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[1995-04-15-ECW-Hostile City Showdown] Eddy Guerrero vs Dean Malenko

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Easily my favorite of their series. The crowd is actively bad at times but isn't WXW levels of horrible. The second half especially feels 'big'. Interesting that the famous farewell match was actually toned down from this.

 

Also, this match is a blueprint for sooooo many indy matches in the 2000s.

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Odd. When I went trough my entire ECW watch last year, I ended up realy bored by every Eddie vs Dean matches. So, either it doesn't hiold up at all, either it's just not very good and is one of those Malenko wankjob long matches (see also Malenko vs Benoit at Hogg Wild 96) with shitload of matwork that doesn't go anywhere and zero personnality. I need to gave them a last chance though, but in the context of the ECW watch, I was just bored by them and couldn't wait for the next Sandman, Raven, Douglas or Scorpio match.

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Here's what I wrote about this last time I watched it. I remember it pretty well and don't feel like sitting through it again at the moment, so here goes. I definitely wouldn't stand by what I said about this changing the way personnel decisions were made in the WWF and WCW, but I'd probably agree with most of the rest of it.

 

Prior to 1995, the idea of putting a match on a United States pro wrestling show with no discernable storyline, for no other reason than to showcase two great wrestlers, would have seemed silly. The only time something like this had even remotely been attempted was in 1992, when the wide-eyed Kip Frey lured Jushin Liger from New Japan to wrestle Brian Pillman in a well-received series of matches in WCW. Countless changes in leadership and direction would end up swallowing that effort whole, and while remembered fondly, the series didn't pave the way for another similar feud to follow.

 

Eddy Guerrero had resigned himself to the fact that he would never get an opportunity in the United States. He did impress his peers in a one-off showing in 1989 playing pinball for Terry Funk, but WCW wouldn't hire the guy, feeling that he was too small to get over. Aside from some scattered work in his father's old stomping grounds, teaming with his brother Joe in tiny armories and gyms along the Florida panhandle, Dean Malenko hadn't really made much impact in the U.S. himself. Both found greater success and career opportunity in Japan, and Guerrero was even a hugely effective draw in the fledgling, Mexico-based AAA. U.S. crowds -- especially Northeastern U.S. crowds -- were bred on charismatic heavyweights like Hulk Hogan and Bruno Sammartino. While Joel Goodheart had promoted some good wrestling in the TWA, and Civic Center crowds were notorious for cheering hard-working heels on mid-80s Jim Crockett Promotions shows, Philadelphia still didn't seem a likely place to make this sort of impact.

 

Where this match falls short in heated storyline and emotion, it overachieves as a hard-hitting, visceral wrestling match, giving ECW talking head Joey Styles the perfect opening to defy any major promotion to allow two wrestlers so talented to be given the opportunity to wrestle without limits for a major championship. It's a tremendous encounter, highlighted by some nasty submission attempts and crowd-pleasing highspots that ultimately win over a cynical crowd, at first easily distracted by fights in the crowd and their own clever chants. Before this match, one could argue Ric Flair as the torch bearer for work in the United States, and suplexes to the concrete floor and dives from the top rope were moves he merely teased; here, Malenko and Guerrero actually deliver. It's a match -- a rivalry, for that matter -- that really created a template for the future of American independent wrestling that is being used to this day by Ring of Honor, and it also helped changed the way WCW and eventually the WWF would make personnel decisions.

 

Looking at Eddy Guerrero versus Dean Malenko as a standalone match, while it works on that level, really misses the point. It was less about creating a classic and more about making a philosophical point about what U.S. crowds would and would not find entertaining, about matwork-heavy long matches not scaring away fans, and about undersized guys succeeding when given the opportunity to shine. On those promises, the match overdelivers, and while this isn't the best match of its style, within its style, the matches that followed would not have been the same without this one.

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This was a good match but Ditch is right about this feeling like so many 2000's indy matches. Some of it move for move. Way better than the final match they had together in ECW.

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Loved it! . The crowd seemed quite throughout but seemed to really appreciate the finish . easily my favourite of the series these two men had on ECW around this time

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"I DEFY ANY OTHER PROMOTION ON THE FACE OF THIS PLANET TO LET TWO ATHLETES OF THIS CALIBER GO AT IT FOR A MAJOR TITLE." Oh, shut the fuck up, Styles.

 

This gets good once Eddy injures his knee and Deano zeros in on it. But fairly or not, the early parity-building stuff is SO cookie-cutter and generic and indy-tastic now that it's impossible to get into. Throw Malenko in the mix, who struggled to get people to emotionally invest in any match of his (how appropriate that the most he was ever over was because he was off-camera for months while Jericho cut promos on him week after week), and the problem is exacerbated. I admire the effort of what they and Heyman were doing here, but admiring and loving are two different things.

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I don't get the Joey Styles hate...All in all ECW was an East Coast Indy promotion. We can't hate they guy for hyping the company... Also, the commentary was dubbed after the fact...in his or Heyman's basement IIRC.

 

So, he's the mouthpiece for Heyman especially with this match & others like it that defied mainstream US wrestling in '95. A 30 min technical match with no shenanigans or gimmicks in a bingo hall in 1995...I mean there's a reason why people got signed by WCW. ECW was that platform for talented guys who were being overlooked. ROH, PWG, Evolve being the launch pad for today's superstars is due and in large part to the culture of creativity that ECW created.

 

Match in 2017 is fun but, not super great but, significant for the reasons above.

 

The end :D

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As it's ECW I was anticipating that something would happen sooner or later to make me dislike the match. It never did.

 

The early exchanges were quickly paced with indyriffic parity spots. Take a bow. After that it became surprisingly grounded with Deano working over the knee. The latter stages became fairly epic with plenty of close calls. Neither man could quite keep his opponent down for the three. 26m was shown. Possibly there was clipping although I didn't notice it. There are minor flaws you could pick out, but the overall structure is sound and this was a commendable effort from both parties.

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ECW TV Champion Eddie Guerrero vs Dean Malenko - ECW Hostile City Showdown 4/15/95

One of the most influential series of pro wrestling that affect how many wrestlers and wrestling fans view what good wrestling is to do this day. US 90s workrate existed before this match of course, but I think this popularized it as the style that would eventually bring about Ring Of Honor. In a lot of ways, I think of Ring of Honor as ECW if ECW only had Benoit/Guerrero/Malenko matches. I think there has been a strong backlash to this trilogy similar to the backlash to highly influential workrate series of Dynamite Kid vs Tiger Mask. When I went back and watched that series I found it uneven. One match I thought was spectacular the other match I thought was hot garbage. I know I have seen this match once and the final match a couple times. I dont think I have ever watched the second one. 

Lets get this out of the way early. Joey Styles is trash. I would blast music over him, but I want to hear the crowd. Lots of polite golf clapping from the crowd because this is "good wrestling". :) You can always work smart marks, folks. There are a couple boring chants and "This match sucks" chants.

First five minutes is very 90s workrate. I actually liked the chain wrestling early, but the tumbling pass has been ripped off so many times and when they both dropkicked each other at the same time and we get the standoff. I rolled by eyes as they got their polite applause. I know this was novel at the time, but God it is just so cheesy. It was smart for them to do this because they crowd did react at the moments that they were supposed to. Eddie got a couple of his spots in before Malenko targets the knee. Malenko's leg work is really good and definitely gets me into the match. It is a good hook. Eddie is selling well. I liked his holding onto the rope pugnaciously to avoid more punishment. Malenko had some good submissions. Malenko's gimmick is literally he does not show emotion so you need Eddie to pick up the slack. This is NOT the Eddie from the week before that wrested the TV belt from Scorpio. That Eddie was 2003 Eddie he was so loose and so damn likeable. This is serious '96 Eddie who can be kinda bland. I think it took Eddie until 2003 to realize his "heel" charisma was actually "babyface" charisma. So when he played a babyface he played it too vanilla and that happens here. Malenko for being a ring general was terrible at transitions. Instead of an interesting way to get Eddie off offense, it is a bland transition to Malenko control and then he whips Eddie off the ropes into a dropkick to the knee. So artificial and mechanical. So far it has been very good and as I kinda expected I was going to be between the two factions on this match. 

Things like Eddie selling his knee so much but doing the most physically demanding lift of powerbomb just didnt jive. He needed to be more demonstrative in the eyepoke to set up the Tornado DDT. That was a spot that got a lot more love in the Scorp match. The transition to this Eddie control was pretty lame also. Eddie big dive to the floor. I thought the finish stretch was really well done. Symmetry of brainbusters and then Eddie frogsplash was a great nearfall. Again transition was bad, but Malenko and Guerrero fighting over the Texas Cloverleaf was hot. I expected a Draw where Eddie would be in the Cloverleaf, but that didnt happen. I am ok with them not paying off the Cloverleaf because there are more matches. It is too funny that the biggest pop of the match is that super routine rollup exchange that every US workrate dude did in the 90s. I watched Benoit/Snow do the same thing, but this time the crowd just lapped it up. The draw finish was not super hot. Eddie got an awkward Sunset Flip for two and then they waited pregnant pause for the bell. 

 

I thought the good outweighed the bad. It never dragged. It was interesting. I was nitpicking because I wanted to prove some points, but overall this is worth watching and deserves to be remembered as influential. But seriously watch that Eddie/Scorpio match it is better and way underrated.  ***3/4 

 

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There was times where Dean and Eddie seemed unsure of the match, almost like the quiet crowd shook their confidence almost but they stuck to it and eventually won the crowd over with some really nice technical moves and pin attempts. ***3/4

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