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WRESTLING COLUMNS

An ECW Vista
August 9, 2006 by Bart Vervoort


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I am sure nobody wants to hear another ECW rant. Everything that needs to be said and can be said has been said. All criticisms have been repeated over and over again: from Big Show being the champion and burying of old ECW talent to the downright inane and dreary booking. I agree with most of these complaints. However, it is useless to be overly analytical and cavallas of everything in ECW. Complaining on the internet will not help. Going to ECW shows simply to chant derogatory remarks will not help either.

Do you think Vince McMahon cares about what the fans think? He lets the cynics of his new ECW chant all they want because they have paid their entrance fee. I myself prefer to dreamily envisage what this ECW could be, and how it could carve out a niche for itself in the world of professional wrestling.

When Kurt Angle became the first person to go to ECW, I was very surprised. I did not understand the motivation or plan behind this move. I am sure Angle himself was not really sure what to think of it. ECW had had its technical revelations with Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit and the late Eddie Guerrero but those matches were few and far between and were certainly not a staple or trademark feature of Extreme Championship Wrestling. Puzzling as it was, things started to click in my mind. Kurt Angle was being billed as a lethal, pernicious wrestling machine; ECW stood for brutal, merciless violence; combat sports like PRIDE and UFC are becoming increasingly popular. I think Paul Heyman and Vince McMahon both know that there is no (inter)national future for the cutting edge, albeit outdated, concept of bloody brawls and shocking surprises of the old ECW. Why don’t they slowly shift away from that blueprint? Keep the familiar ECW things as they were but move to a new kind of wrestling. Because I don’t have a name for it, I will just call it “worked shoot wrestling”. Angle is a legitimate world-class amateur wrestler and ECW stands for violence. Put two and two together and you have professional wrestling that looks realistic: hard strikes, painful submission holds and slick technical wrestling to revive a shred of the believability that has been gone from North-American soil for such a long time already. It is still violent but not over-the-top violent like the old ECW.

I mentioned the slow shift away from the aged ECW. That brings me to the alumni that made that federation what it was. People like Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman. I perfectly understand the brewing feud between Dreamer/Sandman and Test/Knox: a war of generations. That makes perfect sense and that is what they should do. The only thing is that they are re not doing it right. Test will never be a cornerstone of any federation, in my opinion.. I can not speak for Knox because I have not seen a lot of him but if Heyman is high on him, he must be capable of something. However good he may be, Test and Knox are not the right men to spearhead the new ECW movement. The forerunners of the new breed have to be charismatic and above average in the ring. CM Punk is both and he would be the perfect adversary for Sandman: they are natural opposites. I don’t know who else is available so I will refrain from naming other people.

Speaking of Tommy Dreamer, if you put him through a flaming table, he would get up and cane you. If you put him through stacked flaming tables covered in barbed wire, he would get to his feet and punch your jaw out of position. If you put him through stacked flaming tables covered in barbed wire with explosions rigged to them above a sea of nails and glass shards, he would crawl to his feet, spit in your face and ask you if that is all that you have got. Give Dreamer that “gimmick” back and put him in a long feud with someone who is both charismatic and above average in the ring. If that newcomer would finally put Dreamer down and out, the Dreamer that never quits, he would become an instant main player.

Create a division for high-flying, exciting superstars to substitute for the fading hardcore brutality, sort of like the X-Division in TNA. The ebullient temerity of these wrestlers would please the fans while the changing of guards is happening in the larger infrastructure of ECW. If they don’t have anything to do on SmackDown!, send the cruiserweights to ECW. Kid Kash, Paul London, Jamie Noble, Super Crazy, Psicosis and others would make a good foundation for this division.

ECW used to have contacts with Japan. They should renew them. Hard, spirited fighters could be gained from Zero-One MAX (Masato Tanaka, Shinjiro Otani, Yoshihito Sasaki...) and there are enough small federations to strengthen the new division with (Dragon Gate, Michinoku Pro, K-DOJO, DDT...). Bland ECW wrestlers could go to these federations for a month or two on a “training excursion”. When they come back they will have a new attitude and new moves and they will be fresh. Sci Fi demands supernatural gimmicks, as demonstrated by the vampiric Kevin Thorn. Even these outlandish gimmicks could have a place in the new ECW. Tone them down and give them a spin. Kane’s face was not scorched by the fire, it was merely psychological so why should this be any different? The weirdest gimmicks can work if you approach them correctly. After all, the fans want some entertainment between the violent brawls.

My idea of the new ECW is far from perfect but it would interest me: stiff, realistic fights and feuds that are fought because of true hatred or just the will to become the champion; the exciting Cruiserweight/X-Division superstars to whip the fans into a frenzy and freakish gimmicks that are still kept within the realms of reality.

Give the fans what they want, but in a way they don’t expect it.

by Bart Vervoort ..


Gus D. wrote:
What you typed I agree with, Vince has already ruined what ECW was in the past, All the matches arent hardcore rules, there are more short/squash matches. More of the original ECW stars are jobbing to WWE stars on ECW.
Dartagan67 wrote:
First of all you need to understand that the fans HAVE A RIGHT to express how they feel about the new ECW!! It is the fans that can make or break a promotion; don't believe it look at happened to WCW. You know damn well that the old ECW fans are the most nortorious, outspoken, in yo face fanbase known in wrestling industry. Did you look at the recent ECW program taped the Hammerstein Ballroom; they were BRUTTALLY open & honest thorughout the show. They even chanted "CHANGE THE CHANNEL!!" during the Big Show vs Batista title match. Bart, do you think Vince didn't listened to that?!! If Vince dom't want more heat with the ECW fans; give Paul Heyman total control of the show. Also stop put WWE guys in for title matches; hence the name ECW championship!!!
Danny Bradley wrote:
The more of this I read, the more I was convinced that you have no idea what the ECW-of old was all about. As a matter of fact, I'm doubting you even know anything about the sport of professional wrestling as a whole. Vince McMahon doesn't care about the fans? What I see in that line is nothing but pure smark bullshit. What he doesn't care for are fans that bury the product simply because it's modern day WWE. The 'smart marks' as they like to be called, are far from smart. They appear to rip anything to shreds simply because it's the in thing to do. Sheep, as I like to call them.

Vince McMahon cares about the fans that make him money. The casual fans, that follow wrestling through good times and bad. In a way, their blindness to obvious WrestleCrap makes them the disease of wrestling, but on the other end of the spectrum, they are what keeps wrestling alive.

What most fans need to get out of their heads is that this is not Extreme Championship Wrestling. It is a third WWE brand using the ECW name as it's figurepoint. Nobody enjoyed ECW more than me back in the hay day, but ranting and raving about how it's not the same is not doing anybody any good - it's not supposed to be the same.

To say that ECW stood for nothing but mindless violence is perhaps the worse comment throughout the entire column. Are you absolutely crazy? What about Taz, CW Anderson, Dean Malenko, Chris Candido and Jerry Lynn? If anything, ECW had the most technically sound wrestlers on their roster. Not only did they have extremists that could take a hell of a lot of damage, but they catered to all tastes.

Which brings me to Kurt Angle. You don't understand the motivation for bringing him in? I for one absolutely MARKED OUT~! when Angle joined ECW, because I knew of the possibilities. Angle should have been in ECW earlier, he fitted the bill perfectly, but as everyone knows - the infamous Sandman Crucifixion angle (parden the pun) put an end to that. Yeah, I don't understand your logic when saying that.

Away from technical wrestling, you mentioned making an ECW Cruiserweight division? You don't remember the classic Lucha battles between Rey Misterio, Jr. and Juventud Guerrera? What about Super Crazy, Kid Kash, Little Guido, Tajiri? Yet another reason why I sincerely doubt you ever had any connection to the ECW I know and love.

In my humble opinion, the Kevin Thorn character is absolutely brilliant. It's perfect for ECW and fits the Sci Fi demands. Much like Gangrel throughout his ECW stint.

I'm just going to stop now, because I believe I've made my opinions clear. I'm not deliberately picking you out and attacking you, quite simply, I want you to know all the facts before writing a column on what - as it appears - you know nothing about. In response to the feedback you've received thus far, I'm just going to direct them to the above. Just know what you're talking about before you talk about it. This is not ECW, and it never will be, so don't try and act like the ULTRA SMARK~! by commenting on it.
Derek Trotter wrote:
Danny I think you dont understand what this website is all about, so that EVERYONE can express their views and opinions. Being 20 years old and from England I only saw ECW in the late 90's on a channel called Bravo or possibly TNN at 2AM. Personally and realistically New ECW could be a lot closer to old school ECW than what it is at present. ECW dosent have to be the "third rate show" behind RAW and SD because I think Heat and Velocity already had that Tag anyway.

Big Show as champ??? - I understand this angle, hes a huge presence in and out the ring and to us, a chokeslaw by him to put someone through a table looks huge to us, though I totally dislike Heyman as a heel - as all ECW Extremists respect the man in real ife.

If WWE could produce TLC matches, Hell In a Cell, Cage, Street Fight, I quit, Last Man Standing, Wierdo Punjabi Prison, Table, ELIMINATION CHAMBER in their PPV's, these can surely be incorpated more often in to ECW. Have Tommy Dreamer in the odd frequent vicious match (a "vicious" neckbreaker by test dosent look "vicious" considering what Dreamer has done before) and maybe Put Sabu, RVD and Angle in some form of Tripe Threat Rivalry. Angle is technically the best in WWE but some of his matches e.g King of the Ring 2000 against Shane (the night where he has 3 matches) Armageddon Hell in a Cell, Benoit Cage Match (yes somersault off the top), thats probably 1 thing missing from the new ECW that there are no well estabilished rivalries. For example Big Show is Champ and dosent have a rivalry, he just fights WWE Wrestlers that cross over Brand for 1 week, though I wait to see how this Sabu fight turns out and if this is a 1 match rivalry only.

You may say realistically ECW cant be the old school style it was, but personally I think there is a lot wrong with the new format. Test has down well but he may as well be on SD, hes style does not suit that of ECW. Vince/Heyman should have picked a big and realistic enough roster before the brand debuted on Sci - Fi. For Example......

All old ECW Wrestlers.. plus Finlay, Kurt (good move), Matt Hardy (save the criticizm, anyone who remembers the swinging neckbreaker he took off Helms at the Bash will know that was huge) Kendrick and London as a tag team ( I know they were Champions at the time) Jeff hardy when he returns and team with Matt (possible rivalry to the above)

there you go, a mixture of good estabilished high flying tag teams and technical and personfied brutal wrestlers (Finlay and Angle)

Thats only an example above, so dont start yakking on how ive "only" mentioned 6 WWE Wrestlers. At least we wouldnt see others crossing over to play their role in ECW for 1 week each (e.g Kane, Undertaker, Flair, Batista) ECW can and will work.... eventually
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