Ahh, classic ECW - how I've missed you.
If you've never heard of this particular DVD release, you're probably not alone. ECW Deep Impact was one of a handful of home videos produced by Pioneer Home Video in the dying days of Extreme Championship Wrestling, less than a year before the World Wrestling Federation bought the entire video library out of bankruptcy protection.
Hosted by Joey Styles, this is essentially a compliation video (much like the old Coliseum Home Video Best of the WWF series back in the day) featuring seven matches chosen seemingly at random.
The first bout is a triangle (triple threat) match featuring The Sandman, Mikey Whipwreck and Superstar Steve Austin. One thing I'll give Pioneer credit for here is that they set the match up with tons of backstory (including several minutes of footage from previous encounters) so that if you've never even seen the match before, you get a decent sense of why it's happening.
I have to wonder if new (at the time) commentary was added for this DVD release. When Austin raises his middle finger, for example, Styles quips "You're never going to make a living flipping people the bird" in a line that would have been insanely fortuitous to make in Austin's pre-Stone Cold days.
Is the match a classic? Well, no.... but there's still a decent energy to it and a less-than-predictable ending (a hallmark of the original ECW). Plus this bout certainly has to fall under the "rarity" category.
Next up is a bout in which Terry Funk defends his ECW World Title (captured at the company's first PPV) against Sabu. The ropes have been taken down and replaced by strands of barbed wire, so you know this will feature lots of amateur submission-style wrestling.
In the preamble, Styles calls this one of the most brutal matches he's ever witnessed. But that doesn't even BEGIN to describe the brutality here. In a famous spot, Sabu's arms becomes so deeply gashed by the barbed wire, he's forced to bandage himself with a roll of athletic tape on the spot. And by the end of it, both competitors (as well as manager Bill Alfonso) are definitely worse for wear. There's "not for the faint at heart" and then there's this.
From there, it's the infamous Living Dangerously matchup featuring Taz and Bam Bam Bigelow that ends with both competitors breaking through the ring. Other than that moment (and one other incredible spot on the ramp), there aren't a ton of reasons to watch this one.
Having said that, the crowd reaction to the Bam Bam-sized hole in the canvas is one worth watching. In retrospect, it's amazing they wasted that spot on a mere TV title match.
Following that, you have Funk and Sandman against Shane Douglas and Cactus Jack. This one is a crazy brawl that features a Singapore cane, chairs, a table, a toolbox, a ringside guardrail, a garbage can, and yes, even a flaming branding iron thrown in for good measure. A wild brawl that must have been a blast to watch in the arena.
Next up is a unique tag team match, to say the least. In one corner, you have Mike Awesome and Justin Credible, and in the other, Jerry Lynn and Masato Tanaka. Not nearly as fun as the last tag match, though these four had the crowd into it every step of the way.
From there, it's Psychosis (who had just left WCW at the time) against Yoshihiro Tajiri. Of all the mid-card folks no longer in WWE, Tajiri's one of those I miss the most. Not only was he a great performer, but The Japanese Buzzsaw was very underrated in terms of his charisma. As would be expected, this is a great, fast-paced match between the two cruiserweights, with some amazing counters and an ECW twist to it.
Finally, you have Beulah McGillicutty (with Raven in her corner) against Francine. Stevie Richards, playing the on-again, off-again love interest for Francine, also acts as the referee. While -- and don't get me wrong -- it was fun watching the two women essentially strip each other down for the bulk of the match, it was kind of a lousy ending to an otherwise interesting collection.
As far as extras on the DVD go, you've got a montage of interviews featuring Tommy Dreamer, The Dudley Boys, The Steiner Brothers, JT Smith, The Public Enemy,Konnan and Rey Mysterio, The Eliminators, Funk, Raven, Sandman, Cactus Jack, Austin, Richards, Whipwreck and others. There's also highlights of the bloody bout between Beulah and Bill Alfonso, in which Fonzie was attempting to keep his job.
I have to be honest - this collection was a LOT better than I remember it when I first picked up several years ago. Nothing that you can't really get on the slicker WWE releases, but Pioneer actually did a great job with their ECW DVD's.
You won't likely find this one in stores anymore, but if you see it at a used bookstore somewhere, it may be worth a look.