Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"ECW" Report

Oh My God!: Rob Van Dam and Kurt Angle scored a tag team victory in a very good match over Randy Orton and Edge.

You Fucked Up: Test is coming to ECW. Ugh.

He’s Hardcore: Sabu had another wild match against Tony Mamaluke.

The Extreme Rundown:

There was a fortune teller to start the show, I guess as a Sci-Fi tie-in. There wasn’t much of note, as she basically recapped Raw and mentioned the ECW main event. The lights were darkened for the show, which I think is a smart move. It looks different than Smackdown, and you don’t have as much attention directed towards fan antics. That makes it seem more serious. Plus, it is harder to tell when the Smackdown audience isn’t really into the show.

1. Sabu beat Tony Mamaluke in a squash. He dominated most of the match, applying the camel clutch and hitting a triple jump plancha. Mamaluke briefly gained control and went for a splash off the top, but Sabu threw a chair into him. Sabu then hit a splash from the ring through a table on the floor and applied the camel clutch back in the ring for the submission.

Joey Styles and Tazz made a bunch of references as to why ECW is better than Raw or Smackdown, which were the sorts of artificial differences Raw and Smackdown used to make. They are much better off just allowing ECW to develop as its own entity. As far as the match, Sabu is going to get over because he is doing stuff that nobody else does. Of course, if they gave someone younger all the same shortcuts, it would likely lead to more long term benefits.

Rob Van Dam cut a backstage promo. RVD as a personality is breaking out of his WWE funk, because he is finally back to being the character that got over. He said he’s everybody’s favorite wrestler, and was acting really arrogant. He said he would win in the tag match and win on Sunday. I really wish they would bring back Fonzie.

Big Show and Tommy Dreamer had a confrontation. Dreamer said that if Show wants to make a name for himself in ECW, he will have to go through Dreamer. So that’s exactly what Show did. After Dreamer slapped Show, Show beat the crap out of him all over the ring and finally left. Dreamer still got to his feet and smiled at the end of this. Show remains an awful fit and inexplicable pick for ECW.

2. Sandman beat Macho Libre. Macho Libre was essentially dressed to look like Jack Black while doing Randy Savage mannerisms. He wasn’t very good. He did an awful Savage impersonation and wasn’t funny. Sandman came out, caned the hell out of him, and finished him with the White Russian leg sweep. This was fine for what it was, but I think it would be better if they had a Stevie Richards type doing these different characters so it seems like a specific wrestler is being a jackass rather than the promotion is presenting jackasses to you.

Backstage, Paul Heyman was rallying the troops against John Cena, who showed up with a nasty black eye. He walked right up to all of them. He proposed his match with Sabu at Vengeance be an extreme lumberjack match where Heyman can bring anyone he wants. This was another great performance from Cena. Sabu accepted and Cena left. Kelly did another strip tease, this time interrupted by Mike Knox.

They ran an introductory package for Test. He is the antithesis of ECW. ECW was about giving opportunities to guys who were overlooked despite their talent because of narrow-minded decision-makers in WWF and WCW. Test on the other hand, is a guy who had every opportunity to make it because of the same narrow-minded foolishness, and yet failed every time because he has no charisma and he’s a mediocre worker. Like Show, he’s a guy that shouldn’t be anywhere near the “ECW” product. ECW should be the location for guys that haven’t been given the proper opportunities on Raw and Smackdown. If you have gotten 8,000 opportunities because you’re tall and friends with the right people, and you still failed, you ought not apply.

3. Rob Van Dam and Kurt Angle beat Edge and Randy Orton. Angle went for the ankle lock early on Edge. RVD and Orton tagged in, and RVD crotched Orton and came with a kick off the top that sent Orton to the floor. RVD hit a moonsault off the apron, but Orton tagged Edge. Lita pulled down the ropes on RVD, and the heels gained control. Edge threw RVD out to the floor right in front of the announcer’s table.

RVD got the tag to Angle, who came in with three rolling Germans for Orton and another German for Edge. He applied the ankle lock to Orton, but Edge grabbed Orton’s hands and used the leverage to whip Angle into the ropes. He came off the top onto Angle, but Angle caught him with an overhead belly to belly. He went for the Angle slam on Edge, but Orton hit a chop block on Angle and went after his leg.

Around this time something went wrong with Orton’s upper body, presumably the shoulder. He seemed to be very concerned. Edge was tagged in, and threw Angle into the steps. Angle got a rear naked choke on Edge but Lita interfered again. Angle hit a German suplex on Edge and tagged RVD. RVD came in with a pescado to Orton, and hit him with a chair.

Edge knocked RVD off the apron. Angle applied the ankle lock to Edge, but Lita interfered again. This time Angle gave her the Angle slam. Orton then hit the RKO on Angle. RVD hit a kick off the top on Orton and went for rolling thunder, but Edge cut it off with a drop kick. He went for the spear, but ran into an elbow and RVD hit the frog splash for the pin.

Please Don’t Go:

This show was much better than last week. It was more of what a first show should be, as they showcased a number of wrestlers and gave you one quality match. Their picks for pushes aren’t the best, but the show was well booked. The one problem is the whole format and presentation feels exactly like Raw or Smackdown. WWE has such a narrow view of what wrestling is, and it’s incredibly limiting. ECW seemingly presents the opportunity to question the flawed premises with which WWE has operated for five years. Instead, it’s the same WWE, only with the Sandman, Sabu and weapons. On the plus side, at least this show inspired me to make those points. Last week I was just disgusted and wanted to go to bed.

I have made the following point on a number of occasions, but I will keep making it because it is very important. For ECW to succeed, it needs to have a progressive vision. WWE is inherently retrogressive. They have a set way of presenting wrestling, and there is very little reflection on what works and doesn’t work. However, the fact is that ECW is also retrogressive. Sandman, Sabu and Tommy Dreamer are yesterday’s news. It’s fine for WWE at this point to establish the likes of Big Show, Sandman, and Sabu. They are among the most well known performers to today’s fans. However, the key to making this project work is using those guys to put over new guys that are fresh and can help create a product that feels exciting and new.

The root problem of this whole endeavor is that for ECW to work, the first thing Vince McMahon must ask himself is “what are the flaws in my current product?” Once he answers that question, he can start to see how to present a seeming alternative. But I don’t think he has any interest in answering that question, and thus “ECW” is unmistakably a WWE product based on the presence of the same glaring and easily correctable flaws.


Anonymous mdh2877 said...

If they dont start taping in smaller arenas this will never succeed.The quiet crowd just kills every segment.Hopefully after Vengence they drop the interpromotional crap it just doesn't work as an alternative to Raw or Smackdown.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Swain said...

Well, it certainly sounds better than last week's episode. I got my hands on a copy of last week's solely for the train wreck/camp value. Twenty years from now the footage of Kelly unable to undo her bra will be an alltime classic. What I want to know is why they're not trying to establish any new stars yet. Well, except for the oh-so-highly anticipated return of Count Mordecai...or is that Mordestat?

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Steve Khan said...

It was so lame hearing Tazz and Styles crack jokes about Macho Libre, suggesting he would be on RAW because he fits right in...even though he was just ON YOUR OWN PROGRAM.

I'd like to see Regal and Finlay win the tag belts, and have London and Spanky move to ECW. Hell, have London and Kendrick take the tag belts to ECW.

3:53 PM  

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