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HeadLocker — Jay Shannon

The ECW (12/23) Extreme Examination!

Our resident philosopher, Jay Shannon, looks at the yearly Highlight Show from ECW. He also has a few special comments at the end of the column.

This week’s edition of ECW was the yearly “Best of…” show. Matt Striker and Todd Grisham were in the studio for this one.

Matt Striker showed off their 2008 Slammy as Best Announce Team. Todd showed Tazz kicking Joey Styles into the Christmas tree, last year. They showed C.M. Punk defeating John Morrison for the ECW title.

On 1/22/2008, Chavo Guerrero took on Punk in a no-disqualification match. Chavo rocked Punk with European Uppercuts and Kneelifts. Chavo hit the Three Amigos. Punk did nail the G-T-S, but Edge Speared him in the no-DQ battle. A barely awake Chavo rolled onto Punk to take the strap.

Grade: A
Jay’s Thoughts: Chavo ended up being a transitional champ, which is rather sad. He deserved so much better than that. Punk moved forward to great success over on the Blood Red Brand (Raw). He made it to the top and then stumbled a little.

Punk did not regain the ECW title, mostly thanks to La Familia. Striker and Grisham sent it to highlights of Punk crashing, literally, the Celebracion del Campion (championship celebration). Punk cracked Chavo in the skull with a guitar shot that would make the Honky Tonk Man and Jeff Jarrett jealous. In another encounter, Punk tossed Chavo off a pier into a cold Texas river.

Punk rebounded at Wrestlemania XXIV and won the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. It went back and forth with almost everyone taking home the briefcase and its title shot. Punk cashed in that title shot, three months later, on Raw. After Batista destroyed the Rated R Superstar, Punk ran in, nailed the G-T-S, and became World Champion. ECW took their first break of the evening.

Matt and Todd were back to talk about Punk. They re-showed him winning it and getting the OMG Moment of the Year. Todd then showed Punk nailing the G-T-S on Striker.

They switched over to talking about Kane’s ECW run. At Wrestlemania XXIV, Kane won the Wrestlemania 24-Man Battle Royal to gain a shot at Chavo’s ECW title. Kane took out Mark Henry to do that. Kane snuck up on Chavo, Chokeslammed him and pinned him in 8 seconds! Kane cut a path of destruction in ECW unlike any other. Eventually, Kane faced Big Show and Mark Henry at Night of Champions. Matt ran down the numbers of the match. The numbers were amazing. They battled in my old home town, Dallas, Texas.

All 3 men came within a blink of taking the win. Kane hit a Superplex on Big Show. Before Kane could take advantage, Mark Henry hit a Big Splash and took the win. ECW then ran a rap video to highlight Mark Henry’s dominance. Mark should get an award for Greatest Comeback in the History of wrestling…seriously. ECW took another break.

ECW profiled The Dirt Sheet, next. Miz and Morrison ran some silly strange promos on the show. In addition to that nonsense, Miz and Morrison actually were the 2008 Tag Team of the Year. They are also the current World Tag Team champs. Grisham wanted to know why Miz and Morrison were so proud of themselves. They ran a video package to answer Todd’s question.

Matt and Todd talked about Cyber Sunday. Miz and Morrison squared off against Cryme Tyme. The battle was exciting and somewhat silly. Cryme Tyme were in control for most of the match. A Double Gut Buster changed the momentum. Morrison choked JTG on the ropes as the ref was distracted. Morrison nailed the Running Knee to the face. Miz nailed the Full Body Clothesline. Miz and Morrison tried for their Be Jealous! double team move but JTG countered. Shad tagged in and took MnM to town.Shad beat on Morrison and threw him in the corner. Morrison got a foot up to nail the big man. The match broke down into chaos. While the ref moved JTG out of the ring, Miz kicked the back of Shad’s knee. Morrison then revved up the Moonlight Drive to take out their opponents.

Grade: B+
Jay’s Thoughts: Miz and Morrison were tough to warm up to. I finally have reached the point of accepting them as the fantastic team that they now are. I actually think they might go down in history as one of the top 10 teams off all time. Maybe that’s a little too much praise for them but they seem to have the potential. Time will tell if they will fly or fail.

ECW then ran a great video package about current ECW champ, Matt Hardy. The show then went to another round of commercials.

ECW returned with a look at the Irish Odd Couple, Finlay and Hornswoggle. Matt mentioned the love between father and son. Todd then bragged about himself and Striker winning the Slammy for best announce team.

They moved on to Matt Hardy. Matt had been taken out by MVP. Matt came back and hit a Twist of Fate off a ladder on MVP at Wrestlemania. Matt then took the US title from MVP. Matt was drafted to ECW. At the ECW Championship Scramble at Unforgiven, Matt garnered the platinum prize, the ECW title. Finlay looked like he was going to take the title after hit the Emerald Fusion on Matt. Matt came back with a Twist of Fate to put himself back into the driver’s seat. Time ran out and Matt ended up on top of the mountain.

ECW ran a promo for Evan Bourne. The former Matt Sydal was on fire until he injured his ankle. His Shooting Star Press was the 2008 Finisher of the Year.

Matt threw huge respect to Evan for his abilities. Todd then sent it to a video of Evan hitting the Shooting Star Press on Striker. At Cyber Sunday, Matt Hardy and Evan Bourne faced off. It was a candidate for Match of the Year.

Matt started out with Shoulder Blocks but Evan came back with a huge Dropkick. As the match progressed, Matt caught Evan with the Side Effect. Matt was down but not quite out. Matt hit a second Side Effect. Evan kicked out at two. Matt went to the corner and went for the Ax Bomber. Evan hit a Spinning Heel Kick as Matt came down. Evan threw hard kicks and Moonsault off the middle Turnbuckle. Evan hit a Jumping Heel Kick. Evan caught Matt with the Evan Sent/Sui-Sydal (modified Thesz Press/Kneeling Senton off the top rope). Evan missed with a Crescent Kick but Matt couldn’t finish off Matt. Evan hit a Tilt-a-Whirl Face Plant. Evan missed the Shooting Star Press for the very first time in the WWE. Matt went for the Twist of Fate but Evan converted it into a Backslide. Matt kicked out and connected with the Twist of Fate to retain his title in one of the best matches in recent history.

Grade: A+ (only because there isn’t anything higher)
Jay’s Thoughts: Evan and Matt raised the bar up into the ozone with this battle. I was so impressed with it. Evan’s injury is only a minor obstacle in what will certainly become a top-tier career. Matt Hardy has finally got the success that he deserves. How long will the success last? That’s impossible to guesstimate.

Matt thanked the other announcers for welcoming Todd and Matt into the announce family. Todd then sent it to the sixth annual Tribute to the Troops highlights. This JBL-created program has brought hope and happiness to the troops, their family and the fans. Even George Bush made a video for the show. I have the original Tribute show here on my desk. I watched it a couple of days ago. Every year, the shows have gotten bigger and better.

ECW came back for their final segment. They highlights Kofi Kingston, Ricky Ortiz, D.J. Gabriel and Jack Swagger. Swagger may well end up a champion within the next year. Jack’s Gut Wrench Powerbomb is second to none.

Todd and Matt promo’d Jeff Hardy‘s winning the WWE title. They even showed some post-match celebrations with the brothers Hardy. ECW then showed the Hardy Party on Smackdown. The show ended with the question: Who will derail the Hardys? Matt and Todd actually showed that they really do seem to get along with high-fives for being the best announce team of the year (did they mention that before?)

End of the Year Thoughts:

It’s time for one of those Jerry Springer-Last Segment speeches.

2008 has brought some great memories and some good friends. It has also been a year of loss, both personally and professionally.

Heroes like Gary Hart, Armand Hussein, S.D. Jones, Killer Kowalski and Johnny Weaver joined my beloved wife, Lynne, in moving to the next reality. While they are no longer with us, please remember this comment once told to me by an old man, many years ago:

As long as one person remembers…the person isn’t really gone.

Thanks to Arnie and Brad for giving me this chance to share my thoughts with all of you for another year. I want to send my best wishes for a bright new year to them and to all of you. To Arnie, Joey, Peter Jr. and Lady Jane…you are my Family. There is a special place in my heart for each of you.

2009 should be a great year for wrestling. The developmental territories are getting some great kids ready. The next round of Next-Generational stars are almost ready to make their first big runs. Reid Flair, Joe Hennig, Ricky Steamboat, Jr. and others are getting their skills toned up to keep their family legacies alive and well. Wrestlemania is getting ready to throw a 25th anniversary show. Most of the top stars are healthy and pretty-much injury free. Some of the older guys are getting ready to finish up their career, but their replacements are going to shine as bright, if not brighter. I feel a real sense of hope for the future of my favorite sport.

–Jay Shannon
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