ECW Barely Legal 1997

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen, I am your Local Hero and your Review Guy, Cameron McDonley, and I am here once again to review an awesome show with phenomenal wrestling and great storytelling. This time it is in the form of the rudest, the crudest, the most violent form of entertainment legal in 1990s America, it is EC F’n W!!!

That is correct, I am reviewing ECW Barely Legal 1997, the first PPV in ECW history and easily one of the most memorable shows in the convoluted history of this great sport. From the shocking beginning of the show to a blow-off of a two-year long feud to the crowning of a new ECW World Heavyweight Champion, I will take you on the journey that is this fantastic event, twenty years after it originally aired.

ECW Barely Legal 97 DVD Logo

ECW-Arena

The show opens with Joey Styles standing in the ring, welcoming the audience watching at home to a sea of rabid hardcore wrestling fans at the famed ECW Arena in Philadelphia. During this introduction to the PPV, the Dudley Boyz make their ways to the ring to not only cut a scathing promo on the fan-base, but to have a match with The Eliminators for the right to be called the best tag team in the world today. To win the ECW World Tag Team Championships.

This was a fun match, as both teams were able to connect with some of their best spots in the span of fifteen minutes, a showcase of spots which does include Perry Saturn and John Kronus going absolutely nuts, hitting everyone and everything in sight with their finishing maneuver, the Total Elimination. It was certainly a highly competitive match and the shocking ending of the match with The Eliminators leaving the arena with the titles made this an overall exciting opener to what would become known as a landmark night in the pro wrestling industry.

Match Rating: 3/5

Lance Storm vs RVD

After a quick promo from The Sandman and an in-ring promo from Chris Candido, we cut to another match between two exceptional wrestlers who about to have a solid contest. Lance Storm was originally scheduled to lock horns with Candido, but due to injury, it just didn’t happen. Instead we got “The Whole F’n Show” Rob Van Dam as his adversary on this night. The two men continued the exciting tone that this show had with a showing of athleticism and aggression with one another. Van Dam did resort to using a chair on more than one occasion, but he let it be known that his hands and feet are the most lethal weapons in his arsenal. After a good 15-20 minute affair, “Mr. Friday Night” obtained another victory in his win-loss record, setting the stage for what would be a very prosperous career in the Land Of Extreme.

Match Rating: 3/5

Michinoku Pro ECW Barely Legal 97

As we inch closer and closer to the three main events of the night, we change the pace of the PPV by just a small margin as ECW showcases the talents of 6 excellent wrestlers from Michinoku Pro. Great Sasuke, Gran Hamada and Masato Yakushiji (Gran Maniwa’s replacement for the night) squared off against Terry Boy, Dick Togo and Taka Michinoku. As you would expect if you are at all with Michinoku Pro, this contest had a blend of a fast-paced lucha libre style with a hard-hitting strong style that is commonplace in the Land Of The Rising Sun. My favorite spot in the match was either the suicide dive over the guard-rail by Sasuke, or the devastating Belly-To-Belly Suplex by Michinoku, which showed a side of power we didn’t usually see from the high flyer back in the day. After keeping a frantic pace for a substantial amount of time, Sasuke secured the pinfall victory for his team. Honestly one of the best matches of the night.

Match Rating: 3.5/5 

Shane Douglas vs Pitbull #2

Our next match was contested for the ECW World Television Championship, as Shane Douglas defended his title against Pitbull #2, who was indeed looking for revenge after Francine betrayed him and Gary Wolfe to be with “The Franchise”. Now the match wasn’t too special, but if you are a fan of your average, everyday hardcore wrestling without your extraordinary spots, then you’ll like this match, as it had its fair deal of physicality. What happened after the conclusion of this match was the most memorable thing about it, as a masked man dressed in Rick Rude’s robe came out, kissed Francine and did a provocative dance to her as she laid in the ring before Douglas attacked her. He was ambushed by the real Rick Rude however, as the Ravishing One and the unmasked “Primetime” Brian Lee ran him out of town. Francine looked as if she didn’t want to leave, but was ordered to by Douglas.

Match Rating: 3/5

Sabu vs Taz

 

 

 

 

 

Now we finally reach our long-awaited destination. After two years of feuding and never once having a physical confrontation, they finally are going to fight. Taz and Sabu are going to have a good old-fashioned fight, and there’s nothing that can separate these two from doing so. And a fight it was. It was a highly physical contest with multiple combustible elements coming together to cause an explosion of physicality and 30 minutes of a all-out war. Taz ended up winning, but I assure you he did not feel like the victor after this match. Especially with the blindside assault by RVD and Sabu and the betrayal of Bill Alfonso. This may have been the culmination of a blood-feud, but you can clearly see that this feud is far from over.

Match Review: 4/5                                                                                                                          

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As ungodly intense as the last match-up was, this co-main event, this #1 Contender’s match for the ECW Championship was going to be a very intense and emotional setup for one of the most emotional moments in ECW history. You had the Sandman, who was a beer-swilling, cane-swinging, foul mouthed, hard-hitting man who was most certainly extreme. You had Stevie Richards, who went from just being a superfan as a small child in Philadelphia to being in the same building as a professional wrestler in one of two main events at ECW’s biggest show ever. Last but certainly not least, you had the legendary Terry Funk. A man who not only dedicated this match to his late father, but longed for one last run as ECW World Heavyweight Champion. Put these three men in the ring, with the aspirations they have and you’re guaranteed that they will have an amazing match on this stage.

And amazing it was. Not only did you have Terry’s close friend and pupil Tommy Dreamer on commentary, but you had three men who didn’t let up on one another and left all their blood, their sweat, and their tears all in that ring to get a shot at Raven in the main event. The eventual winner was Terry Funk, but he was worse for wear, and considering that Funk didn’t want Dreamer to interfere in this next contest, it wasn’t going to be an easy walk in the park to beat Raven. Not by a longshot.

Match Rating: 4/5

The bell sounds, and emotions were running high as soon as shots started to fire. If the fifty-three year old challenger wasn’t already an underdog before the triple threat match, he was now, as Raven was like a shark, smelling blood in the water and was ready to go for the kill and retain his ECW World Heavyweight Championship on the company’s first Pay-Per-View extravaganza. However it didn’t end up being that way, as not only did Tommy Dreamer deflect the impending invasion of Raven’s nest into the match, but he distracted Raven, and allowed the Funker to gain the pinfall victory. As the referee’s hand came down for the three, Raven kicked out the first time, but lightning struck twice, and the legend from Amarillo, Texas had his last big moment in the sun as the brand new ECW World Heavyweight Champion. It was truly an emotional roller coaster, and by the end of it, even the commentator Joey Styles was in tears as everyone knew just how special this moment truly was. And given that it was only the first PPV in the company’s history, there was a lot more memorable moments to transpire in Extreme Championship Wrestling for years to come.

Match Rating: 4.5/5 

ecw_barely_legal_funk_raven

Overall, this show was an exciting one to watch, as every match felt like it meant something and it had something for every fan who was tuning in. If you like emotional storytelling and exciting payoffs, you enjoyed the two main events. If you like a blood-feud with all the intensity of a war, Sabu vs Taz was your match. If you liked high flying, you loved the six-man tag. And if you really enjoy a good quality match, the tag title contest and RVD vs Storm were your go-to matches for the evening. What a day that was on April 13th, 1997. One that fans will surely never forget, and for all the right reasons.

Overall Show Rating: 5/5

Well that is all for this week’s Retro Review, I am Cameron McDonley, your Local Hero and Review Guy, and I will see you all next time. Have a great holiday weekend everyone!!

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