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Loss

[1997-04-13-ECW-Barely Legal] Sabu vs Taz

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After all the build, here's the match. I'm not sure if I should be surprised that I think this is an excellent match, but I am, and I do. The psychology of this was much better than I expected, as all the ridiculous bumps Sabu took were set up in a way that made sense given the course of the match. I also enjoyed watching Taz take it to the mat. No one will confuse him for Volk Han, but he could work well enough to make his gimmick work. Sabu actually gives a really strong underdog selling performance, sporting a nasty bloody nose for most of this and selling his injured neck and shoulder, which Taz targets. There were some flaws, but they were the sort of "Who cares?" flaws that lots of good wrestling matches have. They worked a match befitting the occasion that didn't feel like a letdown, and this was far better than I expected it to be.

 

The mic work and sportsmanship after this was too heavy handed, even if there was a swerve. The match wasn't THAT good. Sabu completely blows the table spot in the post-match angle, and it really makes it easy to forget the things I liked about this match. And if Fonzie was going to turn, why not do it during the match? He cites Taz costing him lots of money by losing the match, even though he won the match. Huh? A pleasant surprise of a match, followed by an angle I absolutely hated.

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He cites Taz costing him lots of money by losing the match, even though he won the match. Huh?

If I remember correctly, the angle was Fonzie bet a ton of money on Sabu to win so that's why he got pissed at Taz.

 

I don't remember thinking this one was anything blow away great but their 30 min DRAW in October is awesome and maybe the best match i've seen either guy in.

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I never cared for this match. I honestly think Taz is a bad kind of opponent for what Sabu is capable of doing and vice versa, but Taz was a very strong promo, they did build this well, and I give them credit for making this seem like a big deal to their audience.

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I remember not being too impressed with this match as well, so after reading Loss’s thoughts on it I decided to rewatch it, and thought it was pretty good. I agree with Loss that it had its flaws, however, they didn't really take away too much from it. The psychology was great, and both guys really played their roles to perfection. Sabu’s selling really stood out in the match, and as stupid as it may sound, it really did feel like a grudge match. As much as they were able to make the match seem like a big deal with the build leading to it, the crowd was pretty subdued. They reacted to the obvious spots and did the usual ECW chants when they were supposed to, but overall, they didn't really provide that much energy and seemed pretty drained. I think it may have something to do with their expectations at the time and having to sit through that Douglas Pitbull match. The post match shenanigans sucked.

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I really liked the opening portions of the match. The middle portion with the crowd brawling and big spots were a little eh but they kept me around for the finish as Taz made the taz mission look deadly and it was smart after the work was done on the neck. Of course the post match is a trainwreck. You get the respect spot which the crowd boos. RVD and Sabu then beat up Taz with some blown spots and Alfonso turns on them because he bet money on Sabu. This made no fucking sense to me and it seemed like they over thought themselves.

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It doesn’t live up for the build and the fans were not prepared for Taz winning like that. They weren’t as eager to get behind the double turn like things were for Hart/Austin. It’s a decent match on it’s own. Taz runs through his suplexes before Sabu gets both a Tazplex and Tazmission. Taz with the clean win though. Post match stuff with Alfonso joining up with Sabu since he put all his money behind Sabu winning match. RVD wants everyone know he is willing to work Mondays.

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I watched this live and I've watched it a number of times since... it still just does not work at the level they wanted it to, which is unfortunate, but became a bit of a running theme for ECW that year.

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Good match. Did it live up to the hype? I dunno, Taz beat Sabu clean in a solid match with few blown spots. I call it a success.

 

Post-match could have been much better if Fonzie had berated Taz about losing his money, only for Taz to snap, turn face and choke him out with Sabu and Van Dam making the save. Then RVD could've cut his promo.

 

I dunno if they botched the angle, really, because you have the same end result, but yeah that took some steam out of this segment.

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It's a pretty good match in a vacuum, but on the whole after two years of build-up this segment falls flat. I doubt they could put any match together to live up to the hype, but the crowd just isn't as heated as you would expect and the post-match angle is really poorly executed on all levels, and I'm not sure a double-turn was even a good idea to start with. Kind of reeks of copycatting WM13, among other problems. That said, the matwork here is actually pretty good and some of the reversals are well-done, and there some attempts at psychology here, with Sabu having ways to get out of the Tazmission until he injures his neck. It's becoming a recurring theme on these two discs, but this was much better when they were in the ring rather than brawling through the crowd.

 

Also, Styles has been absolutely horrible on this show, after a year or so of slowly climbing into my good graces. Your first-ever PPV MAY be an event where you have a new audience, but Joey doesn't bother to provide a single goddamn bit of backstory or context to all this. This is a match two years in the making and the only thing Styles can do is recite what moves are being done, even during the post-match beatdown. There has to be a happy medium between Vince's WHATTAMANEUVER shtick and what Styles does here.

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I don't think any match could've "lived up to the hype" in this situation. The hype was so overwhelming that the expectations had been raised beyond what was realistically possible. Viewed simply as Just Another Match, it's pretty damn good. I certainly haven't seen any other Sabu/Taz singles matches which were nearly this fun. Taz tends to do his best stuff in the middle of the ring, while Sabu does his biggest bumps on the floor, which sets up an uncomfortable divide; but I thought they bridged that gap pretty well in this match.

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Yeah I remember being more amped for this match than anything at the time other than Sting/Hogan. Could not wait for this up until the bell. And then of course it didn't approach the build or the expectations. Not that it was in any way terrible, but kind of like expecting Peter Luger's and ending up at Outback. You're having a solid meal only you can't help but think about what you thought you'd be eating. The booking here coming just a few weeks after Mania also didn't help. Do we know if that was the working plan for a while or a late call?

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I forgot to mention--I really do love the way Sabu builds around and up to the table-bridging-the-apron-and-guardrail spot. He always sets it up the same way, but the way he and his opponents actually pay off the breaking of the table always seems to be a surprise. Sometimes the opponent blocks it and drives Sabu through it, as Taz does here. Sometimes the opponent cuts it off but Sabu cuts off the cut-off. Sometimes they abandon it, only for someone to get knocked off the turnbuckle through the table later on--this delayed gratification is probably my favorite variation of the sequence. Sabu's no ring psychologist but that's the strongest part of the psychology game for him.

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Sabu vs Taz - Barely Legal 1997

You gotta love the WWE for remastering the footage. The video quality on this is Bitchin! ECW got new floors! Imagine if they went on PPV with those grimy nasty floors.

The double turn was the fucking shits. It was the ultimate 90s T-Shirt turn. If Fonzie had so much money riding on the match why didn’t he interfere? He doesn’t even have to coat the match at least try to stop Taz winning from happening. There was the whole “Get up Sabu” that foreshadows the turn but another than that nothing. Why is it RVD instigating the shouldnt Fonzie popped a gasket at that point? Also this is the opposite of Bret/Austin. In Bret/Austin they told the double turn story by the action in the match. Sabu should have worked on top throughout with the chairs and made Taz win from underneath. 

Decoupling this from the insipid booking, the match itself is pretty good. Unfortunately given the two year build, the insane amount of hype, pretty good ain’t gonna cut it. The ECW mutants were quieter than usual but ultimately respectful.

Taz is one of my least favorite wrestlers but I gotta admit he outworked my beloved Sabu. The blown spots are part of Sabu’s charm but here they looked lame. Sabu didn’t have that raw, unpredictable feel in this match. Taz looked great working the shooter the best he has ever looked. Great takedowns and holds. Sabu can wrestle. The played off Sabu’s leg dives. Sabu used dropkicks and enziguiris to set up his chair-based aerial offense. Pretty much that was the rhythm of the match. Sabu bit off more than he could chew and ended going through a table alone. From there it was Head Drop City, three big time head drop duplexes. That’s the one thing I didn’t see get imported too much from All Japan it was on display here. Sabu in the middle does the copy cat gimmick hits a Tazplex and then Taz pose. Taz pops up and Taz pose...good pop. They needed more character spots. More Taz Head Drop duplexes and then choke out. Good shit. Would have liked to seen more energy from Sabu but this was a great Taz performance. Sabu would have a much better match with The Sandman of all people about a year later. ***1/4

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