Dueling Chairshots 2001 Archive
By Kurt Lamont

Dueling Chair Shots
by Kurt La Mont
Column date 01/04/2001

Since Craig King did such a great job with the PPV Preview there's no need for me to repeat something similar with my column this week. If you haven't read it yet take a look by clicking on the link:

http://www.ecwnews.com/ck.htm

Now here are my predictions for the show:

Corino retains the title over Sandman and Justin Credible

CW defeats Dreamer when Tommy passes out.

Mikey & Tajiri in the 3 way tag team dance

Doring & Roadkill to retain the title

Lynn & Cyrus over York & Matthews

Since I don't have a regular column for you this week I thought I would give you a flashback to a column I did 6 months ago with a proposal that may have seemed crazy at the time but now looks like a pretty good idea. At the time ECW was still on TNN but ratings were sagging. With that, here is what I wrote.

Dueling Chair Shots
by Kurt La Mont
column date 06/13/2000

The solution to all of ECW's problems

It's become obvious that ECW is currently a shell of its former self. ratings have declined about 40% from its peak in March to the standard 0.8 rating we see every Monday. Clearly there are problems in ECW.

So how does Paul E solve these problems?

It's really obvious to me, Paul E needs to sell a majority interest of ECW.

I'm sure you're saying to yourself "Sell ECW?? What the hell are you talking about?"

Let me explain.

First off a new buyer would have financial strength. It's 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 'minor league' 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). It's the old adage of "it takes money to make money." A buyer with financial strength would be able to do this. Right now ECW can't 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 there's 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 I'm bashing Paul E, businessman, I think that is very impressive that he's made it this far on his own, more or less. It's 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 you're asking yourself now "But how does this improve ECW? The big problem right now is lackluster booking and those points only focus on things outside of the ring."

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 E's major strength is booking a wrestling promotion. Paul E's major weakness is operating a wrestling promotion. Slowly over time, Paul E's 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 negotiated 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 E's 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. I'd 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 don't 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 hasn't 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. I'm 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 I'm sure he would rather not deal with, that currently consume his time. He wouldn't have to deal with TV problems. He wouldn't have to worry about booking buildings to run shows. He wouldn't have to worry about promoting shows. He wouldn't have to worry about meeting payroll. He wouldn't have to worry about merchandise. He wouldn't 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.

Selling ECW is the best thing that could happen to this promotion. It would 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. "sells out". Hopefully, Paul E steps back and realizes that same thing. It's in everyone's best interests as wrestling fans for him to do so.

Send any comments, questions or concerns to me at kurtlamont@yahoo.com. Enjoy the PPV!



Dueling Chair Shots
by Kurt La Mont
column date 01/11/2000

My initial reaction to Guilty as Charged was that it was the worst PPV that ECW has put on.  After letting things sink in and thinking about it a little more I concluded that while it wasnít as bad as I initally thought but overall it still was a bad ECW PPV.

The strong point of the PPV was that all of the wrestlers worked hard, which as always, is what ECW does so much better than WWF and WCW.    Most notably Spike took some sick bumps, including one where he barely hit the table on the floor (I never knew Spike could cut a promo like that either).

Another thing that I liked was that Dusty Rhodes was used to put Rhino over rather than putting over himself.  Not doing that would have been a mistake.  And whatís the deal with Dusty?  This is ECW and guys are selling elbows like its the most devasting move in wrestling.  Whatís up with that?

Now onto the bad points of the PPV.  Usually, I find Cyrus and Joey very entertaining together.  This time they drove me nuts.  Too much emphasis was away from what was going on in the ring.  Enough with the office already.

I had major issues with the booking, or in some cases, the lack there of.  The first two matches had the feel that they were just thrown together before the show in order to get as many of the young guys on the show as possible.  How about some real set up to these matches?  Wouldnít it be nice to see a real angle set up between 2 guys, say Nova and Simon Diamond, rather than just throwing a bunch of young guys out there for no apparent reasons?  While Iím on the subject of young wrestlers I canít tell you how much I hate all of these stupid names for moves.  Itís one thing if you are the originator of a move, thatís fine, but renaming simple moves like an elbow drop is annoying.

How are you not able to tell who the mystery partners will be?  You put the 2 known guys as a team.  Thatís quite a swerve alright.  It just doesnít make sense.  Guido turning on Jerry Lynn?  Thatís shocking considering the bond that built up between the two over 10 minutes.  At least the match was used to put Jerry Lynn over some more (and the new tights are an improvement over his pleather tights).

RVD and Sabu was the one match that I was disapointed in wrestling wise.  Itís not that it was bad but I expected more out of both of them and the match went only 15 minutes.  They built up Sabu as the toughest challenge yet to RVD and yet there were no close pinfalls and Sabu is pinned after one frog splash and no other real significant offense.  This is suppose to be his toughest challenge?

Right before the match we learn that Sabu will leave if he loses this match.  Donít you think that this would have been useful to know before the PPV?  That would have added to the drama of the match.  Of course there was virtually no mention of either RVD or Sabu on TNN the last 3 weeks so there wasnít much to add.  This match left a lot more questions than it gave answers which is always frustrating on a PPV (I did predict RVD winning and parting with Fonzie).

Raven Ďdoing the right thingí is the only angle that you do in the tag title match?  Are you kidding me?  Itís a PPV doing something shocking!!  Do something that will make the fans talk about the match for years to come!!  Iím not against an angle moving along slowly but this is rediculous.

Overall I was very disapointed in how this PPV turned out.  On a scale of 1-4, Iíll give this a 2.

Be sure to check back for the weekend edition of DCS.  There should be additional news on the Acclaim deal coming out in the next few days.



Dueling Chair Shots
by Kurt La Mont
Column date 01/18/2001

For a long time I knew there were a lot of problems within ECW and I knew that these problems were compiling. Yet despite the loss of TV, cancelled shows, not producing any new TV, etc., I still was pretty optimistic. However, Sunday was a very demoralizing day as it was widely speculated that ECW was expecting to fold any day. While this was nothing really new what made me concerned was the report of the reactions of the wrestlers after the show on Saturday. To me that was more of a sign of an impending collapse than anything else that has happened over the past 4 months. I decided on Sunday to do a 'eulogy' column of sorts on Monday. However, when Monday rolled around I decided all this talk was overblown and my thoughts were confirmed when I was directed to Spike Dudley's message board. So while ECW is definitely on hiatus at the moment they are far from collapsing. I truly believe it.

I think it's assumed by most fans that what ECW needs most is a TV deal and if they get that they will be all set. Well, first of all, TNN shows you that a TV deal doesn't guarantee you anything. They can get a TV deal but if they can't operate it does no good. ECW's real problem is a lack of money. That can be corrected really quickly, however, if ECW were to be sold to the right people for the right price. And if the cash hemorrhaging WCW truly sold for $75 million as I read in published reports, i.e. not the sheets, finding a buyer may not be as tough as you think. But like we saw with the sale of WCW it takes time to do so its not going to happen overnight.

However, no one in their right mind would buy ECW without a TV deal in place. Conversely, no TV network will take a chance on a promotion that could go under any second. A network has to be able to know that there is some financial stability in place, which there currently isn't.

So this is what I think is the problem; you can't get a buyer without TV and you can't get TV without a buyer. The key will be bringing the two parties together, but I think that will happen given a little bit of time. And I'd be shocked to see any kind of announcement where we only get one of the two necessary changes. It's definitely has to be a joint venture between these two parties and I think when there's an announcement we'll see both a new owner and a TV deal in place.

While many people assume that the loss of MSG and the uncertain future of every other Hardcore TV home is a bad sign I think just the opposite. By pulling MSG, and any other Hardcore TV channel that may not run anymore, this shows me that ECW has faith that they can secure a TV deal. It cost ECW money on each and every Hardcore TV station they were shown on, MSG being especially expensive. With a limited schedule these stations were not providing the return that ECW was spending to air on these channels. It was essentially lost money.

So if ECW no longer shows programming on these channels they are no longer spending money that they really don't have in the first place which is a good thing. Frankly, I'm surprised that ECW continued the syndicated show when they initially aired on TNN. This time around, when a TV deal is secured, I'd be shocked if ECW continued airing an additional syndicated show. So in conclusion, I fully expect ECW to be back on its feet with a new owner and a new Network TV deal shortly, just give it a little bit of time, it'll happen.

Next week, baring any major news, I will take a look at the holders of ECW's titles over the past year and see if I can find any patterns. If you have any comments or questions feel free to e-mail me at kurtlamont@yahoo.com.



Dueling Chair Shots
by Kurt La Mont
Column date 01/25/2001
 

As you may recall after Guilty as Charged, I wasn't thrilled with Rhino becoming World Heavyweight Champ after a Sandman 10 minute (or less) title reign. When I thought about it a little more I realized that a majority of the time a heel held each of the ECW titles so I decided to take a look at all of the champions over the past year or so.

World Title
Mike Awesome      12/23 - 04/13      (heel)
Tazz                     04/13 - 04/22      (face)
Tommy Dreamer    04/22 - 04/22      (face)
Justin Credible      04/22 - 10/01      (heel)
Jerry Lynn            10/01 - 11/05       (face)
Steve Corino        11/05 - 01/07       (heel/tweener)
Sandman               01/07 - 01/07      (face)
Rhino                   01/07 - present    (heel)

As you can see, while there are 4 faces and 4 heels the heels held the belts for a much longer period. Tazz last less than 2 weeks, Dreamer last 15 minutes, Jerry Lynn lasted a month, and the Sandman lasted 10 minutes. This totals less then 2 months out of the past 13 months. That's a lot of time with the top belt on a heel. The fans come out to see their favorites win, and if you don't give them that enough, you risk alienating them. While I'm not suggesting a face wear the belt all the time, I think it needs to be a lot more then this for the top belt in the company. Ideally, for me it would be between 40-50% of the time.

TV Title
RVD held the title for almost 2 years before he was stripped of the title. At that time a tournament was held with Super Crazy winning at Living Dangerously on March 12.
 

Super Crazy        03/12 - 04/08       (face)
Tajiri                 04/08 - 04/22       (heel)
Rhino                 04/22 - 08/26       (heel)
Kid Kash             08/26 - 09/09       (face)
Rhino                 09/09 - present    (heel)

After Van Dam's long reign as TV champ we again began to see the trend towards heel champions. Super Crazy won the tournament but it was just a few weeks before he lost it to Tajiri, who then lost it a few weeks later to Rhino. Kid Kash briefly interrupted Rhino's reign until he was defeated a few weeks later.

Once again, the heels time of possession was overwhelming, even though there have been 2 different faces winning and 2 different heels winning. Since March of 2000 the faces have held the TV belt for about 6 weeks while the heels (mostly Rhino) have held the belts for over 9 months.

Tag Team
For the tag team belts we'll begin with the Impact Players who took the titles from the odd combination of Dreamer and Raven who are tough to classify as a heel team or a face team. Also, the titles were vacant for 4 months after Justin Credible threw them down at Cyberslam.
 

Impact Players            01/09 - 02/26         (heel)
Tanaka & Dreamer      02/26 - 03/04         (face)
Awesome & Raven      03/04 - 03/12         (heel)
Impact Players            03/12 - 04/22         (heel)
Vacant                       04/22 - 08/25
Whipwreck & Tajiri    08/25 - 08/26         (face)
FBI                            08/26 - 12/03         (heel)
Doring & Roadkill       12/03 - present       (face)

More of the same, once again, as the heels dominate the length of time holding the belts. Tanaka & Dreamer were short term champions, holding the belt for a week. Mikey & Tajiri, despite being the best tag team only held the tag belts for one day. Now Doring & Roadkill have their shots with belts and have held them for nearly 2 months (although they have only wrestled as champs a handful of times). Total time the faces have held the tag belts: 2 months. Total time the heels have held the tag belts: 6 months.

I always knew that heels generally wore the belts in wrestling (in all promotions), I didn't realize that it was this pronounced in ECW. While I am a Monday morning, armchair booker at best this seems to be a curious pattern. To me, it says you are not giving the fans enough of what they want, i.e. seeing their favorite wrestlers win and hold the titles. As I mentioned earlier, I think the heels should hold the belt a majority of the time (50-60%), but not so much that things are predictable and/or take enjoyment from the fans.

At Guilty as Charged the fans wanted Sandman to win the title. He won the title and the fans were thrilled. Taking the belt off of him less than 10 minutes later pissed the fans off. I think this booking runs the risk of turning more fans off then drawing interest in seeing Rhino be defeated in the future.

If you have any questions or comments let me know at kurtlamont@yahoo.com. If you have any column ideas let me know, it's not exactly easy writing a weekly column about ECW when they are running every week; it's especially tough when nothing is going on in ECW.



Dueling Chair Shots
by Kurt La Mont
Column date 01/31/2001
 

This week is yet another relatively quiet week in ECW. The big news this week is that Justin Credible signed with the WWF. Hopefully, Justin will continue to do well in the WWF. I think looking back we'll see that he was just starting to scratch the surface of what he is capable of. And even if he doesn't do well in the WWF he knows he'll get paid, which is most important when you consider ECW's current situation and the fact that he has a young child to support.

The other item of note is that Tajiri signed a letter of intent with the WWF. How this differs from a contract is the big question to me. Perhaps it means that if ECW were to fold he would have a contract waiting for him in the WWF but if ECW straightens its' situation out he'll continue in ECW. Of course that's purely hopeful speculation on my part.

In regard to the future of ECW things are pretty quiet these days. Whether the old cliché "no news is good news" holds true is yet to be seen. Hopefully, we'll find out soon.

So with so little happening in the ECW rings at the moment I thought it would be a good time to look to the past action in the ring. While it seems like Barely Legal was just a short time ago nearly 4 years have past since then. In that time ECW has run 20 more PPVs.

Here is my ranking of the top 15 PPVs with the highlights of each show:

15. Guilty as Charged 99 - Taz wins his first World Title over Shane Douglas

14. November to Remember 98 - Balls & Tanaka defeat the Dudleys for the Tag Team Titles and Taz, Sabu and RVD defeat Douglas, Candido, and Bigelow

13. Heatwave 99 - Balls and Spike defeat the Dudleys for the Tag Titles, Taz defeats Tajiri and RVD & Jerry Lynn team up to defeat the Credible & Storm

12. Living Dangerously 98 - Storm and Al Snow defeat Candido and Douglas, Sabu beats Sandman in a dueling canes match, and BBB defeats Taz when he puts him through the ring.

11. Massacre on 34th St. 00 - Features the great Mikey & Tajiri vs. Kid Kash & Crazy match, Doring & Roadkill win the tag team titles, and Corino defends the title against Lynn and Credible.

10. Living Dangerously 00 - New Jack and Grimes crash from the scaffolding, the Impact Players regain the tag team titles, Rhino gores Sandman's wife through a table and Super Crazy wins the TV title tournament.

9. Hardcore Heaven 00 - Lynn finally defeats RVD, Rhino defeats Sandman, and Justin Credible defeats former partner Lance Storm in Lance's final match in ECW.

8. November to Remember 99 - Mike Awesome defends against Tanaka, RVD beats Taz in Taz's final match as an ECW regular, and the Impact Players and Rhino defeat Raven, Dreamer, and Sandman.

7. Hardcore Heaven 99 - This featured the Lynn - RVD rematch from LD 99, Storm over Dreamer in a street fight, and Taz defeating Candido and Bubba Ray Dudley in the same night.

6. Living Dangerously 99 - Highlighted by the first Lynn - RVD PPV match and the first PPV title defense by Taz against Sabu.

5. Anarchy Rulz 00 - Jerry Lynn defeats Justin Credible in his homestate, Rhino defends the TV title over RVD and the FBI defeat Mikey & Tajiri.

4. Barely Legal 97 - This ranks high based primarily on the emotional attachment that comes with it being the first ever ECW PPV. It featured the highly anticipated match between Taz and Sabu and Terry Funk capturing the World Title.

3. Anarchy Rulz 99 - ECW's largest crowd ever saw one of the best PPVs in Chicago. This PPV featured the passing of the torch as Taz dropped the title to Mike Awesome in a 3 way dance with Tanaka. Also, Justin Credible beat Sabu, Tajiri beat Crazy and Guido in a 3 way dance and Lance Storm beat Jerry Lynn in one of the best opening matches in ECW.

2. November to Remember 00 - A strong PPV from top to bottom. Highlights were the first ever Double Jeopardy match with Corino winning his first World Title, the return of Super Crazy, a flaming table match and Nova defeating Chetti in a loser leaves town match.

1. Heatwave 98 - While there is plenty of room for debate about the placement of a few of these rankings, there's no doubt that this is the #1 PPV. While there were only 6 matches this PPV was about quality, not quantity. Each match was at worst really good, which says a lot. Justin Credible and Jerry Lynn finished their 'summer series', Candido beat former tag partner Lance Storm, Tanaka beat Awesome in a brutal match (the Awesome table spot is SICK), Sabu & RVD beat Hayabusa and Shinzaki, Taz returned the favor to BBB by putting him through the ramp, and Sandman, Dreamer, and Spike beat the Dudley's in a street fight to cap the evening. Just a great PPV from top to bottom.

More good stuff next week. If you have any comments or questions feel free to contact me at kurtlamont@yahoo.com.

Also, if anyone is interested in a custom made ECW CD e-mail me at the address above and I can give you details of how you can have one made for yourself.



Dueling Chair Shots
by Kurt La Mont
Column date 02/09/2001  
 

Without much notice a troubled organization temporarily shutdown Thursday, and possibly permanently, without much fanfare. The root of their problem is financial difficulties.

Sound familiar? However, it's not ECW that I'm talking, about although the similarities to ECW are striking and worth examining. I'm talking about the Continental Basketball Association (CBA).

Here is an excerpt about the current CBA problems from the Associated Press and www.ESPN.com.

The Continental Basketball Association, the longest-running professional basketball league in the U.S., has had trouble paying its players, and announced Thursday it has temporarily suspended play 21 games into its 56-game season. Throughout its 55-year history -- and especially within the past decade -- the league seemingly had more turnover in its offices than turnovers on the court. Eight of the league's 10 teams failed to meet their player payrolls Friday, and it was questionable whether they had money to travel for road games.

The CBA, owned by Isiah Thomas, is looking to sell the teams to local groups. "My love of the game drove my decision to purchase the CBA," Thomas said Thursday. "I wanted to give others the chance to pursue their dreams of playing in the NBA.

Former Quad Cities coach Dan Panaggio, a nine-year veteran of the CBA whose 313 victories ranks second all-time to his father, Mauro, said he is crushed by the potential loss of the league.

"There's a character to the CBA that you cannot duplicate," Panaggio said. "From when it grew from the Eastern (Pennsylvania Basketball) League to the CBA, when it moved from a weekend league to full-time league, from vans to buses to planes. And it was second to none in quality of coaching as in the golden years with Flip Saunders, Phil Jackson, the late Bill Musselman, George Karl, Henry Bibby, (Indiana assistant coach) John Treloar, my father and myself."

While the league produced coaches who moved on to successful careers in college and the NBA, Panaggio said the CBA's shortcomings were obvious. He remembers how the league was "losing money every year" and that it could never maintain a steady fan base. "The league doesn't draw anybody," he said. He recalled some games played in front of crowds as small as 20 people in Pensacola, Fla., and Birmingham, Ala.

Off the top of my head a couple of CBA players have made the NBA All Star game in their careers, Anthony Mason and John Starks. Other notable CBA alumni include Chris Childs, David Wesley, Bo Outlaw, Erick Strickland, Tyrone Nesby, Anthony Carter, and Kevin Ollie.

Coaches were more successful making the jump from the CBA. The most notable coaches to make it to the NBA ranks are Phil Jackson, George Karl and Flip Saunders.

You could easily describe ECW the way the CBA was described. Both are organizations that have had trouble meeting payroll, and one that has temporarily suspended operations. The future of each organization is in question. Most people have written both off already.

However, the parallels do not end there. Both ECW and the CBA are organizations that were built from the ground up. Both have developed great talents that other similar organizations have used (although ECW's track record is much better). Both have had also had a revolving door feel to its talent. How many have passed through ECW in its 8 years or so? Turnover in the CBA has also been really high, although not as many made it to the NBA as have made it to WCW and WWF. Each also had its own unique character, distinct from other similar "major" organizations that appealed to a distinct group of fans, even if wasn't as mainstream as another similar product.

Playing the part of Isiah Thomas is Paul Heyman. Thomas bought the CBA to give players a chance to live out their dreams of playing pro basketball in the NBA. Paul Heyman has done the same thing with ECW. He has given his wrestlers the same opportunities as Isiah Thomas to show their skills and develop their talent for an opportunity to make it big in the WWF or WCW. As much as ECW fans consider ECW on par with WCW and WWF, it is actually much closer to being a "farm system" for those organizations. But much like a lot of people in Sioux Falls or Quad City like their team hometown team better than the NBA, a lot of us ECW fans prefer ECW to either the WWF or WCW, even if the majority of people treat it as a minor league product. While the names may come and go what we are really supporting is the organization, not the individuals.

I've never been to a CBA game. However, knowing what has happened in ECW over the years I feel that I've missed something by not going to a CBA game. If the CBA gets back on its feet I know I'll make a point of attending a game.

So while the future is uncertain in both ECW and the CBA, and many people have written them both off, I am rooting for these underdogs to make it back on their feet.

More good stuff next week. Send any comments or questions to me at kurtlamont@yahoo.com.



Dueling Chair Shots
by Kurt La Mont
Column date 02/20/2001
 

This week's column will focus on the poll question: "Which Former ECW Star Will Have The Most Success In The WWF?" ranking each from who I think will be the least successful to most successful.

Jerry Lynn: Wrestling wise Lynn can hold his own with anyone in the WWF. However, given his age (early 30s), lack of natural charisma, and the WWF's lack of emphasis on great wrestling skills I don't see him climbing the WWF ladder too far. When was the last time you saw a WWF TV match, that wasn't the main event, go more than 7 minutes? This hurts Lynn's chances of making a big mark in Titan-land.

Yoshihiro Tajiri: I've been reading about the WWF's interest in re-establishing the light heavyweight division lately. I also read this on several separate occasions over the past few years starting when the WWF brought Taka in several years ago and we've seen how that's worked out. If the WWF is truly interested in establishing the light heavyweight division, similar to WCW in their heyday in 1997-1998, Tajiri is a great addition. Given that they don't give wrestlers, outside of the main event wrestlers, any time to actually build a good match I don't think that the light heavyweight division will take off at all. Even so, Tajiri has such great body language that they should be able to do something good with him and hopefully not resort to making him a comedy act ala Taka. It won't happen, but how great would a 20 minute match between he and Benoit be?

Justin Credible: Justin is already been thrown into the mix joining forces with X-Pac. He will probably be the most able to adapt to the WWF style of the 4 recent signings as he's the one that relies more on his character than his physical and/or wrestling abilities. His career path in the WWF will likely look similar to X-Pac, not at the bottom but not at the top.

Rhino: He most likely will start off slowly in the WWF. However, given his age, size, and look I can see him working his way to becoming a WWF Champion one day several years down the road (especially if he's on the HHH training regimen). While some will argue that he's too small to make it I would disagree. To start with, while not tall, he's actually a pretty thick, and looks like one mean dude. Steve Austin is a very average sized wrestler, and Jericho and Benoit are on the small side and it doesn't seem to be holding them back too much. In the WWF it helps to be big but it isn't necessary to be huge to make it to the top (and being friends with Shane McMahon doesn't hurt either).

Weekly Reason For Optimism:

Below is an excerpt from Cyrus' latest "No Holds Barred" column that can be found in its entirety at www.doncallis.com

"In speaking with my boss this week I pointed out that he must be under a huge amount of pressure with the company's situation, his talent being signed and with rumors rampant that the WWF wanted him to come on board and be a part of their creative team. Paul stated simply, "I don't mind pressure".

It was a telling statement from a man who has given his life to the company he created and loves, and a statement that made me think, once again that it is not over.

Clearly at this point, nothing is for sure and this (Rainbow Sports Rumors) is only a story. Having said that, if Heyman is able to sell the company to a group like this and get the company rolling again with a plan in place to offset the expense of doing weekly television and meeting payroll then there will be those "experts" who will call it a miracle.

While I will be greatly relieved and jubilant that ECW would be back in business, knowing Paul Heyman the way I do, I would suggest it is less a miracle and more a case of Paul doing what I knew he would do all along if at all possible."

Not only is the smartest man in wrestling optimistic about the future of ECW, but he's almost arrogant in his confidence. (By smartest man in wrestling I don't mean the smartest wrestling man, but rather the smartest man involved within wrestling). I know my hope in ECW continuing was lifted after reading that this past week.

PPV Update: Nothing is official but it seems that Living Dangerously will be cancelled. Without a location or any promotion for the show it doesn't make sense to have one, even if ECW were sold tomorrow to the richest man in the world. If buy rates were poor when they were still on the syndicated show I'd imagine they would be worse two months later without any TV. When ECW is back on its feet it will need to almost start from scratch to create interest again before venturing into PPV land.

CBA Update: As you may recall my last column was on the comparisons between the CBA and ECW. The comparisons continue as many teams (or in ECW's case, wrestlers) have joined another league, the IBL (WWF or WCW). While the CBA is on life support, the use of the word defunct in the following article is premature. As with ECW, operations are currently suspended. Here is an update:

"Feb 14 - BALTIMORE - Less than a week ago, the International Basketball League was a small six-team operation. In only six days, it has nearly doubled its size with the absorption of five teams from the defunct Continental Basketball Association. The IBL on Wednesday added the Grand Rapids Hoops and the Connecticut Pride to the league, raising the total of CBA teams to join the IBL since Friday to five. The Sioux Falls Skyforce, Gary Steelheads and Rockford Lightning are other former CBA teams who have become members of the IBL, swelling the league's membership to 11 teams."

In a related story, former CBA players not picked up by the IBL are looking to be booked in independent pickup games.

More good stuff next week. You can contact me with comments and questions at kurtlamont@yahoo.com.



Dueling Chair Shots
by Kurt La Mont
Column date 03/07/2001
 

Several events over the past few days have caused a couple of our fine columnists at www.ECWNews.com, Frank and Kurt, to come to come to a similar conclusion. Instead of saying the same thing in separate columns, we decided to have them do a give and take column.

Frank's comments are labeled SF (Shootin' with the Franchise)
Kurt's comments are labeled DCS (Dueling Chair Shots)

SF: After reading this, I'm almost positive that the WWF has or is about to purchase ECW.

"Given the events of this past day, and the events I expect to take place later this week, it's pretty fair to say that I am not the ECW webmaster any more. I have gotten some emails asking if I was going to the WWF as part of an ECW invasion angle, and that pretty much cracked me up. Let's put it this way, if I am going, it's news to me!"

                           - Dave Scherer, www.1Wrestling.com, 03/05/01

1.) Dave Scherer, Paul's number one shill, is no longer running the company's site. He mentioned the above quote in today's DL, and took away the disclaimer from the last page that he is editor of it. He also mentioned Buck left a month ago. Now, if the WWF does take over, they certainly don't want/need Dave. They've got their own crew of "New Media" talent plus he's a sheet writer. Another thing is that in the last two weeks, Dave has been pretty negative on Paul and ECW. He may have been speaking the truth, but haven't we always harped on the fact that Dave always spun the bad into pretty good? He'd judge a dismal PPV and say it was "very good and everyone busted their asses." He's done nothing but talk about the demise of the company lately. Could this because he knew he was on his way out.....or because Paul had shut him out? Either way, his ties have been cut and SOMEONE ELSE has been posting up on the site.

DCS: I've noticed the exact same thing. The tone I get from reading Scherer is that it's like he's hoping ECW dies now, a CLEAR contrast from the past. My sense is that he'd rather see Paul E go to the WWF and improve what they're doing than having ECW survive. I'm guessing part of the reason from the tone we have seen is that he's been cut out of the loop and is bitter about it. Now that he's not part of the ECW site who decides what pervert pics are put up?

2.) SF: ECW is WAR is the new front page on the site. Two updates went up today (Monday) about Paul being on Raw, one of which was a mark piece to insist it was an invasion angle. First off, why would www.ECWWrestling.com advertise Paul being there, nevermind raise Raw's ratings (how's that for an alliteration)? ECW hasn't mentioned the slightest peep of losing Rhino, Tajiri, Credible, Lynn, York, Matthews, Money, or Swinger....why talk about Paul going on RAW? Another reason that I think the WWF is now handling the site.

DCS: I'm not convinced that the WWF has taken over the ECW site. They still have the same simplistic setup. If the WWF were in control it would be a lot more elaborate. But the WWF definitely would encourage promoting Paul E on the ECW site even if they aren't in control. Also, the picture of Paul E was the same on www.1Wrestling.com and www.ECWWrestling.com so I'm not convinced that they are in control of the site.

I don't think Paul E doing color will have any impact on WWF's ratings, although over a longer term his booking could. ECW's ratings were minimal to begin with and I imagine that most ECW fans watch the WWF as well and if they don't I can't see Paul E's commentary bringing them in.

3.) SF: Speaking of Paul being on RAW, did anyone notice the LACK of any focus he directed towards ECW? Aside from the hat, mentioning that someone was a former champ, and the TNN comment....he was rather silent on the matter. No fuel towards anything. I'm not sure exactly how to judge this, but I feel that if ECW was going to be running their PPV on Sunday (and I still say they can announce the PPV on Monday and have it sold out for Sunday night if it's at the Arena ONLY), then he would have done it on Raw. Where does this leave us? If the website is still producing their Pervert Pics (which I can't wait for that guy to be gone already), and updating Paul's status on WWF TV, then why not update the upcoming events section with removing the PPV? Something is very fishy here and I still have a funny feeling that SOMETHING will air on Sunday night.....

DCS: 90% of the WWF's audience doesn't know squat about ECW. You don't want to shove it down their throats unless you were promoting a PPV this Sunday and in my opinion there's no chance that is happening now. I actually was surprised how much ECW was mentioned. The hat alone was a lot in my opinion. Would the WWF allow so many mentions of ECW just to appease Paul if they were shutting down a few days later? I find that hard to believe.

4.) SF: Club ECW refunds. How could ECW possibly issue checks for well over $10,000 (just counting the first row and one section of second row seats) to repay fans when they are however much in debt? Unless this is Paul's final joke, that the fans get what the wrestlers have gotten for years....bad checks....someone had to fund this. With the WWF buying ECW, they are funding the return of the money to the fans, so they can't complain when it's the WWF running shows out of the Arena charging a nice fee over that $25 per show.

DCS: I mentioned the same thing to Tom. ECW has no cash so this money had to come from somewhere else. The only thing that makes sense is the WWF. How many Club ECW members are there? At $75 for 100 people that's $7,500. Even if it's 500 people ($37,500) its chump change to the WWF (they could write it off in their XFL losses). However, it could just be a condition that Paul E made in negotiations to sign with the WWF to repay the loyalty of the Arena fans over the years and not any part of a WWF purchase of ECW.

Based on these 4 items and a gut feeling I agree with you Frank. Here is what I think is going on. I think the WWF has agreed to purchase ECW and will shut down ECW temporarily. I think the WWF is building Paul E up in the color seat and in a few months will spin off and relaunch ECW assuming that his popularity and on air hype of ECW will create enough interest. The big mystery in this scenario in my mind is what will the WWF get out of this from Paul E? Perhaps the WWF gets Paul E to be bookerman and color commentator and then runs ECW separately without Paul E. That raises a new question from me; if Paul E is not a part of ECW is it really ECW? Perhaps that's another topic for another day.

One thing I am certain of is that I won't believe that ECW has folded until I hear the words from Paul E's mouth.

More good stuff next week. Send any comments or questions to Kurt at KurtLaMont@yahoo.com.

If you want to write to Frank direct your e-mail to ECWNewsFranchise@aol.com