I hope that you all enjoyed my previous column on my first TNA Impact viewing. I got a decent amount of feedback on that one and I’m glad that you’ve all got such strong opinions on that promotion! My final verdict? I’ll try to watch it more often because I especially enjoyed Styles and Daniels match. Good stuff right there.
My prompt for writing this column is the fact that ECW on Sci Fi is playing to my immediate left. Granted, this column will be published a few days after the show is over, I had to start writing it during the show to truly encompass my disgust for what this “ECW” is becoming.
I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that makes me strongly dislike this “ECW” brand. It’s a mixture, really. I think the biggest annoyance is the fact that WWE insists on calling this third brand “ECW.” This is not Extreme Championship Wrestling. You know, if I was an extreme liberal I would go so far as to suggest a lawsuit against WWE for false advertising. Of course, that might be hard to prove because the suits at WWE would tell you that since they own ECW, they henceforth are the ones who define the brand.
Obviously, I disagree. ECW is not a brand that has numerous WWE commercials playing during the breaks. Further, ECW is not a brand that would air anything other than their own commercials during the breaks – and where are these ECW commercials? One of the most distinguishing parts of ECW wasn’t the people going through tables, it was their small-scale promotional machine. It was Joey Styles in front of an ECW banner hyping whatever storyline or event that was coming up. It was poorly produced t-shirt commercials and even worse house show dates being displayed.
No one denies that with WWE running the show that the production values will be superior. All former ECW fans can bite the bullet and live with that. However, taking away the aura and atmosphere of the old ECW shows is really doing more to hurt the new brand than help it. I understand that they can’t run the ECW Arena or the Manhattan Center for every television taping (actually, why can’t they?), but they need to do something about the look of the show. Now to change directions in the more obvious path…
Part of the “look” of the show is the wrestling that takes place on it. Two of my favorite wrestlers of all time are Ric Flair and The Undertaker and both of these men did a great job when they were on ECW on Sci Fi. But let’s face the facts here – this is NOT ECW when Ric Flair and The Undertaker are wrestling in the show’s main event. Part of what made the old ECW great were the thirsty wrestlers who were pitted against each other, fighting for the respect of a rabid fan base. When both wrestlers performed to the best of their abilities, they BOTH were shown respect by the crowd. This is how stars were born. This was the very essence of what the “magic” was that ECW generated in the wrestling business.
What do we have today? A show that takes commercial breaks in the middle of the main event. Pathetic.
A common complaint that people have about the new ECW is that Big Show is the champion. I’m actually not so mad about this. I’ve always said that Big Show should be world champion and should never lose the belt. I completely respect the fact that he is not as good of a mover in the ring as Rey Mysterio, Jr. and I understand that he can’t compare the late Eddie Guerrero or guys like Chris Jericho. But if we’re going to face the facts here, the man is a giant. No one in that lockerroom (except maybe Kurt Angle) can even take the Big Show down in a street fight. This man should be champion for years on end – no one should be able to beat this guy in the ring and I don’t know if it’s just me, but whenever he gets beaten it looks so obviously fake that it almost ruins the mystique of watching a completely fake sport.
Just a few more topics if you’ll give me another few minutes. Paul Heyman’s position in the new ECW is that of “Creative Director” (which we now know means that he is second in line to Vince McMahon). I don’t know what it is about the WWE Writing Team that they feel the need to constantly run back to the Bad Boss vs. Good Employee storyline, but it is failing miserably in ECW. Where is the honesty that the old ECW was built on? Why didn’t Heyman just say that because ECW is part of a corporate conglomerate, RVD has been suspended for 30 days because the “suits” didn’t like his style? Better question – why the hell is Paul Heyman on screen? This man didn’t make ECw a household name in the Northeast by taking television time away from the stars he was trying to create.
And when it comes to creating stars, having Balls Mahoney and CM Punk give these awkward backstage “My name is” promos isn’t cutting it. You want us to get to know these guys? Put them in the ring and we’ll tell you whether or not we like them. I understand that the WWE Writing Team likes to tell us who we should be cheering and jeering (just look at their completely pathetic, completely fake “Power 25” on their website), but I do not think that is going to work in the new ECW. As a matter of fact, I know it’s not going to work because a guy that we’re supposed to dislike, Mike Knox, is starting to get “X-Pac/Jean Paul Levesque Heat” as opposed to heel heat. For you morons on the WWE Writing Team, X-Pac/Jean Paul Levesque heat occurs when the fans are so completely disgusted with the wrestler that they boo because they don’t want to see them in the ring any more. This is not the same as booing Edge because he’s the “bad guy” in the storyline. This is the type of booing that if you’re getting it, you might soon see a “Die Rocky Die” sign in the crowd.
Remember what I’m talking about here – the image of the show. You want to give an image of this new ECW that is extreme. Having one “Extreme Rules Match” per hour-long show is a disgrace. This is “Extreme” Championship wrestling…shouldn’t all of the matches be “extreme rules?” That’s just a basic mistake on WWE’s part. It’s almost amateur at this point.
I could go on about the problems with this corporate-run ECW for hours. But if you want a great description of what the problem is – look at the ending images of the ECW on Sci Fi show this week. The Undertaker being double-chokeslammed by The Big Show and The Great Kahli through a table. No Rob Van Dam and no Sabu. No Balls Mahoney and no Sandman, either. No Stevie Richards and no FBI – not even Al Snow. I didn’t see Danny Doring or Roadkill (no tag teams in this new promotion, apparently). I didn’t even see Justin Credible at ringside. I would have loved to see Francine or Jazz there. Hell, even throw Terry Funk out there…but we saw none of these folks as the show ended.
We saw what ECW has been reborn as: Extremely Corporate wrestling