Matches from History: Sabu vs. Rob Van Dam at ‘ECW Hostile City Showdown 1996’

RVD SabuCraig Wilson

This. Is. Extreme. It was about time that ‘Matches from History‘ tackled something from ECW. With the WWE and WCW offering little in the month of April 1996, lets head over and see what happened 20 years and 7 days ago to this day at ‘ECW Hostile City Showdown 1996’

One fall to a finish and no time limit with the usual anything goes mentality in ECW.

Joey Styles announcing and says that RVD has an extensive background in martial arts while Sabu’s background is in “insanity” which is a nice line.

Prior to this bout starting, we learn from Styles that RVD has a broken wrist. I imagine Sabu has plenty of stuff broken at this time…

Sabu takes RVD down by the leg but it’s kicked out.Roll-up is blocked by RVD hits a guillotine kick to the back of the head. He plants RVD and hits a somersault splash for the first nearfall. But he’s then tossed to the outside. Sabu points to the sky and nurses his back before telling his opponent to get back in. He meets him coming in, drapes him across the second rope and drops a guillotine legdrop of his own for a two.

Sabu locks on the camel clutch but Van Dam gets to the ropes but Sabu then applies a single leg crab. Two drop kicks to the knees of Van Dam has Sabu in control. He botches an attempt to land on his feet from a backdrop and instead lands on his head. Sabu sets up RVD on the top rope and dropkicks him to the outside. He then somersaults over the top, sending RVD in to the guardrail. He’s whipped into guardrail but RVD blocks a charge with a big boot. He attempts a moonsault but Sabu pushes him into the crowd and they take the action into the fans with Sabu drilling RVD with a steel chair repeated times and throws one into the ring.

Sabu runs at chair and uses it to step onto the top rope and dives on RVD in the crowd as Styles screams “OH MY GOD!”. Sabu hunts for more toys and grabs a table and sets it up on the ring apron and on the guardrail. He lays RVD on top and climbs to the top. But it takes too long and RVD flees. Sabu slips on the table and RVD smashes him across the head with a vicious steelchair shot.

Rob Van Dam hits a running somersault off the apron onto Sabu who is still outside the ring. There’s a chair involved too but even Styles doesn’t know what the move is called…

Back in and Van Dam connects with a springboard leg drop but only gets a two. A frustrated looking RVD hits a powerbomb then applies a bow and arrow but RVD couldn’t support the weight with his wrist.

RVD works the leg as Styles says he’s attempting anything to work on Sabu but criticising the lack of continuity in the attacks. Basically calling RVD out as a guy with spots but no psychology. Pretty accurate… RVD can’t connect properly with a suplex but still gets a nearfall.

Sabu struggles back to his feet but RVD catches him on his shoulder and showboats to the crowd but is caught with a DDT. Instead of going for the cover, Sabu obviously goes for a chair… He puts RVD on the top rope and runs at him using the chair to improve the leap but RVD jumps down and grabs the chair. But he misses and swings wildly with the chair and sends it into the crowd. He knocks Sabu to the floor and clears the ropes with a running somersault that gets another “OH MY GOD!”.

RVD is caught up top by Sabu but has enough about him to push Sabu off and through the table that had been set up earlier. RVD misses a double axe handle and lands on the remnants of the table. Sabu hobbles to get another table, naturally, and puts RVD on it.

He hits a somersault leg drop which doesn’t break the table so he does it again and this time it breaks the table. Both men roll in but it’s only a two for Sabu. Springboard legdrop from Sabu gets another two, much to the surprise of Styles.

Sabu misses a clothesline and hits a very nice looking German Suplex for a two. A diving somersault from the top gets RVD another two count. He drags Sabu under the bottom rope and hits a guillotine legdrop to the outside on to Sabu’s prone neck. A slingshot leg drop follows for two consecutive two counts.

He’s not able to capitalise, though, and Sabu drives him head first into a chair and a DDT with RVD on the top rope for another two. Sabu hits the triple jump moonsault onto RVD in the centre of the ring and that’s all she wrote.

Styles instantly describes it as perhaps the best match in both men’s careers. It was certainly a combination of mat wrestling, brawling and hardcore brawling. Both threw absolute everything at the other and it makes for a very quick, action packed 20 minute match.

One this is for sure, this was unlike anything else you saw in wrestling at this time. Bear in mind, at this time in WWF it was just after WrestleMania XII and Shawn Michaels had just become champ whilst we hadn’t yet seen the debut of the nWo in WCW.

Post-match, the crowd totally lap this up and applaud both. Sabu offers his hand to RVD but he ignores it and walks out as the crowd chant “asshole” at the youngster. The crowd continue to cheer for Sabu as he poses in the ring.

All previous Matches from History can be read here.

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One thought on “Matches from History: Sabu vs. Rob Van Dam at ‘ECW Hostile City Showdown 1996’

  1. Pingback: This Week in Wrestling 2016 week 18 | Ring the Damn Bell

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