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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Heyman Gone" Where Will ECW Go"
December 21, 2006 by Timothy Popko


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The new ECW brand was resurrected by McMahon to create a new, thriving company within his little empire. He wanted to build up on the example of ECW. He wanted Extreme, Hardcore, Death-Defying action. He wanted controversy and mayhem. And so he created ECW back from the dead. Trying to inspire a "new breed", he pumped new blood into the brand, creating off-the-top personas and attitudes that would match the Extreme. But all he got was a one-hour show on the Sci-Fi network that disappointed fans week in and week out. In anguish and pain, McMahon decided to do the unthinkable-he fired Heyman.

This move by Mr. McMahon represents a smack in the face to Heyman, who established Extreme Championship Wrestling into a very dominant brand, one that was remembered well by fans after its demise. His fans were beyond loyal, and they were among the first to chant a wrestling company's name with enthusiasm. His brand began with very little pay and popularized the Extreme style of wrestling. He invented Extreme and created wrestlers that went on to become the biggest names in the business. With his ingenious management, all wrestlers, from small-name OVW wrestlers to over-the-top superstars (Stone Cold, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio, Brock Lesnar, and Rob Van Dam to name a few) got their chance in the sun.

Personally, Heyman brought wrestling to a new era when he made ECW what it was. He is credited for introducing lucha libre to the United States mainstream and he is responsible for many of the hardcore innovations in pro-wrestling. He inspired some of the greatest talent the industry had ever seen by telling wrestlers what would get them over and how they could use their own personas in the ring. He could brag that he invented Stone Cold, Tazz, and the Sandman, for example. They were failures that were not succeeding anywhere with their gimmicks, but, when he made them behave more naturally and gave them a push, they were realized as good wrestlers.

With Heyman's creativity, wrestling fans now enjoy the new controversial storylines that they enjoy today. In the book, the Rise and Fall of ECW , Heyman was noted for inventing the shoot interview and popularizing controversial promos backstage. While WCW was promoting older-style wrestling and putting over talents without much respect for the newcomers, ECW was able to create and invent enormous talent with some of the lowest-caliber wrestlers. Simply put, without his controversy, wrestling would be just technical brawling and dull displays of strength.

What he created, and what I enjoy most about wrestling, was his ability to make the on-screen product fun and interesting. For example, he was able to put the bWo, Kid Kash, Justin Credible, and many other wrestlers into the spotlight using unconventional means. Wrestlers like Mankind and Terry Funk would have been turned down for being un-athletic or old. The Blue Meanie and Steven Richards lacked talent in many respects. Even the Sandman was not considered high caliber in his wrestling skill. But, under Heyman's company, they sparked the imagination by being rough, hardcore wrestlers who could punish their bodies night after night.

Now, unfortunately, Paul Heyman, as a result of poor ratings for ECW and a Discember to Dismember pay-per-view that was lackluster, is going to be removed from his spot in charge of ECW. But I must say, this is a huge mistake for McMahon. Heyman was ECW, and ECW will not be the same without him. It needs to change and up its creativity and talent; something that WWE can't do. In fact, if they could have done that with their own brand, they wouldn't have re-established ECW. That is why I think ECW will slump even lower in ratings and become like a new Sunday Night Heat or Velocity.

Without Heyman, ECW will die as a major brand of wrestling entertainment. It's that simple. A baby without her mother will not thrive, and ECW will suffer the same fate. And to be honest, I say good riddance. It was an idea with some good potential, but reviving ECW suffered as half a reunion show for 90's superstars, and half a show for new wrestlers with little potential in the WWE.

by Timothy Popko ..


Greg Prowse wrote:
Even if Paul Heyman was still with the company, I would very much doubt that the ECW brand could improve with the restrictions it has. This is ECW in name only, and always was going to be. I had high hopes after One Night Stand 2 and thought perhaps they could do something halfway special with it. Very quickly it degenerated into a brand where RAW and Smackdown wrestlers get sent when they arent getting over, or when they want to bring up new wrestlers. Heyman could book his butt off and Dreamer could bump until his back is more severely damaged then what it already is, and ECW is still never going to be anything special. ECW is a farm league, a bigger version of OVW. Even Heyman couldnt make a difference, and thats why I dont watch the brand.
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