HeadLocker — Jay Shannon
The ECW (7/1) Extreme Examination
Our resident ring philosopher Jay Shannon brings you the highlights and sidelights of the 6/30 episode of ECW.
ECW lost most of its big players, thanks to the so-called Trump Trades. Evan Bourne, Finlay, Jack Swagger, the Hart Dynasty and Mark Henry switched to either Raw or Smackdown. ECW did get a few people in the trade, but the losses far outweighed the gains. ECW did role out a trio of new kids who are getting their first shot at the Bigs. Welcome to the “new” ECW.
Tiffany was in the ring to welcome everyone to the “new era” of ECW. Tiffany said that ECW’s landscape had changed, drastically. Tiffany said the New Talent Initiative was back in full swing. Tiffany kicked off the show with the “Gold Standard”, Shelton Benjamin. His opponent was the debuting Yoshi Tatsu. Shelton was amused by the arrival of the Japanese superstar. Shelton made fun of Yoshi’s name. He started mocking his Japanese language by sounding like someone from an old WWII war movie. Shelton threatened to call “Godzirra”. He bowed to Yoshi in mockery of the Japanese tradition of showing respect. Shelton struck the Karate Kid Crane position. Yoshi was not amused when Shelton did the Yokozuna opening stance.
Yoshi Tatsu d Shelton Benjamin
Shelton bowed, one final time, to insult Yoshi. Yoshi hit a vicious Crescent Kick and pinned Shelton in mere seconds.
Jay’s Thoughts: My girlfriend, Dianna, was watching this match with me. She nearly fell out of her chair laughing, as did I. Shelton really did the insult thing well. The old phrase was so true: “A Blind Man could have seen that coming.” Tatsu really didn’t get a chance to show what he’s all about, but he did make a great entrance into the WWE. Shelton should also be applauded for setting up such a great segment.
Abraham Washington walked out for his interview segment. He looked like a cross between President Obama and The Rock, with a little Elijah Burke tossed in. The crowd booed Washington as he introduced himself. Washington pushed The Bash, especially the Three Stages of Hell. He tried to be a comic, but failed. Washington said Vince was dumb for the financial disaster of buying back Raw from Trump. He then dissed 12 Rounds and The Miz. Washington finally got down to it by introducing the Bella Twins. The Diva Duo came out in Hot Rod Redd. Washington even got an O.J shot in. Washington had the Bellas introduce themselves. I still can’t tell them apart. Washington started trying to do his comedy schtick, again, and failed. The Bellas got offended when Washington accused the girls of having fake hair. The Bellas were named “The sexiest twins in sports”. Washington bored the crowd to tears with his inane questions. This had to be the worst talk segment in the history of the WWE. Yawn. The two girls started to argue and fight in the ring. Washington brought the painful segment to a close by trying to snuggle the twins.
Jay’s Thoughts: Who the heck gave that idiot a microphone? I’ve never been a big fan of the Wrestler Interview segments. Roddy Piper was about the only one who did a decent job. Jake Roberts, Adrian Adonis, Christian, Edge, BlackJack Mulligan and so many others have tried and failed to pull off the lame format. This nimrod has to be the absolute worst that I’ve ever seen. Even having the Bella Twins out there couldn’t help save this train wreck. Somebody get Armando Estrada on the phone. He was at least fun on the mic.
Sheamus finally made his WWE debut. He worked the house show in Reno, over the week-end. Sheamus’ opponent was Oliver John, the NWA stand-out. Sheamus ranted in Gaelic. He called himself the Celtic Warrior.
Sheamus d Oliver John
Sheamus pounded on John. Sheamus Hip Tossed John and choked John on the ropes. Sheamus hit a Power Whip to the corner. He dragged John out and hit a Clothesline. Sheamus cinched in a a modified Shinu-Numaki. Sheamus whipped John to the corner and then rammed himself into John’s back. Sheamus got a Back Elbow to the face. John threw hard punches. Sheamus sent John to the ropes and hit a Bicycle Kick. Sheamus nailed his finisher, a Uranage Backbreaker.
Jay’s Thoughts: I see Sheamus as a replacement for Kizharny. I like his look because he one of the few people on this planet this is paler than me. (grin). In truth, the kid’s unique look just might take him far in the circus world of wrestling. He seems to have a solid set of skills that should make him a contender in a few months, if WWE doesn’t turn him into too much of a cartoon character. As for Oliver John, I’ve watched him for months on NWA Showcase and know that he is a good grappley. I hope he gets a chance to make a name for himself in the company.
Kozlov warmed up in the back. William Regal walked up and talked to him. Regal wanted to make an impact and wanted to be sure that Kozlov was on the same page. Regal didn’t want to be embarrassed in his debut match. Kozlov said he had it.
Zack Ryder was primping when Tyler Rex, another rookie to enter the WWE, came in to praise Zack. Tyler was from SoCal and he would debut on Superstars against Zack Ryder. Zack talked about Long Island having better beaches than California. Zack said he would teach the rookie a lesson on Thursday.
The Raw Rebound focused on Batista setting Randy Orton up in a Gauntlet Match. Batista was out talking to the crowd when Legacy arrived. Batista told both Rhodes and DiBiase that if they got involved in Orton’s match, they would be fired. Orton faced former ECW stars, Evan Bourne, Jack Swagger and Mark Henry. Orton eliminated Bourne with a top rope R-K-O after an amazing match. Jack Swagger simply stepped out of the ring and took the count-out loss. Mark Henry looked to do the same step out but it was a trick. Mark said he wanted to make an impact. He planted Orton with the World’s Strongest Slam.
Christian and Tommy talked backstage. Tommy wanted to know if Christian was on his side. Christian talked about making his return in Fresno. Christian said that he still wanted to take Tommy’s title. Tommy said that Christian picked the wrong time to think about the ECW title.
Kozlov arrived for the main even. He was dressed in a red robe with matching kneepads and boots. He was joined by the 2008 King of the Ring, William Regal. Tommy Dreamer then arrived for the battle, wearing the ECW belt around his waist. Finally, Captain Charisma, Christian, arrived to an explosive pop from the Fresno crowd.
Vladimir Kozlov & William Regal d Tommy Dreamer & Christian
Tommy and Kozlov made tags at the same time. Tommy opened up on the big Russian with machine gun-like fists to the face and chest. Tommy hit a pair of Clotheslines but the big man wouldn’t go down. Kozlov whipped Tommy to the corner.Tommy booted Kozlov to the face and Tommy dropped Kozlov with a Flying Clothesline off the middle ropes. Regal rushed in, as did Christian. Captain Charisma took Regal to the outside as Tommy kept his focus on Kozlov. Tommy tried to set up the D(reamer)DT but Kozlov powered out. Tommy did hit the Funk Neckbreaker but only got a two. On the outside, Regal ran Christian into the steps. Regal then climbed back onto the apron. Kozlov got near his corner and Regal tagged himself in. Tommy used a La Bandera Clothesline to send Kozlov over the ropes and to the floor. Tommy then flipped Regal into the ring. Tommy went for the Small Package but couldn’t hold him. Tommy missed a charge in the corner. Regal hit an Exploder Suplex. Kozlov tagged himself in. Kozlov finished off the ECW Champ with the Iron Curtain.
Jay’s Thoughts: I was beginning to think Kozlov got released from the WWE. The new look really suits him. He definitely has the Ivan Drago appearance that he so needs. As for Regal, I just can’t warm up to him. His best days are seriously behind him. He really never recovered from his Wellness Program fiasco. I really hate to see him on ECW, but I guess he needed to go somewhere. I would have rather kept Finlay and let Regal go to Fridays. Oh, well. Christian should have been moved. He’s run his course on the Extreme Brand. Tommy is still my favorite wrestler and I enjoy watching him work the ring wars. I look forward to Tommy v Kozlov, either at Night of Champions or Summerslam.
Kozlov actually smiled after the match. Regal was of mixed emotions about Kozlov stealing the win. He did raise his partner’s hand in victory. After the replay, the two celebrated their victory.
Final Grade: C (Washington dragged the show way down).
Final Thoughts: I have mixed feelings about the revamped ECW. There are tons of great kids down in FCW that are just itching for a chance to shine. It looks like WWE is also scouting NWA for talent. That gives me hope that the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) will get the chance to be the next Hardy Boyz. If you haven’t seen them in action, they are a combination of the Hardyz, Rockers and teh Rock and Roll Express.
The only thing worse than having Abraham Washington doing his studid talk show would be if the talent-less bum were to replace Tiffany as GM of ECW. I really try to not get too negative on the talent, because they can only do what Creative lets them. Washington is the exception to that rule. He was bloody awful on the stick and the comedy and cockiness seemed so forced that it fell flat. Either put him in wrestling gear or send him back to FCW. Never, ever give that man a microphone, again.
Not wanting to end on a negative note, I will say this. ECW is morphing into a home for upcoming talent. It’s basically a developmental territory for Raw and Smackdown that happens to tour the country. I think it’s a great move. Bringing in fresh faces helps to keep the product from getting too stale. I’ll miss the Hart Dynasty and Evan Bourne on Tuesdays but now that have a bigger stage to perform on. Good for them.
– Jay Shannon