Sandman vs Sabu – November to Remember 1997

At ECW November to Remember 1997, The Sandman battled Sabu in an historic match.

Think Tables, Ladders & Chairs matches started with the Hardy Boyz, Dudley Boyz, and Edge & Christian? Wrong.

It was The Sandman vs. Sabu in a Tables & Ladders match, with chairs thrown into the mix. In fact, the only major differences between this match and the WWF’s were that:

1) It could end only in pinfall.

2) It suuuuucked.

Like the WWF’s TLC matches, expectations were high for this confrontation. In fact, before the match, Joey Styles promised “the most violent match-up in the history of professional wrestling on pay-per-view“.

And it did get off to a hot start, with Sabu diving at The Sandman, who stood on a ladder outside the ring. This ended up being the highlight of the match, and the bell hadn’t even rung yet, so I don’t think it counts.

Apart from that, the match failed on every conceivable level.

There was Sandman’s offense, consisting almost entirely of elbows. Shoulders, really.

There was the flimsy hardware.

Most of the tables lost their legs as soon as they were handled…

…while one snapped on the lightest of contact…

…and another merely buckled and fell apart, despite Sabu’s careful slithering.

The ladders weren’t any better. As always, ECW cheaped out on single-sided models that crumpled on impact before anyone could climb them.

Then there was everything else. The match plodded along in dead silence, punctuated by elaborate high spots that almost always failed.

Take this Sandman leg drop that saw the Extreme Icon break the table with his ass…

…before Sabu fell on top of him.

Despite his reputation for danger, Sabu wasn’t about to risk Jim Fullington making physical contact with him. He’d cut his biceps open wrestling in barbed wire, but he’d never be foolish enough to let Sandman actually land on him.

Whenever Sandman set him up for a table spot, Sabu would not-at-all subtly roll over and get ready to bail…

…sometimes visibly giving instructions along the way.

Some spots sounded good on paper but failed in the execution…

…like this ladder ride where Sabu came up short, crashing to the floor while breaking the ladder’s fall.

Then there was the time Sandman took a running leap out of the ring, crashed onto the floor…

…and snagged the ladder with just enough force to tip it over and clip Sabu in the leg a little.

That spot also sounded good on paper—specifically blotting paper, soaked in some powerful lysergic acid.

Sure enough, this whole match makes a lot more sense with a little backstory. According to a Sabu shoot interview, the Sandman had gotten hold of some strong LSD and allegedly—and I have to choose my words carefully—wrestled high off his tits.

Supposedly, Sandman thought Sabu was Godzilla and shouted, “Here lizard, lizard” throughout the match.

Now, I have no proof that Sandman wrestled that night in an altered state of any kind (besides being drunk).

But I do have this GIF:

And this one:


The most violent wrestling match in pay-per-view history, everybody!

In this spot, Sabu had carefully placed a ladder over the ring ropes to act as a lever. When he jumped onto the elevated side, it was to see-saw up and hit Sandman in the face.

Instead, Sandman fell into the ropes (causing Sabu to lose his balance), then tripped in slow motion over the ladder.

So Sabu just chucked the ladder at his head.

The match went on like this for twenty excruciating minutes as both men milled around between blown spots.

If you’re wondering what the crowd was doing during all this, the answer is: not much.

The crowd mostly murmured throughout the match, only livening up to tell fans in the front row to “sit the f**k down”.

Luckily, the show was held in the Pittsburgh area, which rarely got ECW events.

Look at this little girl. Aww, she thinks this is a WWF show.

Unlike the merciless Philly crowd, these fans desperately wanted the match to be good, like a Star Wars fans seeing Phantom Menace in theaters a second time.

As such, they sat in expectant silence, hoping something good would finally happen to justify their attendance.

Well, it ended, so there was that.

Just to rub it in for the Pittsburgh fans, the two men would actually have quite a good match with ladders six weeks later at the ECW Arena.

While it’s certain that Tables & Ladders wasn’t the most violent pay-per-view match in history…

(or even of Fall ’97)

…what’s less certain is the Sandman acid story.

In a follow-up shoot interview, Sandman responded to the Godzilla rumors by claiming he was quoting a popular Taco Bell commercial. He didn’t necessarily think Sabu was a giant lizard.

And sure enough, there really was a commercial like that. The trouble is, it wouldn’t air for another six months or so, as it was promoting the 1998 Godzilla film.

So either Sandman got so high he saw into the future (still a decent possiblity), or he and Sabu are thinking of a different match.

The plot thickens. In still another shoot interview, New Jack claims that he once did acid and chased Rob Van Dam’s chihuahua.

When New Jack did a run-in that night, Sandman (who was also tripping balls) got on the house mic and said, “Here lizard, lizard” to freak Jack out.

And sure enough, the match’s date (May 23rd, 1998) lines up with the Taco Bell commercial. Not only that, it was held in the same “Golden Dome” arena as November to Remember six months earlier.

While it’s certainly possible that the Sandman also did acid before the November to Remember match, he was admittedly too high to remember.

So I guess we’ll never know.

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