In keeping up with the 90s rundown here at Notes from the Nosebleeds, I sat down to brainstorm what I would write about for the year of 1996 in American wrestling. The potential material was overwhelming. So many historical events occurred that year, be it the Iron Man match at Wrestlemania, the departure of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash from the World Wrestling Federation, the groundbreaking heel turn of Hulk Hogan, the rise of the NWO, the character makeover of Sting, or the birth of Austin 3:16. Delving into these events would be well worth it and a blast to write about, but despite everything that happened in 1996, one thing stands out to me more than any other-the ECW TV title match that took place on May 11th at the ECW Arena.
In early 1996 Shane Douglas was trying to unseat Raven as the ECW champion but kept coming up short. After one of his failed attempts he snapped, raging on the microphone about how he needed to win the championship, that it was the only championship he respected and the only one that mattered. Douglas insulted the wrong man with his comments. TV champion 2 Cold Scorpio stood up to the plate and wanted to show Douglas that the TV title was not to be overlooked, that it was a highly prestigious championship and on par with the ECW title. It had only been two years before when Douglas beat Scorpio for the NWA title, the night which Douglas threw down the championship. Scorpio would not let the TV title suffer the same disrespect.
Douglas and Scorpio met at A Matter of Respect. While they didn?t go on last, they were considered the true main event of the show. Scorpio took his time to the ring, strutting down the aisle, overcompensating for his insecurity that he may prove Douglas right and fall. Before they locked up Scorpio grabbed a WWF t-shirt from ringside and began mocking Douglas from his time with the company only a few months prior as Dean Douglas. Joey Styles commented that Douglas was more embarrassed by his time as Dean Douglas than being a part of the Dynamic Dudes. Douglas grabbed the shirt and wiped his ass with it, then tore it up and threw it aside, shrugging off Scorpio’s pre-bell mind games. They started off at a slow pace, trading take-downs, and then standing off. Scorpio seemed to have the wrestling edge over Douglas as he countered anything Douglas threw his way until Douglas was able to provide some counters of his own. Scorpio, growing frustrated, threw a chair into the ring. Douglas laughed at Scorpio’s frustration, unfolded the chair and took a seat. The action heated up and they took it to the outside where they brawled through the crowd. As they fought back to the ring, Douglas stopped right outside the ring and power bombed Scorpio on the concrete floor!
Back inside the ring Scorpio regained the advantage and had Douglas beat with a picture perfect moonsault. As the ref beat the mat for the 1-2-3, Scorpio stopped short of three. He wanted Douglas to not only respect him and the championship, but prove he was clearly the better man. He gave Douglas a 450 splash and then danced around the ring. Scorpio’s arrogance got the best of him. As he went up to the top rope to show off again, Douglas met him up top and gave him a belly-to-belly suplex off the top rope for the three-count. At 26:31, Douglas was the new TV champion after a classic match.
Douglas slung his new gold strap over his shoulder and grabbed the mic. He began running down all the great wrestlers he had been in the ring with from Ricky Steamboat to Terry Funk, how he had been in Atlanta and Stanford, and how he considered himself to be better than all of them, but admitted that Scorpio was just a bit better. The two men shook hands as the crowd applauded them. Leading up to the event, Douglas was seen as ignorant, but Scorpio’s attitude in the match made him the heel. He was bent on proving something to both Douglas and himself. By the end of the match, they had made their peace?until Douglas told Scorpio to put the title he had just lost around the waste of the new champion. Douglas had given this great promo and really had the crowd eating out of his hand until he told Scorpio to degrade himself and put the belt on the man who had just defeated him. Scorpio was cheered wildly as he cracked Douglas over the head with the belt, and gave him a top rope legdrop with a chair over the face of Douglas. It was a classic ending to a classic match.
Whenever I think of my favorite matches this is always in the top ten. It was a great angle between two very good wrestlers. It just goes to show that mainstream wrestling really missed out on using these two men to their full potential when they were in their prime. Scorpio was in a tough spot. He was too big to be a cruiserweight and was ahead of his time as high-flyers weren?t considered serious main event potential. Douglas could have been huge, rivaling Steve Austin in his prime, but fell victim to backstage politics. The angle itself between these two was perfect. There was a time when I truly believed it was the frame WWE would use to split up Evolution when Randy Orton was I-C champ, with Triple H insulting Orton’s title. It could be used today to boost the value of any of the secondary titles. Then again, it may be best to leave it in the past as a forgotten angle that culminated in a lost classic match.