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Thursday, August 03, 2006

"Change the Channel!"

That certainly was an ironic chant last night for what I think was easily the best "new" ECW show to date.

Seems as if the folks creatively behind the show have a split personality though. How can you so effectively realize that Test and Mike Knox are the epitome of what the fans dislike about the new brand, and then book Big Show vs. Batista in the main event?

Either you realize what is happening and use it to your advantage or not. Look, I get it, the angle is that Paul is putting Big Show over as the "new, more corporate ECW" to get over as a heel. But bringing in another big, stiff, slow guy like Batista, who frankly looked surprised by the reaction he got, doesn't really help it, unless its your point to book a Main Event that ECW fans do not want to see.

And can someone PLEASE tell me why the ECW title would EVER be defended in a match that wasn't an "Extreme Rules" match? I know you don't need trash cans and tables in everyone, but in the old ECW there wasn't the announced difference in rules from match to match.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Raw is Foley

Last night's edition of Raw was rather ho-hum except for two bright spots.

One was a triple threat match for the Intercontinental title that was woefully short and starred three absolute talents that should be featured a lot more than they are.

The other was the Mick Foley/Ric Flair segment. Dave Scherer over at pwinsider is critical of Foley's verbal tactics, saying he shouldn't keep making himself out as the face.

My take is a bit different, Foley and Flair are blurring the lines between face and heel. The two are so diverse in style and fan base that you just don't need the classic role definitions. I love the verbal war between the two, and I don't think that you need to be a smart mark for it to work. The two men are clear in how they don't like each other and the more prominent barbs were very easy for anyone to decipher. Foley is bad because he called legendary stars "imaginary", Flair is a bad Dad because of an embarrassing arrest. Not too hard to follow.

This also worked well about this time about 9 years ago. When Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels did it. Both were face, although Bret, like Foley was to be the designated "heel" except in Canada. The two had a legitimate beef with one another as do Foley and Flair. They both ran shoots on each other on the mic, like Foley and Flair are. The Michaels/Hart saga in '97 was one of the most intriguing programs I've ever seen, because it can be enjoyed on multiple levels. You never knew when the thing would spill over into reality and one would kick the other's ass in a bathroom somewhere.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

CZW Memories

Just read that CZW held its annual Tournament of Death. That and Cage of Death are their main events of the year and I always miss covering CZW when I hear about them.

In May 1999, I attended "Break the Barrier", an Al Isaacs cross-promotional event held at the ECW Arena. I was covering the event for WOW Magazine, which was just starting up at the time. Before the event began, NWA promoter Ace Robinson introduced me to John Zandig, who had been running a promotion that grew out of his wrestling school. John boasted that CZW's match that night would steal the show, and he was dead right.

From there I started going to CZW's shows regularly and fought to get CZW regular coverage in WOW, helping to break them nationally. I would cover them regularly for WOW until its demise in 2001. I kept photographing CZW for a few months beyond that, but stopped because I felt I was just taking up space at ringside without a national outlet to help them out.

It might be time for me to start checking out them again, the way I always wanted to... as a fan.

If you've never heard of CZW, go to www.czwrestling.com and order some DVDs. You won't be sorry.



Wifebeater, Nick Mondo, and Zandig 7/14/01

Friday, July 28, 2006

Oh No, Not Again

Just when it looked like we might actually see ECW vs ECW in the main event on ECW(I know, a ludicrous concept, isn't it), it has been announced that Batista will face Show for the title this Tuesday night.

Ok, although I hate yet another "WWE" superstar main eventing on ECW, you have to admit, it will be interesting to see how they book this one. I would certainly hope they have no intention of putting the ECW title on Batista, and if you have Show beat Batista, that only further hurts Batista's already deflating heat based on his return.

How can you expect it to be credible that Batista is worthy to face Booker at Summerslam if loses a match to the "alternative" brand? I mean, that's good for ECW, bad for Smackdown, and they wouldn't do that would they? Oh yea...that's right.

Another health issue shelves a superstar.

On Raw? No.

On ECW? No.

Yep. Smackdown takes another hit as Tatanka goes on the DL. It's almost as if the brand itself has red hair and is not the biological child of WWE.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

ECW Ratings Up

So ECW not only got their numbers back up after returning from the 11pm start last week but have posted some of their best numbers ever.

I'm hoping WWE doesn't see this as a result of the presence of Kane, but rather that some actual storylines are finally being used.

We now have an actual, ECW-only fued going between Knox and Sandman. Now we might actually have an ECW wrestler challenge for the title next week.

And hey, things are looking up. Angle returns next week, RVD should the following. And next week, CM Punk will actually be in the ring.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Paul Heyman Comments on WWE Stars in ECW

There's no doubt that old-school ECW fans are not happy with the current state of ECW. I've personally cringed in anticipation of their outcry everytime Big Show's tuesday night opponent is announced. The folks over at pwinsider.com posted portions of a recent interview Heyman did in Great Britain.

"Yes, Big Show vs. Undertaker could have been a match on Raw or Smackdown - but again this is a different concept. A lot of people forget some of the main events we had in ECW. One of our most popular matches was Terry Funk & Arn Anderson against Sabu & Bobby Eaton. Arn and Bobby were wrestling in WCW and you could say the same thing about Terry Funk as you could about The Undertaker or Ric Flair, he had wrestled all over the world. The only newcomer in that match was Sabu."

While that is true, it doesn't change the perception factor. Your rabid audience is desperately looking for any shred of separation from WWE with this new incarnation. They know that while it falls under the WWE banner technically, they hope that at least some of the rebellious spirit that was such a big part of the original ECW will show through in this product.

What is mantra of WWE to most of its haters? It's slow, lumbering big man against slow lumbering big man, with as many larger-than-life elements as possible. Its Hogan vs. Bundy, Hogan vs Warrior, etc. Other than the Hulkster himself, I'd have a hard time thinking of anyone who fit the image of an ECW champion less than the Big Show. Now, they make things worse by bringing in more prototypical WWE stars like Undertaker and Kane.

I realize that losing RVD and Kurt Angle put them in a bad position. What would have been so wrong with a Big Show vs. Tommy Dreamer program until RVD returns?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Wellness Program Claims Two More

First off, congratulations to Triple H and Stephanie on the birth of their daughter.

Yesterday I wrote about how the Wellness Program affected The Great American Bash. Today, pwinsider.com is reporting that Super Crazy and Matt Hardy have now been pulled from TV based on test results. Two more off TV, both of them Smackdown stars.

Then with Stephanie going into labor, on Raw Shawn Michaels wrestles Coach, the Spirit Squad and takes a nasty bump from Umaga.

Maybe only Smackdown has had regular test results come back. Maybe Raw's turn is yet to come. Then again, Shawn's knee has been a known problem since a month before Vengeance.

Don't get me wrong, I think the program is a very good thing, its just that so far there seems to be an imbalance in which brand it is affecting.

Another Raw star main eventing ECW tonight...guess I have my next topic.