Into the Vault: ECW Heat Wave 1996

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We’re still getting through the summer of 1996 with ECW! Let’s check out ECW Heat Wave 1996 and see what kind of party this is! 


The Samoan Gangsta Party is probably the only Samoan team I didn’t like. They had a no-contest with The Gangstas. Nothing to see here at the moment. 

If you watched pre-1996 ECW Hardcore TVPaul “The Giant” Laurie might sound familiar. He had a brief rivalry with Mikey Whipwreck which was pretty exciting. You got to see a lot of that 90s Indy high flying in their matches. 

Into the Vault: ECW Heat Wave 1996

Well, Mikey ran through him posthaste. This match tied into the next, more exciting bout. No, it’s not the FBI vs. The Dudleys. This match is just next in the low-tier. 

It was far from awful but without the TV episodes it will feel like “Damn, didn’t we just watch this match?”  

Axl got his brief brawl against Tarzan Goto, representing IWA Japan. Joey Styles says “FMW” throughout the match. This was a slower brawl but it still had brutal moments—such as Tarzan Goto obliterating a chair by beating Axl Rotten with it repeatedly. 

I could see Goto being an ECW regular. He was Big Japan-bound after IWA Japan dropped to micro-indy level. 

Much like the Mikey vs. Paul Lauria match, Louie Spicolli vs. El Puerto Riqueno was a brief match that would lead to a better match involving the same person. 


I didn’t expect an impromptu Sabu vs. Louie Spicolli match to deliver like it did but here we are. This was a nice brief bout with newcomer Spicolli trying to find his place in ECW and getting a taste of the extreme from Sabu. 

However, Louie is so versatile that he can hold his own. Louie’s journey in ECW is similar to Al Snow’s only Snow found that acceptance from the hardcore crowd while still in ECW. 


After Mikey runs through Lauria, the Eliminators come out. They attack Mikey and anyone else in the ring but out of nowhere, ECW’s most fight-ready—no, it’s not a word, people—ECW star comes out: Sabu! 

Into the Vault: ECW Heat Wave 1996

One of those hybrid angle-matches pop off and we get an exciting bout where it looks like Sabu and Whipwreck could take this. As Joey said, these two make a good team.  

Unfortunately for them, the Eliminators manage to hang on to the belts. In the second half of the card, we have this lengthy TV title epic as Chris Jericho—the “Last Survivor of the Hart Dungeon”—defends against Shane Douglas, 2 Cold Scorpio, and Pitbull #2! 

If that doesn’t scream “Booked in WWF No Mercy 64” I don’t know what will. This was an exciting, athletic match that had moments where the action slowed to a crawl.  


Into the Vault: ECW Heat Wave 1996

That’s to be expected in a match going 40-minutes. Plus, the eliminations didn’t happen until the second half of the match. There’s a lot going on in his match and it easily floats into play in the background territory. 

So Raven’s battling gout and is unable to defend his title directly. Instead, we get a cage match between The Sandman, Terry Gordy, and Tommy Dream and the team of Raven, Brian Lee, and Stevie Richards. 

Stevie Richards has to be pinned for anyone to win the belt. The Sandman pins Raven but doesn’t get the belt. Slightly confusing rules from how it was explained at the event but it wasn’t mind-boggling. 

Into the Vault: ECW Heat Wave 1996

Overall, this match was bloody and wild—my top two criteria for a dope brawl and an exciting match. It paced well and while it didn’t have the finesse of the four-way, there wasn’t a moment where I took my eyes off the screen. 

ECW Heat Wave 1996 Verdict: Mid-Tier (7/10) 

This show flowed in extremes. ECW Heat Wave 1996 really didn’t give us any matches that were just in the middle. Either it was stuff that would drive you to watch it and was actually really fun to watch or matches with little going for them but weren’t bad. 

The exotic-tier has four matches worth catching but I’ll say Match of the Show was the steel cage main event. I was tempted to say the ECW TV title match but the main event had more excitement in a reasonable time going for it. 

Plus, this match ties into the next event’s action. That said, all of the exotic-tier is worth catching. 

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