Into the Vault: ECW Hardcore Heaven 1996

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We were ahead with WWE and WCW in 1996 when I added ECW. It’s catch-up time as we’ve finally hit the summer of 1996 with ECW Hardcore Heaven 1996!

Low-Tier 

Taz beating Paul Varelans wasn’t a match I was clamoring to see. However, it does add to Taz’s badass aura. It’s not meant to be a wrestling match and probably shouldn’t be rated. However, we have a referee and it’s occupying time on the card. 

Into the Vault: ECW Hardcore Heaven 1996

Axl and Hack Meyers vs. the Samoan Gangsta Party could’ve had more going on but ended in a no contest. Kind of odd for ECW and we were denied an Axl brawling match! 

Mid-Tier 

Shane Douglas taking on Mikey Whipwreck was a rock-solid bout. I’m not surprised these two worked so well but it wasn’t something we just saw all the time. 

Into the Vault: ECW Hardcore Heaven 1996

The Full Blooded Italians vs. The Dudleys is a continuation of their feud. Interesting how both factions really popped at this time. Then again everything was popping in 1996. 

Anyway, this wasn’t a bad match at all. They were good opponents for each other with these combinations 

Raven defending the ECW World Championship against Terry Gordy was a decent match but a wonderful beating. We have prime Raven and post-All Japan run Gordy. Bam Bam wasn’t at his best but he gave the champ a sound, bloody beating.  

Into the Vault: ECW Hardcore Heaven 1996

That’s all I have to say. Raven was beaten around the arena which hasn’t happened to him as champion. 

ECW World Television champion Pitbull #2 defended the belt against a young “Lionheart” Chris Jericho. The Pitbulls could shine in singles sometimes and this is one of those times. 

Pitbull #2 didn’t look awkward against the more agile, sprinty Jericho. As a matter of fact, he actually kept up with him. It was a solid match with Jericho winning the belt. 

Exotic-Tier 

Both of the Eliminators’ ECW Tag Team title defenses were solid brawls that ended in a no contest. Lots of no contests and DQs on this show. 

The Gangstas are here for their title challenge but end up getting jumped and bloodied. Still spoiling for a fight, the Eliminators challenge the Bruise Brothers who were outside the ring. 

Before that popped off, the Gangstas returned and brawled with the Eliminators! This was one of those ECW hybrid segments where it’s a brawl angle but kind of a match as well. 

Basically, if the titles changed hands during this, it’s official. Both were bloody and wild! Tommy Dreamer and Brian Lee had another raucous brawl! It’s what you expect at ECW Hardcore Heaven. 

This match features the big moment where Lee chokeslams Dreamer from several feet up through some tables below. That moment was replayed in ECW home video ads into 2001. 

Another show, another Sabu vs. RVD match. They had such chemistry that their baseline match would be good. Botches and all. There’s enough athleticism, counters, dives, and chairplay in each bout that they can just float through these matches. 

Into the Vault: ECW Hardcore Heaven 1996

I still prefer their matches as Hostile City and A Matter of Respect over this one and the next but this was still a really good match when compared to everything else. It exists in the middle of their series. 

ECW Hardcore Heaven 1996 Verdict: Mid-Tier (7/10) 

Well, 1996 is a landmark year for ECW. They’ve rolled into the summer with ECW Hardcore Heaven 1996 and have been the strongest promotion as far as keeping momentum. 

Each show so far has been a strong one. This one took a bit of a hit because of the thrown-out matches. Weird for Extreme Championship Wrestling. 

Once again Sabu delivers with a show stealer and once again that show stealer is against Rob Van Dam. Check that match out. 

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