What if…Raven defeated Tommy Dreamer at Wrestlepalooa 1997?

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Text By Neil Cathan

What if…Raven defeated Tommy Dreamer at Wrestlepalooa 1997?

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster - Fredrich Nietzsche

Our story begins on June 7th, 1997, in the closing moments of Tommy Dreamer vs Raven, in Raven’s last match in ECW, and Dreamer’s last chance to beat his nemesis. Tommy Dreamer stands poised to deliver one last Dreamer DDT onto a road sign…

 

“E-C-FUCKING-W!” Dreamer roars, his arms spread wide. Raven’s arm, however, slams between the legs of Dreamer, low-blowing him in the moment he lets his guard down to celebrate the victory he feels is already his. Dreamer staggers backwards, doubled over, and as he raises his head, he is face to face once more with his tormentor, who spits in his face, kicks him in the gut, and delivers a piledriver onto the No Entry sign. Exhausted from the battle, Raven slumps on top of his foe, and hooks his legs for the cover. Barely conscious, all Dreamer is really conscious of is the sound of 1, 2, 3 in time with a hand slapping the apron, the ring announcer calling out “The winner, by pinfall…Raven!”, and the sound of Raven laughing at him before rolling from the ring and leaving. He slowly rolls to his feet, and sees the standing ovation given to him by the ECW faithful, and the beautiful Beulah standing before him, the tears welling up in her eyes matching those in his. She slips an arm around his side and helps him to the back, as he struggles with the realisation that he has failed, once and for all.

June 14th, 1997: ECW Hardcore TV

Joey Styles gives the cameras his usual serious stare as he gives an intro to the next match to air on Hardcore TV “The war between Taz and Sabu has been one of the biggest in ECW history, and ever since Rob Van Dam got himself involved on Sabu’s side, Taz has been after the both of them with a vengeance, which is no surprise, knowing Taz. What is surprising is who made an appearance at the end of a great match between the two of them in Allentown.”

The static crackles and we go to the ring for the final moments. Rob Van Dam is staggering Taz with his brutal martial arts kicks, until Taz is able to catch his leg. Taz raises the leg over his shoulder, and a look of fear crosses Van Dam’s face as he realises what is coming, and sure enough, he’s soon hurled over Taz’s head with a vicious capture release suplex. Taz stands over Van Dam, and hunkers down to apply his deadly Tazmission finisher, when he’s interrupted by Sabu charging the ring with a steel chair, which he lays into Taz with. Taz staggers back to a turnbuckle, and Sabu seats the chair in front of him, and runs up to launch himself off it for a leg lariat, thudding into Taz at high velocity. Sabu kicks the chair aside and whips Taz towards the opposite turnbuckle, only for Taz to turn the whip around. Sabu is able to leap onto the second turnbuckle, however, and leaps back from it, smashing an elbow into Taz’s face. Van Dam and Sabu put the boots to Taz as he lays on the mat, until Dreamer comes charging into the ring with a chair of his own, blasting Sabu across the skull with it. He turns to give the same to Van Dam, only to have the chair kicked into his face. As Van Dam stands above Dreamer and stomps away at his prone form, Taz stirs behind him, laying the seated chair down before grabbing Van Dam around the waist and german suplexing him onto it, bridging for a three count. Van Dam groggily rolls from the ring, and Sabu follows his lead, as Dreamer and Taz raise their arms in victory.

June 21st, 1997: ECW Hardcore TV

Dreamer sits on a bench in the ECW locker room, and stares into the camera. “Raven’s gone, and with him go all my hopes of ever beating him. But there’s an upside to this. I no longer have to keep one eye always on what he’ll do next. Never again have to worry about the next move. I’m more focussed than I’ve ever been, because I’m free at last. Which is only good news for me, and only bad news for you, Rob Van Dam, and you, Sabu. You see, now not only have you got to deal with an angry human suplex machine, but you also have to deal with me, more focussed than I’ve ever been before.” He stands now, and laughs a little before walking off “You’re in for one hell of a ride, and there’s no way out now you’re on it.”

June 28th, 1997: ECW Orgy of Violence

Rob Van Dam and Tommy Dreamer stare across the ring at each other as the bell rings. Dreamer comes out swinging, and his intensity subdues Van Dam at first before RVD starts answering with martial arts kicks which rock Dreamer back onto his heels. Dreamer is able to duck one of them however, and slip behind Van Dam for a german suplex. RVD rolls outside the ring to catch a breather, which Dreamer doesn’t give him, as he steps between the ropes to take this fight outside the ring. As he ducks between the ropes, Van Dam leaps in the air and catches him with a jumping kick to the head which downs Dreamer. Dreamer’s head is dragged across the apron, and Van Dam pulls a chair from beneath the ring, putting it underneath his legs as he leg drops Dreamer. He props the chair in a corner of the barricade, and pulls Dreamer onto it, before charging along the apron and dropkicking Dreamer, who slumps across the barrier. Van Dam pushes Dreamer into the crowd, making his first big mistake: never try to out crowd brawl Dreamer. In the fistfight that ensues as the crowd swarms around the fighters, Dreamer gets the upper hand again, slamming Van Dam head first into the wall that raises the Eagle’s Nest. Taking a chair from an all too happy to oblige fan, Dreamer smashes Van Dam’s head with it, the wall on which Van Dam leans offering about as much give as the chair. Van Dam is pulled back to the ring and tossed over the barrier. Dreamer whips Van Dam towards the opposite guardrail, only for Van Dam to leap atop it and bounce back with a leg lariat. Van Dam finds a table under the ring, and sets it up between the apron and barrier. Van Dam subdues Dreamer with repeated chairshots before delivering a frog splash through the table and Dreamer. Both men slowly emerge from the wreckage of the table amidst “E-C-Dub!” chants, and trade fists until Dreamer kicks Van Dam in the gut and DDTs him onto what remains of the table. Van Dam is hurled viciously into the ring, and followed for a cover, but Van Dam is close to the ropes, allowing him to get his foot on the bottom one. Unperturbed, Dreamer goes outside for another chair, but by the time he returns, Van Dam has regained his feet groggily, and he takes a Van Daminater. Van Dam lays the chair on top of Dreamer, and climbs the top rope for a Five-Star-Frogsplash, only for Dreamer to move at the last second. Dreamer picks his opponent up, and hurls him into the turnbuckle, charging after him with a lariat which Van Dam dodges. Dreamer in the corner now, Van Dam monkey flips him onto the chair and covers for two. Van Dam climbs the top rope for another frog splash, but Dreamer stumbles to his feet, grabbing the chair and slamming it atop Van Dam’s head, busting him wide open and leaving him slumped across the top ropes. Dreamer has no time to celebrate, however, as Sabu charges into the ring, armed with a chair of his own, which he slams across Dreamer’s head, before using it to give a leg drop extra impact. He goes beneath the ring for another table, which is set up in the middle of the ring, and which Dreamer is pushed onto. Sabu tosses the recovering Van Dam a chair, and climbs the opposite turnbuckle with one of his own. The duo legdrop Dreamer through the table in stereo, and Van Dam covers for three. The two raise their arms in victory and retreat to the back.

July 5th, 1997: ECW Hardcore TV

Joey Styles introduces fancam footage taken after Orgy of Violence. Taz is leaving the arena when he is confronted by a furious Tommy Dreamer.

“Where the hell were you, huh? I have your back against them, and then you leave me to get beaten down like that?”

“Let me ask you something, Tommy. Did I ask for your help? I ever write you a letter ‘Dear Mr. Dreamer, those mean guys Van Dam and Sabu are picking on me, please help!”? No. I’m a self made man here. I don’t want anyone else, and I sure as hell don’t need them.”

“You don’t need me?”
“No. Now move out of my way, I ain’t got time.”

“You don’t need me? Its your turn to let me ask you something. When you broke your neck in the ring, who took you to the hospital, huh? You don’t need me? You sure did then, you ungrateful little shit!”

Dreamer shoves Taz, who shoves him back, and a fistfight quickly breaks out between the two, security outside the arena dragging them apart as an enraged Dreamer hurls threats at a silent, fuming Taz.

July 19th, 1997: ECW Heat Wave

Taz and Dreamer shove each other roughly at the start of the match, before going nose to nose, intently looking at their foe as each futiley attempts to intimidate a man who knows no fear. Taz smirks, and uses the close conditions wrap his arms around Dreamer’s waist and toss him overhead with a belly-to-belly suplex. Dreamer gets to his feet only to take another suplex, tossing him across the ring, where he stands again, taking a german suplex this time. As Dreamer relentlessly reaches his feet again, Taz hits the ropes for a clothesline, which Dreamer ducks. Taz stops just past Dreamer, giving Dreamer a chance to hit Taz with a neckbreaker. Taz stands, and is subjected to a barrage of punches, before Dreamer goes charging in for a clothesline of his own, only to be caught with another belly-to-belly overhead suplex, which hurls him over the top rope. Taz follows Dreamer outside, and after some punches of his own, whips Dreamer into the steel barrier, before throwing him head first into the ringpost, drawing blood. The sight of his own blood sends Dreamer into a fury, allowing him to batter Taz all around the ringside area before scoring a sickening DDT onto the concrete floor. Taz is hurled back into the ring, and Dreamer takes a chair from a bloodthirsty fan, and climbs the top rope, where he patiently waits for Taz to reach his feet before delivering a jumping chairshot that renews the “E-C-Dub!” chants that had popped up earlier for Dreamer being suplexed over the ropes, and for Dreamer’s DDT. Dreamer spits blood onto Taz’s face, and drags him to the his feet for a DDT, which Taz miraculously kicks out of, pumping the crowd into overdrive. Dreamer hoists Taz onto his shoulders for the Spicolli Driver, but Taz is able to slip it into a Tazmission, from which there is no escape, choking the air out of Dreamer, and knocking him unconscious to give Taz the win.

July 26th, 1997: ECW Hardcore TV

After a win over Balls Mahoney, Justin Credible grabs a microphone “See that, Tommy? That’s called winning a match” he laughs “maybe you could try it someday. Now, I don’t need to brag, you all know how just incredible I am, but Justin Credible’s one cool motherfucker” he brags, ignoring the “Faggot!” catcalls from the crowd “and being one cool mother fucker, I keep on top of what’s cool. And it seems like everybody who’s anybody has been kicking Tommy Dreamer’s ass. So Tommy, how about it? You and me, one-on-one. I want to see what the big deal is” he laughs, before dropping the mic and leaving.

Fan-Cam picks up on events after the house-show at which the promo was cut, once again, outside the arena, where Dreamer is waiting outside for Justin Credible to leave. Once he does, Dreamer pulls him to the ground and smashes fists violently into him before he knows what’s happened. The static crackles out, and Joey Styles, in front of the ECW banner, promises us that the match between the two on August 1st at the Ice Garden in Rostraver, will be shown in its entirety on next week’s episode of Hardcore TV.

August 2nd, 1997: ECW Hardcore TV

The match is shown in its entirety, as promised, which doesn’t take long, as Dreamer attacks Justin Credible on his way to the ring, destroys him on the outside and tosses him inside for the Dreamer DDT and the three count.

August 9th, 1997: ECW Hardcore TV

Joey Styles introduces footage from the night after Tommy destroyed Justin Credible, a house show at the Golden Dome in Monaca. Tommy Dreamer battles Tommy Rich, all intensity and fire. It’s all Rich can do to weather the storm that is Dreamer, and he does well for weathering it for as long as he does before falling to the Dreamer DDT. Panting a little, Dreamer paces the ring after the match, mic in hand. “Justin Credible! I know after that ass-kicking I gave you last night, you’ve got to have something up your sleeve for revenge! So come on out, come on out. Whatever you’re going to say, whatever you’re going to do, come on out and let’s do this!” ‘Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck’ by Grinspoon hits the speakers, and out limps a slightly less cocky Justin Credible. He picks up a microphone on his way to the ring, rolls carefully into the ring, looks Tommy in the eye and tells him “I got nothing to say.” There’s a pause as Tommy tenses himself for a fight, and the fans watch, unsure of what’s happening, most of them having not seen the match the last night. “You beat me down hard enough last night that I know not to fuck with you, not right now. But I’m on my way up in the world, and I’m going to keep remembering that beating while I keep getting more experienced, and one day, there’ll be a rematch. Not this week, not this month. Maybe not this year. But I’ll keep getting better, and I’ll make that beating you gave me look gentle compared to the hell I’ll give you.” He steps back between the ropes, only for Tommy to call back to him “So that’s it? No fight left in you? No fire? Nothing?” He smirks, and turns back around to face Dreamer. “That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? Finding another fight that means as much as the war with Raven. You know, the one you lost? So you’re what, hoping for a year of fighting me? I got better things to do than indulge the fantasies of a pathetic loser like you.” Dreamer snaps, DDTing Justin Credible before giving him a vicious beating with a steel chair that leaves him a bloody heap in the turnbuckle.

August 16th, 1997: ECW Hardcore TV

Justin Credible stands in front of the ECW banner with Joey Styles, somehow manages to laugh despite the bruises covering his face. “Tommy, Tommy, Tommy. I was right, wasn’t I?” He turns to Styles “He made his whole life about fighting Raven, about beating Raven. So when he failed, what does that make him, what does that make his whole life? A failure, Joey. A failure. It’d be sad if it wasn’t so damn funny. See Tommy Dreamer will keep looking for that spark, that fire in a war with someone else, and someone else, and someone else, and he won’t find it. The only thing that gave his sad life meaning left for Atlanta. Meanwhile, Justin Credible will continue to be the hottest prospect in all of professional wrestling, will continue to be the most talented man alive, will continue to be not just the coolest, not just the best, but Justin Credible!” He leaves, and Styles opens his mouth to comment, before Justin Credible steps back into the picture “Tommy, let’s not bother with that rematch down the line. You ain’t never gonna be worth my time, sucker.”

August 23rd to September 13th, 1997: ECW Hardcore TV

Each episode of Hardcore TV in this time span features a Tommy Dreamer match. The first one, against Tommy Rich sees a lot of the fire he had from their last encounter disappear, Tommy Rich getting in a lot more offence, and giving Dreamer a hard time as a result. The match the following week between Dreamer and Candido sees Dreamer’s apathy almost lose him the match again, and the match between him and Louie Spicolli is even closer fought. Dreamer’s win streak comes with the announcement that at As Good As It Gets on September 20th, Dreamer will face Taz for the TV title. The September 13th Hardcore TVsees another Dreamer/Rich match, this time Dreamer’s indifference costing him the match, after which it is announced that Tommy Rich will be added to the TV Title match, making it now a Three-Way-Dance.

September 20th, 1997: As Good As It Gets.

The time for the TV title match comes around, and Tommy Rich and Taz each make their way to the ring. “Man In A Box” by Alice In Chains hits the speakers, and Tommy is announced, but no-one comes to the ring. After long enough has passed to make it clear Dreamer isn’t coming to the ring, Taz and Rich go one-on-one for the title, in a heavyweight clash that sees Rich’s brawling style meet Taz’s array of suplexes, Rich coming up short against the TV Champion.

Elsewhere on the card, Shane Douglas makes a difficult ECW Heavyweight Title defence against Bam Bam Bigelow. Having finally toppled the humongous challenger, Douglas leans exhausted against the ropes, when the lights suddenly go out. Back on they come and, flanked by two men wearing WWF Security jackets, is Jerry Lawler, who smashes Douglas in the face with a fist that wears brass knuckles with the same deadly precision con artists wear their smiles. Down Douglas goes, only for Lawler to pull him up by his hair and smash Douglas’s face again, bringing blood flowing fast and free from Douglas’s head. Lawler takes a microphone from one of his security guards, and starts to shout over the vehement rage of the ECW Mutants.

“So this is the great ECW, huh? If you ask me, this bingo hall oughta be built out of toilet paper, because it’s full of shit!” He turns to Douglas’s prone form “Which I guess makes you king of the shit, don’t it champ?” He motions for his guards to pull Douglas up, and he gives the already barely conscious Douglas a piledriver, as the fan’s catcalls of “Fuck You Lawler” become deafening, and rubbish is hurled into the ring. He puts a foot on the unconscious champion’s chest, and counts a pin into the microphone. He declares “I guess this makes me champion” before grabbing the belt, but tosses it down, saying “Nah. I don’t want this piece of shit”. The fans have reached almost the point of rioting now, as Lawler and his WWF security flee the arena.

September 27th, 1997: ECW Hardcore TV

This episode of Hardcore TV opens with Paul Heyman stepping out of a TV production room and delivering a message “Last weekend, Tommy Dreamer failed to appear at his scheduled match at As Good As It GetsHe gave no reason at the time, and has not only not been in contact since, but no-one’s seen or heard from him, and no-one’s been able to contact him. In the off-chance that you’re watching this somewhere Tommy, I’ve got a message for you. Don’t bother coming back, ever, if this is your attitude. I don’t want to see you, and I don’t even want to hear your name spoken around me. I’d like to apologise to you all on behalf of ECW for Tommy’s action, and to promise you that ECW will continue to be the place to see the best action in the sport of professional wrestling.”

Shane Douglas is backstage for an interview “Lawler, you fucked with the wrong man last week! You come into my house, and take a dump all over me and my title, before running away like the little woman you are! Now, since I know you’re too much of a pussy to accept a match, and what with you not being ECW contracted, the boss can’t force you to act like a man, so I’m gonna make you a promise. If you don’t come on out and fight me at Fright Fight, here’s what I’ll do: I’ll come right down to whatever little trailer park you’re hiding in down Memphis way, I’ll drag you right out the rusted door, and right in front of your wife, your sister, whatever name you prefer, I’ll beat you so bad you’ll need to put a fucking wheelchair ramp on that rust bucket! Do the smart thing for once, you goddamn hick, turn up at Fright Fight. I’ll beat your ass worse than when your dad caught you slipping into his moonshine, but at least you’ll walk away.”

October On ECW Hardcore TV:

Episodes of ECW Hardcore TV airing on the 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th of October alternate between Douglas and Lawler trash talking each other through pre-recorded interviews, building up to their Fright Fight battle. One other thing of note to our story happens on the last of these episodes:

Tracy Smothers and Little Guido are on the streets, celebrating their recent tag title win. They’re bragging about their success to the camera, when a drunk stumbles out of an alleyway. Smothers stops, turns to Guido and asks “Is that who I think it is?” They approach him, and sure enough, it’s Tommy Dreamer, who takes a long pull from the bottle of bourbon in his right hand. “Hey Tommy, tell the fans at home what you think of the new ECW tag champions” Smothers laugh. Tommy mumbles “Goway, I ain’t nothing to do with them no more.” and shoves Smothers, before stumbling down the street. Smothers and Guido follow him, jumping him from behind, shouting at him to respect the champions, as they lay the boots into him. The camera pans in for one last shot of Tommy’s bloodied face as he lies in the gutter.

October 31st, 1997: ECW Fright Fight

Douglas comes out for his match to a response warm enough to make a week in the Arizona sun seem like a stroll through a walk in freezer by comparison. Lawler, on the other hand, has his music drowned out by the calls of “Fuck You Lawler!” The two brawl, Douglas taking the upper hand and smashing Lawler all around the building until a low blow with a steel chair swings things to ‘The King’s’ favour. Lawler then proceeds to lead Douglas back to the ring, throwing him into anything he sees along the way. In the ring, DDTs, brainbusters and chair shots are the order of the day, Lawler looking like he’s looking to knock Douglas out again, before hitting a piledriver, to finish it off. Except, this being personal to Douglas, there’s no way a little major head trauma will keep him down. Both men trying to rename the Muta scale, they trade shots on their feet, with Douglas’s sheer willpower winning the day for him, and he picks Lawler up for the Pittsburgh Plunge, only for the WWF security that accompanied Lawler to rush the ring, knocking him down and laying the boots to him. Douglas is pulled to his feet, where Lawler nails him again with the brass knucks, before piledriving him a second time for the three count.

November 1st, 1997: ECW Hardcore TV

Static cuts us to the follow up to last week’s assault on Tommy Dreamer, with Beulah McGillicuty going from bar to bar looking for Tommy Dreamer, looking worried.

In another scene, we see The Sandman sat in a crude office backstage, ECW poster’s lining the wall. He leans casually, as much as anyone can in the hard wooden chair, while Paul Heyman sits across the battered wooden desk from him. Sandman takes a drag from his cigarette, puts it out on Heyman’s desk, and smoke escapes with from his mouth as he tells Heyman

“I know what you want me for.”

“You do, huh?”

“Lawler beat Douglas. You need someone to beat him for it, and I’m your man, on one condition.”

“Name it.”

“Dreamer comes back.”

“Why? I been a good boss to you, right? Why you got to ask the one thing you know I won’t do.”

“Remember Raven? How could you forget that vermin, right? Well, when he took my family from me, I just about hit the bottom. I knew I hit the bottom of a bottle worse’n usual. Guy who pulled me out was Tommy. Now he’s hit the bottom, and this is the only way I know to pull him out. I gotta do right by the guy.”

“I guess I got no choice.”

“I guess not.”

“Fine. Fine! Shit, get out of my office. Don’t stay there staring me in the face when you’ve made me do this.”

In the closing minutes of the show, the static cuts back, and we see that Beulah has found Tommy. The two of them sit at a bar together, Dreamer sporting a black eye, with a half-smoked cigarette dangling from his cut lip while he nurses a whiskey. There’s obvious concern in Beulah’s voice “Come on home. Leave all this. You need to get your head right, and I don’t see it happening here. I don’t see the answer at the bottom of that glass either.”

“Leave me alone. I don’t want to see you. You remind me of him.”

“What, because I was his girl first? I chose you, Tommy, and I never looked back. Does no win over Raven mean more than that?”

Tommy slugs the whiskey down and beckons the bartender to fill it up again rather than answer her. She knocks it over in anger, and says “Fuck you then. Sorry for caring.” before storming off. Tommy just takes a drag, and beckons for another whiskey as the scene fades out.

November 8th, 1997: ECW Hardcore TV

Sandman is backstage with Joey Styles, ready to talk about the upcoming battle with Jerry Lawler at November To Remember: “Lawler, this is it for you. You might’ve been able to beat Douglas in a brawl, but you were fighting an NWA promised son who turned his back on it. At November To Remember, you’ll be fighting a mean, ugly drunk who’s been getting in bar fights since he was old enough to get knocked off a bar stool. You’re fighting a mean drunk who had what alcoholics call “a moment of clarity”, about what he has to do, and ain’t gonna let no old man like you step in his way. You’re fighting a – ” He’s cut off by an assualt by Shane Douglas, who batters him to the ground, and lays the boots in.

Tommy Dreamer sits on a bridge at night, his legs dangling over the edge. “I used to have a sickness that plagued me, but I thought I was finally rid of it. I had a home, and I loved that home. But into that home came my sickness, my disease, and it made that home sick, so I fought that sickness, but try as I might, I couldn’t defeat it. Try as I might, it always got the better of me. Now that sickness has left the home, but I’m still infected. You and me must have bled all over each other, Raven, and now I can feel you inside me. I can feel your blood, your sickness running through my veins, and there’s no cure. No cure now you’re gone, Raven. Was this your plan all along? Did you even have a plan, or did you just know if you turned up in my life again, you would inevitably ruin it? Whatever he thought doesn’t matter, I guess. Either way, I’m the disease now. Quote the Dreamer, Nevermore…”

November 15th, 1997: ECW Hardcore TV

 

Shane Douglas is backstage with Joey Styles, who asks him about his attack on The Sandman last week. Douglas’s response is fast paced and angry: “Well Joey, I’ll try and make this simple so you and Sandman can understand. Sandman and me, we been on top of this company for a while now. Now I’m sure he doesn’t like me too much, even before the attack, and you know what? I didn’t like him too much before he gave me reason to give him that beating. But here’s the thing. There’s not many men can take me to my limit, or can take Sandman to his limit, but me and him, well, we have to go all out to beat each other. I kind of thought that had built some kind of respect, y’know? But no. Lawler humiliates me, the ECW World Champion not once but twice, and Sandman tries to steal my chance to get the revenge I’m owed, and that don’t sit well with the Franchise. So tell you what, Sandman. You turn up at the Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, November 21st, and we’ll take each other to the limit one more time, to see just who gets to beat some sense into that dumb hick once and for all.”

November 22nd, 1997: ECW Hardcore TV

Much of this week’s edition of Hardcore TV is dedicated to the Sandman/Douglas bout that happened the night before, showing footage of Lawler’s attack on Douglas, clipped highlights from the first match between Lawler and Douglas, Sandman agreeing to fight Douglas in exchange for Dreamer’s return, Douglas’s attack on Sandman, and the Shane Douglas promos against both Sandman and Lawler. Clipped highlights from their battle last night close out the show.

            static crackles…sandman does the famous entrance

            static crackles…douglas wrestles rings around sandman, who turns predictably to brawling, the two trading punches in and outside the ring.

            static crackles…brawling in the crowd, chants of “ecdubecdub” douglas whipped into inner wall of arena, holds back in pain, dragged back towards ring, grimacing in pain.

            static crackles…arm shoots up between sandman’s legs, dazing him, douglas going on offensive again, sandman whipped headfirst into ringpost, blood covering face like mask

            static crackles…franchiser, one, two, kickout, punches from both men, comeback by sandman

            static crackles…singapore cane now, douglas caned remorselessly in corner

            static crackles…rolling rock through table, one, two, three, say your prayers, little one, handshake,  don’t forget my son, crowd cheers, to include everyone…

 

November 24th, 1997: WWF RAW is WAR

During a match between Ken Shamrock and Savio Vega, the live crowd grow unusually loud. Lawler and Ross at the announce desk try to pass this off as the crowd just enjoying the kind of great wrestling between such huge names as Ken Shamrock and Savio Vega that you can only see on RAW. This is not a particularly likely explanation. A more likely one comes in the form of the fact that the crowd moving to from a circle around something moving towards the ring from the crowd, and the singapore cane which is thrown over the announce desk from behind, landing in front of it. Sure enough, The Sandman steps over the barrier, grabs Lawler by the head and drags him out of his seat, punching and kicking at him. Sandman grabs the singapore cane and batters Lawler while he lies on the ground trying to protect his face with his arms. Sandman pulls Lawler up by the head and slams him into the ringpost repeatedly. Shamrock and Vega stop their match to defend the commentator, only to eat a series of cane shots themselves. WWF security eventually swarm around Sandman and are able to drag him out of the building. As he’s being dragged away, he keeps screaming to Lawler that he’ll see him at November To Remember.

November 30th, 1997: ECW November To Remember

Lawler’s music is drowned out by duelling chants of “Lawler sucks!” and “Dick!”, while the arena is united in it’s rapturous response to Sandman, crowding around him and singing “Enter Sandman”. Sandman comes down carrying his usual cane, but also a black burlap sack, which he leaves in the corner. This match was never going to be pretty from a technical standpoint, and it makes no pretences fro the start, the two throwing fists and generally brawling in and around the ring. Chairs, tables, and of course, the singapore cane all come into play, with both men bleeding heavy and early. Sandman’s will is greater however, and it becomes clear that tonight, with the pride of ECW at stake, as well as the future of his friend, nothing short of true brutality will put him down for three seconds. As Sandman is punching Lawler in the corner, he poses for the fans, giving Lawler time to scream for the WWF security guards who have followed him to each ECW event to rush the ring, attacking Sandman. Despite his willpower, Sandman cannot fight off three men, two of whom are fresh. Not on his own at least. Luckily, some heavy electric organ chords signal the arrival of Shane Douglas, who chrages the ring with a steel chair, downing both security guards and Lawler before they can stop him. He extends his hand to help Sandman to his feet, and then charges both security guards to the outside as they stand up, brawling outside with them. Sandman gives the prone Jerry Lawler some cane shots to keep him down, before going outside the ring for a table, which he sets up in the ring. Lawler is placed sitting on the top turnbuckle, and given a cane shot just to keep him from resisting. Sandman opens up the sack in the corner at this point, pulling first out of it a bottle of lighter fluid, which he pours over the table. Next out of the sack is a twenty pack of Marlboro Reds. Sandman pops one in his mouth, and pulls a lighter out of his jean pockets, lighting up. He takes a deep, satisfying drag on it, and blows the smoke in Lawler’s face before throwing the light cigarette casually onto the table, lighting it up like the Vegas strip at night. As the rabid crowd scream “E-C-DUB!”, Lawler is superplexed through the flaming table, and the three count is inevitable. Sandman goes outside to help Douglas finish the fight with security, then the two of them head back into the ring, where Sandman supplies the both of them with a beer and a smoke, before raising the cane above his head and shouting “E-C-FUCKING-W!” as Douglas laughs happily. The two will one day be enemies again, but tonight, a great enemy is vanquished, a great enemy neither man could have vanquished alone. Another reason for the smile on Sandman’s face is that he’s now paid his old friend back for helping him out of his own dark times.

December 6th, 1997: ECW Hardcore TV

Dreamer is on the bridge again, and looks to the camera. “So I’m back now, back home, where I belong. Only this time, things are going to be different. On December 11th, Sandman and me challenge Candido and Storm for the ECW Tag Titles in a Three Way Dance with the Full Blooded Italians, and it will be a very different Tommy Dreamer who comes to the ring on Decmber 11th than the one you saw over the second half of this year. See, I had a revelation. I realised one simple truth: Everything is relative. What we are is only defined by what is around us. So I’m a sick man now, but only because those around me are not sick. I know the cure for you, Raven. If I spread my sickness to the whole of ECW, then I’m not the sick one any more. If everyone’s sick, then no-one’s sick, and that includes me. Come December 11th, at the Convention Centre in Rochester, New York I let this sickness inside of me out to play. Quote the Dreamer, Nevermore…”

December 13h, 1997: ECW Hardcore TV

Hardcore TV this week features the tag title match from Rochester two nights earlier, static crackles and we’re in. The match starts with Guido and Storm chain wrestling, an exchange that ‘The Sicilian Shooter’ gets the better of, leading Candido to tag Storm in. Storm uses kicks and suplexes to take the clear advanatge over Guido, who tags out to Smothers. Smothers uses a poke to the eye, and a punch to the face. The two are close to Dreamer however, who hasn’t forgotten the beat Smothers and Guido gave him. Dreamer steps between the ropes and charges himself and Smothers between the ropes. Both outside, Dreamer sits atop Smother’s chest and rains punches on his head. Storm sets up to dive out onto both of them, but Sandman crack him in the back of the head with a singapore cane. Guido’s attempt to pull Dreamer off Smothers gets the same result, and Candido gets a cane shot just for good measure. With Dreamer continuing to knock seven shades out of Smothers outside, the four others start to duke it out in the ring, Sandman and Guido forming asn unlikely alliance to fight the cohesive team. Guido is eliminated by a spike piledriver from Lance Storm,  and Sandman calls for Dreamer to come in and help him. Consumed by rage however, Dreamer knows nothing but revenge, leaving Sandman to be two-on-oned in the ring. As Storm and Candido celebrate their successful title defence, Sandman goes outside the ring with his cane, and smashes it across the head of Dreamer. Dreamer curls up in a ball as Sandman rains shot after shot onto his back “Where’s the Tommy Dreamer I brought back? Where is he? Where’s the man could actually fight, have his partner’s back? Where’s the man you wanted to go to war beside? Where’s the man you could trust? Where’s the man who said ‘thank you sir, may I have another’? Where the fuck is he, Tommy?” Tommy only wails pathetically in response, and Sandman discards the worn out cane, telling Dreamer “You ain’t even worth a beating.”

End of Act I

Part II

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster - Fredrich Nietzsche

We return to our story on the 23rd of August, 1999, the episode of Hardcore TV just before ECW on TNN starts. The show ends with footage from the August 22nd house show in Gainsville, Georgia.

Justin Credible stands in the ring, microphone in hand. “ECW on TNN is just a week away, and Justin Credible was gonna take a shot at Taz’s ECW Championship. But I got told that I’m not deserving of a shot right now. Obviously they forget that Justin Credible has already been champ-” He stops here, waiting for the mocking chants of “One Day Champ! One Day Champ!” to die down from the crowd. “Yeah, yeah, get it all out folks. You’re just jealous. Anyway, as I was saying before you inbreds interrupted me, I’ve been told I need more wins over top guys, so here it is. The very first match on ECW on TNN will see me kick the ass of lifelong loser Tommy Dreamer, if that’s what it takes to get me to the big belt. August 29th, the world will see why I deserve to be ECW champion, and when I win that belt, I’m going to be too important to show up at little towns like this – it’s nothing but live, national TV and Pay-Per-View for Justin Credible!”

August 29th, 1999: ECW on TNN

Justin Credible comes to the ring to the usual catcalls, but the crowd aren’t too receptive to Tommy Dreamer either. Joey Styles fills in on commentary to new ECW fans about Tommy, his time as the never say die hero of ECW, but how he’s fallen from grace since his nemesis left, and has lost all sense of decency and compassion, while Tommy, wearing a leather jacket, long ringleted black hair over his face, heads to the ring to ‘Echo’ by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. “It’s the same as the same sad echo around here” and Tommy is sitting in the corner of the ring, staring up at Justin Credible. The two engage in a bloody battle, introducing any new fans to the ECW trademark violent style with canes, chairs and tables coming heavily into play. Eventually, Tommy is able to put Justin Credible away with the Infector DDT, and earn a three count.

Towards the end of the show, ECW World Heavyweight Champion Taz makes his way to the ring with the belt and a microphone. “The office gave me a choice in who I’d fight on the first episode of ECW on TNN. Problem is, I can’t think of anyone who’s a challenge anymore. See, I beat everyone that’s been put in front of me. So here it is, I’ll take on any and all challengers come to the ring. Whole locker room want to file out now? I’ll kick all their asses! So, who’s the first victim?”

‘Put down your things and rest awhile, you know we both know where to go’

Tom Petty’s ‘Echo’ hits the speakers, and out comes Tommy, carrying all the effects of his battle earlier in the night. As he makes his way down to the ring, Justin Credible comes at him from behind with a singapore cane, smashing it across his head. Credible lays the boots to Tommy until Taz comes up the ramp and belly-to-belly suplexes him. Credible is tossed into the ring, where Taz follows him, hitting an exploder suplex, followed by a Tazmission to eliminate Justin Credible. While this is happening, Dreamer makes his way into the ring with a chair, and blasts Taz across the head. He works Taz over, but Taz eventually mounts a comeback, and, still battered from his earlier match, once Taz gets going, Dreamer is unable to stop him.

Taz is just finishing Dreamer off when the crowd erupts in noise as Raven rolls into the ring. Raven rolls Taz up from behind by surprise, and earns a three count! The crowd explodes. In the space of about a minute, one of their biggest stars has returned without warning, and claimed the title. Dreamer pulls himself to his knees, and stares in shock at Raven, while Taz looks furious. Raven wastes no time in fleeing back through the crowd with his new prize.

September 5th, 1999: ECW on TNN

This week’s episode starts with the new ECW champion Raven slumped in his corner of the ring, as though he never left, the ECW title across his chest, and a microphone in his hands. The crowd are a mix of those happy to see him back, and those frustrated at his sudden ending of Taz’s great title run, but one thing all have in common: excitement. Raven lets the noise die down before he starts to speak.

“There comes a time in every man’s life when he must make decisions that will forever shape his destiny. In WCW, the Raven was a bird in a cage. He was promised great things, but all that he saw were others caged in golden cages, and fat from feeding, not the malnourished imprisonment of the Raven. But Raven will be kept by no-one, and has come back, to where man can be master of his own fate. And on his return, he saw two imprisoned men. Taz, imprisoned by the pressure of championship, and the pressure of living up to their expectations, and Tommy Dreamer, forever haunted by the ghost of me, and I freed them both last week. I can carry this gold, Taz. You needn’t take the strain. And Tommy, there’s no need to see my face in every reflection: your shadow has come home! I don’t suppose either of you will be grateful now, but I can accept this. Those who do great things are rarely recognised for it during their time.  Quoth the Raven, nevermore.” As Raven makes to leave, Taz comes charging down the ramp, and the two engage in a brawl which Taz gets the better of, Exploder Suplexing him off the ramp. Taz poses with the ECW Title, before dropping it onto Raven’s prone form “Keep hold of that for me until I come back for it at Anarchy Rulz, punk.”

Another scene tonight sees Tommy Dreamer sat alone on a bench in the locker room, bottle of whiskey hanging limply from his right hand. The mirror across from him is shattered, and shows at least a dozen despondent Dreamers staring back at him. He takes a swig from the bottle, and mutters “Jesus. He’s really back.” before the scene fades to black.

After a match with Steve Corino too short to really call a match, Taz heads up the ramp, having taken out his frustrations on the ‘King of Old School’, Mike Awesome catches him by surprise, running in from backstage as Taz nears the entrance to backstage. He running chair shots Taz from the side, dropping the former champion. With Taz lying on his side, Awesome gives him another two shots to the head, before scooping him up and delivering a running Awesome-Bomb off the side of the ramp. He stops briefly to soak in the hatred of the fans, and heads backstage, looking very pleased with himself.

September 12th, 1999: ECW On TNN

Taz marches angrily to the ring to start ECW on TNN, microphone clutched in his fearsome right hand.

“Last week, I got jumped out of nowhere by Mike Awesome. Week before that, my title got stolen by Raven. I am getting real sick of all the cowards in this promotion! Now, it ain’t exactly no secret that I ain’t long for this company, so I was wondering if someone could make a dream come true while I still got time for it: Could someone in this company actually have the balls to come at me head on?”

“Awesome Bomb” hits the speakers, and out comes Mike Awesome. He strides powerfully to the ring, and stands toe to toe with Taz, staring down at the former champion. Taz unsurprisingly looks unintimidated.

“So Mike, what the hell? I run your dog over recently or what?”

“Taz, I was set to go one-on-one with you, take that gold around your waist at Anarchy Rulz. But you came out and invited the unexpected to happen to you when you had gold around your waist, and big surprise, your stupidity cost you the title. Which means it cost me the title, little man. I don’t let that go easy.”

“Raven’s the one with the belt. Go take out your insolence on him why don’t you?”

“He’s strapped gold around his waist. Sure, that means he’s painted a bullseye on his chest. But I reckon it’s a bullseye you’re aiming at. Want to make it clear – I go first, or you go to hospital.”

“Tell you what, big guy. Tonight, you and me, we go head to head -”

“Reckon you need a ladder then.”

“You’re not the first to underestimate me on account of size. You won’t be the first goes home in a bodybag for it, either. No, you ain’t special, you just like to think you are. Tonight, I’m going to put you in your place. You somehow come out ahead, you go at Raven at Anarchy Rulz next week for the title. If not, he’s mine. Deal?”

Taz extends his hand. Awesome takes hold of it.

“Deal.”

Awesome kicks Taz in the gut and pulls him in for an awesome bomb. When he lifts Taz up, however, Taz drops out behind him, clutching onto his neck for a tazmission. Awesome runs desperately backwards, dropping Taz over the top rope to the outside. Taz gets quickly to his feet, and backs slowly off from his huge opponent later tonight, neither of them letting the other out of sight.

Later on in the show, we see Raven in a darkened room, the ECW World Heavyweight title slung over his shoulder.

“Pride. Greed. Wrath. We are brought up to believe these are deadly sins, sins that drive men to the gates of hell. And yet, they are the most human of emotions. Look at ECW. The pride of Taz drove him to issue the open challenge that dethroned him. When Tommy Dreamer lost his pride, he lost his identity, and is nothing but a shadow now, a shadow of my former self. The greed of men like Taz and Mike Awesome drives them to destroy each other tonight in order to get a shot at my title. The wrath of Mike Awesome at being denied his chance drove him to attack Taz. These are sins, but they are also what drives men ever on in life. Without these sins, we are nothing. And this gold that drives men to fight me makes one thing clear – I am the greatest sinner in all of ECW. Quoth the Raven, Quoth the king of sinners, Quoth the man, Quoth the champion, Quoth them all, nevermore.”

The main event rolls around. Awesome starts off with huge overhead punshes to Taz, smashing him back before delivering  a running big boot. Awesome pulls Taz up and throws him into the corner, charging in there after him. Taz dodges out of the way, and steps behind Awesome for a german suplex. Awesome has barely reached his feet before he takes a swinging neckbreaker. Taz goes outside, gets a chair, and goes back inside. He smashes Awesome with a shot, but it merely staggers the huge man. Awesome dodges a second shot, and wrestles the chair away from Taz. He blasts Taz across the head, toppling him over the top rope. Awesome follows him with a dive between the second and third ropes once Taz gets to his feet. Both men lay stunned for a while, before Awesome gets up, and removes one of the guardrails between the ringside and the fans. Security rushes to keep the fans from spilling over to ringside. Awesome sets the railing up between the apron and another guardrail. He hoists Taz up, and gives him an Awesome Bomb onto the railing, prompting a huge “E-C-Dub” chant. Taz is thrown back into the ring, then carefully positioned by Awesome, before Awesome climbs the top rope to deliver a frog splash. Taz somehow kicks out at two, shocking Awesome. Awesome goes outside, grabs a table, slides it into the ring. He enters the ring himself, and sets the table up. He lifts Taz onto the top turnbuckle, facing away from the table. He ascends the turnbuckle himself, and gets himself into position to Awesome Bomb Taz from there. Taz low blows Awesome, however, then steps down to the second turnbuckle. He hooks the doubled over Awesome’s head, and his left leg, and gives him a release fisherman’s superplex through the table, popping the crowd huge. Taz has taken such a beating at this point that by the time he’s covered Awesome, Awesome has recovered enough to kick at two. Taz rolls slowly and painfully outside, and fetches a chair. He heads back in, only to find that Awesome has reached his own feet, and has his own chair. They swing simultaneously, their chairs crashing against each other. Both men stagger a little, their arms jarring from the impact. Awesome swings at Taz’s head, but Taz ducks, and steps under Awesome’s arm. Awesome turns around, and is hit in the gut with Taz’s chair. Taz drops the chair, and DDTs the doubled over Awesome onto the chair. Taz then climbs atop Awesome’s back, and locks on the Tazmission. Awesome’s arm drops once, twice, thrice, this one’s over. Taz is now set to face Raven on September 19th, at Anarchy Rulz, to regain his stolen prize. Taz looks tired and battered, but determined to take that gold from Raven.

September 19th, 1999: ECW Anarchy Rulz

Taz goes right after Raven from the start, pursuing his title with suplexes and strikes. Raven rolls outside to escape, but Taz follows him out, and whips him into the guardrail. Taz charges after for a clothesline, but Raven steps forward, grabs him by the head, and smashes his head into the ringpost, using his own momentum against him. Raven wraps an arm around Taz’s neck and russian leg sweeps him into the guardrail. Both men are dazed by the move, and struggle to get up. When they do, they immediately start to trade punches, and the fight quickly goes into the crowd. They brawl through the crowd, before returning to the ring, both tired and battered. Once in the ring, Taz continues to utilise suplexes to demolish Raven, but the tide turns when he goes for the Tazmission on a standing Raven, only for Raven to swing his leg backwards to kick Taz low. Raven then turns him around and scores an Evenflow DDT. While this only gets two, it turns things back in Raven’s favour. Raven controls Taz with boots and basic submissions, then succesfully hits a drop-toe-hold into a seated chair. He covers for two, then pulls Taz up for a piledriver. Taz backdrops Raven out of it, and limps to the ropes to recover. Raven reaches his feet, and Taz charges in for a clothesline. Raven goes running for one of his own, and the two collide, both going down.

“Put down your things and rest awhile, you know we’ve both nowhere to go”

Tom Petty’s ‘Echo’ hits the speakers, and sure enough, out comes Tommy Dreamer, brandishing a chair. He heads to the ring with a determined look on his face as both men slowly regain their feet and stare at Dreamer. He slides under the bottom rope, and raises his chair to strike Raven, only to turn at the last second and deliver the blow to Taz. Taz drops to the ground, and Dreamer drops his chair to the ground. Him and Raven both pull Taz up by the head, and deliver a double DDT onto the chair. Raven rolls onto Taz, and the cover gets three. Raven stands again, and is given his title. Clutching onto it in his right hand, he uses his left to grab the back of Dreamer’s head, and pull it towards him, kissing the forehead. He laughs victoriously as he lets Dreamer go, and they both make the crucifixion pose with their arms as the crowd voice their anger, and Anarchy Rulz goes off the air.

September 26th, 1999: ECW On TNN

ECW on TNN this week starts with Raven and Dreamer heading to the ring to a chorus of jeers, before slumping in a corner together. Raven raises a microphone, holding it in one arm, while the other arm lies protectively around Dreamer’s shoulders.

“Identity is one of life’s cruelest paradoxes. Through our identity, we define what makes us different, what makes us individuals. Yet in order to define our identity, we must turn to others, against whom we contrast ourselves, or with whom we compare ourselves. We must turn to our relationships with others. In short, man is dependant on others in order to become self-dependant. In order to be the hero you sheep once loved, Dreamer had to contrast himself against me, and our selves became complexly tied in each other. When I left, I carelessly tore the knot that bound us, leaving Dreamer to bleed inwardly, a bleeding that has continued for over a year. A bleeding that can now begin to heal, for I am returned. And now, the Dreamer can awaken, can know that his identity is once more defined by the Raven, that the knot that bound them once, binds ever tighter now, for we are together in goal. Now there is no pain, no confusion, there is only Raven, and there is only Dreamer, and there is only total domination of ECW ahead.”

The main event of the night sees Dreamer and Raven go up against Taz and Mike Awesome. While Dreamer and Raven display a level of teamwork that seems like they’re reading each other’s minds, Taz and Awesome fail to get on the same page, and eventually are toppled by the extremely unlikely duo. Joey Styles mentions on commentary that next week’s main event is to see Dreamer and Raven team against Rob Van Dam and Sabu.

October 3rd, 1999: ECW On TNN

Raven and Dreamer are backstage. Raven looks at Dreamer with interest.

“How are you feeling about tonight’s match?”

“I feel good. I can’t wait to get my hands on him.”

“I know. I know from feeling what you’re feeling now, once before. It seems a long time ago. It’s funny, isn’t it? How men, no matter their differences, will almost all feel fire and vengeance at this?”

“Do you still-”

“No. No, I’m long past that. But I still remember, and sometimes, that’s enough.”

The main event rolls around. Van Dam and Sabu both look focussed on Raven’s title. Raven, and Dreamer even more so look focussed on the manager and girlfriend of Rob Van Dam – Beulah McGillicutty, who unintentionally draws Dreamer’s attention several times during the match. Van Dam and Sabu’s speed and intensity gives them the advantage at the start, but both take too big risks during the match, and do some serious damage to themselves at various points. Raven and Dreamer are able to turn things around by capitalising on these opportunities when they come around, leading to a fairly even match. Once Dreamer has Van Dam downed, he goes outside, and slowly closes in on Beulah. She backs off a little, but is eventually stuck in a corner of the barrier. Dreamer places one hand forcefully on the back of her head, and stares into her eyes. Beulah brings a knee into his groin, and backs off. Van Dam manages to get his act together, and sentons onto Dreamer as Dreamer follows after Beulah again. Dreamer is then tossed into the ring, and subjected to a vicious beating from Van Dam. Sabu and Raven are busy brawling outside the ring when Van Dam scales the top rope and delivers his Five Star Frog Splash for the three count. He takes Beulah by the arm, and leads her to the back, leaving Dreamer beaten and alone in the ring.

October 10th, 1999: ECW On TNN

Tonight, the news is broken by Joey Styles that next week’s main event will see Rob Van Dam challenge Raven for the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. At the start of the show, we see Van Dam practising his kicks with Beulah close by, and watching. She makes to leave quietly, but he stops the workout for a moment.

“You going?”

“Got something I need to take care of.”

“Alright. See you out there, I guess.”

“Yeah.”

Tommy Dreamer sits alone, staring at the floor. A knock comes at the door, and he mumbles that they should come in. And so Beulah does. He rises to meet her and starts to come closer, but she puts an arm out in front of her.

“Close enough Tommy. Not really comfortable after last week.”

“What are you here for then, if I’m making you uncomfortable?”

“It’s about tonight.”

Tommy laughs bitterly, turns his head and spits before turning back to Beulah.

“Of course it is. Here to try and turn me against Raven, huh? Get the gold on your man? I never could get it on myself, could I Beulah? That why he’s a better choice than me?”

Beulah becomes angry herself.

“Yeah, okay, you know what, this is about Raven, and you fighting him again. What’s with you sitting under his arm like that? He used to be your enemy.”

“Yeah, and you used to be my girl. Things change, Beulah. Now you’re off with that creep Van Dam. I mean, how could you? You remember what that guy was like, right?”

“Yeah. I remember what you were like too.”

“Meaning?”

Beulah is enraged now, and all but screams at Tommy.

“You used to be a man, Tommy! You used to be a fucking man! You used to have things you wanted, things you believed in, and god-damn if you weren’t gonna fight to the death for them! Now look at you, just fucking look at yourself, Tommy, if you can bear the sight of it! Just who are you? Not that same man, not even a man anymore, just the shadow of one! Here I was, going to try and make good, despite everything, remind you of who you are, and you want to get petty on who took your place! Well fuck you, Tommy!”

Beulah storms out, and Tommy leans tiredly against a wall, his head resting on his arms.

October 17th, 1999: ECW On TNN

Raven and Tommy Dreamer sit backstage. Raven speaks softly.

“I know who came to visit you. It must have been a difficult spot. I know how badly you take loss of personal relationships. You must know that this is what she knows too, what she plans on using. You and me, we are building a righteous order here in ECW, an order where we finally take our spot at the top, and she is the serpent in the garden. Do not let her lead you into temptation, do not let her lead her from the path of righteousness, the path of the Raven and the Dreamer.”

Dreamer looks thoughtful, and we leave this scene.

The main event rolls around, Raven vs Rob Van Dam, for the ECW World title. Anticipation at the Hammersmith Ballroom reaches fever pitch as the combatants make their way out. Raven looks as usual on a higher plane than everything around him, looking perfectly calm. Van Dam himself is famed for his calm demeanour. Neither man looks shaken by the atmosphere, and Raven isn’t even bothered enough to leave his corner. Van Dam paces in front of him as the bell rings, and calls for him to stand and fight, but Raven shakes his head and laughs, calling for a microphone instead. Raven gets it, but Van Dam steps forwards and kicks the microphone from his hand. He flicks his leg to the side, striking Raven in the face. Van Dam proceeds to lay boots into Raven, causing him to slump to the side. Van Dam hits the opposite ropes and dropkicks him to the outside. He heads back opposite, and comes back again with a senton to the outside. Raven casually sidesteps it, however, and reaches to pick up the microphone kicked from his hand by Van Dam.

“As I was about to say, this is the reason” he breaks off for a second to plant a vicious kick in Van Dam’s ribs, and then hold the belt above his head “that you will never be ready to take this from me. You are too emotional, too proud, too enthusiastic.” Another kick “What does this mean, that you must be proud of it? It means one thing, it means you are king of the garbage people! I’ve accepted this, I am ready for this” Another kick “I am of them myself, I am their lowest levels of social function and their highest levels of mental function, I am their best and their worst – but you? You are a proud knight in a dark kingdom, and to rule that kingdom means embracing that darkness, and you will never be ready for that!” A series of vicious stomps to the face now, blood flows thick from Van Dam’s nose as Raven moves away to the corner of the guardrail, where he slumps. “There is no place for pride here. There is no place for you here. You are not welcome in my kingdom of sin.”

He casually throws the microphone away, and carefully lays his title on the apron. He heads back to Van Dam, who has begun to rise again. Van Dam angrily, desperately throws a punch towards Raven’s midsection. It connects, and Raven takes another punch, staggering back. Van Dam goes for a superkick, but Raven ducks it. He grabs Van Dam by the head and runs him into the ringpost. He keeps hold of Van Dam’s head, and performs a russian leg sweep into the barrier. Both are stunned, but Raven is up first, having taken the least punishment. Raven whips Van Dam towards the guardrail, onto which he bounces up, and comes back with a leg lariat. From here, Van Dam rushes Raven with ultra stiff kicks and suplexes, and dominates the match until he is caught with a chair shot from Raven while attempting a five star frog splash. Raven rolls away, having only been able to lift a nearby chair in defence. He pulls himself up by the ropes, and lays the boots into Van Dam. He then sets a chair up in the middle of the ring, and drop toe holds Van Dam into it. A cover gets two. He pulls Van Dam up for a Raven Effect DDT onto the chair, but Van Dam avoids it. The two trade punches in the middle of the ring

Put down your things and rest awhile, you know we’ve both nowhere to go”

‘Echo’ by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers hits the sound system, and out comes Tommy Dreamer, steel chair in hand. Raven seems to be expecting this, so while Van Dam’s attention is drawn for a moment, his isn’t, and he uses this distraction to low blow Van Dam. Dreamer enters the ring, and motions for Raven to pick Van Dam up. Dreamer raises the weapon above his head, and slams it down across Van Dam’s. He drops the chair, and turns to Raven, who has turned to thank him. He kicks Raven firmly in the gut, and delivers a vicious DDT onto the steel chair. He rolls out of the ring, leaving both men down. Van Dam is the first to his feet, and he punishes Raven with stiff kicks. Raven utilises a blow to the eyes to turn things around, and goes for a chair to srike Van Dam with, only for Van Dam to kick the chair into his face. Up to the top rope Van Dam climbs, and off he flies, the Five Star Frog Splash hitting it’s target this time around, and winning a three count. Van Dam is handed the title, and celebrates proudly in the crowd, Beulah and Fonsie coming out to join in the celebration.

October 24th, 1999: ECW On TNN

Tonight’s episode starts with Rob Van Dam, the new ECW World Heavyweight Champion in the ring. He waits for the chants of “R-V-D!” and “Whole Fucking Show!” to die down, then starts to speak

“This is it! This is what it’s about! Being world champion! But I’m aware, I didn’t exactly win this under the best of circumstances, I won this thanks to Tommy Dreamer, and it’s Tommy Dreamer I want to see out here, and it’s Tommy Dreamer I want to defend my title against at November 2 Remember!”

A familiar guitar riff not heard for almost two years, echoes through the arena: Alice In Chain’s ‘Man In A Box’. No more sad echoes for Tommy Dreamer, who looks more focussed, more alive than he has for over two years. Van Dam sees Dreamer come out, and immediately thanks him.

“What are you thanking me for, Rob? You think I did this for you? You think I was sitting in the back, saying to myself ‘It’s Rob’s time’? Hell no, this wasn’t about you. I can see you thinking maybe it was about Beulah? Hell, once upon a time friend. You taking a chair shot too was about Beulah, me winning you that title wasn’t! Then it must be about Raven, right? I mean, that’s why Tommy does what he does, and that’s always been why Tommy does what he does, right? You think that’s why you’re wearing gold?  It wasn’t about Raven either, kid. Now I see that little puzzled look cross your face. Everyone that matters ticked off, right? It was about Tommy, Rob. It was about being that man again, it was about fighting for myself, for these fans! So save your thanks. I sent Raven a message needed to be sent, and I’ve got him at November 2 Remember, and at November 2 Remember, I end it all. Then that very next night, I come after you. Everything in my past behind me, I set about the future of Tommy Dreamer! So if you want to thank someone, thank Raven, Rob, thank Raven. Because Raven is buying you time. Raven is buying you up until November 2 Remember with that title!” With this, Tommy storms off the stage, leaving Rob Van Dam with a shocked look on his face.

Later in the show, Tommy Dreamer finds himself going at it with Justin Credible again. Again, Tommy beats Justin Credible. Justin Credible stares with deep frustration and resentment at Tommy as Tommy celebrates victory. Justin finds vengeance through proxy however, as Mike Awesome storms the ring and violently assaults Tommy Dreamer, laying him out with an awesome bomb from inside the ring to outside it, leaving Tommy unconscious on the outside.

October 31st, 1999: ECW on TNN

The last ECW on TNN before November 2 Remember starts with Mike Awesome pacing up and down backstage, while Joey Styles stands with a slightly exasperated look on his face and watches. Finally, Awesome makes his voice heard. “I should have been the one to go after Taz, but he gave that shot up to Raven! I should have been the one to go after Raven, but Tommy gave that title to Van Dam! When is it Mike’s turn? Who do I have to break to make it Mike’s turn? Is it you, Dreamer? Because I’ll do it! I know you’re in some kind of career rebirth or whatever, born again, dip me in the river bullshit, but I’ll do it! I’ll keep on breaking until I get what I deserve, goddamn it!”

Later on in the show, Raven approaches Awesome. Mike looks frustrated. “You look frustrated, Mike. And I understand. I know what it is to have the machinations of others disrupt your destiny, Mike. I know what it means to be so close to your goal, only to have it torn from you. I understand this pain of yours. I suggest to you an alliance of mutual understanding. In fact, while I would be getting a shot at Van Dam, at November 2 Remember, I am tied up in fighting Dreamer again. Dreamer has disrupted my destiny. Aid me in my battle against him, and I will aid you against Rob Van Dam. Oh yes, my friend, I have many voices that whisper to me, and they tell me you have been given your chance next Sunday. Do we have an alliance of like-minded souls, Mike?”

Raven extends a hand to Awesome, who accepts it.

Raven then looks with a serious face towards the camera. “And I have a message for you, Dreamer. You have disappointed me. Do you remember, back when we first knew each other as children? You despised me back then, I know. And I thought the feeling was the same. But I later realised that that’s not true. I admired you, back in those days. I wanted to be you. Everyone liked you, for some reason I’ll never understand. You were always successful. Then after our years of adult blood being shed for the sake of a childhood grudge, I had moved on, I had defeated you, but still was my life empty. My life grew complete when I got word about you here in ECW, about your ‘failures’ as they were called. But I didn’t see failure. No, I saw a man who finally understood me. I saw a completeness of that childhood dream. I saw a man I had once wished as a boy to be, wishing to be me. I have not cried often since high school, Tommy. The torment I had there washed them all from me. They were of my childhod, not my adulthood. I cried that night, Tommy. I cried with completion, with closure, with the beauty of everything that had come to pass. And so I returned, and I took you to my side, and we were as one, as we always were, perhaps, and for both of us, we had found completion. But then you betray me, for the soft eyes of a whore who discarded you, Tommy! I know that you feel your old self, and that’s great for you, I’m sure. But remember this: your old self never could beat me, could he? Dreamer, you will always be left quoting the Raven.”

Later on, towards the end of the show with Tommy Dreamer: “There’s a little voice, in the back of my head. There’s this little, whispering voice. It tells me I’m not enough, it tells me I’m not ready. It tells me lies. It’s name is Raven. I tried to destroy it, and I failed, and I surrendered to it for over a year. But now I see it for what it is. Now, I can feel clarity about what I have to do. Now I know how I must do it too. Now I know the path ahead of me, and it starts with me destroying you next week at November 2 Remember, Raven. Quoth the Dreamer, nevermore.”

November 7th, 1999: ECW November 2 Remember

The semi-main event of our show sees Tommy Dreamer and Raven face off for the first time in over two years. Anticipation among the fans, and in Tommy Dreamer has reached breaking points. Dreamer marches to the ring with a determined look on his face, as ‘Man In The Box’ blares across the arena. Raven, meanwhile, moves calmly to the ring as Dreamer paces feverishly, waiting for his chance at revenge.

Dreamer charges at Raven as soon as Raven hits the ring, unleashing a furious storm on Raven, which Raven should be commended merely for surviving. Raven rolls outside the ring to escape Dreamer’s fury, but Dreamer simply follows outside, and continues the beating, smashing Raven’s head against anything he can find outside, drawing blood early. Raven is able to reverse an irish whip into the barricade, however, and send Dreamer hurtling into the steel instead. Raven follows with a clothesline, sending Dreamer into the crowd. Raven follows him in there, and the two brawl through the crowd, Raven still in control by the time the brawl works it’s way back to ringside. Raven Russian leg sweeps Dreamer into the barrier, stunning both men. Dreamer, through sheer determination, finds his feet first, and hits Raven with a vicious piledriver onto the concrete. Raven is thrown back into the ring and covered for two. A chair is brought in, and set up in the centre. Dreamer whips Raven against the ropes, and delivers Raven’s signature drop toe hold onto the chair, earning two. Dreamer pulls Raven up for a DDT onto the chair, but Justin Credible makes his presence felt, hitting the ring.

Dreamer pushes Raven away, and turns to clothesline Justin. He lays the boots into Justin Credible, and is attacked from behind by Raven. Raven and Justin Credible double team Dreamer for a while, the two-on-one assault proving too much, until he manages to drop them both with a clothesline, before pulling Justin Credible outside and DDTing him onto the concrete. Dreamer heads back in, and gives Raven another clothesline. Out comes Mike Awesome, however, who viciously assaults Dreamer. Raven goes outside for a table, and sets it up in the ring, encouraging Awesome to powerbomb Dreamer through it, until the lights go out, and the sound, missed for so long, of guitar picking and hammering drums fills the arena. The guitar starts to smash out a heavy riff, and a voice full of gravel growls

‘Say your prayers, little one, don’t forget my son, to include everyone…”

A spotlight hits the crowd, where a blonde man with a beer and a singapore cane stands proud. He heads through the adoring crowd, who scream out the lyrics along with the song. The beer can is busted open busting his forehead open. He makes his way to ringside. The Sandman is back.

And The Sandman is back with a vengeance, dishing out cane shot after cane shot to Raven and Awesome. Awesome rolls from the ring, where Sandman follows. Awesome drops Sandman with a punch. Sandman throws a cane shot from the ground. The two brawl their way up the ramp, leaving Dreamer and Raven alone together again. Dreamer sets Raven up in the corner for a superplex through the table, but is pushed off, and goes through the table himself. Raven goes after him, and covers for two. Raven pulls Dreamer up, and scores an Evenflow DDT, earning another two cunt, as Dreamer somehow kicks out. Raven picks up a broken shard of the table, and stabs Dreamer repeatedly in the forehead with it, causing the forehead to gush with blood. Dreamer defiantly throws punches from the ground, and manages to knock Raven back. The two trade punches from their knees, and slowly make their way up. Raven grabs Dreamer by the head, and throws a knee to his face, before dragging him towards the broken shards of the table, looking to DDT Dreamer through it. Dreamer throws an arm low, catching Raven where it hurts, andsending him staggering back. A haymaker from Dreamer drops Raven. Dreamer drags Raven up by the head…

“E-C-FUCKING-W!”

The DDT connects this time. Raven’s head smashes through the remains of the table, wood showering out from the impact.

1-2-3!

He has done it. Dreamer stares at Raven in amazement. He kneels next to the fallen body of his foe, tears filling his eyes as he stares down, tears of amazement that at long last, it is over. Dreamer slowly reaches his feet, and wipes his eyes with his arm, which comes back stained by the blood all over his face. He turns to the approving crowd, and steps out to join their ranks, to celebrate among them. It is all over. It is all, at long last, over, and he cannot quite believe it.

End of Act II

Written by

Creator, editor and semi-sorta-retired original author of Rewriting The Book, husband, father of three, gamer, lover of 90's MTV animation.

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