It wouldn’t be a proper November if TBT didn’t revisit Extreme Championship Wrestling’s showcase event, November to Remember!
This week Throwback Thursday, with a bit of help from the WWE Network, revisits the 20th anniversary of a landmark event in the history of ECW: November to Remember ’97.
While the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling were engaged in a death match to determine the true king of the ring, ECW was hard at work establishing themselves as a viable national brand and real alternative to the “Big Two”. Like the “Big Two”, ECW was in a state of transition in the fall of 1997. Two of ECW’s biggest names, Raven and Perry Saturn (and Stevie Richards), jumped to WCW in the summer of ’97 while promotion founder Tod Gordon was accused of plotting a secret ECW “invasion” of WCW, an accusation Gordon has denied and refuted. Gordon left ECW for good in the first week of September ’97 with the announcement of Tod’s sudden departure closing the September 8, 1997 edition of Hardcore TV (47:01).
November to Remember ’97, ECW’s third PPV, marked the very first PPV in the Heyman era of ECW. With the rise of Rob Van Dam, Taz, Shane Douglas, Tommy Dreamer, and The Dudley Boyz, to name but a few, and the arrival of future stars like Justin Credible and Jerry Lynn, ECW’s future, now under the sole vision of Paul Heyman, appeared limitless.
In respect to edits, the usual music overdubs (save Taz and Sabu), “WWF” muting, and “WWF” blurring are all present and pervasive.
Context for N2R ’97 is all but complete. While major house show events are missing, all prior editions of Hardcore TV and the two previous PPVs are currently available on the WWE Network.
ECW November to Remember ’97 (WATCH)
Date: November 30, 1997 – Location: Golden Dome, Monaca, Pennsylvania
Attendance: 4,634 (then-promotion record) – PPV Buyrate: 0.2 (>72,000 buys)
Commentator: Joey Styles – Interviews: N/A
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
ECW World Heavyweight Champion: Bam Bam Bigelow
ECW World Tag Team Champions: The Full Blooded Italians (Tracey Smothers & Little Guido)
ECW World Television Champion: Taz
Joey Styles, as usual, opens the show in the ring in front of what was then the largest crowd to see a live ECW event. “I want to make a promise to everyone within the sound of my voice, not just in the Golden Dome but watching at home across the country,” Joey says, “that tonight we will give you a November to remember!” Next we get the standard (but still awesome) ECW opening music montage.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 3:05)
Tommy Rogers vs. Chris Candido
This would mark the one and only PPV match for Tommy Rogers, who debuted with ECW on October 30, 1997. The first portion of the match is all about fantastic, well timed chain wrestling that the Pennsylvania crowd doesn’t much appreciate at first. The match seems to be all but over when Rogers turns a Candido missile dropkick into a beautiful sit-out powerbomb. After Candido kicks out Lance Storm runs in and starts beating on Rogers. Moments later Jerry Lynn, Rogers’ tag team partner, hits the ring and starts fighting Jerry Lynn and eventually all four men are wiped out on the floor. Suddenly the referee grabs the microphone and announces the match is now a tag team match.
NO WINNER declared (No contest, 13:11)
— “Impromptu Tag Team Match” (WATCH – 19:20)
Tommy Rogers & Jerry Lynn vs. The Triple Threat (Chris Candido & Lance Storm)
This is a fun, fast-paced “tornado”-type of match. The match features a few fun spots that include Rogers nearly disrobing Candido when an O’Connor roll goes awry, the sensational crossbody/electric chair that Rogers and Lynn hit on Storm, and the Blonde Bombshell that Candido hits Lynn with. The story of the match, though, is Candido’s dislike of Storm. In the end Candido hits the northern lights suplex on Rogers for the pin at 3:24. After the match Candido dismisses Storm before grabbing a fan’s “Candido Show Stopper” sign and displaying it for the world to see.
WINNERS are The Triple Threat (Chris Candido & Lance Storm) (Pin, 3:24)
An overdubbed vignette highlighting the upcoming Whipwreck/Credible match airs next.
— “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 23:55)
Justin Credible w/Jason vs. Mikey Whipwreck
Justin Credible debuted on the September 20, 1997 As Good As It Gets event in Philadelphia (currently unavailable on the Network) and was working his debut PPV match here, nursing an undefeated streak that included an upset win over The Great Sasuke. Credible was doing his best to get out from under his WWF gimmick of “Aldo Montoya” but the fans in the Golden Dome aren’t having any of that. As for the match, it’s the typical Whipwreck match of the day with Whipwreck taking a beating for most of the match until the late comeback. In the end Whipwreck, off the back of Jason, hits a Whippersnapper from the top rope to hand Credible his first ECW loss at 8:18.
WINNER is Mikey Whipwreck (Pin, 8:18)
Next we cut to the back for an all-time classic Al Snow/Head promo where Al Snow blames news of his dislocated shoulder spreading through the locker room on Head. “This is supposed to be hardcore—extreme,” Snow says. “Everybody’s out here wrestling with broken feet, settin’ themselves on fire, broomsticks stuffed up their butt, Tracy Smother’s brain hangin’ out his head—and I can’t wrestle!” Snow says “the Head screwed the Head,” in a take on Vince McMahon’s instantly infamous “Bret screwed Bret” promo.
Afterwards Joey tosses to a Sabu/Sandman vignette that isn’t included here. We go to the ring instead.
— ECW World Television Championship (WATCH – 38:02)
Special Guest Commentator: Paul E. Dangerously
Pitbull #2 w/Mr. Wright, Pitbull #1, & Brakkus vs. Taz(c)
Pitbull #2 dominates the opening stretch of the match until Taz lands a few of his Tazplexes and cinches in the Katahjime for the submission win at 1:31 to retain the ECW World TV title.
WINNER and STILL ECW World Television Champion, Taz (Submission, 1:31)
After the match Taz takes out Pitbull #1 before grabbing the microphone and calling out “Vince McMahon’s present” for Lance Wright, Brakkus. “Well,” Taz says, “it’s obvious Lance Wright brought his boyfriend with him. And it’s also obvious that Vince McMahon gave Lance Wright a present. And the real thing that’s obvious is that Lance Wright’s boyfriend sticks needles up his ass!” Brakkus steps on the ring apron when a “security guard” enters the ring to keep Taz and Brakkus apart. Taz attacks the “guard” instead and beats the bejabbers out of him as Paul E. yells for the director to cut to anything else!
What we get is the Bam Bam Bigelow/Spike Dudley crowd surfing spot, which ECW fans has seen a thousand times already. The clip includes Joey’s “Hey ESPN, I’ve got your X-Games right here!” comment. Who would have thought the X-Games would outlive ECW? The clip is followed by a Bam Bam Bigelow vignette of Bam Bam destroying Shane Douglas.
When we go back to the arena ECW World Tag Team Champions, The F.B.I., are at ringside and Tommy Rich is running down the fans.
Suddenly D-Von Dudley shows up and takes the microphone from Rich and introduces “Brother” Gertner who does his usual (hilarious) shtick. As the F.B.I. and Dudleys stare each other down Axl Rotten and Balls Mahoney slide into the ring and wallop the Dudley’s with chairs to start the “four-way dance”.
— ECW World Tag Team Championship – “Four-Way Dance” (WATCH – 47:55)
The Dudley Boyz (Buh Buh Ray & D-Von) w/Joel Gertner, Sign Guy Dudley, & Big Dick Dudley vs. The Hardcore Chair Swingin’ Freaks (Axl Rotten & Balls Mahoney) vs. The Gangstanators (New Jack & Kronus) vs. The Full Blooded Italians (Tracy Smothers & Little Guido)(c) w/Tommy Rich
The brawl begins with Rotten and Mahoney taking out both the Dudleys and the F.B.I. until the Dudleys, with Big Dick’s help, take over. At 3:14 The Gangstanators (overdubbed) music hits and New Jack and Kronus make their way to the ring with a heavy duty garbage can chock-full of gimmicks and a couple of guitars. The match, as one would expect, quickly becomes a pier six brawl with virtually no way to keep up with the action. Highlights include Big Dick trying a moonsault, Kronus’ sensational 450 splash, and Buh Buh’s running plancha. The Gangstanators are the first ream eliminated when Buh Buh crushes a falling Kronus with a cutter at 10:06. The action slows but it’s no less violent. Gertner tries to toss powder in Mahoney’s eyes but hits Buh Buh instead. In the confusion Buh Buh helps Mahoney hit the Dudley Death Drop on D-Von! Axl scores the pin at 12:28 and eliminates the Dudleys from the fight. Axl hits a reverse DDT on Guido before Balls nails Guido with the Nutcracker Suite, taking the ref out along the way. Jeff Jones comes to the ring as the second referee but turns on Mahoney instead, kicking Balls in the—er—balls! Gudio school boys Mahoney and Jones counts the rapid 1-2-3 at 14:33 to give the F.B.I. the win. After the match Jones hands the F.B.I. the title belts as Balls and Axl are left stupefied in the ring.
WINNERS and STILL ECW World Tag Team Champions, The Full Blooded Italians (Tracy Smothers & Little Guido) w/Tommy Rich (Pin, 14:33)
Next up we get a pre-taped promo from Tommy Dreamer and Beulah about the forthcoming “flag match” with Rob Van Dam. Dreamer says his shoulder and heel are injured but that it’s “how you deal with [the pain].” Dreamer calls RVD a better athlete but that ECW is Dreamer’s company, that nobody is going to stop him, and that RVD will feel “what the revolution is all about.” This is followed by an overdubbed musical vignette highlighting both men and their feud.
RVD and Dreamer’s music are both overdubbed and the commentary throughout has been re-recorded. I understand the music, but the re-recorded commentary has always rubbed me the wrong way, even on the old Pioneer VHS releases.
— “WWF vs. ECW Flag Match” – Winner Raises their Promotions Flag (WATCH – 1:09:58)
Rob Van Dam (WWF) w/Bill Alfonso vs. Tommy Dreamer (ECW) w/Beulah McGillicutty
Alfonso comes out with a WWF hat and the WWF flag while Beulah carries the banner for ECW. This was one of the big main events for this show and had been built up for some time, though these two had faced many, many times before. The match isn’t bad but if you’ve seen one Dreamer/RVD match you’ve likely seen them all. The match goes off the rails after Dreamer turns an RVD split-legged attempt into a DDT. Alfonso drags out the referee and clocks him with a cookie sheet. Jeff Jones then prevents Dream from winning which eventually leads to Beulah kicking Jones in the pills and two referees dropping Jones with a double DDT. Beulah low blows Alfonso as Dreamer tries to take out RVD, with Beulah acting as referee, but can’t do it. Dreamer attempts to drape the ECW flag on RVD when Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon and a returning Stevie Richards make the save. RVD lands a Five Star Frog Splash on Dreamer through a trash can for a LaFon/Furnus/Richards counted 1-2-3 at 14:30. Since nothing is “official” it’s a “no contest”.
NO WINNER declared (No Contest, 14:30)
After the match Alfonso announces RVD the winner and displays the (blurred) WWF flag. The heels put Dreamer on the table when Sabu shows up and jumps to the top rope. Beulah gets in between the two and gets taken out by Sabu for her trouble. Dreamer covers Beulah as the heels pick their shots. Sandman’s music hits but rather than run to the ring to save Dreamer, Sandman goes through his entire entrance routine. Rather than flee the heels stand around and point and watch Sandman drink beer.
— “Tables & Ladders Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:33:55)
The Sandman vs. Sabu w/Bill Alfonso
Finally, after all the entrance hoopla, the match begins with Sabu diving on to Sandman. The beginning of this one is s-l-o-w and the fans aren’t that into it. In fact, by this time, it feels like all the energy in the entire building is gone. The match is a war on the outside but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. In the ring Sandman looks terrible, either drunk or concussed, but the match goes on (and on and on and on). Multiple big spots are blown as the match deteriorates into a clusterflub. Late in the match Sandman takes a ladder in the back of the head and is cut wide open. The end comes at 21:12 after Sabu hits an Atomic Arabian Facebuster with a ladder on to Sandman for the pin. It has its moments but overall this is perhaps Sabu’s worst PPV outing in ECW! After the match the Golden Dome crowd gives Sandman a standing ovation.
WINNER is Sabu w/Bill Alfonso (Pin, 21:12)
Joey tries to plug the merchandise catalog when Taz, with a lip full of chew, barges in and challenges Bam Bam Bigelow, who Taz says is about to defeat Douglas to retain (which means Bam Bam’s going under), to a match at Living Dangerously ’98 in March. Joey plugs the Living Dangerously ’98 PPV before going to the ring for the main event.
— ECW World Heavyweight Championship – “Grudge Match” – The Triple Threat are Banned from Ringside (WATCH – 2:03:17)
“The Franchise” Shane Douglas w/Francine vs. Bam Bam Bigelow(c)
I can’t think of many ECW PPV main events as utterly lousy as this one. Douglas, the hometown boy, is booked as the beloved babyface being destroyed by the monster heel. The only problem with that idea is that Douglas made his name by being the nastiest, rudest, most obnoxious heel in all of wrestling. On top of that, Bigelow, while a great dance partner to be sure, wasn’t the greatest at leading the dance, which Bam Bam had to do in this one. So we have a “babyface” no one outside of the Pittsburgh area can feel any real sympathy for and a monster heel who’s not all that great at carrying a match. Maybe in 1994, when Douglas was a smaller wrestler, this story would work, but not in 1997. The idea that Douglas couldn’t even bodyslam Bigelow is a joke.
The entire match is Bam Bam dominating Douglas with Douglas getting in a few blows here and there—or death by a thousand cuts. Late in the match Candido and Storm try to get in the match but are stopped by security before Bam Bam tosses Douglas on them as if Shane were Spike Dudley. Francine (on crutches from a “fractured pelvis” for added sympathy) gets in the ring and strikes Bigelow with one of her crutches but Bigelow ends up using the crutches on Shane instead. In the end Douglas puts Bigelow through the chair/table concoction in the middle of the ring to win the match, and the ECW World title, at 25:03. This marked the end of Bigelow’s lone reign as ECW World Heavyweight Champion at 45-days. This was Shane’s fourth and final ECW World title win and would last for 406-days, the longest ECW World Heavyweight title reign ever and second-longest title reign in ECW history behind Rob Van Dam’s 700-day reign as ECW World Television Champion.
WINNER and NEW ECW World Heavyweight Champion, “The Franchise” Shane Douglas w/Francine (Pin, 25:03)
After the match Candido and Storm join Douglas and Francine in the ring to celebrate. Styles talks about it being Douglas’ third title win but it’s actually Douglas’ fourth. The event goes off the air with a medic attending to Shane Douglas.
With Tod Gordon gone and no one to check or rein in Heyman we end up with a show like N2R ’97. It’s not a terrible show by any means but it’s no classic either. It appeased the PPV providers, still looking for any reason to boot ECW, and sent the local crowd home happy.
But for ECW fans around the country this was seen as a letdown. The opener is worth watching and so is the chaos of the “flag match”, but everything else is average, for ECW, at best. As always, if you haven’t seen it it’s worth sitting through at least once.
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Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
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While Barely Legal is known as the PPV that put ECW on the map due to it being the first ever one, November 2 Remember ’97 is the one that can stake that claim from a financial point of view as this event was the first one to be broadcast on ALL the PPV companies while also having the largest crowd & gate in ECW history up to that point.
What I remember most about this show is that piledriver that bounced RVD high in the air off the mat. Never seen that before or since.