It feels way too soon to be doing another one of these “in memoriam” specials… last week, Jon Rechner – best known as Balls Mahoney in ECW – passed away at the age of 44. This week, we pay tribute by taking a look at some of his in-ring work.

Tommy Dreamer vs. Balls Mahoney (WWE ECW, June 12, 2007)
We start off with a random match from the middle of Balls’ run in WWE’s ECW revival – an extreme rules match against fellow “original” Tommy Dreamer. Ironically (?), this episode of ECW was an “in memoriam” episode after Vince McMahon’s limo blew up the prior night on Raw… an angle that would last two more weeks, following the deaths of Sherri Martel and more notably, Chris Benoit and Nancy Benoit.

Tommy Dreamer, nor Balls Mahoney, seemed at all bothered by Vince’s presumed death, and this Extreme Rules match started with… waistlocks! Then a headlock by Dreamer, before Mahoney gets up and clocks him with repeated “Balls” punches. Dreamer tries to return the favour, but gets dropped by a back suplex from Mahoney… an actual wrestling move!

Mahoney then went to clothesline Dreamer out of the ring, but Dreamer ducked, sending Balls awkwardly hurtling over the top rope… and here comes the plunder! After throwing a trash can into the ring, Mahoney ducks a kitchen sink shot, as Dreamer makes contact with the ringpost, before hitting a backhanded shot with the sink to Mahoney at the second attempt. Dreamer then takes a bump into the ring steps, before crawling back into the ring, where Mahoney has tossed in a trash can.

A trash can lid gets smashed across Dreamer’s back, then his head (remember, this was pre-Benoit, so an unprotected shot!), getting Mahoney a near fall. Dreamer gets out of the corner, as Mahoney overshoots a trash can lid-assisted dive into the turnbuckle, and Dreamer sends Balls to the mat with more trash can shots. Dreamer brings a chair into the ring, and sets it up, but Balls blocks a suplex and instead gives a drop toe hold into the chair.

The plunder continues with Dreamer using a trash can to assist Mahoney into a tree of woe, before giving a baseball slide dropkick into the can. Dreamer grabs a table, but gets cut off by Mahoney, who then misses a legdrop off the second rope, crashing through the partially set-up table after Dreamer moved away. One DDT onto a chair later, and Dreamer gets the win.

Standard, by-the-numbers WWE-ized hardcore match – the constant “dedication to Mr McMahon” references were ridiculous, but this was the closest you’d get to the “old” Balls Mahoney under a WWE banner.

Xanta Klaus vs. Scott Taylor (WWF Superstars, aired December 23, 1995)
We now go to Balls’ first run in WWE, a long time before he was Balls. This was from his extremely brief run as Xanta Klaus – the evil Santa Claus that had been paid off by “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. Granted, the character didn’t exactly have legs for 11 months of the year, but it had potential for what it was… at least until Rechner allegedly fell asleep backstage, causing the company to lose faith and can him.

This would be his one and only match in WWE under the bad Santa character, but at least it was against a decent enhancement talent, in the form of Scott (Not Quite 2 Hotty) Taylor. The red and black-clad Klaus had a very basic match with Taylor, lasting all of ninety-seconds (but still long enough for us to get a split-screen promo with Ted DiBiase building up the eventual arrival of the Ringmaster…).

Klaus pulls Taylor by the hair as he’s under the bottom rope, before sending Taylor into the ropes and decking him with a chop to the throat. That’s followed up with a snapmare and a running elbow drop out of the corner, before cutting off Taylor’s comeback with a simple headbutt. Klaus gets the win with a back suplex, before locking in a camel clutch to get the submission win.

Very simple, but what else can you do in a 90-second squash?

John Cena vs. Balls Mahoney (WWE Raw, June 19, 2006)
Back to Mahoney’s second WWE run, and perhaps the highest profile TV match he had was a four minute outing against John Cena on a 2006 episode of Raw. This was long before Cena had jumped the shark with the majority of fans, and got a majority of cheers.

“John Cena can’t wait to get his hands on ECW’s Balls… Mahoney, that is” screamed JR, as Mahoney came out with Paul Heyman to the generic ECW theme, and not his rip-off of AC/DC’s “Big Balls”.

They start by trading punches, and Cena scored a two-count from a suplex early on, before Cena goes back to the corner and continues with the flurry of punches. After a thumb to the eye, Balls pulls Cena by the belt into the turnbuckle, before starting his “Balls” punches. Cena predictably fights back with shoulder blocks and a Blue Thunder-like slam, but as Cena went for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, Heyman threw a steel chair to Mahoney. That didn’t go well as Cena hits a drop toe hold, and locks in the STFU for the quick tap-out.

Again, a simple, by the numbers match – nothing much wrong with it, but it was just simple time filler.

Balls Mahoney vs. Masato Tanaka (ECW Hardcore Heaven, May 14, 2000)
We wind up this series of reviews with a look back to where Balls made his name – the real, original ECW… and yes, it’s weird watching ECW with the badly-dubbed WWE theme music and the horrendously-turned down crowd audio to prevent us from being able to hear the fans sing along to “Big Balls”.

After Balls’ entrance, he drinks a beer from a fan before Masato Tanaka (and his badly dubbed music) comes out. Tanaka is scarred up, but if you’ve ever seen him before, that won’t be a shock… oh, and we’re interrupted by Cyrus The Virus, interrupting on behalf of “the Network” to take control. Why didn’t TNA do this with Spike TV (formerly TNN) when they were being run off the show? Cyrus’ hired gun Kintaro Kanemura chokes out Joel Gertner, so we’re left with Cyrus and Joey Styles on commentary. Yay!

Just like the first match we reviewed, they start out exchanging holds – waistlocks and hammerlocks – before Balls shoots for a single leg takedown and grabs a single-leg Boston crab. This isn’t the Balls that the highlight reels remember! Finally, Balls does his “Balls!” punches and succeeds with the wind-up finale, but that seems to act as a prelude for Tanaka to start a comeback.

Balls again misses a spinning heel kick and sends himself flying out of the ring to the floor, and Tanaka follows him. Not a good idea, as Balls smashes two fans’ beers into his face, before throwing a third beer in the Japanese fighter’s direction. After being sent into the guard rail, Tanaka reverses another Irish whip, before they go onto the entrance ramp, where Tanaka runs a chair into Balls’ head, before jumping off of another chair to connect with a tornado DDT onto the ramp.

Back in the ring, Balls grabs his own chair, and we have a chair duel! Three stalemates are followed by Balls kicking Tanaka in the… yeah… and smashing a chair over Tanaka’s head. Tanaka no-sells that… and the second chairshot, before falling at the third unprotected shot to the head, which gets Balls a two-count. Tanaka gets up as Balls argues with the ref, and grabs a chair… only to have it superkicked into him for another near fall.

Balls piles a load of chairs into the ring, but manages to cut off Tanaka as he climbed the top rope. Mahoney’s attempt at a Nutcracker Suite (Michinoku Driver) off the second rope is blocked and turned into a tornado DDT on the chairs for a near fall by Tanaka. Tanaka then sends Mahoney into the ropes, but misses a Roaring Elbow and takes the Nutcracker Suite for another near fall from Balls.

More punches in the corners follow, as Balls goes to the chair again, but he misses in the corner, allowing Tanaka to hit the Diamond Dust (somersault stunner from the second rope) for a near-fall. Tanaka sets the pile of chairs up again, but eats a Nutcracker Suite into the chairs for yet another two-count, which Balls followed up by missing a second-rope legdrop onto a chair. Another Roaring Elbow connects, getting Tanaka a near-fall, followed by a chairshot to the head as Tanaka jumped off the top rope… but a dizzy Balls staggered into a second Roaring Elbow as Tanaka got the win.

A decent match, which sadly is tough to watch in 2016 given all of the unprotected chairshots, but a good sample of what Balls Mahoney became famous for.

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