While November and the Thanksgiving season are a time to reflect on all that you’re grateful for, we here at Nerdopotamus will use November to fondly recall some of our favorite, but often overlooked wrestlers, matches, or moments in time.
For the first installment, I decided to delve into The Human Suplex Machine, Taz. I was in the 7th grade when I stumbled upon an episode of ECW Hardcore TV on Thrill Zone Friday block of TNN. I was instantly drawn in by the completely different product presented to me.
NOTE: For the proper effect, you need to press play, and listen to this while you read.
Of all the new wrestlers that came into my life that night – none stuck out to me more than Taz. He was the first wrestler I saw that had me 100% sure he was legitimately kicking everyone’s ass, and if he wasn’t, I knew for sure that he could.
One of my favorite stories ever in wrestling is when WWF and ECW had a “war” in ’97. Jerry Lawler was always so good at being just a vile DICK and getting the crowd straight heated! That’s why I was actually kind of stoked when Taz went into the feud with Lawler a few months after he debuted in the WWF. While we didn’t get to see the more dickish side of “The King,” we did get to see a much more monstrous side of Taz, especially when they faced off at Unforgiven 2000.
Hitting a big T-Bone Tazplex early in the match, opened the door for Taz to be in control. Taz eats three pildedrivers in a row and gets up after each one. Granted, on the third one he gives a big a Ric Flair-esque face flop, but he still took the very best King Lawler could offer and got right up.
Even though they were battling in a Leather Strap Match, Taz wouldn’t win by touching the four corner posts – that’s no way to win. Instead he went to his preferred method: submission victory via the Kata-Ha-Jime (otherwise known as the Tazzmission).
I found myself really enjoying that feud, even though I wish Taz was featured a little more prominently following his debut. I always felt that he legitimized anyone that could hang with him in a match. By his very design, Taz brought a big fight atmosphere with him to every match. Case in point: Smackdown on April 20, 2000. This edition would be a unique one as the new ECW World Champion, Taz, would face off against the WWF Champion, Triple H.
No belts on line – just one company’s champion versus another.
As you can see, there wasn’t a whole lot of substance to the match, but it was one of those once in a lifetime moments. The bout also featured a miscued run-in attempt by ECW’s Tommy Dreamer.The biggest highlight comes when Taz hits a Northern Lights Tazplex on Triple H and gets within a hair of beating the WWF Champion! Even though he ended up losing, when he nearly defeated their Champion, Taz showed any doubters in the WWF that he was the real deal.
I think I’d be completely remiss if I mentioned Taz, and the ECW World Championship, but did not mention “The Franchise” Shane Douglas. Usually when people talk about Taz’ ECW feud, they bring up Sabu. Not to take anything anything from Sabu, but Douglas is the guy that I go to when I think of Taz’ standout feud in Extreme Championship Wrestling.
For me, their best match came at Guilty As Charged 1999. Taz finally got his shot at Douglas’ ECW World Championship. The match started out methodical and well-paced, but quickly broke down into a brawl. Eventually it spilled to the outside and went all over the arena. Taz even dumped The Franchise on his head with a Head and Arm Tazplex over a guard rail!
This match would also mark the return of Sabu. Despite the interference from his long standing rival, nothing could stand in the way of Taz’ destiny. Just like when he won the ECW Television Championship from Shane, the Kata-Ha-Jime proved to be the most powerful weapon in Taz’ arsenal.
Long before we had Brock Lesnar taking people to Suplex City, Taz was Tazplexing the ECW and WWF roster into oblivion. There was nothing like hearing that opening riff to “War Machine” and knowing someone was about to get fucked up! Hell, the ECW fans even had the “Taz Is Gonna Kill You” and “Fuck Him Up Taz, Fuck Him Up” chants, which were almost as badass as the man himself.
I hope you enjoyed this retrospective and look back at Taz’ career and some oft-overlooked points in it. See you next time, on the next edition of Nerdvember to Remember. If you have any suggestions for topics or wrestlers to cover, feel free to hit the comment section, and let us know.