(Here’s the link for the match on the WWE Network: http://network.wwe.com/video/v31356689/?contentId=&contextType=wwe-show&contextId=hardcore_heaven )
Rob Van Dam vs Jerry Lynn worked magic in the ring back in ECW’s prime. Although they had to pander to the hardcore style of ECW, they worked around that necessity to bring in high-flying, rapid action that gave you something new every other minute. You’ve probably heard of RVD if you’re a fan of WWF/WWE, but Jerry Lynn was/is (not sure if he still wrestles!) one of the most underrated wrestlers in the world. The two had three Best 100…List worthy bouts in ECW. I accidentally watched their brilliant bout at ECW Living Dangerously 1999 instead of #31, at ECW Hardcore Heaven 1999. Both are worth watching, but I would posit their Living Dangerously bout as the superior match.
Rob Van Dam deserves more than two spots on the Best 100…List. Personally, I prefer his clash against Lynn from Hardcore Heaven 1999 (their rematch after this bout), but both should be on this list. As should RVD’s great bout against Jeff Hardy at WWF Invasion. I’d even recommend his bout against John Cena at One Night Stand 2006. The crowd is on fire for the whole duration. But I digress. When RVD had no choice but to slow down as he aged, his matches suffered. But in his prime, there was always entertainment to be had from watching him wrestle. Lynn was a wrestler who could match the pace of RVD without losing focus or the story of the match.
Consider that Lynn wrestles much of this bout with a concussion and your appreciation of it will only increase. Lynn is knocked out after falling head first onto a mat outside the ring. It looks and sounds horrific. For a minute or two, it seems as if the match is over. RVD rolls Lynn into the ring, perhaps to signal the finish. But Lynn rolls back out and the match continues. Before the concussion, it seems like RVD and Lynn will work a match just as frenetic as their Living Dangerously bout. But the concussion causes them to slow down a little which only benefits the match. They sell big moves longer and tell a better story. But they still manage to innovate and amaze just as well as they did in their Living Dangerously bout. There are flying kicks galore from RVD, from all sorts of places. Lynn executes a stunning sunset flip powerbomb from the apron through a table on RVD. They still manage to counter and reverse with ingenious ability.
But there’s a cost to their willingness to innovate. Lynn’s concussion obviously affects him throughout the match. There are telling and glaring botches that stutter the bout. Their ambitions are sometimes undone by his concussion, such as a standing tussle on the top rope that presumably will result in a Lynn hurricanrana, but ends up will both wrestlers falling off the rope. I think RVD is at fault here. He should have slowed down the bout even more rather than attempt difficult counter after difficult counter.
However, even with the botches, it’s still a great bout. It’s amazing Lynn is able to stand up after the concussion, let alone fly and jump across the ring. He just about keeps up with RVD (when he doesn’t, it results in a botch). But for pure, visceral entertainment, I prefer their Living Dangerously bout. It’s chockful of innovation, from amazing counters to big spots that you simply have to replay to believe you’ve seen them. There may not be much time for selling, but there’s a bigger story of Lynn trying to outdo RVD. It’s almost balletic in its majesty. Id’ replace the rematch with the first bout, but they are both worthy of the Best 100…List.
VERDICT: 8/10. RVD and Lynn assemble a very good bout that occasionally suffers due to Lynn’s legitimate concussion, which happens a short duration into the match. However, even with the concussion, Lynn manages to keep up with RVD’s pace. It results in innovation and thrills that resonate more because of the selling in between the big moves (but I’d replace this with their Living Dangerously 1999 bout).
Does this match belong in the WWE Network’s ‘ 100 Best Matches To See Before You Die’ List? Leave your thoughts/comments below!
Click here for my review of #32 Sting’s Squadron vs. The Dangerous Alliance (War Games, WCW Wrestlewar 1992)