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WRESTLING COLUMNS

An Open Letter To All The "New" ECW Haters
August 10, 2006 by John Crook


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Here I am back with my second OWW article. I wasn't really planning on doing another until I felt the inspiration to write the Royal Rumble 1995 recap I mentioned in my last one, but alas, I am here to defend the "new" ECW. And considering the responses I got in both my E-Mail box and on the site, hey, maybe you guys like hearing what I have to say.

First of all, let me reference this by saying I am not at all a "new school" ECW fan. I was well aware of, and watching ECW before it came to TNN, before the Invasion angle, before the One Night Stand pay per views. I actually attended an ECW event that was held at a BAR! I'm not kidding. The bar has a volley ball court out back, and ECW just put a ring up over the sand. I was in the front row, and New Jack used my friend's toothbrush in his match. I couldn't make that up if I wanted to.

Now unfortunately, in the mid-90s, ECW was only on TV at 2:00 am on Saturday nights/Sunday mornings in my area. I stayed up as much as I could to watch it, but I was in about 5th or 6th grade. I didn't have access to alcohol to fuel me back then. What I did see, I loved. It was totally different from anything you'd see on WWF/E or WCW. And I loved the WRESTLING. That was what really roped me in. I continued watching until they died in January 2001, and I can list right now my top five favorite ECW wrestlers: Taz, Steve Corino, Rob Van Dam, Sabu, and Lance Storm. The common thread between them all" They can all WRESTLE their asses off. Most of you will raise an eyebrow about Sabu being a great wrestler, not just a high-spot guy, but I defy you to go on YouTube or VSocial and find his matches with RVD or Chris Jericho. Of course they had tables, ladders, and in one case stretches, but there was also a lot of awesome technical work done. Anyway, let's get to it.

Is ECW the same" No. But honestly, did you expect it to be" Half the guys from the "real" ECW are retired. Another good portion are signed to TNA. Plus, we're working under the Vince umbrella. So of course you're going to have to deal with Kelly Kelly. What a name...anyway. Of course you're going to have to deal with inter-brand matches.

The thing most of you forget, is that before WWE bought out WCW and ECW, no one out side of the area of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania even knew what ECW was. It was, in essence, the last regional wrestling promotion alive. Sure, some people in the mid-west or on the West Coast would pick up a DVD, or download a match on their computer, and they knew who Rob Van Dam and Sabu were, but that's about it.

I will say only, give it time. ECW is on a trial period right now. Think of it as a pilot episode of a sitcom. They've got twelve weeks to get SciFi ratings, which, by the way, for all the bitching and moaning, they are BLOWING AWAY any other show on Tuesday nights outside of Rescue Me on FX. And I know me and my friends watch ECW, and then just catch the re-run of Rescue Me that comes on immediately following. Vince has to make sure that this show either gets renewed, or picked up by a better station. That's why you have Ric Flair, The Undertaker, Batista, Kane, etc. appearing on the show. They want to attract the broader fan base that WWE attracts, into this new, "Third brand". They already KNOW that regardless of what crap they shove down our throats, the die-hards will still tune in to see Sabu, RVD, Balls Mahoney, The FBI, The Sandman, etc. etc.

Vince is trying to make sure that ECW can survive. And I believe that once he is sure it has staying power, he will put most of the booking power back into the hands of Paul Heyman. We WILL get more of the "old" ECW once it has been renewed.

And one more thing...I don't really mind the fact that they have made it where there will only be one "Extreme Rules" match a night. First off, it gives those "Exteme Rules" matches more of a special fee. Really, there's no guarantee you'll get a no DQ match on Raw or SmackDown! on any given week. But ECW, you know you'll get at least one. Secondly, we only get what" 4, maybe 5 matches tops in our one hour of ECW" If you got back and watch any ECW pay per view or TV show, 4 out 7 matches used little if any "hardcore" aspects. When you had guys like Benoit, Jericho, Dean Malenko, Austin, Stevie Richards, Little Guido, Tajiri, Steve Corino, there was no NEED to use the chairs. TRUE ECW fans appreciate GREAT WRESTLING. The chairs, and tables, and ladders, and fire, were reserved for the main events, and guys who made it part of who they were: Sabu, Raven, Tommy Dreamer, Balls, Sandman with the cane, The Dudleyz, RVD. Those guys used the weapons to define who they were, to be a part of the storytelling in their matches. But MOST of the ECW roster didn't need that.

So in closing, I'll just say this. Give ECW until September. That's when the contract with SciFi expires. If it hasn't found even PART of its' old self, or if it hasn't at least found a way to incorporate it's "NEW" self in a way that is pretty entertaining by October, then it's time for it to jump the shark.

And by the way, although I haven't loved ECW so far, I have really enjoyed every single Kurt Angle, RVD, Justin Credible, Sabu, Stevie Richards, and CM Punk match. Which is like, 75% of the matches we've seen.

I'm out, send your responses to me at crook13666@yahoo.com or to the OWW address below.

by John Crook ..


Jonathan Preston wrote:
I think actually the new ECW has a lot of potential. I mean yeah, you would like to see some of the old ECW guys but I like the New breed. For starters, having Kurt Angle on there rocks!! Not a big fan of Big Show being the champ and all, but that'll change. CM punk is tight, Kevin Thorn is great, Test is a good fit. You still have RVD, Sabu, FBI, Justin Credible, Sandman, Balls Mahoney, and Tommy Dreamer. People I would like to see back in the ring at ECW is Tazz, The Dudley's, and Mike Awesome. But you can't have everything, right" Although, I would like all the matches to be under Extreme Rules because that's how it was in the old school and that's what made it exciting. But I think over the next few months this brand is going to get bigger and better!!!
Brandon Chrisman wrote:
I loved this article, I didn't get to see the old ECW but I knew that it was the risky Hardcore promotion, I was somewhat aware that it would not be the same ECW however it has had some nice bumps, Tommy Dreamer going through the Table in the extreme battle royal and thrown in the barbed wire, Big Show going through tables on 2 occassions. This article has given me a new perspective of ECW I hope you write more articles.
Chris Evans wrote:
Thought I'd give something back to this site that I seem to be taking so much from.

I agree with you that yes, ECWWE (as it's jokingly called by a friend of mine) needs some time to get established first, but I don't think it's doing it the right way, especially as it pertains to an international audience.

I'm in the UK, and in addition to getting Raw and Smackdown live, we also get edited repeats around 5pm most days of the week, as well as countless Afterburn/Experience shows. However (bearing in mind that the original ECW to my knowledge was never shown in the UK), ECW gets no more than aroun two, maybe three hours a week - one for the live showing, and then two repeats, which always seem to be at about 11pm. So, the fan base who have never even seen ECW don't get to see it anyway basically compared to Raw and SD.

Then also factor in all the cross promotional matches, and newcomers get even more confused as to what the big deal is. Giving Show the strap and then having him defend it against Batista, One Night Stand matches between Orton and Angle, none of these have any meaning to us across the pond who didn't see ECW first time round, and to be perfectly honest, I can't see that changing once the so called trial period is over.

WWE has made it perfectly clear that Raw is the horse they're riding for the near future. The roster split that happened oh so many years ago was meant to artificially create competition for the good of the company - yet now since WWE is freely moving wrestlers between all three that has disappeared, and seeing that ECW is getting filled with distinctly non-ECW wrestlers, it strikes me as ridiculous. Take the strap off show, get him, Angle and all the cross promotional matches out of ECW and make it a distinct brand from the other two, and I fail to see how it can't succeed. As it is though, there's no point.

At the end of the day, Raw vs SD matches don't happen, so why are Raw and SD wrestlers always competing for the ECW belt"
Jason Moreno wrote:
i am an old school ecw fan from california. but i'm giving the new ecw a chance. id prefer them having kick ass matches though like they had on hardcore tv, my first ecw match hooked me it was jericho/douglas/pitbull 2/scorpio. after that i was a diehard. and the crazy/tajiri feud was badass. but now they're having they're big names run over guys like al snow, guido and the former champ Justin Credible. i think its insane they have a lot to work with. also i think its cool to have big show fight flair, kane, taker & batista. because now the title have that much more prestige when rvd wins it back. well i hope the new ecw makes it and heyman delivers the new vision he promised at one night stand.
Nick D. Waldron wrote:
Great article. Although you didn't change my mind, it still pointed out a lot of practical reasons for why the new ECW looks the way it does. But I still feel you ignored a few huge factors that could be changed even with the restraints.

-For one, the "sports entertainment" style of commentary being forced on to Joey Styles does not suit him at all. Especially if you remember the worked-shoot promo he did a few months back criticizing the WWE for forcing him to talk about storylines rather than what was going on in the match. If Vince really wanted ECW to be a distinctly different brand, he'd let Joey call the matches the way he wanted to.

-The title is on the Big Show. I can understand wanting to put the belt on an established wrestler that the casual fans would recognize. Especially when you're trying to prove via ratings that ECW is worth being picked up again after 12 weeks. But even if you've decided that RVD is not an option, it makes no sense to have the title on Big Show when Kurt Angle is on the show doing nothing. Kurt is not only the best active wrestler in North America right now, but he has a penchant for making everyone else in the ring with him look better as well. On top of that, he's over with both the old-ECW fans and current WWE fans. It would seem like a no-brainer to have Kurt hold the title, but Vince seems hell-bent on giving the old-ECW fans a huge, symbolic middle finger. Why else would you have Big Show, someone who is the diametric opposite of everything the original ECW stood for, go over RVD for the title in Philadelphia of all places" And then have him fight Batista (another WWE-bred lumbering big man with generic power moves) for the belt at the Hammerstein"

But again, good article. There haven't been too many people who have been able to intelligently defend the new ECW. And I will say the show has gotten much better recently (even though that's not really saying much). Hopefully once the new touring season starts they can book ECW into its own, smaller venues and get rid of constraints that's preventing it from being anything but SmackDown's after show.
Paul McCarthy wrote:
I have to say i am not keen on the new ECW because they dont have the same superstars it like if vince were going to bring back the attitude era with the likes of bobby lashley and finlay it wouldnt work and neither will this the days where ECW was good is gone.
Moh wrote:
If the new ECW aims to survive Vinny Mac needs to stop putting Smackdown and Raw superstars on the show. The old ECW was much different than WWE, it didn't have big stars like Batista or the Big Show. I think they need to keep the old tradition for the old ECW fans. When are they going to introduce a new tag team championship belt" This was a good article.
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