Rob Van Dam (c) vs Jerry Lynn
ECW World Television Championship
Asbury Park Convention Center, Asbury Park, New Jersey, United States
(reviewed 08/30/2018) Another Buster Keaton sort of match in the same vein as Guerrero vs Malenko, though I’d probably say this is even better. There’s good reason why this series of matches is remembered so fondly and influenced the careers and tastes of so many people, as these matches manage to be pretty damn flashy and exciting at times. But see, those last two words are the real kicker here: at times. There’s a number of crazy and/or clever spots here but for every one of those there’s two obvious and/or clunky ones or surprisingly lengthy dull stretches. It’s the sort of distribution of cool shit that looks great in a highlight reel or a music video, but within the framework of a full-length match it’s real uneven.
So too with the story, which is based around getting Lynn over as a serious contender. Despite being a ten year vet who’s spent meaningful time in WCW and Michinoku Pro he hasn’t yet accomplished much in his 18+ months with ECW, mainly sticking to respectable openers and undercard matches. For that reason he’s a real underdog coming into this match, facing off with an uber-cocky RVD who’s held onto the TV title for nearly a year in a record-breaking reign. Soon, though, Lynn proves his worth by reversing just about all of Van Dam’s famous spots and sequences, forcing the champion back on his heels. Van Dam recovers and is able to make up lost ground, especially when a chair gets involved, but he never manages to pull out ahead and in fact finds himself on the wrong end of a tornado DDT when time expires. All of that is cool and gives this match a framework for its insanity, something that subsequent “athletic equals go at it” ripoffs often failed to include, but it sort of goes out the window with the time limit draw. See, the referee plans on giving Lynn the title since he was the guy on top when time ran out, which is a stipulation that’s never been in effect in ECW and doesn’t show up after this either. Lynn refuses to take the belt, though, saying he wants additional time to win the thing fair and square and even if he comes up short in the end when Van Dam’s able to get his best 1-2 combo off, it’s meant to establish Lynn as a new, upstanding star. They mostly get there but the method is all wrong, blurring the lines of what should have been a textbook time limit draw.
HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO SHAWN VS TAKER FROM WM25: As with Guerrero/Malenko I think these ECW bouts take the cake as far as negative influence is concerned. This one is the least influential (read: least annoying) of the RVD/Lynn matches and so for that reason I like it the most, but it still manages to be awkward and boring for periods of time in ways that Shawn/Taker isn’t. It’s not as overbearing as Shawn/Taker is but it also doesn’t reach the same heights.
VERDICT: Worse than Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker from WrestleMania 25