This morning, I sat down and watched a video WWE put on YouTube on March 7 about the infusion of ECW into the corporate WWE machine in the mid 2000s. Although the struggles were discussed from a perspective of the former rebels now apart of the machine, there was a great part about how Dusty Rhodes in creative and the whole “New Talent Initiative” really helped institute a lot of fresh faces in the precursor to NXT television, with Kofi Kingston, Sheamus, Zack Ryder, and the Miz, among others. It truly was a developmental proving ground for what is the present of today on WWE television.
Taking the positive out of that awesome short video, I started to really think about the original ECW and the developmental of the stars of tomorrow. Paul Heyman and Tod Gordon really laid the foundation for the next generation. For example, giving Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Eddie Guerrero their notoriety in America after their incredible cult following as gaijin in Japan. Also, bringing in Rey Mysterio, Jr, Juventeud Guerrera, La Parka, Psychosis, and Konnan in 1995 to give Lucha Libre its proper introduction to an American fan base. Showcasing Yoshihiro Tajiri, Super Crazy, and Little Guido Maritato into a tremendous three-way wrestling feud in 1999. And I would dare to be remiss if I didn’t mention the plethora of fresh faces and new direction of the promotion in 2000 (financial reasons or not) after the whole Mike Awesome leaving as World Champion controversy in April of that year. There has ALWAYS been a fresh feel about the original incarnation of the promotion.
But what if I went deeper? What if I went into the true development of ECW talent? Like actual genuine HOMEGROWN talent? From the bottom up, I mean. Indeed I will.
ENTER THE HOUSE OF HARDCORE.
Now, I don’t mean Tommy Dreamer’s promotion, which definitely has its ECW roots. But I mean the House of Hardcore, ECW’s wrestling school. During the mid-1990s, ECW had opened House of Hardcore in Long Island, NY, with Taz and Perry Saturn as head trainers and Buh Buh Ray Dudley and Mikey Whipwreck as assistants. From all accounts, through documentaries and written articles, it was a true old school wrestling dojo. Taz and Saturn were true authorities at the school, breaking everyone down and truly driving the weak out, while only the strongest survived.
At the end of the school existence, only four - FOUR!! - talents graduated from the academy. The first graduate was Chris Chetti, who was coincidentally Taz’s cousin. The last graduate was Tom Marquez, who was a part of Simon Diamond’s entourage as the Prodigy during the final year of the promotion. So who were the middle two?
Only one of my personal favorite tag teams of all time - DASTARDLY DANNY DORING AND ROADKILL, THE ANGRY AMISH CHICKEN PLUCKER!
Doring and Roadkill went through the trials and tribulations of being a part of the ECW Wrestling school. Both men started off paying their dues on ring crew, then as referees and as timekeepers or security in the arena, before becoming full-time wrestlers on the ECW roster.
According to “the Dastardly One”, the team came together during a training session before a show. One of the men in the ring was acting a bit too cocky, so Doring and Roadkill, bonded by the survival of the House of Hardcore, went to work on that guy and basically “blew him up”, or exhausted him, in the ring. ECW Owner, Booker, and Executive Producer Paul Heyman saw that and decided to put the two together as a tag team.
From a gimmick perspective, the characters becoming a tag team were a little...odd. Doring was “Dastardly”, a vile ladies’ man from Pepper Pike, OH that was blessed with...I think the only way to describe it was his “Danaconda”. Meanwhile, Roadkill was an Angry Amish Warrior from Lancaster, PA, with the COMPLETE get-up, from white button down shirt and black slacks and suspenders to black top hat and long beard.
However, when you start to truly look at them together, you get the complete vibe that they were ECW’s Hart Foundation. Doring, despite his demeanor, was meat-and-potatoes inside of the squared circle, while Roadkill brought the power and stature with his offense. Hindsight being 20/20, they really were at the beginning stages of Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart as a tandem.
Working hard together throughout 1998, Doring and Roadkill got their first real break as a team on Pay-Per-View at the November To Remember on November 1, 1998 in New Orleans, LA. Although they lost a fun opening contest, the duo had cemented themselves as a pair for fans to keep their eyes on for the future.
The most fun thing about the duo developing over the next two years was hearing some of their maneuvers get coined on ECW television by the “Voice” of the company, Joey Styles. From Roadkill’s Dirt Road Slam to Danny Doring’s “Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am”, G-Spot Sweep, and Dropping the Danaconda, Styles’ gimmicking of moves really made both men stand out. However, the name of their two signature tag team moves put them over the top. Their ode to the Hart Foundation, the Hart Attack, was rechristened the Lancaster Lariat of Lust, which I always absolutely smile at. So over-the-top. The other was for their patented finisher: the Buggy Bang. Roadkill would wheelbarrow the opponent while Doring would drop a top-rope leg drop...and the Danaconda to the back their head.
Over the next two years, Doring and Roadkill would develop nicely as a duo inside and out of the ring. Doring had two girlfriends. His first main squeeze, Miss Congeniality, lasted six months until she left for WWE. You might recognize her better as WWE Hall of Famer Lita. His other girlfriend was Elektra, an Italian knockout, who ultimately turned on him at Living Dangerously 2000 by joining the New Dangerous Alliance. Roadkill, in turn, kept embracing and honoring his Amish upbringing and plucking those chickens. However, the pair finally started turning the corner in 2000 and picking up some big wins.
On TV, Doring and Roadkill scored the biggest win of their careers on January 15, 2000, defeating Raven and Tommy Dreamer during an episode of ECW on TNN. They survived the Dupps, Bo and Jack, on February 19, 2000, and sent them packing from the promotion. On live events during the following months, they rattled off victories against Gedo and Jado from Japan, the PITBULLS at the ECW Arena, and da Baldies.
Then, April 22, 2000 came along, and the company completely changed direction. Thanks to the Mike Awesome/Taz/ECW championship situation, Cyberslam 2000 became a night of change. Justin Credible, taking advantage of an injured Lance Storm, threw down the Tag Team Championships, en route to winning the ECW World championship 12 minutes later. With no Tag Team Champions, there needed to be an overhaul of the division.
Doring and Roadkill were looking to step it up.
Over the next several months, a plethora of tag teams formed to establish the future. Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger, Mikey Whipwreck and Tajiri, Hot Commodity of EZ Money and Julio Dinero, and the new FBI of Little Guido and Tony Mamaluke blended in with Doring and Roadkill, da Baldies, and Nova and Chris Chetti to make an incredibly healthy and thriving division. All these teams forming and continuing to grow was leading to one very important night: August 25, 2000.
ECW decided to hold a one-night tournament inside the historic Hammerstein Ballroom in Midtown Manhattan during Night 1 of the 2-Day television tapings for the vacant Tag Team straps. The future was now. And what a night it was. Whipwreck and Tajiri survived the night and beat Simon and Swinger and Tommy Dreamer and Jerry Lynn in a Three-Way-Dance to become champions.
However, Doring and Roadkill made their name that night. After surviving da Baldies in the first round, they walked into a war with Simon and Swinger in the second. If not for CW Anderson’s repeated interference, the duo would have made it into the finals. However, in spite of a valiant effort, Doring and Roadkill lost.
Yet, the next night, Doring and Roadkill got a measure of revenge. Inside of the historic Hammerstein, they defeated Simon and Swinger and Nova and Chris Chetti (who coincidentally split up after Chetti turned on Nova) in a Three-Way-Dance, thanks to a Buggy Bang. For two students of the House of Hardcore, this was a major accomplishment. However, the best was yet to come.
That same night, Guido and Mamaluke, who would have been forced to split up if they lost, won the ECW Tag Team championships from Mikey and Tajiri in a stunning upset. Over the next several months on television, Doring and Roadkill started receiving title shots, barely coming within an eyelash of becoming champions. But the matches were fantastic, and the duo were becoming one of the most popular acts in the company, especially due to the mystique of the Angry Amish Warrior.
But on November 19, 2000, the FBI finally drew the ire and made things incredibly personal with Doring and Roadkill. Guido, Mamaluke, and their bodyguard Sal E. Graziano took out the pair after a big win on Hardcore TV against Bilvis Wesley and “the Prodigy” Tom Marquez. Then, the scissors came out. Not only did the champions cut the long locks of “the Dastardly One”, but then the ultimate act of disrespect; THEY CUT ROADKILL’S BEARD.
To understand the magnitude of cutting an Amish person’s beard, the FBI (the actual Federal Bureau of Investigations, not the Full Blooded Italians) considers that A HATE CRIME. Seeing Guido, Mamaluke, and the Big Salbowski do that to the Angry Amish Warrior and the Danaconda made this situation between two young scrappy teams into a WAR.
The Massacre on 34th Street on December 3, 2000 was the time and place. Hammerstein Ballroom. Pay-Per-View. The last shot at the belts. More importantly, if Doring and Roadkill couldn’t procure a victory, they would be forced to split up as a team. Everything was on the line for the challengers.
AND THEY PULLED THROUGH. Thanks to a Buggy Bang and overcoming all the odds, Danny Doring and Roadkill became ECW World Tag Team Champions, pinning Little Guido. To date, the duo became the only House of Hardcore graduates to win a championship in ECW. More importantly, they became a part of history. They were the LAST ECW Tag Team champions when the company stopped running shows on January 13, 2001 in Pine Bluff, AR and folded on April 4, 2001 in bankruptcy court.
After the company folded, Doring and Roadkill teamed up on occasion, including a few matches for NWA-TNA in 2003, several times in OVW in 2005, and even on an episode of Velocity in 2005 against WWE Tag Team champions MNM, but surprisingly never full-time when the ECW brand came back in 2006. Their last tag match on record together was during the first House of Hardcore promotion show in 2012, when they defeated the FBI.
For me, I always find it a little disparaging when the critics always reference the SAME people as it comes to Extreme Championship Wrestling. There were a lot more people and a lot more cogs in the machine that helped the company grow. And as much as I love to reminisce about the glory days of ECW thanks to documentaries and short films, I feel as if the story was and is always incomplete.
There are no better example of legitimate ECW Originals than Dastardly Danny Doring and Roadkill, the Angry Amish Warrior. And I feel they deserve their due and notoriety. I hope I do them justice inside of this Professional 3 Blog. They will always be a part of history as the final ECW World Tag Team Champions. And in ECW’s legacy, Doring and Roadkill will never be forgotten. They are the true definition of “homegrown talent”.