The date was June 7th, 1997. The event was ECW Wrestlepalooza 97′. The Franchise Shane Douglas had been the ECW Television Champion for 362 days. He was on top of the world. He defeated everyone except a man many called a Human Suplex Machine. The Human Suplex Machine Taz had been gaining respect from the ECW faithful since he left Bill Alfonso’s stable. On this day, Taz Defeats Shane Douglas for ECW Television Championship.
Turning on Taz
On April 13, 1997, at Barely Legal, Taz defeated Sabu. As a gesture of respect, Taz uncharacteristically wanted to shake Sabu’s hand. Taz’s teammates Rob Van Dam and manager Bill Alfonso did not care for this display of sportsmanship, so they turned their back on the Brooklyn beast. Sabu also joined in the attack saying later that the handshake was Taz attempting to humiliate him. After this betrayal, Taz became a fan favorite. He was no longer a machine but a man on a mission for respect.
Taz Stands up for ECW
At Wrestlepalooza 97, one of the most hardcore grudges in ECW history was coming to an end. Tommy Dreamer was facing his longtime rival Raven in a loser leaves town match. Dreamer defeated Raven. However, the celebration was short-lived as the lights went out in the arena. When the lights came back on, Rob Van Dam and Sabu attacked Tommy Dreamer. The lights went off a second time. When they came back on WWE’s own, Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler was standing next to the duo. Lawler antagonized the ECW fans calling it “Extremely Crappy Wrestling.” He also dared any ECW star to come out to the ring and challenge RVD and Sabu.
After destroying the Sandman, The Gangstas, and Nova, The King had a smile on his face. However, that smile turned upside down when Taz himself walked to the ring. The Human Suplex Machine wanted revenge. He Challenged Sabu to a rematch. The two ECW stars collided. After several suplexes, Taz locked in the Tazmission on Sabu. Sabu was prepared and used the turnbuckle to reverse the submission into a pin. After being denied his revenge, Taz snapped and refused to let go of the chokehold. As Sabu was slowly losing consciousness, ECW officials finally pried Taz off. Taz was still angry and put the referee in the move. Across the ring, he noticed his former manager and greatest enemy, Bill Alfonso had his back turned. Now was Taz’s chance. He slapped the Tazmission on Alfonso as the crowd erupted.
Three Minute Championship Challenge
Bill Alphonso would have been headed to the hospital if it wasn’t for the interruption of the ECW Television Champion, The Franchise Shane Douglas. Douglas demanded that Taz leave the ring. The Human Suplex Machine refused. Instead, he challenged the ECW Television Champion to a match. Taz said that he could beat Douglas in three minutes. He also said that if I can’t, he would go without pay for 60 days. Earlier in the night, Shane Douglas defended the title but was now refreshed and ready. Taz, on the other hand, had just been through a war with Sabu. The Franchise thought he would survive this one.
Unfortunately, when you are in the ring with Taz, you only survive if he lets you. Douglas gained control easily. He targeted Taz’s injured neck. He executed a few neck breakers and even DDT’d The Human Suplex Machine, but Taz would not surrender. One minute had gone by. Douglas continued to attack Taz. He attempted to put a full nelson on him but was blocked. Taz shot Douglas into the corner.
Taz Defeats Shane Douglas for ECW Television Championship
As The Franchise went for an up and over, Taz positioned himself directly behind him. Taz hooked the Tazmission with 30 secs left until it was three minutes into the match. Taz was running out of time. Being a thinking man’s wrestler, Douglas remembered the match Taz had with Sabu where Sabu used the turnbuckle to counter the painful hold. Douglas attempted to use the turnbuckle the same way, but Taz was prepared. He snatched the champion back into the move. The clock ticked away. At the last second, The Franchise tapped, thus ending his 362-day reign. The Human Suplex Machine Taz was the new ECW Television Champion. The Machine had accomplished his mission.
‘On This Day’ is a commemorative article series dedicated to specific events, matches, and occurrences in wrestling history. We revisit those key moments and look back at how they went down and what they meant to the wrestling industry. Taz Defeats Shane Douglas for ECW Television Championship was that match.