ECW Unreleased – Volume 2 DVD Review

ECWIt’s hard to believe that three letters synonymous with a small time bingo hall over a decade ago still float around the wrestling world with love and affection all these years later. ECW (aka Extreme Championship Wrestling) was the third biggest wrestling company at the time behind the two juggernauts of the industry WCW and WWE. Long before being associated with the Best and the Beast, Paul Heyman had moved from his managerial roles in WCW towards a more hands-on running of a company, believing traditional wrestling needed a shake up. Mixing creative control and company ownership with an occasional on-screen appearance, Heyman became the leader of arguably the most passionate fanbase in wrestling at the time.

With that being said, it is perhaps not that surprising that ECW left its mark on wrestling history. With an association with WWE and Jerry Lawler, through to the rights being bought out by Vince McMahon, Heyman’s baby managed to offer a real gritty alternative to the mainstream. Even now there’s a desire to see stars like RVD and the like in their earlier days in ECW, with releases like The Rise And Fall Of ECW and last year’s ECW Unreleased Volume 1. The latter’s success brings us right up to date with FremantleMedia’s latest offering ECW Unreleased Volume 2. Here we have a collection of some of the best and most requested matches from ECW’s history that have never been on home release before.

If you watched the recent Money In The Bank PPV, you’ll know how popular Rob Van Dam still is, and he has a number of matches on this set, especially focusing on his teamwork with the Homicidal, Suicidal, Genocidal, Death–Defying Sabu! Both men put their bodies on the line like no other, and you can really tell that RVD isn’t missing a beat in 2013 compared to his ECW performances. Along with guys like Jerry Lynn, Super Crazy and 2 Cold Scorpio, you see the groundwork for the high flying style that has inspired the stars of today like Justin Gabriel and Kofi Kingston right through to NXT and Adrian Neville.

The best thing about ECW was always the variety of different styles. While many may associate ECW with hardcore violence like the Dudley Boys and getting tables, a Singapore cane swinging Sandman, or the heart of ECW Tommy Dreamer, this was only ever one offering from the dangerous mind of Heyman. In this set you’ll also see some great mat-wrestling from Steve Corino and Lance Storm, some well travelled familiar faces in Eddie Guerrero and Chris Jericho, and top class tag teams in The Eliminators and The Gangstas. For all his supposed faults as a business manager, Heyman has always had a solid wrestling mind and knew he had to offer something different to gain an audience.

ECW Unreleased Volume 2 is a strong release, showing an enjoyable mix of old time veterans like Cactus Jack and Terry Funk, as well as some wrestlers you may never have seen like Dick Togo, Terry Boy and other Japanese stars. And while Jericho and Guerrero went on to scale the heights of WWE, there were names like Mike Awesome and Mikey Whipwreck that never did. Even someone like Taz unfortunately got his career cut short by niggling injuries, only lasting two years in WWE, and so a set like this is your best bet for seeing his top matches. It never gets old seeing how many different suplexes The Human Suplex Machine can throw! While RVD may have won the hearts of WWE fans, it was Taz who often carried ECW just as much, and really deserved a better run.

As wrestling fans, we are really lucky to have access to historical matches in sets like these and the WCW ones etc. These are different times to the dominance of WWE in the modern era, where everyone was trying to outdo each other and talent often travelled the world before ending up in America. Guys like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan have certainly taken a leaf from the books of some ECW talent by honing their craft before reaching the pinnacle of Sports Entertainment. Performing in front of smaller audiences gives the matches a whole different atmosphere, and there is no more passionate a crowd than the ECW faithful.

ECW Unreleased Volume 2 covers 1993-2000 and just like WWE and WCW, ECW went through some transitional changes and always tried to push the boundaries. To see Joey Styles present just like on Volume 1 is a real treat as he was the true ‘voice of ECW’ – and this time he’s joined by Tommy Dreamer! These releases are always better when those involved are in the know, or in this case right in the heart of all the action. Styles and Dreamer clearly have a great chemistry and friendship, and a real fondness looking back on their time with ECW. They have segments after every couple of matches and add some real insight that you’ll appreciate. This is a very enjoyable set from start to finish and certainly worth a look. If you can afford the Blu-Ray then pick that up for some great additional hardcore matches. The legend of E-C-DUB lives on!

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