Thursday, June 08, 2006

WWE vs. ECW Report

Oh My God!: Rob Van Dam handed Rey Mysterio clean loss number 284 as champion, while John Cena had Sabu seemingly beat prior to ECW interference. This leads into an RVD vs. Cena title match at One Night Stand that will be very interesting on a number of levels.

You Fucked Up: Big Show joined “ECW.” Sid and 911 would be proud.

He’s Hardcore: Mick Foley delivered an intense but confusing promo while bleeding in the aftermath of a brawl between Tommy Dreamer and Edge.

The Extreme Rundown:

Welcome to your WWE vs. ECW Spectacular Super Report. I’ll be covering the revolution that is WWECW 2K6, so let’s get this party started. The show began with Mick Foley giving a pep talk to the Raw and Smackdown locker room, and then Paul Heyman did the same in the ECW locker room. This was awful and they should permanently dump this idea. To begin with, it was way too much like those lame vignettes from the failed invasion of 2001, and they should do everything they can to distance themselves from that debacle.

Moreover, the whole thing comes across as so phony. Why do these wrestlers care so much about these brands? Angle, Stevie Richards and Little Guido were “WWE wrestlers” just last week. Hell, Guido goes back to being one tomorrow. Why is ECW so much different than Raw and Smackdown? They’ve done numerous angles where the Raw heels and faces join together against the Smackdown heels and faces because of the brands, but apparently ECW is a different type of brand or something because now Raw and Smackdown guys are cool against this greater rival. The whole premise is hard to accept on a number of levels.

The show began with a very cool introductory video. They continued to run good video packages for ECW throughout the show. Joey Styles and Tazz were at one announce table and Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross at the other. The whole sequence of events is out of whack with Tazz, given he hasn’t joined ECW on the air yet, but was a total cheerleader and representative of the brand here. Tazz and Lawler threatened each other at the start of the show, which was a nice touch. Unfortunately, their bickering got really grating as the show went on and took away from the show.

They had a separate side entrance for ECW and the ECW guys entered through a different entry closer to the crowd. I liked the entrance closer to the crowd, because there’s something to be said for entering right by the crowd as opposed to on a stage. When WCW used to use a stage for Clash of the Champions, I thought it didn’t look as good as the regular shows when the wrestlers entered on an even level with the fans. I wasn’t as high on the fact there was this little ECW side entrance next to a huge screen. The crowd overall seemed more pro-ECW than recent WWE crowds.

1. Rob Van Dam beat Rey Mysterio clean in the opener. The finish was hilarious. I’m fully expecting Shane McMahon to cleanly pin Rey before he drops the title. The match was sloppy, but very promising. This was the first time in years where RVD felt like RVD again. Yes, that included some botched spots. But it also involved a lot of athleticism, and he came across as much more of a star. All that was missing was Fonzie and an arrogant promo where he proclaims himself the whole fucking show. The match was a lot of fun, just because it felt like the wrestlers weren’t as restrained as they usually are.

Rey and RVD shook hands at the opening, and engaged in some technical wrestling. RVD used a military press and then immediately segued into a standing moonsault that landed badly right on Rey’s head. Rey went for the 619 but it was blocked. RVD came in with a springboard but was caught with a drop kick. Rey went for a baseball slide but RVD caught him and dropped him on the barricade. RVD missed a leg drop off the barricade, and finally someone succeeded with an offensive move when Rey hit a springboard crossbody from the ring over the barricade onto RVD.

RVD crotched Rey back in the ring and hit a kick off the top. RVD leaped over the top rope into a leg drop on the apron. He hit a drop toe hold sending Rey into the bottom turnbuckle, and drop kicked a chair into Rey’s head. He used a hard Irish whip, but Rey caught him coming in and used a bulldog off the top onto a chair for a near fall. Rey missed a springboard leg drop and landed on a chair. RVD put the chair on Rey and went for the five star. Rey pushed the chair off but RVD still hit the frog splash for the pin.

Kurt Angle came out in an ECW shirt. They really should have eased into the idea of Kurt Angle being won over by ECW, rather than just embracing it for no good reason. It’s such a flat contradiction with 10 years of back story. Even the people who don’t know about the first nine years know what he said last year. Angle said he wasn’t upset by what Randy Orton did on Monday. He gloated about snapping Orton’s ankle, and said he loved it. He said he was also glad that Orton answered his challenge. He said for the first time Orton will face ECW’s Kurt Angle.

Orton was unimpressed, and compared going to ECW with going from a summer blockbuster to doing hardcore porn. He said in passing during this that his contract expired and he is going to Raw. This was no-sold by the announcers, which was weird. Angle and Orton traded threats. Orton vowed to single handedly destroy the legend of ECW. And he is going to do this by defeating Kurt Angle, apparently.

2. Mickie James beat Jazz. Jazz used a Thesz press off the apron to the floor. Jazz went for a splash into the corner but missed. She hit an X-factor, but Mickie got her foot on the ropes. Mickie then caught her spinning, leaping DDT for the pin. Jazz played face here. I hope they use her as a heel in ECW, because it is a much more natural role for her. The problem is who she has to work with as a heel.

John Cena did a promo backstage where he talked about how if he lost, the belt that Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin wore would go to ECW. He said there will be a lot of pressure on him and it will be a hostile environment. He could complain or worry, but instead he is going to fight off like a man. This was great stuff from Cena, who is doing really well on the mic recently with less comedy and 70s baby face mannerisms.

Paul Heyman came to the ring and plugged the return of ECW to television on the Sci-Fi Network. He again emphasized that it will have new stuff along with the old. He announced the card and they showed clips from last year’s One Night Stand. Backstage, Kurt Angle rallied the ECW troops again, which was even more preposterous than the opening. Elsewhere, Big Show did a promo where he called Angle a traitor. He said Angle is just out for himself, but everyone in the locker room is for WWE.

3. Big Show won the Battle Royal for “ECW.” Lillian announced this to be a battle royal to “determine ultimate supremacy in sports entertainment.” Why exactly would ECW fight for that? All the WWE wrestlers got their own entrances, while the ECW guys came out together. I guess it worked for the New England Patriots, and it’s not like many of the ECW guys at the open are going to be long term players for the company. The participants in the Battle Royal were Big Show, Randy Orton, Mark Henry, Tatanka, Shelton Benjamin, Matt Hardy, Fit Finlay, Carlito, Bobby Lashley, Edge, Kurt Angle, Justin Credible, Al Snow, Terry Funk, Stevie Richards, Tommy Dreamer, Sandman, Little Guido, Balls Mahoney and I believe Tony Mamaluke.

You could hear the crowd chanting Balls along with his punches which is a great sign for a very old gimmick. Henry was eliminated almost immediately by Guido and Angle. Sandman used a drop kick to eliminate Carlito. Benjamin kicked Snow out. It came down to Finlay, Benjamin, Angle, Edge, Show and Orton, all WWE guys. In fact, nobody who wasn’t with WWE before ECW was recreated was put over tonight. They once again invoked the failed Invasion angle by having a guy who everyone associates with WWE “represent” a different promotion. Nobody was fooled when Steve Austin represented WCW, and nobody is fooled with Kurt Angle as Mr. ECW.

Angle dumped Benjamin, Finlay and Edge, but Orton threw Angle out. They acted like WWE had won the battle royal, but then Show took off his Raw shirt to reveal an ECW shirt, and choke slammed Orton. He threw him out, and somehow this turn of events was huge and Angle and Show celebrated with vigor. It once again came across as phony. And sending Show to ECW is so unbelievably dumb. If I had to make a list of the top 10 guys to definitely not send to ECW, Show would most definitely make the cut. Backstage, it was Big Show now leading “ECW” in cheers.

4. Edge beat Tommy Dreamer in a no holds barred match. They aired an old clip of anti-hardcore Mick Foley in ECW prior to the match, and I could watch that stuff all night. Dreamer came out with a barbed wire baseball bat. They used street signs, a pan and a garbage can. It was pretty sloppy. Edge hit an implant DDT on a garbage can for a near fall. Dreamer stood on his crotch and kicked a chair into Edge’s head. Dreamer went for a superplex off the top through a table, but Lita came in and hit him with a cane.

Mick Foley and Terry Funk ended up in the ring, with Foley using barbed wire to subdue Funk. While this was going on, Edge was trying for a power bomb off the top through the table. Dreamer got out and hit the Spicolli driver through the table. Lita interrupted the pinning attempt with the cane again. Dreamer got her up for a power bomb, but Edge hit a spear for the pin. This was not much of a match, but it wasn’t an embarrassment either. After the match, there was another brawl, with Funk getting the better of Foley and bloodying him.

After a break, Mick Foley cut an intense but confusing promo in the ring. The lights were dimmed, which was a nice effect. I’m sure it was supposed to invoke ECW, but it kind of reminded me of his promos as Mankind early in his WWF days. Foley now is angry about being told that he sold out and is a whore. It was hard to follow his points, but I think the basic gist is that the difference between him and Dreamer is that Dreamer isn’t a whore. Additionally, he is angry at ECW for making him fall in love with the promotion in the first place.

He put over Dreamer and Funk as opponents, which was a nice touch you don’t see enough of today outside of the guy who is feuding with Triple H. He promised big things at One Night Stand. After this, Jerry Lawler and Tazz got into the fight that had been brewing the entire night. Tazz and Lawler did a really good job with their intensity here, and it would have been better if this was the extent of their interaction and they weren’t bickering for the rest of the two hours.

5. John Cena beat Sabu via disqualification. This turned out perfectly fine. The car wreck I feared did not even come close to occurring, although it wasn’t like this was some great match either. Cena controlled early with punches, an elbow, a suplex and choking. Sabu came back with a low blow, and followed that up with a somersault plancha. He threw a chair into Cena’s face twice and hit the triple jump moonsault. He threw Cena into the announce table and dropped the leg on Cena. Cena came back out of nowhere with the FU and applied the STFU. Show then ran in for the DQ, and both sides brawled to end the show.

One of the positives of this show was they pretty much picked the right people to go over, and they delivered relatively clean results. That was a pleasant surprise. One of the negatives is that WWE never seems to learn from its mistakes any more. This show was full of mistakes that you could tell going in were mistakes just based on recent history. There needs to be more critical analysis directed internally, and less fear about what that analysis is going to teach.
Please Don’t Go:
It is what it is. There are probably hundreds of ways with careful planning that ECW could be made to feel more authentic for its restart. But that is basically water under the bridge now. ECW is going to succeed if it produces a good enough product going forward. The past name of the product isn’t going to work as a crutch, because the people that loved ECW are likely going to end up hating WWE’s ECW, if they even care. It’s a moot point now. This is WWE’s third brand, and it’s not what ECW used to be.

That said, there are many lessons that can be learned from the original ECW in this resurrection. I’ll refrain from an extended diatribe tonight, and make the point in the simplest manner possible. ECW succeeded mostly because it gave opportunities to talented people who weren’t getting opportunities from WCW and WWF. The same situation still exists today. ECW has the best chance of success if it utilizes wrestlers on the WWE roster that haven’t been properly treated.

There is a difference between those guys and the guys who have been given every chance to succeed and failed based on their own lack of talent. The former group will be embraced by the smaller arenas in the Northeast. The latter will be rejected. The former will succeed because they are good. The latter will fail because they aren’t. An ECW which allows Paul Heyman to book and promote the likes of Shelton Benjamin, Nick Dinsmore, CM Punk, Jamie Noble, Brian Kendrick and Paul London has a great chance for success. An ECW made up of the likes of Big Show, Test and Chuck Palumbo doesn’t have a great chance of success. It will have all the problems of today’s WWE with few of the positives.

Unless WWE strips Raw and Smackdown of its top stars, ECW is going to have to create new stars to thrive. That’s a lot more likely to happen by pushing small guys who have never gotten a push commensurate with their talent level than it will be pushing the same big guys who have been given 8,000 chances to succeed and failed every time because they just weren’t good enough.


Anonymous Houston said...

I got that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach tonight, Like "Uh oh, it's the WCW invasion all over again." Except you have Angle and Big Show playing the role of the Dudleys and Austin.

By the way, Vince McMahon called and wanted to know if you'd be willing to work the next Smackdown tapings in LA. He wants you to beat Rey Mysterio clean, as this will really get Rey over with the fans.

12:58 AM  
Anonymous MAZ said...

Todd, thanks for the report. When I saw WWE v ECW on TV I just couldn't bring myself to watch it so I was counting on you.

I think that I've been fairly open about my disdain for this whole WWE/ECW promotion. I look forward to each promotion getting back to working independent of each other.

I do wonder about the line that ECW plans on taking. Right now, everybody that they introduce from ECW they do so in a face manner. At some point in time, someone will have to turn to a heel.

I think that Kurt Angle has the potential to reign in ECW, but if they are forced to turn him to heel status then I think this will be a big turnoff as we've seen this way too many times.

With regards to Terry Funk, he has his place in wrestling history, but he is way past his prime and for WWE or ECW to try to resurrect his career in the capacity as a viable wrestler is simply a farce.

6:30 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

I didn't like how they had Tazz goading Lawler all night, then when it finally came to throwdown, they made sure the WWE's Lawler got the better of ECW's Tazz. Just another little jab to make WWE look like the big tough guy at ECW's expense. So lame and so predictable.

7:02 AM  
Blogger Dave Ling & Franchise said...

I think I'm in the minority here, but I really enjoyed last night's show and where they're going with ECW thus far.

I think Heyman is going to do awesome things with Angle. RVD is the face of the show and after last night (although he did botch a few spots) he has shown he's a star and ready to carry the brand. Show is a unique challenge for Heyman but I look forward to what they'll do.

Right now they're obviously trying to infuse the brand with some recognizable faces before new players pop up onto the ECW show. Are Palumbo and Test going to be going to ECW? Maybe. Or maybe they could be going to SD! who are now without Orton too... that's a hurting show with all the injuries and now no Orton.

I agree with Todd that ECW needs to have guys who have never received their proper dues from WWE. I can think of no better a prospect then Matt Hardy but he's a little tied up these days being buried on SD.

Is this going to be ECW of old? No, . But atleast it has the feel of a project that has a different working style then RAW and SD, which was never the case with the "WCW" project from a couple years back. Plus, no Buff Bagwell.

8:01 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

" The show began with Mick Foley giving a pep talk to the Raw and Smackdown locker room, and then Paul Heyman did the same in the ECW locker room. This was awful and they should permanently dump this idea."
You're bang on.

"Unfortunately, their bickering got really grating as the show went on and took away from the show."
I actually like the great majority of the announcing except when the conversation became too inside. Most notably, Styles calling Ultimate Warrior and Lex Luger "stiffs". This isn't the internet, Joey, those guys were world champions and therefore among the best wrestlers in recent memory in the kayfabe world. The whole glass ceiling thing is a crock too. They should be putting over wrestling as a meritocracy like a legitmate sport; besides, this only confuses 90% of the audience and irks those of us who find RVD grossly overrated.

"while the ECW guys came out together"
Bad move: they need to establish the ECW wrestlers to a largely brand new audience. By the way, how did Big Show win the battle royal for ECW after the match was officially awarded to WWE? Just another small yet foolish logic gap.

"Foley now is angry about being told that he sold out and is a whore."
This didn't work as the crowd had a noticeable "Foley" chant going on during the previous match; Foley just isn't seen as a heel yet.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I'll tell you what, Houston, tell Vince I'd be willing to let Rey put me over, but he needs to understand that I'm not selling much for that midget. I'm bigger than him, and that would just be ridiculous.

8:49 PM  
Anonymous James said...

I did an interview with Paul Heyman this morning (set up by WWE). I won't go into details, cuz I'm gonna have the story out on either Sunday or Tuesday, but he had a lot of interesting things to say that kinda got me excited about the new ECW. Actually, it was more what he WOULDN'T say that piqued my interest. I'll send you the link to the story when it's online for my newspaper's Web site.

2:51 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

Sounds very interesting. Look forward to it.

7:59 AM  

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