a super Stunner) for the pinning elimination of Simon Diamond.
Though the match was down to two men, the hatred allowed Little Guido and Mikey Whipwreck to not let up as the crowd roared in anticipation of the inevitable conclusion. Mikey was seemingly about to make it two for two after hitting a modified Angel’s Wings maneuver, but Sal still was looking for revenge; interfering in the match once again. This time, Sal felt the flames of a fireball light up his face by the hands of Mikey. Whipwreck’s attempt at burning Sal’s face off gave Guido the chance to recover and grab the celebrating Mikey with the Maritado (The Unprettier) to gain the pin fall victory.
A very good, though relatively short Three Way Dance that saw all three men go for broke from the start. There were also some memorable moments during the bout including Sal killing an entire group, Whipwreck’s huge pop-inducing face buster to the fiery conclusion.
Let Them Wrestle: Promising to be pretty much everything anti-WWF/E and WCW, ECW had found itself poorly imitating the aforementioned companies by using pay-per-view time for nonsense (though the WWF had moved away from that problem by the early 2000s). No better example of this happened when the former Sign Guy Dudley, now impersonating ECW owner Paul Heyman, wasted everyone’s time with an open challenge that led to future WWF Women’s champion Jazz beating down almost all of the men surrounding Dudley/Lou E. Dangerously, stripping the surgically enhance Elektra (something Dangerously denied) before running into super kick of CW Anderson.
Potential main eventer Kid Kash hit the ring to defend Jazz’s honor and fight Anderson in an unscheduled match. Kash showed his agility-based athletics by springing to the top rope with ease before downing everyone in the new Dangerous Alliance. But Kash’s penchant for high flying maneuvers cost him when he was power bombed during a hurricarana attempt. Kash proved to be tough as nails, surviving not only Anderson’s onslaught, but also the physical interference from Bill Wiles. Anderson would eventually get ahead himself following his failure to pin Kash after the Spine buster. Putting Kash on the top rope, CW put himself in prime position for the super hurricarana and a three count.
Everything following the nonsensical stuff (i.e. “the wrestling”) was perfectly fine and made Kid Kash look like a true star in the making.
An Old School Blood Bath: Being racially insulted in less than a minute after entering the ring, Tajiri looked to absolutely obliterate his former ally – an allegiance broken when The Network refused to give Tajiri the respect he deserved. Though he took a few big attacks such as a power bomb in the early going, Tajiri’s penchant for creative violence allowed him to turn things around and utilize his multiple submission variations before throwing those infamous buzzsaw kicks. One of those kicks allowed Yoshihiro to hit a brain buster on the ramp-way, splitting Steve Corino’s head wide open. The crimson flowing from Corino’s head created an atmosphere unlike anything seen throughout the show. Not only did Tajiri target the cut, he widened it by doing such things as biting and dropkicking the prone head of “The King of Old School”. There was blood literally decorating the nearby cameras.
Yet, Corino fought through the blood loss and almost turned the match around by back dropping Tajiri through a table (a table that was originally dropkicked into his bloody face) and using a pair of suplexes. But the damage had been done and Tajiri’s ability to recover was a lot better than Corino’s during the homestretch where Tajiri used his green mist to blind the attempted interfering Jack Victory and placed his wobbly opposition onto a table so he could double stomp Corino into oblivion while picking up the three count.
This was a massacre in the best way possible. Steve Corino, for one of the first times in his career, looked like more than just a loud mouth, Tommy Rich wannabe; but someone who was tougher than a two-dollar steak. Even better was Tajiri, who came across as an unbridled killing machine. It was ruthless, gory and downright sickening at times. But boy was it fun to watch.
The Whole Swervin’ Show: This was the tale of two injured men returning to form as “The Whole F’N’ Show” Rob Van Dam’s epic Television title reign ended thanks to a broken ankle. Jerry Lynn, always in the shadow of RVD, was also injured and returning to the company with little fanfare – completely opposite in reaction to Van Dam. These two also clashed at this very same event one year earlier. During Rob’s recovery, former WCW wrestler Scotty “Riggs” Anton helped rehab his best friend and cornered him alongside RVD’s long-time manager Bill Alphonso.
As expected from these two, the feeling out process was quick as quick could get, resulting in a stalemate several times and the fans loving every minute of the grappling, high flying, counter exchange that broke out. Things eventually picked up and the action took a turn for the worst for Lynn as chairs came into play. RVD, not scared about hurting his recovered leg, utilized chair-assisted leg drops, monkey flips and spin kicks. Van Dam got a little ahead of himself, hoping to moonsault press Lynn on the floor. Jerry moved, causing Rob to splat on the unprotected hardwood floor.
“The New F’N’ Show” took control of the match, working over RVD’s abdomen. Van Dam was looking for every counter possible to turn things around, but his attacks seemingly only halted Lynn for a short time rather than put him down. Just when it seemed RVD had the answer to solving his “keeping my opponent down” problem, Lynn bulldogged him through a table on the floor!
The numbers game, something that hampered Lynn in the past during matches with RVD, came into play and Jerry ended up fighting off three men instead of one. The end result was RVD getting some help from “Fonzie” to execute the Van-Daminator and his patented 5-Star Frog Splash in succession … for a near fall thanks to the interference from members of “The Network” including Steve Corino and Rhino. Van Dam was able to do the impossible and fight his way out of a bad position before putting his legal opponent in position for another 5-Star Frog Splash. Then it happened – Scotty Anton shoved RVD off the top rope! Van Dam landed badly, leaving him wide open for Lynn’s Cradle Piledriver and his first victory over RVD.
Overbooking and obvious swerve aside, this was another fine match in the RVD-Jerry Lynn series that became synonymous with the late days of ECW. Though it can’t be denied it would’ve been nice to see Jerry win clean.
Cue New Jack (Way Too Late): For months, The Baldies of Angel, Devito and Skull had terrorized “Original Gangsta” New Jack; resulting in Jack’s exiting of ECW. But word was out that Jack was coming back and looking for revenge. So what happens? New Jack wasn’t involved in a match featuring The Baldies. Instead, New Jack made his glorious return after a criminally short match that did no one any favors thanks to it being rushed and rather sloppy to essentially destroy the entire faction single handedly that drove him out of the company (a group of men who couldn’t even win this chaotic match). Though it was nice to see some of the competitors get a chance to shine on pay-per-view, the real story had nothing to do with Nova, Chetti, Doring, Roadkill or even two-thirds of The Baldies. The teams were given less time than the first Three Way Dance and ended up almost killing each other with miscues and ill-advised maneuvers (including Roadkill crashing through a table on the unprotected concrete floor). The first bump in the road for an otherwise smooth sailing show up to that point.
Happy Mother’s Day: Weeks earlier, The Sandman drew the ire of The Network, and most specifically the ECW Television champion Rhino. Their first encounter wasn’t the best, but with more time and no boundaries like TV time limits, a rematch could be a lot better. Sadly, it wasn’t. The only highlight was Rhino missing the Gore through a table placed on the ramp. Barley five minutes into the match, The Sandman’s wife, Lori, tried to save her husband from a multi-man beating. Rhino got a hold of her, piledriving The Sandman’s old lady through a table on the floor! But Rhino wasn’t done. “The Man Beast” wanted to Gore Lori through a table. The Sandman’s Singapore cane put a stop to Rhino’s intended actions, only to have both himself and his significant other taste the broken wood before a three count in Rhino’s favor. A great ending sequence that helped show just how ruthless and dangerous Rhino could be, but everything that happened beforehand just wasn’t good … at all.
Making a Dull Impact: ECW World Heavyweight champion Justin Credible had everyone gunning for him; specifically the man he defeated for the gold in Tommy Dreamer. So what did Credible do? Attack Tommy before the show and put him out of the scheduled Three Way Dance featuring himself, Dreamer and Credible former Impact Player tag team partner Lance Storm (who was leaving for WCW after this event). The fans sat on their hands as two men they hated were now fighting each other because Credible threw down the ECW Tag Team title the Impact Players owned to become the World champ. The match was relatively short for a main event (barely making it past ten minutes) before Credible used his That’s Incredible Tombstone Piledriver to put down both Storm and Lance’s valet Dawn Marie. Three seconds later, Credible had successfully retained the title.
For two guys who worked so well as a team, you’d expect more than what was given. They tried hard, but something was missing. Add an apathetic crowd to the mix, and you have a very dull main event.
1. Masato Tanaka defeated Balls Mahoney
2. Little Guido defeated Mikey Whipwreck and Simon Diamond in an Elimination match
3. Kid Kash defeated CW Anderson
4. Nova & Chris Chetti defeated Danny Doring & Roadkill and Da Baldies in an Elimination match
5. New Jack defeated Angel
6. Yoshihiro Tajiri defeated Steve Corino
7. Rhino defeated The Sandman to successfully defend the ECW Television Championship
8. Jerry Lynn defeated Rob Van Dam
9. Justin Credible defeated Lance Storm to successfully defend the ECW World Championship
Is It a Classic:
“Hardcore Heaven” is more a shocking surprise than a classic. The last year of ECW was a struggle both creatively and in the ring up and down the card. Yes there are some faults with this event (especially the run-ins), but knowing that the only strength left in the company was high quality, innovative wrestling, the men and women who could carry the ball made this event worth seeing.