The fact we are on the third volume of ECW Unreleased shows that there is clearly (at least in the WWE’s mind) a continued thirst from wrestling fans for a taste of the Extreme. Not bad for a company that died way back in 2001. It’s probably fair to say that the WWE have made more money from Extreme Championship Wrestling than the company did itself when it was in existence.
But is there enough in the ECW back catalogue to make this third volume worth checking out?
The action is hosted by Joey Styles along with Blue World Order members Stevie Richards and The Blue Meanie. If you’ve never heard of them, or don’t remember their roles as the BWO, you might be a bit nonplussed at the “banter” between the trio but any long-term fans will enjoy their interaction and jokes.
Although this is generally a compilation of matches there are a number of segments and interviews on occasion. Although some times these seem a little haphazard, with no real connection to the match that follows it, generally they are fun.
Match wise we start in 1993 as Tommy Dreamer & Shane Douglas take on Kevin Sullivan and Tazmaniac in the kind of storyline heavy bout ECW was always very good at. It’s nice to see that Woman hasn’t been airbrushed out of proceedings. A TV Championship match between 2 Cold Scorpio and Dean Malenko offers a refreshing change of pace and is much better than a January 1995 World Title match between Shane Douglas and Ron Simmons. The Public Enemy against Sabu & Tazmaniac is as chaotic as you might expect, as is Sabu’s “Olympic Rules” match against Cactus Jack. Opponents earlier, Scorpio and Malenko team up to take on Eddie Guerrero and Tazmaniac in another bout that shows ECW wasn’t solely about over-the-top violence. There’s also a fun look at 911 before his comedy team with Rey Mysterio takes on the Eliminators.
Future WrestleMania headliner Cactus Jack takes on former WrestleMania headliner Bam Bam Bigelow in a decent bout, followed by an entertaining World Television Title bout between Chris Jericho and Shane Douglas. Raven and Tommy Dreamer from Hardcore TV in August 1996 is a decent representation of their epic feud (probably ECW’s best) without being the best from those two and similarly the Tag Team Title bout between the Eliminators and The Dudley Boyz might surprise anyone who only ever saw the WWE or TNA versions of Bubba and D-Von. Taz against Rob Van Dam offers up some decent action before we get to a little précis of Stevie Richard’s career and then a #1 Contender’s match between Stevie, Sandman and Raven to decide the challenger for Terry Funk’s ECW Title.
The Triple Threat stable gets a look in next, with Shane Douglas taking on Bam Bam Bigelow in an ok bout before Tag Team Champions Lance Storm and Chris Candido FACE each other in a match that is fun. I am biased though as I was a big fan of both at the time. Taz shows that he was ECW’s biggest miracle in his mic work before an ECW Title match with Tajiri. I was never a fan of Taz but the way that Paul Heyman managed to convince the rabid ECW audience that Taz was a shoot-style killer shows you just what a genius he is.
The Dudley’s are featured again, in their last ECW appearances as they take on Spike Dudley & Balls Mahoney as well as then fighting against Tommy Dreamer and a mystery partner. There was nothing quite like heel heat from the Dudley’s in ECW. It’s interesting to note that Joey Styles pushes their claim to be the greatest tag team ever by referencing their “eighteen” world tag team title reigns. Naturally he’s not allowed to explain how that total was reached.
Rob Van Dam against Rhino is a fun stunt fest, although the less said about Dusty Rhodes ECW “run” the better in my view. Still him and Dreamer teaming up against Rhino and Steve Corino is a lot better than the Anarchy Rulz 2000 angle involving Cyrus and Joel Gertner which ends up in a Kid Kash Vs EZ Money match. Not everything ECW did was perfect. The main feature wraps up with 2000’s November To Remember “Double Jeopardy” match featuring Corino, Jerry Lynn, Sandman and Justin Credible. It’s worth remembering a wrestling adage. If you have to spend a lot of time explain the rules of a match to the audience, it’s too complicated an idea. It’s a typical crazy ECW cluster that will entertain some and bore others.
The Blu-Ray adds five more matches and some bonus segments, including the bizarre sight of Robert Gibson (yes, of the Rock N Roll Express) cutting an ECW interview with Danny Doring, but only after Paul Heyman has shown Doring how it should be done. There’s also a chilling promo with Raven and the Sandman’s son which makes no sense to anyone who doesn’t know of the ongoing storyline they had, but is spooky nonetheless.
The best matches added to the BluRay are the Eliminators taking on Steve Williams and Terry Gordy (even if in the strictest sense it’s a bit of a disappointment), and a clash between Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn. You can’t go too wrong with a match between those two.
If the BEST of ECW has already been seen in other places, there is still more than enough entertainment, excitement and wrestling action on this set to please most fans. Although some of the wrestlers become familiar faces over the whole running time there is enough variety in the cast to ensure you never become bored and the segments with Styles and the BWO and the classic (and some not so classic) interview segments dotted about help to break things up. As a brief history/run down of everything that made ECW what it was, both good and bad, this is certainly worth your time. Long standing ECW fans will enjoy the reminiscing; people who weren’t there at the time will get a good idea of what the fuss was about.
Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk and Fetch.fm for providing our review copy of ECW Unreleased Vol. 3. ECW Unreleased Vol. 3 is available on DVD & Blu-Ray from Monday, April 27th 2015. You can pre-order your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk now by clicking here.