Born To Be Wired!
July 15, 2006 by Steven P.
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In keeping up with the rise and fall and rise again of ECW, this being the Vince McMahon version, I just thought I'd reflect on a true ECW style match.
The year was 1997 and ECW just proved that they were the new game in town, coming off of Barely Legal, their first pay per view. At that event, there was a Three Way Dance with the winner battling Raven later that night for the ECW Championship.
The match was slated to be Big Stevie Cool (Stevie Richards), The Sandman and Tommy Dreamer. Instead, Dreamer forfeited his spot and gave it to his mentor, Terry Funk. The match was intense, including some sick bumps involving Terry Funk connecting with a moonsault off the top of a ladder. Remember at this point, Terry Funk was about 55 years old. Funk won the match and eventually beat Raven to win the ECW Championship. It was only a few months later that Terry Funk defended the ECW Championship against perhaps the sickest, craziest human being to ever step foot in a wrestling ring. He is of course the "homicidal, suicidal, genocidal, death defying maniac," Sabu. However, Sabu didn't want just a regular ECW match. Sabu wanted a barb wire rope match. Funk accepted and the event was appropriately titled "Born To Be Wired."
As the days were getting closer and both men were preparing for the bout, nobody could have expected what would happen. Paul Heyman, the wrestlers in the locker room, and the fans knew that these two were has hardcore as hardcore gets. Terry Funk made his career in the "King of the Death Match" tournaments in Japan where he would battle long time opponent and good friend, Mick Foley as Cactus Jack. One only needs to look at Sabu and realize how hardcore the man is. He has several scars on his chest and who knows where else. The man was crazy using the ropes, chairs and tables to his advantage. However, in this match, Sabu would have no ropes to work with. The match started and was obviously not shown on television due to the graphic nature. It was exclusively on ECW Home Video, and now on Blood Sport, ECW's Most Violent Matches as well. The ECW Arena was fairly quiet as both men were awaiting the starting bell in the ring. The fans were excited but in a way, frightened as well. The two were introduced and the fans started to make some noise and get behind the two. Early in the contest, both men were thrown towards the barb wire, but they stopped themselves.
About four minutes in, Sabu hit a hurricanranna and Funk kicked out but also propelled Sabu into the barb wire in the process. Funk then raked Sabu's face across the barb wire. Funk then crotched Sabu on the wire, tearing his traditional tights to shreds in seconds. Sabu, a veteran of brutal battles in ECW and Japan, among other places perhaps, was normally silent and only expressed his pain on his face. Sabu was screaming throughout the young match at that point. Sabu was opened up deeply and bled very heavily. You can even see the horrendous gash on his forehead. Funk had the advantage, but was then hurled into the wire himself.
Sabu then wrapped Funk into the wire and jumped onto the back on Funk driving his throat dangerously close to the wire. Funk would suffer that fate later which caused a change to the match, more on that later.
Anyway, Sabu started to rake Funk's face across the wire, opening him up. Interestingly enough, after both men were ripped up the fans would get behind them. After Sabu, the heel, was busted open, the fans started chanting his name, and about the same for Funk. The truly sick moment came when Sabu took the full advantage and went for a jumping leg lariat of Funk in the corner. Funk moved and Sabu got caught up. Then Sabu took an Irish Whip into the ropes that tore his bicep wide open only about halfway through the contest. Sabu forced himself to fight through the pain by closing the wound by using athletic tape to shut it. The two realized that they were having a difficult time just staying in and they both got a pair of wire clippers. To help Sabu rest a bit, Rob Van Dam hit the ring with work gloves on and pounded away on Terry Funk. Van Dam took Funk to the floor and wrapped him in loose barb wire. Van Dam placed Funk on a table and Sabu, screaming heavily in pain, wrapped himself in barb wire that he cut off the ring.
Sabu jumped off and landed on Funk. Tommy Dreamer came out and beat Van Dam down and carried him to the back. The damage was done however as Funk and Sabu were so injured, they couldn't get back in the ring on their own. They were also completely entangled in barb wire. Bill Alfonso, also bloodied by Funk during the match, and a referee helped the two in by pushing them onto the apron. When they were in the ring, a piece of barb wire and been wrapped tightly around Funk's throat, exactly at the sight of artery. Sabu covered him, but Funk kicked out, showing his mental toughness. Funk and Sabu were trying to move, but found it very hard. Funk was convinced that for his health, the match had to end. Sabu just covered him again and won the match and the ECW Championship. The post match saw EMTs desperately trying to just separate the two with wire clippers as Bill Alfonso broke character, frantically working on Terry Funk and calling for more help.
Amazingly, rumors have it that both men really enjoyed participating in that match. Not amazingly, Paul Heyman refused to schedule another match like that one. "You know, after "Born to Be Wired," we never had another barbed wire match in ECW because no one could top that one. And in good conscience, I didn't want anyone to try." It was hard to watch. A match that made the Philadelphia fans cringe, and nearly drove Joey Styles to a breakdown in the announcer's booth. It was a match that was one of a kind. There have been matches in various companies that involved some truly disturbing stipulations, but the match between Sabu and Terry Funk will never beduplicated.
by Steven P. ..
Gus D. wrote:
Great column! I remember watching that match on ECW's bloodsport DVD. It was pretty sick. I give my full respect to Terry Funk and Sabu.
Ernesto Diaz wrote:
I rember watching that match. It was pretty sick the way those two were wrapped and entangled in that barbed wire and bleeding buckets. I think that match changed their lives. Well great column.
Chuck Pane wrote:
Great article, but i must say this wasn't the only barb wire ropes match ever in ECW, there was one in 1996 between the Sandman and Raven, but it came nowhere close to Sabu VS. Funk. You can watch Sandman VS. Raven on ECW Extreme Evolution, the Uncensored Version. (there was 2 versions made, a censored and an uncensored one, with diffrent matches on each tape.)
Andy Smart, UK wrote:
A very nicely written column, and the match is well described, but take it from me, this was not even close to the top ten of sickest matches of all time. As much as I love these two guys, and respect them for everything they have done within the sport, Sabu is crazy, yes, but doesn't even compare with the likes of Atushi Onita (137 stitches in his back off one match" I've seen the match and it's disgusting), Tarzan Goto (who I've seen slice through someone's arm with broken glass to the bone), Kintaro Kanemura (a significant portion of his body covered in 3rd degree burns), Mr. Pogo (a genuinely sick character who couldn't wrestle whatsoever but was vicious in attacking his opponents with various weapons). Ok, you've probably caught me out, I'm essentially listing every guy from the glory days of FMW, Big Japan, W*ING, etc. and yep, most of these matches were "Garbage" style, but my god were they brutal. Check out some of the fire matches, and if you really want a barbed wire rope match watch the ladies in action from FMW Kawasaki Legend '96, Megumi Kodo vs. Combat Toyoda in an exploding barb wired rope match. Just sick. And yep, I know that Sabu and Terry Funk competed there too, and they were just as sick in some of their matches out there... just for me they weren't on the level of Onita and Hayabusa. If you want an alternative now to the blood matches of ECW, check out CZW's shows, which are probably the closest one can get to the good mix that ECW would offer. To use their phrase, "Ultraviolence" in one match followed by technical excellence in the next. Necro Butcher could easily be described as one of the craziest wrestlers in the States at the moment (check his match with Mad Man Pondo in IWA in the 200 light tube match, watch a chunk of his arm drop out, and tell me wrestling is fake!). My own personal favourite of this style though" The final from CZW Tournament of Death 4. I challenge anyone to watch the bump that Nick Gage took through the burning table/pit contraption and the horrible 30 seconds or so he was alight for after, and not be concerned for the man. And then he finishes the match. Truly invoking the spirit of Sabu.
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