Source: The Sun Online
By THE LILSBOYS
IT’S OFFICIAL – New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom is the best
venue for wrestling in the world today.
Both the recent ECW One Night Stand PPVs were hosted there and were made by the fantastic crowd.
Average to good wrestling matches were turned into great ones by the reactions of a passionate and rabid audience.
But what made us decide the Ballroom was our favourite over anywhere else was the most recent ECW TV show hosted there.
When Paul Heyman’s group have taped their programme before or after Smackdown the response from fans who came to see Rey Mysterio and King Booker has been lukewarm at best.
However in front of their home crowd an opening match featuring Test got a better response than most Raw or Smackdown main events.
The only problem for the WWE is they’d probably have rather taken the silence.
Test may not have had fans chant anything at him for five years, but when chants include “you take steroids” it’s not exactly what management want.
In fact the sound had to be switched off for a lot of his and Mike Knox’s weapons-filled match with Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman due to explicit calls to the team, including “she’s got herpes” at Mike’s on-screen girlfriend Kelly.
Bosses probably could have accepted that if the audience hadn’t completely turned on their main event for the night.
It was meant to be one of the biggest contests in the history of the new ECW – champion Big Show v Batista, arguably the most pushed wrestler of the last 18 months.
But the crowd hated it and took delight in showing how much.
Both men came out to what commentator Joey Styles called a “mixed reaction”, but Tazz admitted were loud boos.
Nobody in the arena wanted to see what was basically a WWE style match, and a bad one at that.
The chants in this one included “you both suck”, “same old s**t”, “you can’t wrestle”, “boring” and the inventive “change the channel”.
If you didn’t follow the fans’ advice and stayed tuned until the end you’d have seen both men visibly shaken.
Show played up to the booing, rubbing his fingers to signify the money he was making and announcing after the programme went off air: “Seriously guys, from the bottom of my heart, you can all kiss my f***ing ass.”
Batista, on the other hand, took things badly.
Not used to anything but adoration from fans since the day he started turning on Triple H, he obviously didn’t want to be in New York from the start.
The Animal nearly lost it with fans on the way to and from the ring, did little to hide the anger on his face throughout and is apparently still unhappy with what went down.
WWE bosses were annoyed too, so much so that an upcoming PPV set for the Ballroom is now likely to be held in Chicago instead.
But what did they expect?
Putting Batista v Big Show as the big bout on an ECW show was a clear slap in the face to the fans – it would be like turning up to watch a football match but being given the ballet instead.
And all through the show, and the brand, the non-Extreme theme continued.
Test and Mike Knox could have been any juiced up WWE big guys from the last 30 years and Kelly any bland blonde Diva.
Paul Heyman is playing the 1998 Vince McMahon ‘evil owner’ role and his security guards are federation failures The Basham Brothers.
Hell, this show even featured cult WWE job guy The Brooklyn Brawler.
But there was one ray of light of light for ECW fans – the debut of CM Punk.
Punk, in his very first TV match, got the sort of reaction any top line superstar would crave.
His excellent work in Ring Of Honor, non-WWE physique and clear love of the sport make him a huge ECW fan favourite.
Stories that Triple H and Shawn Michaels slagged off his tryout bout and that he’s disliked by the McMahons for his relationship with Maria only add to that aura.
It’s clear that Punk has already been accepted as the newest superstar, and potential saviour of ECW, in a way Shannon Moore and Kevin ‘Mordecai’ Thorn never will be.
If he’d even made it to Raw or Smackdown, CM would have undoubtedly been stuck in opening and dark matches like so many talented wrestlers with the ‘wrong’ look or background before him.
And with Punk alongside Sabu, the returning Rob Van Dam and the readily accepted Kurt Angle, ECW definitely has a good shot at glory.
Vince McMahon just needs to learn to embrace the Extreme fans and give them something brutal and brilliant, but never bland or boring.
If not they’ll be the first to let him know.