Written By: Greg Stephens
RAMBLE ON—They’re Gone…But are You Happy?
By Greg Stephens
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT CONTAINS CONTROVERSIAL CONTENT.
First and foremost, understand the purpose of this column is not to engage in geopolitical debate, but I compare the recent events behind the formation of the WWECW with the American military presence in Iraq. Don’t pelt me with hate mail on that comment, either. I understand fully that the war in Iraq, and all the casualties thereof, command a great deal more sobriety and importance than the world of professional wrestling. If we can maintain a little abstraction in our perspective, I think the similarities will, on some level, become apparent.
When the United States entered the Iraqi theater to topple a mad dictator and establish democracy, a great majority of Americans supported the action. As the faces on the Iraqi deck of cards were either captured or killed, we, as a nation, cheered and applauded our military personnel and the victories they won. When the Ace of Spades, Saddam Hussein, was captured like the scum he is, hiding in a spider hole, covered in his own filth, the war was justified to most of us. We cheered louder. We supported our president. Life was good.
Two and a half years later, things are not so good. The polls, depending on which you prefer, indicate a majority of our nation wants us to leave Iraq. This is not an uncommon situation in wartime. A nation accomplishes what the electorate believes it should accomplish in a war and the same electorate clamors for that nation’s military to be brought home as soon as possible. Usually, as with World War II, it is not easy. One nation might win a war, but another nation always needs rebuilding. Without commenting on the continuing military presence in Iraq, I believe most people can agree that if we had completely left Iraq the day after Hussein was captured, many grave tragedies would’ve resulted. Do we still need to be in Iraq currently is a different discussion for a different forum.
A mere month and a half to two months ago, when Vince McMahon announced his intention to resurrect ECW, the wrestling world came alive. To the diehards that lit candles every day ECW was no more, that announcement was, on some levels, as important to them as the president’s announcement of Hussein’s capture. When the names of the wrestlers that were coming back to the new WWECW became public, there was dancing in the streets and praise galore on the internet. Without much concern to the logistics of ECW surviving as a separate entity, the fans await the arrival of their beloved E C Dub.
From square one, reality was not as hope had been. Common sense dictated that WWE use its resources, and yes, that includes its ‘superstars’, to help launch the new project. As distasteful as it seemed, ECW needed RAW for the publicity of the launch. ECW needed RAW wrestler RVD to beat the RAW champion, John Cena, to give credibility to the ECW world title. ECW needed the continuing interaction of RAW superstars on ECW television and vice versa for the publicity. And, yes, ECW needed some WWE superstars to defect to ECW for some measure of instant credibility and drawing power.
The ECW diehards have had a rough time accepting the above-mentioned realities. I agree it would be great to go back to the bingo hall, tape the shows with the same low-budget production values, with the same wrestlers that made ECW great. That was never a possibility. Even if Vince McMahon had wanted to allow that, and we know he didn’t, he could never get those things to happen from a logistical standpoint. He was investing his money on another brand extension and needed for it to gross as much return as possible. He pulled strings to get any television outlet for the new ECW, and the fans groused. He pulled strings to get any of the old wrestlers back, and the fans groused. He pulled strings to be able to just tape with Smackdown, and the fans groused.
RAW was overshadowing ECW, and the fans groused. Tuesday night’s show has come to be known as RAW-lite. Everyone complains that the RAW guys show up on Tuesdays and upstage the ECW wrestlers, many of which haven’t wrestled in years and aren’t ready to carry the ball by themselves yet. Was this some cruel joke? Why can’t Vince just let ECW be ECW?
Tuesday, July 4th, appropriately enough, was the night of ECW’s independence. This wasn’t planned, by the way. In fact, the interaction between RAW and ECW would have continued much longer had it not been for those accidental ‘minutemen of freedom’, Rob Van Dam and Sabu. Erase their ill-timed arrests on drug charges, and RVD would have both titles as I write this column. The main event match on RAW would not have happened. Edge and Cena would most certainly have played a part on Tuesday’s ECW telecast. RVD and ECW would have been involved in the next RAW pay per view.
Instead, RVD lost the WWE title back to a WWE guy, and the one that probably deserved it most, Edge. Cena can now concentrate on Edge. Edge can concentrate on Lita and himself. RAW has no more need of ECW. That’s a good thing, right?
Well, RVD is suspended for thirty days, according to WWE.com. What’s happening with Sabu, I have no idea. Oh, wait, yes I do. He gets a new video plug for his bad behavior. Sounds like the ECW version of Randy Orton. The Big Show is now the ECW champion and Heyman has turned on RVD. The best news for all of you is that RAW was nowhere to be found last night, right?
Yet I notice the feedback from last night has not been good. I understand no one wants Big Show holding the belt. I understand the stripper still stinks. I understand the wrestling still stinks. But RAW is gone, and you should be happy, right?
If you thought things were bad before, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. ECW was not ready to be kicked out of the nest. Love it or hate it, RAW had to stay in ECW to give it any shot of survivial. You guys didn’t like it. RVD gave Vince the excuse to make your wishes come true. What will the end result be? No one knows for sure, but please don’t set your TiVos to record ECW wrestling after its initial summer run is concluded because I doubt it will be there. Hope you can get your money back on those ECW pay per view tickets this winter. Treasure the new WWECW t-shirts because they will be collector’s items this time next year. Its future has went ‘up in smoke’, so to speak. The question is, are you happy? Until next time, keep reading, and keep rambling on.