Thursday, 23 July 2015

WWE ECW Unreleased VOL. 3 DVD Review

WWE's ECW Unreleased VOL 3 is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray, available from www.wwedvd.co.uk and all other good home video stores. The three disc set features over twenty matches from ECW, ranging from 1993 to 2000, alongside a handful of promos and connecting segments from Joey Styles, Stevie Richards and The Blue Meanie. The set includes matches from the likes of Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Terry Funk, Cactus Jack, The Eliminators and many more. 





Disc One


The set begins with a basic tag bout from Hardcore TV pitting Kevin Sullivan and the Tazmaniac against Tommy Dreamer and Shane Douglas, that shows little signs of what the promotion would become. Dean Malenko and Too Cold Scorpio put on a nice display of technical prowess, that is cut short before it can develop fully. The crowd is disrespectful of the action throughout chanting "Boring", a chant that appear way too often throughout the DVD, almost exclusively for technical wrestling. "All American" Ron Simmons and Shane Douglas have a surprisingly good World Heavyweight Championship match on Hardcore TV, telling a great story throughout. 

A bloody weapon-based brawl for the World Tag Team Championship with the Public Enemy opposite Sabu and The Tazmaniac is a must-see for any fan of hardcore wrestling. Announced as a "Dream match", the newly christened "Human Suplex Machine" Taz teaming with Eddie Guerrero (accompanied by Paul E. Dangerously) battle "The Shooter" Dean Malenko and Too Cold Scorpio in a very different match. It's a superb showcase of a variety of different wrestling styles from all four men in the ring, especially in the early stages, although lacks any attempt at storytelling. Almost certainly remember for Taz breaking his neck during the match, Guerrero's performance to keep the match going after the incident is a testament to the skill of the WWE Hall of Famer.

Cactus Jack vs. Sabu from Holiday Hell is exactly what you'd expect it to be, being a bloody hardcore brawl. However, it was Jack's promo prior to the match that was the highlight for me, as his incredible character work works the crowd into a frenzy before the match even begins. A weird segment that includes a pull apart brawl and a ambush attack, eventually errupts into a tag team match with The Eliminators taking on Rey Misterio, Jr. and 911, I have no idea what was happening at any point.


Disc Two


The second disc begins with a match that is criminally short between Bam Bam Bigelow and Cactus Jack from Just Another Night, in which the after-match becomes a little silly. A promo from Cactus Jack and Raven is absolutely incredible, full of emotion and manipulative storytelling, this should be seen by anyone looking to improve their promo abilities. A slow burning clash between Shane Douglas and Chris Jericho for the Television Championship features some lovely sequences and a series of well-done near falls. The finish is frustrating in the realms of a DVD set, calling for a rematch that isn't included, but it's still a good watch. 

Just because the match takes place in Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan, one of Raven and Tommy Dreamer's many singles matches is a great inclusion on the set. It's a big ol' brawl with some top notch near falls, that unfortunately ends up getting a little over-booked in it's conclusion. The Eliminators are so over with the Philadelphia crowd as they collide with The Dudley Boyz at Hostile City Showdown which certainly helps the home video experience. It's another brawling bout that travels what feels like the entire arena, with plenty of weapon shots. Kronus absolutely pisses blood which won't be for everyone, neither will Buh Buh Ray's fake southern accent in his pre-match promo though. 

From earlier in the same event Rob Van Dam and Taz (accompanied by Bill Alfonso) have a short but enjoyable bout. A lengthy promo from Big Stevie Cool does what ECW did best, pulling real life events into the companies current angles, even if Richards comes across as a little forced. A rehash of the main event from the original ECW PPV main event see's Big Stevie Cool, Raven and The Sandman battle it out in an absolute clusterfuck of a match for the chance to face Terry Funk for the World Heavyweight Championship. The bout is chock-full of interference, to point where there is very little action between the three guys actually in the match. The winner against Funk is also included with the first section of the match telling a good story, but being let down by a wank finish.


Disc Three


Shane Douglas putting the World Heavyweight Championship on the line against Bam Bam Bigelow from Hardcore TV is a short but fun encounter, worthy of inclusion here. The lengthy introduction the segment including "Ravishing" Rick Rude, Francine, Chris Candido and Tammy Lynn Sytch has a number of twists and turns to keep things interesting, in front of a loud crowd. Candido is in action next in a short, fast paced bout, filled with big impact moves and good story elements, opposite Lance Storm from Cyberslam. A technically sound and smooth collision between Yoshiro Tajiri and Taz from Hostile City Showdown is let down by a finish that makes Tajiri look like a twat.

On their way to the WWF, The Dudley Boyz challenge Spike Dudley & Ball Mahoney for the World Tag Team Championship in a brief clusterfuck of a bout. The resulting promo and bout with Tommy Dreamer and Raven is a classic ECW moment, it's mind boggling that this hasn't been put out by WWE before. The crowd is reserved in Poughkeepsie for a decent encounter between Rhyno and Rob Van Dam over the Television Championship, which does effect the match, especially on some nice near falls. It's a shame that one of the pairs earliest matches is chosen here, as they would a number of matches on ECW's House show circuit over the next three months.

Rhino and Corino are back next for a curious tag team encounter with Tommy Dreamer and "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes from ECW on TNN, as part of Rhodes' brief run with the company in 2000. The match is watchable, but I couldn't tell you why. Two under the radar ECW roster members get the time to shine next as EZ Money and Kid Kash put on a match in the style that would become synonymous with TNA's X Division. Whilst the earlier segment is a bit of a mess, the contest is packed with flips and tricks with some well-done near falls throughout.

The Double Jeopardy match from November to Remember closes the set in a confusing batchshag (I'm trying not to clusterfuck again). Steve Corino, Justin Credible, Jerry Lynn and The Sandman have a match that left me questioning the universe, especially the first section which is completely bypasses any storytelling possibilities that the concept might offer itself to. There's blood and weapons and stuff to disguise the lack of anything really happening, with Sandman turning up late and then twatting everyone with his singapore cane a few times. Luckily the match is (almost) saved by the closing section between Corino and Credible with a well-done turn and some tremendous near falls, it's just a shame the encounter lacked the foundation that the earlier portion should have provided.


Finally...


Alongside the first two Volume's of ECW Unreleased this set works well at provided a cross section of ECW's product, featuring a number of different styles throughout. All the big ECW names are there, alongside names associated more with other groups, like Ron Simmons and Dusty Rhodes which adds a new element of intrigue to their particular matches. The match quality is mixed, ranging from god-awful to pretty good, but almost everything seems to have it's place on the set.

I've left out any real review of Joey Styles, Stevie Richards and The Blue Meanie's presentation segments, as it would be difficult to talk in too much detail without spoiling your enjoyment of these if you purchased the DVD. The same goes for a number of added promos that are also included here.

Worth a look at getting if your interested in introducing yourself to the product, with a smattering of important moments in company history, although perhaps starting with the other two volumes would be a better place to start. If you've already got your hands on those two and enjoyed them, you won't be disappointed with this.

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