Dueling Chair Shots
by Kurt La Mont
column date 12/21/99
ECW Year in Review:
1999 will be remember as the year that ECW staked its claim as a major player in the
wrestling industry. In 1999 ECW went to 6 PPVs, signed a significant video game deal,
brought in a minority owner, and went national with the TNN deal.
ECW Wrestler of the Year:
Jerry Lynn. He has consistently had great matches with just about anyone he has been put
in the ring with. Off the top of my head I can remember great matches with Tajiri, Super
Crazy, Justin Credible, Lance Storm and of course the great series of matches with Rob
Van Dam. He's the most versatile wrestler in the company as he can wrestle virtually any
style of match and he's elevated himself more than anyone else in ECW in 1999. His
match against Rob Van Dam at Hardcore Heaven was great and even more impressive
when you consider that he wrestled an additional 15 minutes after landing on his face
when he probably shouldn't have continued. My favorite move came out of this match as
well when Jerry did a sunset flip - powerbomb combo on Van Dam through a table.
ECW Show of the Year:
This one's an easy one; Queens, August 26. This show was memorable for several
reasons; it was the last ECW show at the Elk Lodge, it was the Dudley Boys last night in
ECW and it was the night Raven returned to ECW, it ended up being the first 2 TNN
shows because Ohio sucks, the tag team belts changed hands twice, another RVD/Jerry
Lynn matchup, Pee Wee does a plancha, and at the end of the show the Dudleys broke
character and spoke about their time in ECW. If there ever was a fan cam to purchase this
Top Ten Matches in ECW in 1999:
10. Super Crazy v. Tajiri v. Jerry Lynn - November to Remember
9. Sabu v. Justin Credible - Anarchy Rulz
8. Tommy Dreamer v. Lance Storm - Hardcore Heaven
7. Shane Douglas v. Justin Credible - Cyberslam
6. Rob Van Dam v. Jerry Lynn - September Arena Show
5. Mike Awesome v. Tanaka - November to Remember
4. Raven/Dreamer v. Credible/Storm - October Arena Show (Return of the Sandman)
3. Mike Awesome v. Tanaka v. Taz - Anarchy Rulz
2. Rob Van Dam v. Jerry Lynn - Hardcore Heaven
1. Raven/Dreamer v. Dudley Boys - August Queens Show
After a few years of growing pains, first going
to PPV, then 6 PPVs a year and then
national TV, ECW's focus in 2000 should be entirely focused on the product. With the
deepest roster top to bottom in ECW's history this upcoming year has the potential to be
the best yet.
There was also a rumor that there was some famous bell but I heard that there was a crack in it so I decided it wasnít worth seeing.
The Saturday Arena show was pretty good, especially when you consider how many guys didnít even wrestle a match (Jerry Lynn, RVD, Sabu, Storm, Credible, Sandman, Rhino and Guido). The highlight of the evening was easily the Super Crazy v. Tajiri Mexican Death Match. Just when you think youíve seen everything out of these two they put on their best match yet. Granted itís still January, but this could be the match of the year. I canít remember a match that I enjoyed so much the first time that I saw it. Hopefully they will put it on the TNN show this week. Itíll be interesting to see how the match comes across on TV.
If you have never been to the Arena before you should make a point of going sometime. Itís truly a unique experience that you canít get anywhere else. Itís well worth a long distance travel, especially when you combine it with cheesesteaks (thereís a reason Philly is the fattest city in the country).
I took a look at the current results of the ECWnews.com year end awards and Iím quite surprised some of the results. I knew Francine was this popular but I didnít realize that it was to this degree. Sheís leading both Manager of the Year and ECWís Biggest Draw. I would have had her no higher that 3rd in both of those categories. The other surprise is how poorly Jim Molineaux is doing in Extreme Referee of the Year. This is a guy who had his nose broken in the ring. How many other officials can say that? If thatís not extreme I donít know what is. Most of the other polls are about what I expected. If you have not done so yet be sure to vote in these awards. One vote actually can make a difference. And donít try to rig the vote by voting more than once............I tried it, it doesnít work.
Thatís quite a mess that they have down there
in Turnerland. Itís good to know that the more things change in WCW
the more they stay the same. Who knows how everything will turn out
but I would love to see the 7 disgruntled wrestlers make their way to Philly.
Has anyone else noticed that of the 7 guys who asked for their release,
6 were former ECW wrestlers (Kidman being the exception). Obviously
itís not likely that many of them will make it into ECW but it would be
nice to see them return (although I could do without Konnan), especially
Beniot, getting him would be quite the coup. Itíll be interesting
to see if Shane Douglas would make his way back to ECW if he was released
and didnít get an offer from Vinnie Mac. I think he would be a great
fit as the head of a group of he, Credible and Storm, maybe even the new
triple threat but thereís probably been too many bridges burned for that
to happen however.
Jeff Jones - The Judge Frank Romeo - The Franchise
Advantage - Romeo - Franchise has a nice ring to it
Jeff Jones - Managing Awesome to the Title Frank Romeo - Winning a pool tournament
Advantage - Jones - The pool tournament only ranks between the TV Belt and Tag Belts
Gimmick stolen from:
Jeff Jones - Judge Judy Frank Romeo - Shane Douglas
Advantage - Romeo - Judge Judy is all bark and no bite
Jeff Jones - Referee and Manager Frank Romeo - Cancelled Wrestling class
Advantage - Jones - The versitily pays off here
Jeff Jones - Says stuff we already know about Frank Romeo - In depth ECW insights
Advantage - Romeo - The ECWnews.com columns are superior
Envy of ECW fans:
Jeff Jones - Works in ECW Frank Romeo - Has Front Row Arena seats
Advantage - Romeo - People would kill for those seats and you donít have to take the ring apart either
Jeff Jones - Internet Critisicm Frank Romeo - Mandatory 8 AM classes on Friday
Advantage - Jones - Those 8 AM classes are killers, especially in winter
Better ECW wear:
Jeff Jones - ECW jackets Frank Romeo - ECWnews.com shirts
Advantage - Jones - The ECWnews.com budget just canít compare
Jeff Jones - To fianlly get over Frank Romeo - Educate the next generation
Advantage - Romeo - Someone has to teach the next generation of Smarts
Winner: In a hard fought, grueling cage match The Franchise pulls out the clean victory after putting The Judge through a table with a flying elbow of the top of the cage. In a post match interview The Franchise credited his skill of setting up tables quickly with enabling him to pull out the victory.
There you have it. Itís all really easy
when you break things down scientifically. And remember, the numbers
My first reaction to reading this was shock.
Why would Sabu leave? And why
would he go to the sinking ship that is WCW? He can look around his current
locker room and see a lot of examples of why going to WCW is a bad idea
(except for Mikey who got paid to sit around for a year). I'm sure he
realizes that as well. The obvious answer is that WCW is desperate for
established wrestlers now and offered Sabu a big contract. With 'The
Radicals' leaving WCW recently WCW has freed up some money to be able to
sign Sabu at terms that Paul E. couldn't or shouldn't match. Sabu probably
at least doubled his money (rumored to be $500,000) and got it guaranteed
for at least 2 years. When you factor in that his matches most likely will
be less physically demanding this was probably an easy decision for Sabu to
make. Also, with all of the defections lately Sabu has the opportunity to
be a featured player in WCW, although we all know how that usually turns
Sabu's new contract with WCW is something that
Paul E. couldn't do,
especially when you consider Sabu's age and the fact that he is on the
downside of his career. It would also upset the salary structure that he
has in place now. If he gave Sabu the big bucks he would then have to do it
for everyone else or he would have all sorts of locker room problems.
To me Sabu was the epitome of what ECW is all
about. If anyone in ECW was
extreme it was Sabu. There really isn't too much of a debate there. But
Sabu could also wrestle if he wanted/needed to and that's also a big part of
what ECW is today. Sabu always worked hard and he always worked hurt, a lot
of times when he probably shouldn't have.
The lasting impression I will always have of
Sabu is a house show match back
in the Winter of 1997 in Waltham, Mass. He and RVD were taging against
Dreamer and Sandman. It was a match that was pretty typical of what you
would expect out of these 4 back then; that being a great match. The match
was progressing pretty well and it was about the time in the match when the
tables were being brought into the ring. Fonzie slid a table into the ring
and it was sitting in the ring upside down. Sabu set a chair up for the
triple jump moonsault onto the Sandman. He hopped onto the chair, then onto
the top rope and then flipped back. I was seated on the side that Sabu was
coming back towards. As he flipped over you could see that his jump was
slightly off and that he was headed for the table that was upsidedown in the
ring. It was almost like he was moving in slow motion. As he came down his
jaw hit square on one of the table legs. It was one of the most sickening
things I have ever seen (besides a Hogan/Nash match). After hitting the
table leg he promptly slid to the outside of the ring and onto the floor
where he clutched his jaw. He stayed on the floor as the match continued.
I don't remember what happened next as my attention was focused on Sabu.
After a few minutes someone was placed on a table in the middle of the ring,
Dreamer I believe. Van Dam went to the top turnbuckle in one corner and
Sabu got up climbed onto the apron and then to the top opposite turnbuckle.
They then did their legdrop/frogsplash combo to finish the match off. Sabu
quickly left the ring and ran into the locker room holding his jaw. I was
amazed. This man was seriously injured (what I believe ended up being
fractured jaw and a few chipped teeth) and he continued the match. And this
was a house show!!! A stupid house show!!! There was no reason for him to
continue the match and yet he did. I'm still amazed when I think about it
There's no way anyone should be bitter about
him leaving. Sabu always
busted his ass for ECW. While I'm definitely disappointed that he is
leaving ECW I wish him the best. Hell, I might even accept free tickets to
go to a WCW show now.
It's hard to turn on a WWF program these days without having ECW flashbacks. When you look at the roster itís easy to see why. Hereís a list of 10 wrestlers who have had an impact in ECW that are currently in the forefront in the WWF.
The WWFís content changed a few years ago during away from family entertainment and more towards their current ĎWWF Attitudeí era. A big reason for this was the success ECW was having 5 years ago. The WWF adopted a lot of this style both indirectly and directly.
For instance, take a look at the WWF past and
How many brawls in the crowd do you see now in the WWF? How many did you see before ECW?
How many tables and chairs are used now? How many were used before?
How often does someone blade now? How often was it done before?
How many cat fights do you see now? How many did you see before?
How often does someone swear now? How often
did you hear that before?
Itís pretty easy to see that the WWF has taken a lot of both of ECWís style and wrestlers and this has been a major part of the great success of the WWF today.
Where would the WWF be if they only had one component of ECW?
If they only adopted ECWís wrestling style and not the wrestlers where would they be? Considering that only Mick Foley and Steve Austin have been in the WWF for more than a year (and both tenures were relatively short in ECW) its pretty easy to conclude that they would be in good shape. The WWF has created a lot of Ďsuperstarsí on their own so thereís no reason to believe that they would be unsuccessful without any ECW wrestlers.
Conversely, if the WWF still was still using the family entertainment style of wrestling with a large number of ECW wrestlers I think that the success that they have today would be much smaller.
So why has there been such an influx of former ECWers into the WWF? The obvious one is money, but if the key is the content and not the wrestlers why would Vince (or Turner for that matter) shell out the big bucks when he could create his own star when he knows the formula to success? The answer to that is that ECW works as a pseudo training ground for the WWF. Hiring someone from ECW is similar to hiring someone directly out of college as opposed to hiring them out of high school and having to train them. Another good comparison is that ECW is a minor league who develops talent for the major league team, in this case the WWFís.
So should we expect to see a revolving door in ECW where wrestlers come in, have success, and then leave to greener pastures? Yes, but likely not to the degree that we have seen in the past. Part of the reason why is the national exposure ECW gets now with a TV deal among other things. With the expsosure comes money which is always a significant factor. Another thing is being able to be a big fish in a small pond. Ravenís biggest beef in WCW was his inability to rise to main event status and thatís the reason I believe that he will remain with ECW when his contract expires in August. Itís also the biggest reason RVD has stayed around for so long. So while the revolving door will never stop turning in ECW itís probably slowed down and the oppurtunity for wrestlers to come back through the revolving door is greater than ever.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns
you can reach me at email@example.com.
Hardcore Thursday: Finally, the release
of ECW's first video game. While I
have heard mixed reviews and have not actually seen the game, other than
what's shown on the commercials, it sounds as if sales are strong. Acclaim,
the maker of the video game as well as a minority owner of ECW, is reaping
the benefits of these brisk sales. The stock of Acclaim (ticker: AKLM) went
up an astounding 38.5% on Monday. This gain can be placed solely on the
success of ECW's Harcore Revolution as there have been no other
announcements by Acclaim that would make the stock go up.
Acclaim commercials: I have only seen
one commercial for the Hardcore
Revolution and I think it's great. It definitely captures the essence of
ECW. The black and white footage is a nice touch.
And while on the topic of ECW commercials,
how weird is it to see a
commercial for ECW on a non-TNN channel? And while on the topic of weird
ECW occurrences, how weird was it to see RVD and Dreamer on a morning talk
show? And while on the topic of morning talk shows, how bad are those guys
on the Fox show that RVD and Dreamer were on?
TNN thoughts: I thought this show was better
than the few previous shows.
Of course when you get an Awesome-Tanaka match the show will always be
strong. However, this was a strong show from top to bottom.
For anyone that wants a good visual picture
of what I was trying to describe
a few columns back about Sabu busting up his jaw a few years ago just take a
look at Super Crazy and his match against CW Anderson this week. The
difference between Super Crazy and Sabu is that Sabu did the moonsault from
the top rope and had his jaw squarely hit the table leg and Super Crazy was
fortunate to miss the table legs on his landing.
I love a good pseudo-shoot promo and Chetti
and Nova pulled out a good one
this week. Actually, I though Chetti's part was exceptionally strong. He
nailed a couple with he said that he made an impact with his head on the mat
from Taz at the House of Hardcore and talking about Justin Credible getting
trying to get over in the WWF by wearing a yellow jock strap and carrying
Shawn Michaels' bags. I was surprised that he was able to do a 'serious'
promo with his self-absorbed character but he pulled it off.
More good stuff later.
When you think about it, it was pretty amazing
that Cactus ended up being as
over as he was. He was the antithesis of the 'prototypical' great wrestler.
He wasn't terribly big, he was actually on the small side. He didn't have
'the look', and with a missing ear and teeth he was somewhat unsightly. His
moves were less than extraordinary, in fact they were rather average at
best. He wasn't especially athletic, in fact he was rather non-athletic.
He wasn't especially strong, he in fact actually considers himself
especially weak. You add that all up and you're looking at someone who
shouldn't even be a jobber. But yet he's one of the greatest wrestlers of
But how did Cactus get to the level he did?
It was a combination of desire,
a great wrestling 'sense', the ability to cut some of the best promos, and
the ability (and/or willingness) to bump like no one else. This last point
is somewhat disturbing to me.
There should never be a point in wrestling
where a wrestler intentionally is
willing to injure themselves. It's one thing to take a chair shot (although
numerous chairshots like Tanaka takes isn't good), go through a table, land
on thumbtacks or even expose yourself to barbwire. These things can all be
extremely painful but there really isn't any long term risks associated with
them. If a wrestler is willing to put themselves in those situations I
don't have a big problem with it. I think the line should be drawn though
when there's a chance for serious injury, which leads me to my next
I've read that Balls has come back from Japan and is planning to use
explosives in his match this weekend at Asbury Park. While this is
definitely a good place for explosives (you know what I mean if you've been
there) I really don't want to see them used in a match. We all know Balls
is a little crazy but there is no need for him to do this.
The high point of No Way Out was the Dudley Boyz winning the tag team belts
from the most overrated tag team in history. I never considered myself a
huge Dudley Boyz mark but I am only 1 of 2 paying customers (my tag team
partner, Y2Jason being the other) to witness in person The Dudleys' last
match in ECW, their first match in the WWF, their last tag team championship
in ECW and their first tag team championship in the WWF.
(In your best Rock imitation) Finally, ECW
has come back to New England:
After many, many months (too many to remember) ECW makes its return to New
England the weekend after Living Dangerously. March 17th is at the
Palladium (one of my favorite ECW venues) which figures to be quite a night
being that its St. Patricks Day and The Irish Times is just across the
street. There will probably even be an unofficial ECW meet and greet there
after the show where you can buy your favorite ECW wrestler a green beer!!
March 18th is a TNN taping in Salem, NH.
TV tapings in NE are as rare so be
sure to check it out. If anyone makes an ECWNews.com sign and shows it on
camera throughout the taping I'll be sure to hook you up with a fabulous
prize (that's in the budget, right?).[Note from the management- how fabulous?]
In addition Spike Dudley will be promoting
the event on Wednesday in Salem.
Check out the newsboard for more details on that.
Steve Corino v. Dusty Rhodes (bull rope match):
While this match is not confirmed (are any matches in ECW EVER confirmed?) Corino issued the challenge and thereís no reason to believe that the match wonít go down. I figure that Corino will get the victory in this one. Weíll probably even get a bionic elbow or two out of Dusty. One thing I pray I donít see is yellow polka dot tights.
Guido v. Super Crazy (TV Title tournament semi-final
Sandman v. Rhino (TV Title tournament semi-final #2):
Iím a tournament mark so Iím glad that this was added to the card. The appeal is that you never know what will happen. However, with these the winners of these two matches seem pretty clear cut to me. Super Crazy is the easy pick in the first match and it only makes sense for him to wrestle Rhino in the finals so that it will shape up as The Network vs. ECW. Both semi-final matches should be good but I image that theyíll save a lot for the finals. I imagine that Super Crazy will get the clean pinfall but I expect that Rhino will win with some outside interference.
Super Crazy v. Rhino (TV Title tournament final):
Here is where the choice is a tough one. You can really make a strong argument one way or another why either wrestler will win. Iíll go with Rhino in this one as he is TNNís TV champion and itís a good way to get more heat for Cyrus down the road. The intriguing part of this matchup is the 2 completely different wrestling styles of Super Crazy and Rhino. It will be interesting to see how it will work out. I have a gut feeling that this will be the match of the night.
Awesome/Raven v. Impact Players v. Tanaka/Dreamer
(Tag Team Championship 3 way dance):
This is another tough match to figure out. Thereís a lot of twists and turns that this match can take as there will be all kinds of outside influences with Vandenburg, Dawn Marie, Jason, and Francine roaming around ringside. My guess is that Tanaka and Dreamer will be eliminated first as Raven pins Dreamer after help from Francine. I then see the Impact Players regaining the Tag Belts when Justin Credible pins Raven.
My hope is that I whiff on these predictions
as thereís nothing worse than knowing what will happen before it actually
does happen. While this PPV shaped up as a real dog a week ago I
think this PPV will exceed peopleís expectations. Whenever it looks
like ECW will put out a bad show they surprise you with a great one.
I have a feeling that will happen again here.
It seems every columnist has a fued with someone except me. First it was G. vs. everybody, then it was Frank v. Jeff Jones and now its CJ v. The Torch. I was amused when I saw that the Torch made a referrence to the challenge in an article that was not nearly as funny as the author thought it was. So in the coming weeks I hope to find someone to pick a fight with.
With Super Tuesday taking place I would like to take the oppurtunity to let the faithful readers of Dueling Chair Shots know that this column officially endorses John McCain for President. Be sure to vote early and often on Tuesday.[ECWNews.com note- Mr LaMont's feelings about Senator McCain are his own and not those of the staff and management of ECWNEWS.com]
More good stuff next week as Iíll be back with the Living Dangerously Ď00 review
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns
you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The title of the PPV was certainly appropriate for a few people as they were indeed living dangerously. The first is Lori Fullington. That was just an incredible spot when she was gored through the table by Rhino. I donít think that anyone saw that coming. To me it appeared that Rhino didnít let up at all which I was even more shocked at. Kudos to her for being willing to do that.
The other two who were living dangerously were New Jack and Grimes. Grimes impresses me more and more each time I see him. This guy is just about willing to do anything. Putting Balls through the table on the floor from the top turnbuckle was just awesome. Then to fall from the scaffolding with New Jack to the floor was even more nuts. I was at the show and the only thing that I could see there was the beginning of there descent to the floor. From what I read New Jack landing on the floor was sick. After the show I took an eye measurement of the scaffold and it was at least 12 feet high, but no higher than 15 feet. Just nuts.
As for the rest of the show it was solid, but unspectacular overall. Super Crazy winning the TV Belt was one of the highlites of the night. He certainly is a deserving champion. I wasnít quite ready for a Rhino title reign. I donít think heís at the point where he Ďdeservesí it yet. I still want to see a number of really good matches from him before Iím convinced that heís a worthy champion. Super Crazy has certainly done this as he has had his share of great matches in ECW for over a year now.
The biggest disappointment for me was not having the Rhino/Sandman match. This was an oppurtunity for Rhino to have a match like I mentioned above but for some reason it was taken off. I understand that Sandman was ďat the hospitalĒ but to announce this match for the last 2 PPVs and not deliver on either one is terrible. No one in the crowd even knew that that match had been cancelled. And if the match had to be cancelled they should have at least have Cyrus come out and announce it to the crowd. That would have generated heat for him as much as anything else could have.
Other disappoinments include seeing how fat Chetti is now. I understand that he had a bad back and probably canít work out like he wants to but if you canít be in shape for a match maybe you shouldnít be out there. He was winded after a couple of minutes. I never would have guessed that he would allow that to happen. Do you think that if Taz was still around Chetti would be that out of shape? Me either.
I also didnít like how the Dusty and Corino match ended. Whatís the point of having Dusty get a clean win? Is a big push in his future? I didnít make sense to me.
Overall, a solid show, one that I liked better than Guilty as Charged. On a scale of 1-4 I give it a 2.5. Typically I donít like giving out halves but this was better than a 2 and not quite a 3. It needed one great memorable match to make it a 3 and I donít think that this PPV had one. Of course maybe Iíll feel differently after seeing the replay on Tuesday.
If you were at the show read on, otherwise this will make little sense. (insert Ďyour column never makes senseí joke here).
How can such a small school like WCSU have two different campuses?
Wouldnít somebody in that town realize that having only 1 exit from the arena parking lot is a problem? And how about having a cop at the exit letting the traffic from the crowd out instead of relying on the traffic light? Only 7 cars could leave the lot when the light was green. You had to wait another minute before it turned green again. I think there are still people waiting to get out now.
And was I the only one who realized if you turned right out of the parking lot you could turn around once you got out?
And how can a grocery store as large as Stop
& Shop not have Combos? WTF is that all about?
The PPV was held at a college gymnasium in Danbury, CT. The gym was new, fairly large, held about 4,000 people and was sold out.
The house show was held in Worcester, MA. This is one of the ugliest cities in the northeast. The show was held at the Palladium in a theater-like building. The building is antiquated, run down and holds a max. of about 1,200. At this particular show there were about 900 people.
The TNN taping was held at a hockey rink, the Icenter, in Salem, NH. This is a very new building, itís clean, and itís large. It probably holds 3,000 for wrestling and there were probably 2,500 people there.
Of the three shows the venue that I enjoyed the most was at the Palladium in Worcester. And itís not because my seats were the best of the 3 shows I attended (although that didnít hurt). Nor was it because of the sausage vendor outside of the building.
To me the Palladium is similar to the ECW Arena. Itís a crappy building in a crappy part of town. They each donít hold a lot of people and thereís a chance that you can get mugged at each place. The crowds are packed in and people are practically on top of each other.
The appeal of each place is all of these bad points that I listed above, as strange as that sounds. ECW has always had the image of being the underground, outlaw promotion. Buildings similar to the Palladium and Arena helped fuel that image. It also didnít hurt that the TV show was on an obscure, Spanish channel at some late night time slot. When you went to an ECW show or watched the show on TV you knew you were watching something that was equal to or greater than the mainstream promotions yet very few people knew about it. To me that was part a big part of the appeal to me. Do you think you could ever see the WWF have a wrestling show at a dog track? How about an IBEW building?
Now days ECW is running buildings that are much larger and considerably nicer. The primary TV show is shown nationwide at the same time and same place every week on TNN. Itís tough to keep that underground, outlaw image when you are slowly becoming what you claim not to be. Slowly but surely ECW is becoming mainstream, like it or not. Over the past week I experienced a few Ďfirstsí at these events. Among these are ticket scalpers, traffic problems and paying for parking at ECW events. This is not the ECW that I once knew.
I donít blame Paul E. for making the moves
to national TV and larger buildings. I would do the exact same things
if I were in his shoes. Itís just important to remember your roots
as you climb the ladder of success. While I fear that shows at the
Palladium will surely fade away shortly I hope that ECW will continue to
run shows at the Arena, even if itís just once a year, no matter how big
ECW becomes. Shows at venues with character like the IBEW hall in
Waltham and the Madhouse in Queens have already been separated from ECW.
Itís important to keep those buildings that still remain alive as this
is where ECW came from.
Despite his lack of demand in the US Mike Awesome was given a substantial contract (especially for ECWís standard) and security after signing a 3-year contract. On top of that he was given the ECW World Heavyweight Championship on his first full-time night in the company. THE TOP FíN BELT IN THE COMPANY ON HIS FIRST NIGHT!!! Think about that. He was thought so highly of that he was given the top spot in the company from day one. I donít think I can emphasize that enough.
For all the trust that ECW put in Mike Awesome he decided that he would jump ship after Ďhonoringí less than 20% of his commitment to ECW. Six months ago no one cared about him. Now that he has made somewhat of a name for himself in the US he bailed at the first opportunity. Not only did he bail he was willing to trash the ECW World Hwt belt on live TV. Thereís loyalty for you.
This past weekend he didnít show up at any of the ECW shows. He lied about weather problems and missed flights to excuse himself. But the lying didnít end there. He also misrepresented himself to WCW, letting them know that he was free to sign with them. Wrestling is an industry where itís very common to look out for yourself first but what Mike Awesome did was nauseating.
Am I glad Mike Awesome is gone? Knowing what I do about him now, absolutely.
Up to this point I was a big Mike Awesome fan.
Physically he was the ideal champion to me (although charisma and mic skills
left something to be desired). He has the best combination of size,
power and agility of any wrestler I have ever seen. Most champions
that can wrestle arenít very big, both in terms of height and weight (Hart,
Michaels, Flair, etc..). Those that do have the size (Andre, Nash,
Hogan, Big Show, etc.) typically canít wrestle to save their lives.
But Mike Awesome has both of those. He has the height and build,
especially compared to ECW wrestlers. He can do convincing power
moves (most likely because theyíre stiff) and yet is athletic enough to
jump off of the top rope without a problem. On top of that heís willing
to take bumps himself. I always looked forward to watching him wrestle
and his matches with Tanaka have always been favorites of mine. Having
seen all of this go down now I find myself more disappointed than anything
else about this whole situation.
What would you do?
Mike Awesome committed himself to WCW while under a contract with ECW. This left ECW, and more specifically Paul E., to decide what to do about this situation.
The first move was informing WCW that Awesome had an enforceable contract. This prevented WCW from having Awesome on the Nitro without legal action from ECW. Since he was under contract WCW wouldnít have had much of a case had it gone to court. Because of that WCW agreed to keep him off the show. The first move was the correct, albeit obvious, move.
The second move was deciding what to do with Mike Awesome. Knowing that he was willing to leave and trash ECW on TV thereís no way that you could ever bring Awesome back to ECW. If you donít let him go to WCW youíre subject to paying him for another 2 1/2 years for someone who is virtually useless to you. At this point youíre willing to dump him to anyone that will take him. Obviously WCW wanted him (or else this whole episode never would have began) so the leverage was on ECWís side, especially with the big Nitro show being so close.
Negotiating a cash settlement for Awesomeís release was the best way to go. One, you rid yourself of a contract you no longer want. Second, you get money in your pockets and take some out of your rivalís pockets. Terms of the settlement are unknown but have been reported being ďwell into the six figure rangeĒ. I read this as between $250,000-$500,000, though that is merely speculation on my part. I also agree with this move as itís making the best of the situation.
Any legal battle that Paul E would have undertaken against WCW would have been counterproductive. Sure, they likely would have won a legal battle if it came to that but legal battles take time, energy and money. If you want to see the effect of a legal battle on a promotion just take a look at the WWF during the steroid scandal in the early 90s.
Also, as part of this agreement, ECW also negotiated (among other things) to have Awesome wrestle in ECW this Thursday in order to drop the belt. This is an important issue to Paul E. as he wants to keep the lineage of the Title intact. Myself, I would have taken the belt and cut my ties with Awesome and put it up in a 8 man tournament. I like the sounds of Raven, Dreamer, RVD, Sandman, Justin Credible, Lance Storm, Rhino and Jerry Lynn at Hardcore Heaven in a single elimination tournament.
Overall, I think Paul E handled this situation about as well as he could have under the circumstances.
What WCW gains from this is really puzzling to me. My thought is that they think that ECW is their biggest threat and by cutting off their head, so to speak, they will cripple ECW (which was one of Bischoffís goals his first time around). This really backfired on WCW to me when Awesome ultimately ended up not throwing down the belt on Nitro, ala Shane Douglas with the NWA belt. This really took away any gains that WCW might have made with this move. To me they didnít do anything crippling to ECW, they just added a wrestler to their already overstocked roster. If anything I think this will light a fire under ECW, ultimately making them stronger. I can only imagine what Paul E.will do with ECW now that heís pissed off.
As an aside, I believe Awesome will end up
being an afterthought in WCW in a few months much like what happened with
Bigelow a couple years ago. Itís the whole big fish, small pond theory.
Where do you go now?
Itís obvious that Awesome will drop the belt at the show on Thursday (Imagine how awkward/tense the locker room will be that night). The big question is who to put the belt on now. Iíd like to see a 3 way dance between Awesome, Raven and Dreamer. This accomplishes a number of things. First, thereís a storyline in place between the three. With Awesome taking out both Dreamer and Raven on the last TNN show a three way dance makes sense. Secondly, with a three way dance Awesome could be the first person pinned, leaving Dreamer and Raven to battle for the belt. This way thereís actually some drama to who will win. In addition, Raven and Dreamer battling after eliminating Awesome and going forward in the weeks and months to come would add to their existing feud. In this scenario it wouldnít really matter to me who would win between those two. If forced to choose I would go with Dreamer because 1. Raven pursuing Dreamer for the belt is more appealing to watch than vice versa and 2. It says to the locker room that loyalty to ECW is important and no one has been more loyal to ECW than Tommy Dreamer.
If that scenario doesnít play out I could live
with RVD or Sandman winning the belt. Beyond those four the obvious
candidates would be either Impact Player and Rhino. At this point
Iím not sold on those three or anyone else in ECW holding the top belt.
More good stuff next week.
Cyberslam was quite a show. It offered everything
you would expect from an ECW show and then some. In fact it had not one,
not two, but three title changes. And who knows what the deal is with the
Tag Team Belts now.
It was great to see Tommy Dreamer win the World
Heavyweight Championship belt. While he's not my favorite wrestler or my
favorite character, he was definitely the most deserving champion. No wrestler
has done more for ECW in and out of the ring than Dreamer. If anyone has
ever earned the right to be World Heavyweight Champion its Tommy Dreamer.
And yes you can, AND SHOULD, earn the belt that goes around your waist,
even if it never ended up around his waist. That's why it means something
to a wrestler when they get it. That's why it means something to the fans.
If you devalue your titles then you devalue your entire promotion.
How much does the ECW World Heavyweight Championship
belt mean? Well, apparently it means so much that Bubba Ray Dudley was
willing to hunt down Mike Awesome in Florida and physically take the belt
from him so it wouldn't appear on Nitro. I'm guessing that he wasn't the
only one willing to do that either. (That was probably the most revealing
item that I took from the Q&A).
And now the title has been put on Justin Credible.
I'll admit, initially I thought that after Dreamer won that it would be
Raven who thwarted him yet again. But once Justin Credible came out and
the match began I would have been more shocked if Tommy had won the match.
Now that would have been a swerve to me.
I initially had some doubts about Justin being
the Champion. This mostly comes because I wasn't expecting it this early,
especially after he said it would be another year before he felt he could
reach that level (another Q&A insight; I'd be interested to know if
Paul E told him the plan for the night before or after then). The other
reason I had doubts is because I wondered if he stacked up against other
former champions, listed below.
ECW's World Heavyweight Champions (not including Eastern Championship Wrestling):
Shane Douglas (3 times)
Bam Bam Bigelow
Mike Awesome (2)
The more I think about it though the more that
I like Justin being Champion. He's been booked that way for a while now,
actually almost from the beginning, if you think about it. He's got a great
heel look, can work a match with just about anyone, and with the proper
focus can cut good, and potentially great, promos. And the fans really
hate him too which is the most important thing for a heel. While I don't
think that he ranks very highly on the list of Champions right now I really
think that he will take the ball and run with it and will grow into a great
While having a title change hands twice in
the same night is unexpected it is not unprecedented. In fact, it has happened
three other times in ECW's history (4 if you count EasternCW). The first
time was in 11/94 when Malenko won the TV belt only to lose it to Too Cold;
the second was 10/95 when Raven and Stevie Richards won the Tag Belts and
then lost to Public Enemy; the third was the Dudleys winning in Queens
in 8/99 only to lose later that night to Dreamer and Raven.
While the Heavyweight Champion got most of
the attention there's also a new TV Champion in ECW in Rhino.
Here's a rundown of the ECW TV Champions
2 Cold Scorpio (4 times)
Dean Malenko (2)
Eddie Guerrero (2)
Shane Douglas (2)
Bam Bam Bigelow
Rob Van Dam
This is a belt that has been really elevated
over the last few years, almost to the point where it was almost the equal
of the World Heavyweight Belt. After Shane Douglas won the belt in July
of 1996 the belt only changed hands 3 times until this year. Douglas, Taz
and Van Dam each all had a run in this time of nearly a year with Van Dam's
run with the belt being almost 2 years.
It would be nearly impossible for the TV belt
to be elevated any further without it eclipsing the World Title. Having
said that Super Crazy and Tajiri are definitely worthy TV champions and
rank just as high in my mind as any of the early champions of Scorpio,
Malenko, Guerrero and Jericho. This belt has come back to being the clear
#2 belt in the company which is really where it should be.
Now Rhino is the TV Champion. In a few years
I have a feeling that he we'll look back at the TV title history and say
that Rhino is a great TV champion. But like Justin Credible, Rhino isn't
quite at that level in my mind, mostly because he hasn't been around quite
as long. He does have the benefit of being with Cyrus so that should really
Who's #2 revisited:
Here's what Joey Sytles had to say when asked
about whether he though ECW was the '#2 promotion' on a 'Between the Ropes'
STYLES: My thoughts are that I think it's an inane debate and I won't get involved in it. I don't think it matters....... I don't care if we're #3, #4 or #17. As long as we have a strong and profitable company, that's all I hope for each and every day. If it winds up pushing us ahead of WCW, fine. If we wind up tied with WCW, fine or behind them, fine. What to do you get for being #2, a cookie? Who cares? It's an inane debate........ I think they come off as being childish and silly. Again, it's for marks.
That's what I was trying to say a month ago. I knew I liked Joey for a reason. And he watches CNBC too! I think I have a new hero.
More good stuff next week.
In case you don't do so already, be sure to
check out Lance Storm's weekly column at StormWrestling.com. This week
he discussed whether wrestlers should be tested for drugs. In a nutshell
he basically said that wrestlers who take drugs aren't hurting anybody,
they're just making them bigger, stronger, faster, etc...
Now I don't disagree with the argument that he made. If someone wants to take a drug that makes them bigger, stronger, and/or faster that's their prerogative. Most people know the consequences of drugs in this day and age.
However, what I think Lance failed to comment
on in his column are the effects that drugs (recreational more so than
'performance enhancing' drugs) can have in the ring, not only on the person
taking them, but also on the person they are working with. If a drug effects
the ability of a wrestler, he is putting himself and his opponent at risk.
Wrestling is a relatively high-risk occupation to start with. Adding in
a variable such as drugs only heightens that risk. And this is where I
think the "if wrestlers should be tested all entertainers should be tested"
theory fails since most other entertainers don't have to put their trust
into someone else's hands.
I don't think I'd want to take a 'high risk'
move from someone I know doesn't have a clear head. The margin for error
is small in a lot of cases to begin with. I don't necessarily think that
drug testing of wrestlers should be mandatory, but if I'm a wrestler I
would want to know that the wrestler I'm working with has a clear head.
Hardcore Heaven '00 Preview
Bad News: HH less than one week away from the
show and there are only 3 announced matches. Good News: This is one more
match than we usually know at this time.
ECW World Heavyweight Championship
Justin Credible v. Tommy Dreamer v. Lance Storm
I donít expect to see a title change here.
Justin Credible is the future of ECW and it looks like the future is now.
While Dreamer is the sympathic face I expect him to be eliminated first.
I have two reasons for this. The first is that Storm and Credible have
a better storyline than Dreamer and Credible. JC turned his back on Storm,
his former tag team partner and on top of that Storm trained JC up in Calgary,
.......Alberta, Canada so he should also feel that he is the superior wrestler.
The second reason is that JC and Storm can have a much better match than
Dreamer and either one of the others. Iíd be shocked if Storm picked up
the win here unless it was done for shock value with Storm potentially
leaving. But thatís been done before recently with the Dudley Boys so I
donít see it here. Look for JC to enter and leave HH with the belt with
the assistance of Francine.
ECW TV Title
Rhino v. Sandman
I see the same thing happening in this match
as I see in the World Title Match. A heel winning to bring up his credibility
with a newly won belt. This will be the third straight PPV that Iím picking
Rhino over the Sandman. With a little bit of luck we might actually see
the match this time around. I see Rhino winning after the Sandman sacrifices
himself while trying to save his wife for Rhino.
Jerry Lynn v. Rob Van Dam
I canít see this match enough. Iíll probably
even watch a few of their matches from last year as an appetizer before
HH. As always between these two there is the potential for a classic match.
However, I donít see the wrestling matching up to the matches last year.
With both coming off of injuries lately Iíd be surprised if they have a
long match (20+ minutes). I also expect this to be more of an angle driven
match. I believe that Lynn will make a full heel turn and defeat Van Dam
with help from The Network and Scotty Anton. Thereís a reason Joey says
Anton is Van Damís best friend 57 times a show. Because heís turning on
Van Dam as well. I sensed this at Cyberslam. After Lynn shoved Anton down
and flipped Van Dam off Van Dam turned to Anton in disbelief that he would
be flipped off and didnít care what happened to Anton. It was small, it
was subtle, it wasnít on TV but I think the Anton turn was in the works
then. While I would have liked to see a clean, legitimate win (at least
in wrestling terms) by Lynn over Van Dam for the TV title I guess Iíll
settle for this.
The rumor going around is that Jedo and Gado (or is it Jado and Gedo? or some other combination? Only Lance Storm knows for sure) will wrestle Crazy and Tajiri on the show. Hopefully that occurs as it would be, in the words of Cyrus, tremendous.
I think a Tanaka v. Raven matchup could be tremendous as well.
Thereís also the obligatory letís get everyone
in ECW on the PPV match where 15 wrestlers work there way into one mass
of mini matches. Would it be that difficult to have a legitimate story
going with the undercard guys? I realize TNN is only an hour show and most
people donít turn into see the DA against Doring & Roadkill but at
least have something going for the undercard guys on Hardcore TV that can
build and culminate at a PPV. This is one of Paul Eís bigger flaws, his
ability to elevate the undercard wrestlers. Sure you have a few guys who
have broken through (Corino and Rhino) but nearly everyone else stays at
the same level they came in at. Think about it, have Chetti and Nova (2
exceptional talents) really been elevated over the last 2 years? Not by
Paul E, theyíve only really made their way up the ladder in ECW because
of the number of people that have left. Itís not their fault, theyíve just
not been given the oppurtunity to take the ball and run with it.
So in light of the lack of announced matches
I will announce some matches myself that would be interesting using the
Vince Russo booking method. Anyone that has heat with someone else will
be put in a match together, preferably a gimmick match.
#1 - The Kat v. Mystery Internet Columnist in a ĎDance Offí match
#2 - G. Ward v. Taz in a ĎWelcome Backí match (this could be the showstealer in my mind)
#3 - ĎThe Franchiseí Frank Romeo v. Judge Jeff Jones in a ĎTable Setup Matchí - I look for a no contest when The Original Cyber Gangster, New Jack Misnik comes down and clears house
#4 - and the Main Event........Sandman v. New Jack in a Last Man Standing match. I guess the Sandman will have to work double duty on Sunday.
Wow, with my ability to book ECW Iíll be able to land a job with XPW. XPWnews.com already contacted me about doing a column. I have all the qualifications theyíre looking for: I do a ECW column. Iím holding out for the big bucks though.
Thatís it for this week. Check back a week
from now to see my Harcore Heaven review.
My initial reaction to the PPV was that it
was average. The more I thought about it though the more that I liked the
show. The production flaws really detracted from what was a very good show.
Hereís a match by match run down (all matches on a scale of 1-4):
Balls v. Tanaka - Pretty good match, and they
killed themselves with chairshots on top of that. Balls is one of the most
underrated wrestlers in ECW but he ends up in too many brawl type matches
because of his willingness (or desire?) to take physical punishment so
it largely goes unnoticed. This match scores a 3 out of 4 in my book.
Kid Cash v. C. dubba-ya Anderson - I havenít
been given a reason to care one way or another yet about either one of
these two. And looking like an Anderson or Kid Rock is not a reason for
me to care. Working hard will only take you so far. Not a bad match, but
the lack of a reason for them to wrestle made this seem just like filler.
2 / 4
Guido v. Simon v. Mikey Whipwreck - Another
match just thrown together at the last minute. However, I like all 3 guys
so the match was enjoyable for me. I hope this is the beginning of the
end of the comedy entourage of Simon. Prodigy and Prodigette are OK, but
the Musketeer? What is that all about? Itís tough to take Simon seriously
with him out there. As for the match, it was pretty strong and had a really
cool new move from Mikey. Hopefully, Mikeyís next fireball spot will at
least look good. It looks pretty silly for Big Sal to sell a move when
you see the flame is no where close him. Oh well, maybe next time. 3 /
Nova/Chetti v. Roadkill/Doring v. Baldies -
Apparently this had some impact on the tag team belts. To me its pretty
clear that of the existing tag teams in ECW right now Nova and Chetti are
clearly above everyone else. Iím finally convinced that they are worthy
tag champions. Weíll see if that happens now. The match was neither great
nor horrible, just very similar to past matches except Nova pulled a new
move out again. 2.5 / 4
New Jack v. Angel - If youíve seen this once
and didnít see the PPV you didnít miss anything. New Jack comes to the
ring with weapons, uses a few, drags someone through the crowd, puts them
on a table, climbs somewhere high and puts the guy through the table, and
goes to the ring for the win. 2 / 4, with one of the points coming because
New Jack is crazy.
Tajiri v. Corino - This was without question
the overachieving match of the night. Corino will be the next superstar
in ECW but to this point we havenít had much of an opportunity to see him
shine in the ring until now. I bet this is the show we look back on as
Corinoís breakout match. Finally putting him with an excellent wrestler
such as Tajiri just made him look even better. Corinoís blood splattering
on the camera was just a classic shot. 3.5 / 4
Sandman v. Rhino - Did I nail this match in
my preview or what? I wasnít expecting the piledriver from the apron through
a table on the floor though. Apparently Lori Fullington has a death wish.
This match was just table spots and canes shots galore. The question that
I have is, can Rhino have a good match without using a table or chair?
I havenít seen it yet and I have my doubts. 2.5 / 4
Jerry Lynn v. RVD - This was another tremendous
match between these two. However, there were a few things that bugged me.
One is RVDís insistence on stopping to talk to the crowd 3-4 times for
2 minutes at the beginning of his matches after only 15 seconds of wrestling.
Nothing like breaking the flow of a good match. The second thing that bothered
me was the involvement of The Network in this match. If Lynn and Anton
were not going to be a part of The Network there was no need to involve
them here (of course this could change in the future). The third thing
bothering me was how obvious Antonís turn on Van Dam was. It would have
been a swerve if he didnít turn. Regardless of the items I didnít like
this was still a tremendous match. Hopefully this will lead to more matches
between the two as Lynn will want a Ďclean winí over RVD. 3.5 / 4
Justin Credible v. Lance Storm - For some reason
the crowd could have cared less which is a shame because this was a strong
match. The only thing that I would have changed is to lengthen the match
and have less of an awkward ending. 3 / 4.
Despite all the technical glitches and a poor
crowd this turned out to be a strong PPV. To me it was the best PPV of
the 3 this year. On a scale of 1-4 I rate this a solid 3.
Of all the wrestlers to leave ECW in the past year I think, surprisingly, that Iíll probably miss Storm the most. In addition to losing a great technical wrestler youíre losing someone who was just reaching main event status in ECW. Everyone else who left recently (Taz, Sabu, Dudleys, Douglas) was on the downside of their ECW careers. We were able to see their best years while they were in ECW. However, Stormís best years are ahead of him and weíll just have to see them in WCW now. Good luck to Lance in WCW, heíll definitely be missed in ECW.
(Hopefully he can successfully convince Russo that people actually like good wrestling without 57 run-ins every match. It wonít work but I can dream canít I?)
And for those of you who read Mark Maddens "column" and disagree with what he said, or perhaps you are upset with what he wrote, just realize that he is 'in character' and he uses the column to generate heat. It's pretty pathetic. Just ignore him, maybe he'll go away. Or better yet don't bother to read the column. Just because he's on TV doesn't mean he's credible.
More good stuff next week when I return to
the regularly scheduled Monday night column. Send e-mail to email@example.com
What about me? What about Raven?
Another week, another departure. Iím starting to regret writing that ECW had its deepest roster a few months ago. Good thing I donít believe in jinxes.
This time itís Raven who has been offered (given?) his release from ECW. Given what Paul E had to say repeatedly about Raven at Cyberslam (more or less he said heís fat and unmotivated....buy the tape for the whole scoop, wink, wink) this isnít a huge surprise.
Initially, I thought Paul E was saying these things to either motivate Raven or to swerve the fans for the Cyberslam show later that night. He probably was trying to motivate him but it looks like it was less than successful as Raven has pretty much been unused in any angles since Guilty as Charged (youíd think he was on the undercard or something).
Ravenís in ring work since his return to ECW has been less than stellar. With the exception of a match with the Sandman at the Arena a few months ago and his initial return (which was only a DDT) I canít remember any noteworthy matches. By that standard I would say Raven leaving isnít a big deal.
However, I think the majority of fans (myself included) want to see Raven in ECW because weíve seen what he can do and want to see him do it again. However, I think at this point its pretty clear that weíre not going to see it. Paul E has realized this and is cutting his losses. Itís time for us to do the same as hard as it may be for us to accept it.
Ravenís main goal is to be the center of a promotion. His main reason for his WCW departure is that he wasnít one of the chosen top 10. Apparently, by his actions, Raven thinks that he can do this in WCW or WWF. Frankly, Iím guessing that both of those companies arenít looking to center their promotion around someone whoís 37. If Raven wanted to be on top of a company ECW is really his best option at this point (or, hello XPW).
Ravenís second go around in ECW had great expectations
and few results. Itís a shame because we know the talent is there to produce
classic moments, like he did the first time around. The desire was the
missing element. Itís really a credit to Paul E that he would pull the
plug on Raven, who clearly can make him money. I donít think that too many
other people would do the same thing in this situation.
More good stuff next week.
Where has the gimmick match gone?
A gimmick match that has a good build up and good execution can turn what would have been a good match into a great match. It recently occurred to me that there has been a shortage of gimmick matches in ECW. The last real significant gimmick match that I can remember is the double flaming tables match between the Dudleys and Balls and Spike. And if I remember correctly it was a match that wasnít even aired on TV.
Sure there have been some gimmick matches lately, but none that were anything different than most matches. Tajiri and Super Crazy had a Mexican death match and a Japanese death match. While both matches were excellent, there was nothing in those matches that were different from a typical match. You canít be counted out or disqualified, so what was different in this match? Nothing really.
Now take a look at the WWF. If I think of the best matches over the last 2 years or so nearly all of them have been some sort of gimmick match:
Austin v. McMahon - Cage Match
Mankind v. Undertaken - Hell in the Cell
Hardy Boys v. Edge/Christian - Ladder Match
Hardy Boys v. Dudley Boys - Tables Match
Jericho v. Benoit - Submission Match
HHH v. Rock - Iron Man Match (although the ending sucked)
While I donít recommend running gimmick matches frequently (1 gimmick match a PPV would be about right), I think that it is very appropriate in certain instances to use them. Take the series of RVD and Jerry Lynn matches. These matches are more or less just one on one battles. The only real angle is Lynnís obsession with beating Van Dam and/or winning the TV title. Now if this rivalry was turned up a notch where each wrestler was out to prove who was the better wrestler (which wouldnít be difficult) you could have all kinds of possibilities. For instance, you could have a 2/3 falls match, a best of 5 or best of 7 series, a submission match, iron man match or something even more creative than that.
I think the main reason that the gimmick match hasnít been used is the lack of good rivalries. There has to be a reason to have a gimmick match. If there is no good rivalry then the match looks stupid. Right now the only feud good enough to possibly have a gimmick match is Sandman and Rhino. Other than that, there is no other good feud going.
For instance, who is feuding with the World Champion, Justin Credible? Well, I think Tommy might, but Iím not sure, heís been silent lately. Raven? Well, Francine is JCís manager but is Raven upset about this? Who knows, weíve havenít really heard from Raven either. Lance Storm? Well, heís in WCW so who knows.
What about RVD? Who is he feuding with? Is it Rhino, the wrestler with his TV Belt? Is it Jerry Lynn, who just pinned him? Is it Scotty Anton, who just turned on RVD? Who knows, apparently itís all of them.
How about Tajiri? Heís feuding with Corino, right? Or is it Rhino? Or Jerry Lynn?
I could go on but I think you get the point. So while I want the gimmick match to return to ECW on a somewhat consistent basis, it has to have meaning to it when its run or else thereís no point to having it.
More good stuff next week. Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
And for all you Franchise fans out there, you
deserve to know the truth. The real reason for the delays between the ĎShootiní
columns was because Frank was too busy listening to WCW Live. And thatís
He shoots.......but does he score?
Paul Eís was recently quoted as saying..."They are continuing a campaign of intentional neglect and negative positioning regarding our show that we find intolerable. I have submitted the show. I like the show. I think it's compelling television, because it's so f****** real. It's a shoot. It's a promotion telling the truth. It's the little guy not allowing the multi-billion dollar conglomerate to damage it any further, and it's the position they have forced us into. They buried this program. They have done nothing although they promised us the world...... But this network has been mad at us since day one because we came on the air and garnered an audience without any help from them at all, and RollerJam continued to lag even through they were spending millions and millions of dollars to promote, market and advertise it. We made them look like schmucks, which they are, and they didn't like the fact we exposed them. So they haven't done a damn thing to promote, market, advertise, or spread the word on out show, and they have damaged us greatly. And we're sick of it."
I have a hard time having sympathy here for Paul E. He says that he was Ďpromised the worldí and given nothing. Well unless Ďthe worldí is in writing, TNN has no obligation to deliver. Thatís why you have a contract. If itís not in writing you have nothing to complain about.
This is something Paul E fails to grasp. Heís an old school guy. To him, a manís word is as good as a contract. While this is an admirable trait personally, itís not good business. Itís was the reason for the talent raids of yesteryear and itís the reason they feel they are getting screwed now.
Now while ECW continues to complain about poor promotion they are not blameless. Off of the top of my head, I believe the TNN ratings peaked in January at about a 1.3 (give or take 0.1). From the debut in September until that point the ratings gradually increased. The ratings increased because the shows were interesting, new viewers like what they saw and stuck around, and from positive word of mouth. Sometime between the peak in January and now, ECW has declined back to the level they were when the show first arrived on TNN. ECW can whine all they want about not being promoted correctly but they lost roughly 40% of their peak audience over the past 4 months and it had nothing to do with poor promotion from TNN. That audience knew where and when to find ECW and they choose to leave. They left because they werenít interested enough in what they were watching to continue watching and that is no fault of TNN.
To get on national TV Paul E had to Ďsell his soul to the devilí, and he agreed to do that for 3 years. He now knows that this deal isnít what he thought it was going to originally be. He now knows that he can get a considerably better deal from another network. He now knows that his promotion is more valuable than it was a year ago. And this is all a result of the 9 months spent on TNN. So while Paul E moans about the TNN relationship, it is that relationship, however strained that it is, that will help him out with in the long run.
Now while I think that ECW has no one to blame but themselves in this TNN fiasco, I canít say what Paul E is attempting to now do is the wrong strategic move. Itís pretty obvious that Paul E is trying to divorce himself from TNN and is doing everything in his power to accelerate that process. He knows that another network will promise him 'The Worldí if he is ďfreedĒ from TNN. Hopefully next time he will get ĎThe Worldí in writing.
And even if they remain on TNN for the next 27 months at least it will make for interesting TV.
So has Paul E scored with his latest 'shot'? Weíll only really know when this whole deal shakes out but I think that these Ďshotsí can only benefit ECW.
Next week I will focus on what ECW needs to do to build that dwindling audience back up. If you have any suggestions feel free to e-mail me at the bottom of the page.
What does it mean when the only time that I could lip-read Paul E during his Ďsilent shootí was when he was swearing?
Itís good to see Simon on TV, even if it was just a during a vignette that made little sense.
I think I could watch a whole show of Mikey and the Sinister Minister laughing and burning things.
Is Tony Mamaluke (or whatever is name is/will be) dead? And if he doesnít become a regular in ECW now donít you feel bad for him?
The Grimes and Kid Cash TNN match was a really good big man-little man match. And itís good to actually see Grimes wrestle and not brawl. Hopefully, ECW signs this guy when his WWF contract is up soon. Thereís money in him.
I want to go back to the days when every match in ECW had a winner and loser. I knew that there was no chance there would be a clean fall between Rhino and Sandman.
Iím pretty sure Dawn Marie will manage Tommy next. Tommy may job to just about everybody, but he always gets the chicks.
I usually donít like it when something big happens in ECW and I canít see it, but Iím glad I didnít get to see Sandman last night.
And how come Bob Ryder was outraged at puppygate and not at this?
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The solution to all of ECWís problems
Itís become obvious that ECW is currently a shell of its former self. Ratings have declined about 40% from its peak in January to the standard 0.8 rating we see every Monday. Clearly there are problems in ECW.
So how does Paul E solve these problems?
Itís really obvious to me, Paul E needs to sell a majority interest of ECW.
Iím sure youíre saying to yourself ďSell ECW?? What the hell are you talking about?Ē
Let me explain.
First off a new buyer would have financial strength. Itís a safe assumption that if someone purchased ECW they would be in it for the long haul. They would realize that money needs to be pumped into the promotion to help it grow. This could range anywhere from improving the Ďminor leagueí feel of the production of the show to bring in new wrestlers to heavily promoting the show. A new buyer would realize that even though pumping money into ECW would probably cause them to take a loss in the first year or two of ownership it would be necessary in order make ECW stronger down the road (i.e. make more money). Itís the old adage of ďit takes money to make money.Ē A buyer with financial strength would be able to do this. Right now ECW canít afford to lose any money because they have nothing to fall back on. If ECW loses money they fold.
Secondly, the new buyer would be able to assemble a quality staff to deal with all of the administrative aspects of running a company. ECW is definitely not the model or organization and this would clearly help them tremendously. And if this were to happen I would imagine that a PPV venue might be announced more than 1 month in advance. Now thereís a crazy thought!
Thirdly, an outsider that purchases ECW will likely have some business expertise and be able to pull better deals than what currently exists. You hear everyone in ECW whine all the time about how awful TNN is but they were the ones who negotiated the contract. A new buyer would most likely be able to strike a better deal. The same would apply to everything else as well, such as booking buildings, merchandise, etc..
On a side note while it looks like Iím bashing Paul E, businessman, I think that is very impressive that heís made it this far on his own, more or less. Itís just that I think the time has come where, in order for ECW to grow the way it needs to, Paul E needs to step back in certain areas and let more qualified people step in.
So youíre asking yourself now ďBut how does this improve ECW? The big problem right now is lackluster booking and those points only focus on things outside of the ring.Ē
I would argue that the booking in ECW was at its peak in 1995 and since then has declined steadily each and every year. What do I believe is the cause of the decline in the booking? The growth of ECW. As ECW has grown, more time has been devoted to running shows in more markets, putting the syndicated show on more TV stations, running PPVs, merchandise, securing a national cable deal, figuring out how to pay the wrestlers, etc.. When more time is devoted to things outside of the ring, the product in the ring can only get worse because less time is being devoted to it.
Paul Eís major strength is booking a wrestling promotion. Paul Eís major weakness is operating a wrestling promotion. Slowly over time, Paul Eís weakness have overwhelmed his strengths.
Now while I am suggesting that Paul E needs to sell ECW, I am not suggesting that he divorces himself from the company. As a condition of the sale I would propose that he negiotiated a deal where he would be given a contract from the buyer to remain in charge of booking, TV production and overseeing the wrestlers. It would very similar to a cross between what Jim Ross and Vince Russo do (minus the excessive run-ins and illogical booking). Under this scenario Paul Eís focus is on the product (his strength) and not the operations (his weakness) of ECW.
Selling ECW would be the best thing to happen to Paul E. Right now ECW consumes Paul E. Iíd bet that there is not a day that goes by that Paul E does not devote his entire energy to ECW. Take a look at Paul E. I donít know how old he is but I think that he is aging in dog years now. For every year that goes by he ages seven years. He probably hasnít had a vacation in the last 6 years and no one probably needs one more than him. Hell, even Misnik took a vacation in the past month. Iím sure Tom will tell you the benefits of a vacation.
If Paul E sold ECW he could take that much needed vacation. He would also be free and clear of the problems that Iím sure he would rather not deal with, that currently consume his time. He wouldnít have to deal with TV problems. He wouldnít have to worry about booking buildings to run shows. He wouldnít have to worry about promoting shows. He wouldnít have to worry about meeting payroll. He wouldnít have to worry about merchandise. He wouldnít have to worry about getting the correct paperwork for Super Crazy to wrestle in the US. He would be free to focus his entire energy to worry about what comes across on TV. And when he is able to focus on that alone he is at his best.
So now you ask ďIs it worth it to Paul E to sell ECW? What is ECW worth?Ē
The best way to determine that is to compare it to a similar company. The only company that can be used as a good comparison is the WWF, or more accurately the WWFE. (Because WCW is a subsidiary of Time Warner and not a company that stands on its own it is difficult to gauge its true value). The WWF is worth approximately $1.2 billion. While comparing the WWF and ECW isnít necessarily comparing apples to apples, itís the best know comparison out there.
I would estimate, taking a rather conservative approach, that ECW is worth roughly 1% of the WWF. Using 1%, ECW would be worth approximately $12 million. With wrestling being as popular as it is these days this amount is a bargain. With a reported 5 potential buyers I would guess ECW could pull in at least twice that amount. However, as much as I like playing appraiser the exact amount isnít the important. Whether itís $5 million, $25 million or $100 million, the important thing is that selling ECW would set Paul E. up financially for the rest of his life.
Selling ECW is the best thing that could happen to this promotion. It would also be the best thing to happen to Paul E. Selling ECW would set Paul E up financially for the rest of his life. It would also allow him to focus on what he does best, which is booking a promotion. Without having to deal with the stressful problems outside of the ring, Paul E can focus on what happens inside the ring and what comes across on TV. And when this happens the product will improve. And when the product improves everything else will fall into place.
I know I am looking forward to the day when Paul E. ďsells outĒ. Hopefully, Paul E steps back and realizes that same thing. Itís in everyoneís best interests as wrestling fans for him to do so..
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TNN is hardcore
I watched a tape of the past TNN show. Upon seeing the conclusion of the show when the big Arena Football Promo appeared in the large portion of the screen I was laughing uncontrollably. I realized right away what was going on.
Iím sure that ECW and probably most ECW fans were appalled that TNN would do such a thing but I say itís about time. ECW has been beating up TNN publicly for most of the past year. Finally TNN struck back.
While you may think that TNN is the bad guy here look at things from TNNís perspective:
TNN put ECW on national TV. Without TNN ECW is still running the syndicated show to 25% of the country (although Iím sure there are a lot of fans that wish that were still the case). For all we know there might not even be ECW without TNN. You would think that there would be some gratitude from ECW. Itís not like there were a handful of networks knocking down Paul Eís door a year ago. TNN went out on a limb that no one else was willing to go out on for ECW a year ago and we have seen nothing but complaints from ECW since.
ECW has run an angle where TNN is the heel. While everything appears to be a work, we know that all the jokes and snide comments are shoots. Joey mentioned at Cyberslam that while these were shoots on TNN, the TNN people got a kick out of it because they thought it was a joke. Finally they realized that maybe there was some truth behind these jokes and angles and that they should probably be offended by them.
And of course the final straw would be Paul Eís shoot interview and Gertnerís comments that TNN edited a few weeks ago. Did anyone really expect TNN to air these comments?
There can only be so much abuse you can take before you strike back. TNN reached that point last week and I say itís about time. Is TNN blameless in this relationship? Of course not. But when you are constantly trashed publicly by the company that you stuck your neck out for wouldnít you be a bit upset too? I know I would.
Paul E on what ECW offers TNN (summer 1999): ďWe bring to the table something that they need which is a strong lead-in for Roller Jam. We already have the core audience and hopefully we can expand that audience.Ē - Looking back on this, isnít that really funny? Whoíd have thought one of Paul Eís goals last summer would be to increase the Roller Jam audience?
Isnít watching the TNN show on tape so much better than watching it Ďliveí?
There are still no tag teams champions. Does anyone care?
I canít stand watching Scotty Anton wrestle. If Van Dam can pull a good match out of him Iíll be surprised.
And was I at a house show where Anton wrestled in one of two main events? Or was that just a bad dream?
Whenever I hear that there will be 2 or 3 main events on a show the only thing I think of is old over-hyped Nitros.
The clap is so hokey it makes me laugh, especially when Cyrus does it.
Wouldnít a more appropriate suspension for the Sandman be to have to work without pay instead of sitting at home without pay?
A hardcore Quebecer. Whoíd have thunk it? If I remember correctly the last time I saw him he was in the Brawl for All. I donít remember if he was one of the unfortunate ones to get knocked out by Bart Gunn though.
I hope Lenny Lane is brought into ECW next. He has more charisma then most of the wrestlers in ECW do right now. And heís a pretty good wrestler. I think he could get over huge.
Thatís some coincidence that there would be a Strictly ECW column pleading for Paul E to sell ECW two days after I wrote the same thing last week.
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Roughly one year ago TNN decided to air ECW nationally. Securing a national cable deal was arguably ECWís greatest moments up to that point.
One year later TNN is at it again, this time with an assist from the WWF and TNN.
In case you missed it, the WWF will be moving all of their television shows that they currently run on USA to TNN in September (with the exception of Heat which will show on MTV, although thatís a sister station). Because of a reported exclusivity clause that the WWF has with TNN it is almost a certainty that ECW will no longer be on TNN when the WWF rolls into town.
This is huge for ECW. It is the best thing that could possibly happen to them. Not only does ECW get out of the final two years of an extremely bad contract with TNN, they now get to shop for a new deal with a new network. A year ago TNN had all the leverage in their deal with ECW and used that to their advantage. Now there apparently are a few networks looking to add wrestling to their TV lineups. With several suitors, ECW will be able to use that to their advantage where they can pit one deal against the next and get a much greater deal than they did a year ago.
For all of the complaints that we have heard from ECW and its fans about TNN just remember that it was TNN that put ECW on the national map and it is TNN (albeit indirectly) that will allow ECW to make further strides forward.
Now that ECW will be moving on to another channel there are a few changes that I think would be beneficial to the overall product.
First, and most importantly, I believe that Paul E needs to sell ECW. Iíve covered this in-depth before so I wonít go through it again. See the 6/12 column in the archives below for details of this.
Also, I think that it is time for ECW to step up to a two hour program. Currently, with the TNN show and syndicated show, ECW has two hours of programming. However, much of the syndicated show is what is shown on TNN. The average ECW house show or TV taping involves 2 1/2 hours of action. On a two hour show about 30 minutes would be devoted to commercials so only 1 1/2 of the 2 1/2 would need to be shown. With interviews and vignettes the actual wrestling would not be that hard to fill.
Additionally, with a better TV deal and an influx of capital from my idea to sell ECW, ECW will have the resources to go out and sign a number of wrestlers to be able to fill more time on a show. Iím not even necessarily looking for Ďbig nameí, expensive wrestlers. Iím looking for young, hungry (and cheap) indy guys. I think adding 6-8 wrestlers could do wonders, especially a couple luchadores (bring in Pyschosis now dammit). Getting Super Crazy back in the country would be good too.
I would also go to a live to tape format (similar to Smackdown and Thunder). This would save a lot of time currently spent producing the show. It would also give the show more of a live feel to it. Right now watching the TNN show everything that Gertner and Joey does seems forced and unnatural. I think a live to tape show improves that. As part of this I would drop Gertner as the color guy and insert Cyrus. I think that I am in the minority of not enjoying Gertnerís color work but I prefer someone who comes across credibly discussing wrestling and not someone there only for humor. In addition to his wrestling acumen Cyrus is also one of the funniest guys around. If Cyrus did weekly color commentary he would be the best color guy within a few months. And if Cyrus is kept out of the commentating booth I think I would rather see Joey commentate by himself.
While ECW most likely would not have the option of choosing what date they air I think that the ideal day would be Tuesday evening. That would allow ECW to not have to compete with the Monday night shows, Thunder or Smackdown (or air on the weekend when less people are watching). In addition this would allow them to keep the same weekend show schedule that they currently run. The tapings would be on one of the weekend shows and since it is live to tape it would almost be just a matter of submitting the tape.
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