Date: March 30, 1996
Location: ECW Arena in Philadelphia, PA
Source: Wrestling Observer Newsletter, thewrestlinggame.com, Power Slam magazine, Armpit reader Brian Cooper at BigVanVader.com
New Jack seemingly has more entries in our Backstage Fights section than anyone, thanks to incidents like this. In hindsight it’s a miracle he kept his job with ECW as long as he did.
Chad Austin was a wrestler in the early 90s who did various indies, and also worked as a jobber on WWF TV. The reason he was brought into ECW is that he was a late substitute for Stevie Richards, who had broken his orbital bone the night before in a match with RVD (which ECW tried to say was due to Tommy Dreamer, since he was feuding with Richards at the time).
Why was Austin chose as a replacement? Because ECW wanted to play off the infamous Mass Transit incident, in which New Jack brutalized an unknown young guy so badly that he bled buckets, to the point Mass Transit lost so much blood that it garnered the company a ton of negative publicity in a very bad way. In a tasteless display of recreating that aura, Heyman chose a relative unknown and called him “Stone Cold” Chad Austin, with the idea that New Jack would do to him what he did to Mass Transit.
And he almost did.
The stage was set, and after a hot show on March 9, ECW returned to its home base three weeks later with a rather lackluster card. At the time, ECW was on fire with names like Rey Mysterio Jr, Juventud Guerrera, Chris Jericho, and Sabu, all of whom weren’t able to make the show for one reason or another. As noted, Stevie Richards also couldn’t work because of an injury.
Richards was to team with the Blue Meanie (long before their Blue World Order gimmick) against the Gangstas (New Jack and Mustafa Saed). Stone Cold Chad Austin was the replacement for Richards, and before he ever stepped into the ring, he already had heat on him.
When the Gangstas were in SMW, they had a run-in with Austin, who claimed he was an agent for ECW scouting talent. He later asked New Jack if he could put in a word for him at ECW, and Jack told him “YOU’RE the ECW agent; why do you need MY help??”
In addition, Austin conducted himself in such a manner that the boys were taking bets on who would beat his ass first, New Jack or Bruiser Bedlam. He was pissing off the entire locker room with this attitude.
Despite whatever pre-existing heat Austin may have had with Jack, he made it worse when he got to the ECW Arena. He approached Jack about working a really violent, bloody match like they had with Public Enemy. He began dictating what he wanted to do in the match, which was not his place a newcomer like him was to do. Jack thought to himself, “Who in the Hell is this guy to dictate anything??”
Jack was so pissed that he warned Meanie ahead of time that he and Mustafa were going to squash them with stiff shots, and to steer clear of him. Meanie took his advice and stayed out of Jack’s path most of the match. Austin, however, wasn’t so lucky.
The match took place, and fans were in awe of how stiff the Gangstas were stiffing them with chair shots. Not so much between Mustafa and Meanie, but absolutely with Jack and Austin. Jack even grabbed a metal crutch from a fan and hit Austin so hard with it that it visibly bent. He also slammed another chair hard across Austin’s neck, which could’ve paralyzed him.
For the finisher, Jack wanted to do something people would remember. After Mustafa powerslammed Austin, Jack climbed to the top of the rope with a chair, and came down on Austin hard, crushing his face. He pinned him, and then delivered several more chair shots to the body. One of them caught Austin in the leg, and since it was the steel frame part of the chair, it actually broke Austin’s leg.
Austin tried to get up, but collapsed because his leg was broken. It’s not clear what happened backstage, but Jack in later interviews said the finish got over so well that he adopted it as his new finisher. He “credited” Austin for that, and that was the birth of New Jack’s “187” finisher.
After the match, Jack got on the mic and said he ran into Johnny Grunge, who told him what he’s now doing is entertainment (in reference to Public Enemy having just gotten a job with WCW). Jack wanted to ask Austin if he had just been “entertained.”
No matter how much heat Austin had on him, and no matter how inept he was at conducting himself backstage, there is no excuse for what New Jack did. He didn’t mean to break his leg, but still, all those stiff chair shots were uncalled for.
The match did air on ECW TV in early April. In addition, WWE once posted the match on their website.