This is the companion piece to Episode 5 of Somehow We Manage, the only podcast dedicated to professional wrestling managers and the art of managing.
Below you will find links to online resources related to the subjects of this podcast. We encourage you to learn more about the career of Dylan Hales’ “Top 5 Most Overlooked Managers” by using these links.
Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie
(Scroll to the bottom of this page for Dylan Hales’ reviews of Tommy at a couple of ECW shows in 1998)
Jeff G. Bailey
Dylan reviews Tommy in ECW
1) Masato Tanaka v. Tracy Smothers – Ozark, Alabama 10/16/98
The town of Ozark has banned cursing, chairshots and pretty much everything that makes ECW, ECW. That is except for the FBI.
Tommy Rich was awesome in this as he turned a rabidly xenophobic crowd that was chanting USA in the opening moments of the match totally against the FBI. At one point he grabbed the mic mid-match and denounced the legendary former Alabama Crimson Tide coach Bear Bryant, leading to an irate fan hopping the rail and trying to fight him. He was of course ejected.
Later another fan cursed at him, and the crowd started chanting “you’re a fat fuck!” at Rich. So Tommy grabbed the mic and said he wanted everyone arrested for breaking a city ordinance. He singled out one fan and demanded he be thrown out of the building because his language was offensive and of course Tommy was a “concerned church member.”
The match was a basic, but respectable effort from both guys, but it was dying before Rich turned the tables on the originally anti-Tanaka crowd. This is a brilliant example of a wrestling savant adjusting to the unique setting, calling an audible, getting real heat, and almost touching off a riot in the process. Nothing else on this show was this effective.
2) The FBI (Tracy Smothers and Little Guido) v. Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten – ECW “A Matter of Respect 1998” (5/16/98)
This was incredible.
The FBI enter to “New York, New York” doing a Sinatra tribute two days after his death. Tracy is in all his dancing glory. Meanie and Nova come out for a rematch from a previous show and the FBI just fucking brutally maul them. You really don’t expect this out of the FBI but this is an epic asskicking with Meanie bleeding a horrible gusher and Tommy Rich rubbing the paint off of Nova’s face which is presented as one of the most dastardly acts imaginable.
Damage control comes down to take out the babyfaces and Rich gets on the mic and says something like “some of us may be in jail, Frank may be gone, but this was for you Ol’ Blue Eyes!” Then Axl and Balls come out to replace Nova and Meanie and the FBI ambush them.
Match is really a pretty good traditional tag with Guido and Tracy gaining control and doing some great heat garnering schtick, while Rich argues with fans, screams at the camera with his face soaked in Meanie’s blood, et. Best spots are Rich bulldogging Balls from the apron to the security railing and Guido getting backdropped onto Tracy from the ring to the floor which essentially resulted in Guido taking a Samoan drop from his tag partner into the railing. Finish was a good babyface comeback leading to double chairshot finish.
What makes this to me is the fact that it’s the FBI breaking out of their comedy ghetto but without compromising their overtly comedic gimmick. When Meanie/Nova come out you are thinking “this could be a fun little match with some cute comedy spots and FBI shtick.” Instead the FBI savagely beat the fuck of Nova and (especially) Meanie to the point where this shit actually feels like a Joe Pesci in Goodfellas/Casino explosion of senseless violence.
My favorite fucking part of this is Axl walking over to Meanie with a look of legit concern as Meanie is gushing blood from his head, being carried off. Axl Rotten tried to kill his own “brother” with glass and barbed wire bats and even he was worried Meanie had been offed for Ol’ Blue Eyes. Awesome.