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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
TEAM COVERAGE: PPV Preview for
ECW's One Night Stand
June 10, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

I cannot tell a lie: I'm sitting here on Thursday night, looking at my weekend ahead, and thinking "This is gonna be more fun than a human should be allowed to have." 
 
And while there's a lot more than just wrestling involved for me, those other things are both None of Your Business, and probably Of No Interest to You Anyway. 

OK, maybe just one thing: I just got a full copy of the new Foo Fighters double-CD, and even on one pass through, I look forward to it being  

in such heavy rotation that it becomes the "soundtrack of the weekend." And I loves me having auditory memory hooks like that. Especially when they are as good as these ones. Get this record on Tuesday, people: it doesn't suck. Not even a little.

But I'm not getting commissions for "In Your Honor," I'm your Favorite Wrestling Columnist. So let's cut to the chase and fast forward to Sunday. Because it's been a while since I've been this flat-out happy, anxious, and excited about wrestling. Part of that feeling has been amplified by the fact that WWE itself had a good week this week. RAW was sweet, and SD! was one embarrassingly-stupid Kurt Angle promo away from matching it. Weeks like this are rare here in 2005, so yeah, I enjoy that.

But what has REALLY got me jacked up is the fact that on Sunday, I can pretend like it ISN'T 2005. That we've gone back in time... contrary to the cliché, NOT to a simpler time, but to a more complex time. When there were three viable wrestling companies, not one. When wrestling was huge, and you didn't really have to be ashamed to admit you watched it. When, in short, it was lots more fun to be a wrestling fan.

Extreme Championship Wrestling is coming back on Sunday. And even if it's only for a One Night Stand, it's exciting as hell to know that at the end of the affair (unlike every WWE PPV in the past 15 months), I'll be left spent, satisfied, and metaphorically in need of a post-coital cigarette. 

We, as fans, kinda got strong-armed into marrying the WWF back in 2001: but it was OK, because we honestly believed she'd be everything we'd ever need in a wrestling company. For a while, she was, but eventually, her true colors shone through. Today's WWE simply isn't the girl we thought we loved 4 years ago: today's WWE is lazy and inattentive to our needs despite our continued doting affection.

And as a result, today's WWE has driven us into the arms of a tasty harlot who will, even if only for three fleeting-and-reasonably-priced hours, do for us all the things that WWE doesn't. Not because she doesn't know how to do them, but because she just doesn't want to. The frigid bitch.

God bless the willing mistress that is ECW. I've been looking forward to this one-night liaison for months. And if you read on, maybe some of that enthusiasm will rub off on you... for in addition to my own rampant excitement, I have also assembled some of the trOOps: NOT to predict winners and losers (why bother, when there is little-to-no storyline significance to who wins or loses?), but just to talk about what ECW means to them.

Here's our uniquely-structured (or UNstructured) look at Sunday's ECW One Night Stand PPV...
 

THE SIMPLE EXCITEMENT
 

Erin Anderson says...

I am a relatively new wrestling fan; I've been watching for a little over four years now. I have no attachment to ECW whatsoever. Not only did I not watch it in its heyday, but I'd never even heard of it when it was on. I've never seen an ECW tape.

So it's a credit to Paul Heyman and WWE that I'm very excited for the PPV this weekend (and also to Mick Foley, whose books have captured the attitude and mindset of of the ECW audience.) I'd be excited for it even if they hadn't announced matches for it, but knowing that Mysterio, Psychosis, Eddie, and Benoit will all be wrestling certainly makes the show more appealing to me. I'm a sucker for nostalgia, and this show should be ripe with it. 

What Paul Heyman has managed to do with a few promos is create a romantic sense of attachment to ECW and an air of badass rebellion that I haven't felt since Stone Cold Steve Austin. It's infectious, and it makes me want to be a part of it. I loved seeing the Dudleys, Tommy Dreamer, and Rhyno on Monday night. I know that at least three of the matches will be outstanding (Jericho/Storm, Eddie/Benoit, Rey/Psychosis.) I know that the fans will be having tons of fun, and I know that we'll get the blowoff to what I think has been a very well-executed feud (Bischoff v. ECW.) 

So no, I am not a die-hard ECW fan. I'm not even a lukewarm ECW fan. But I'm looking forward to One Night Stand more than I was WrestleMania this year. That should tell you something. 

 
I'm not making this up, folks. Among current or lapsed wrestling fans, there really is a more palpable sense of excitement for ECW's One Night Stand than there has been for any wrestling event in a long time. No, ECW's return will do nothing for the mainstream casual audience who might hear "WrestleMania" and "Hulk Hogan" and decide to buy one PPV per year...

But among those of us who CARE about wrestling, Sunday night represents a chance to witness what it was that helped rekindle the wrestling business in the 90s. Even among those who CARED (past tense) about wrestling, because speaking from my own experience: we're gonna have more people watching One Night Stand than we had for WrestleMania this year. And they're doing it willingly and enthusiastically. Not obligatorily.

And the funny thing is: this sense of excitement, this sense that Sunday is going to satisfy fans in a way WWE hasn't in a long time, it's not even really tied to whether or not you were a hardcore ECW fan.

I was struck (and you will be, too, as I continue to pepper in contributions from the OO Staff) by how many of my own columnists were anything but ECW fans. Many only latched onto the product commensurate with ECW's debut on TNN. And suffice to say the Justin Credible/Steve Corino Era of ECW was not even close to that company's best. 

Yet, with only limited exposure to ECW's downward spiral, they all still recognized something worthwhile. Something worth bringing back. Something that will, if nothing else, remind us for one night why we're wrestling fans. Erin's comments above take that one step further: forget about catching onto ECW once it hit TNN, she's never seen any of it. But just reading/hearing about the past, listening to Paul Heyman talk about what his product does differently from WWE, and taking a gander at the talent roster assembled is enough to have her convinced that ECW isn't just worth checking out: it's worth getting fired up for.

I'd say that's remarkable, but actually, it isn't: there's more people out there like Erin than like me. Out of 12,000 people chanting "ECW" this past Monday, how many do you think ever attended a single ECW event? How many bought an ECW PPV? How many have seen the ECW DVD? How many were wrestling fans in 1999? My guess on all counts: Not Many.

And yet, just because the product they're getting served up weekly is sometimes not-so-hot, people who only read about ECW, or people who only know about ECW from the DVD, or kids who weren't even BORN YET when Paul Heyman took over ECW in 1993.... they're all enthusiastically chanting "E-C-Dub." And they're all a lot more excited to check out One Night Stand than they were Judgment Day.

Even guys who liked RollerJam more than ECW back in the day are fired up for One Night Stand!
 

Adam Gutschmidt says....

I'm really at a loss for words in how to discuss this PPV. Despite being a pro wrestling fan for 15 years now, I've always just been a WWF fanboy and never really took an interest in the outside organizations. Going into this Sunday's PPV, it will be my first real look at what ECW is about. To show you what I mean, let me go back in time and show you what I mean. After all, looking to the past is what I seemingly do best.

The first real opportunity I could have been introduced to the ECW product was in the fall of 1996. This was when the WWF tried to do that little mini-invasion angle with ECW to see where it would go. It even went as far as the ECW guys showing up at a WWF PPV (In Your House: Mind Games) and disrupting a Savio Vega/Bradshaw match. [Speaking of which, how cool would it have been if Bradshaw brought that up in his anti-ECW rant. Here he is, in his first ever WWF PPV match and it gets interrupted by these local yokels from a bingo hall. Talk about some sweet continuity. Too bad we are once again reminded that the WWE does not have a memory that goes past 3 days ago.] However, I never got to experience this invasion as I didn't have cable then. I had to rely on the Sunday morning syndicated shows and the Internet to figure out what was going on with the WWF storylines. Sadly, the brevity of this angle and my lack of knowledge on ECW prevented me from being properly introduced to their organization.

I then got my first real glance at the ECW product somewhere between 1997-1998, but it was a hardly an accurate view. At this point, we still didn't have cable as a family but we somehow were able to pick up this remote channel that broadcasted in another city. On this channel there was a syndicated ECW show. The picture was horrible and it was on at sporadic times. However, I finally got to see some ECW action. As I said though, it wasn't a very accurate view. Being a syndicated show, they couldn't show a whole lot of what ECW was all about. In fact, it seemed that everytime I managed to catch it, the only thing I saw was the end of the show promo video with the Pulp Fiction music. Needless to say, I was confused as to what was going on and I couldn't understand why an organization that looked so indy had such a huge following.

Finally, I got a good look at ECW in 1999. By this point I had moved down to the University of Dayton and had cable. So, since I wasn't big into the party scene (not at that point at least) I frequently caught their Friday night show on TNN. Despite getting my best look at the organization since it had began, it was hard to get hooked. At this point, their product had gotten pretty neutered and just didn't hold my attention. Frankly, my buddy and I were more into Rollerjam than we were with ECW. Now, if Vince wanted to put on a special PPV guaranteed to draw a huge buyrate, Rollerjam is the way to go. What I wouldn't give to see evil Commissioner Kenneth Loge III try to take down Shawn Atkinson and the California Quakes one more time. But I digress…

So where does that leave me for this Sunday? Very excited. I'm going to get to see ECW, hopefully, in its finest glory. Let us hope we do not get a WWE-ized version. Let up hope we do not get "owner" Stephanie McMahon making an appearance and taking over. I'm going to try and have faith that they let go of the reigns and give the fans a truly memorable event. Even if it is ECW lite, I think it should do enough to provide me with some quality entertainment. Frankly, anytime you give me Benoit and Guerrero in the same ring, I'm there. On top of that, I'll have fun trying to see who should still have a job and who needed to remain in the independent feds/unemployment line. My only hope was that I was going to watch this with someone who is knowledgeable on their history. Too bad, we can't always get what we want. Anyways, enjoy watching the "bodies hit the floor" and BRING BACK ROLLERJAM!! 

 
THE LEGACY

Of course, I may take a certain perverse joy from the observation that even folks who didn't know ECW when ECW was at its peak are still able to recognize that Sunday's reunion will deliver the goods in a way a standard WWE PPV wouldn't....

But the fact is, I *was* familiar with ECW when ECW was at its peak. I know what this company was about when it was at its best. I saw how just about every aspect of wrestling's 1990s mainstream revival started in ECW. And I watched, sadly, as the company became a shell of itself and went out of business.

I was there practically from the start. When I got to college and found the Internet, one of the first things I started doing was buying/trading wrestling tapes. Sure, I started out on Smokey Mountain Wrestling (which was an hardcore darling, and also had a co-promotional agreement with the WWF) and Japan... but luckily, one thing I'm not is a pretentious Wrestling Elitist. I did my time trying to understand why anybody could sit through entire six-hour tapes of Japanese wrestling, and gave it up after a few months. I did my time as a subscriber to the "Wrestling Observer Newsletter" before realizing that Meltzer can't write for shit, and worse, tended to write-for-shit about shit I didn't care about.

And then: ECW happened. Suddenly: tapes worth trading for. Something I could latch onto and be "elitist" about, but which was actually good and entertaining. Tapes that would come once a month, and leave you wanting more: not because of the production values (which blew), but because the product itself combined a lot of the in-ring action that supposedly made Japanese Wrestling so delicious to certain wankers with actual personalities and storylines that were engrossing. It wasn't very many months after Heyman took over ECW that my monthly tapes were being imported and devoured.

What was the defining characteristic of ECW for me? Not the blood, not the swearing.... just the overall sense that this was Wrestling For Grown-Ups. That I could watch this show without fearing that I'd be asked to believe in voodoo, or to write a get-well card to the Hulkster so I could get my Hulk Hogan Friendship Bracelet... that I could understand that wrestling is predetermined, but for once, not be slapped in the face by the fact that it's "fake." ECW still had characters and storylines, but by and large, they were ones you could (or wanted to) believe in.

For me, that was huge. I went to college with my wrestling fandom waning: the WWF was bottoming-out and in a transitionary (read "post-Hogan") phase that certainly seemed to cater to kids. It wasn't much fun to watch. WCW was supposedly the better of the two products, even if only because they got Ric Flair back, but also had heaping piles of Suck going on. The few high school friends I had that liked wrestling weren't around to prop up my fandom anymore. I could very easily have given up entirely.

But that first year: I find the internet (grown-ups talking about wrestling in a grown-up fashion) and ECW (wrestling designed to be watched by grown-ups)... and from there was my wrestling fandom reborn.

I don't arbitrarily link the internet and ECW, either. Without the internet, without that link to adult wrestling fans who felt disenfranchised, ECW would NEVER have gotten out of Philadelphia. But with that link: ECW created an extraordinarily unique fanbase... extremely loyal, willing to go to any lengths to see the product, and because they weren't being catered to by any other wrestling company, they all felt like they "belonged" in ECW. ECW was, in many ways, a participatory experience for fans... and after almost ditching out on wrestling because of having "Saba Simba" forced down our throats, it was incredibly gratifying to know that we could go to a show and respond to what we liked and didn't like, and that the next show would be altered based on that reaction. ECW didn't just give wrestling fans a product to watch, they often times made you feel like you were PART of that product.

And if you were just reading about ECW, or just seeing tapes of it, you were only getting the half of it...
 

Alfonso "Fonzo" Castillo says...

I attended my first ECW show in the summer of 1995, at the Orange County  state fair about an hour’s drive from my home in Queens. At the time, ECW  was just beginning to really make a name for itself as a revolutionary  product, and my only exposure to it was a tape my friend made me, containing  about three of their old MSG shows. My jaw dropped at how different ECW was  than what WWF and WCW was offering at the time. It was such a precise,  targeted answer for what the jaded wrestling fan was looking for. So I  packed an old iron that was lying around the basement, and headed to Orange County with two high schools friends.

As unbelievable as the ECW product was on TV, it was even better in person.  There were no children wearing Shawn Michaels heart-shaped glasses, or  waving giant foam figures. There were just a lot of people like me, loyal  wrestling fans, tired of the Saturday morning cartoon product we’d been  force fed for so long, and were looking for a promotion that actually seemed  cool, and made us feel cool for being fans of it. At the right time, I  handed my iron to Tommy Dreamer, and he whacked someone in the face with it.  I was in heaven.

After the show, I was able to just walk up to Dreamer, who was hanging out  in the stands, and tell him I enjoyed the show. Imagine that – being able to  just walk up to the main eventer of a wrestling show, minutes after his  match, and chat. I remember thinking, “This guy probably lives in a basement  somewhere. That rocks.”

It was that accessible, everyman, mystique that made me fall in love with  ECW. Over the next several years, I would attend several shows at the Elks  Lodge in Queens, often standing on window sills in the sweltering  100-degree, non air conditioned conditions to watch the amazing athleticism.  When I’d go to the bathroom, I’d often run into one of the wrestlers in the  hall. I even got to interview the Dudleys, Heyman, Dreamer and a few others  for a story I wrote for Newsday.

But as with too many great, underground subcultures, the bigger it became,  the more it became a parody of itself. Soon, I was longing for the WWF fans,  because at least they were honest. ECW shows became a haven for wannabes who  thought they were somehow rebelling against the establishment by following a  product that, over time, became very establishment itself. More than that,  it just became watered down. By 1999-2000, fans were still packing the Elks  Lodge, but it became less about a quality product, and more about just  making a statement. And after WCW started pushing cruiserweights, and the  WWF Attitude era was born, powered by anti-establishment icons like DX and  Steve Austin, ECW wasn’t so special anymore. Once the Big Two signed away  most of the promotion’s A-level talent, ECW was running on fumes. No way  you’re going to sell me Steve Corino and Jack Victory as headliners. Not  after I had seen Raven, Terry Funk, Cactus Jack, Shane Douglas, the  Eliminators, Sabu and Tazz.

And although ECW was put out of its misery in 2001, the worst aspects of it  lived on. Countless garbage wrestling independent groups sprung up, with  out-of-shape, untalented wrestlers massacring their bodies for a few dozen  idiot fans. Pockets of Elks Lodge refugees would pop up at every MSG house  show, chanting “E-C-Dub” at the most cookie-cutter “hardcore” spots. It was  just annoying, and so far removed from the true spirit that ECW was founded. But, absence makes the heart grow fonder. And as the years have passed, I  too have grown to miss ECW – not the shell of the brand that collapsed in  the early 2000’s, but the kick-ass product that existed until around 1998.  My nostalgia grew after watching WWE’s ECW DVD set, which, not surprisingly,  concentrated on the very glory years I’m referring to.

I’m really looking forward to the One Night Stand PPV and think it’s a  terrific idea. It’s true you can’t go home again, but I think most of the  pieces are in place to try to capture, for one night, some of the magic of  the original ECW. I honestly believe that the ECW legacy means so much to so many people in  the company, that you’re going to see a kind of energy and inspiration on a  lot people’s parts that they haven’t showed in WWE in years.

 
The live ECW experience was like nothing I'd ever had before, too. Despite living in the backwoods of the midwest, I actually beat Fonzo to live ECW shows by several months. But what we took away from our initial live events in 1995 was the same thing: that ECW wasn't just made for us, it INCLUDED us.

The accessibility, the grassroots feel, the sense that you were on to something that was only gonna get bigger and you were onto it before anybody else.... you didn't just love the hell out of the shows, you loved the hell out of being a part of an underground, you loved the hell out of advocating ECW to new people, and you loved the hell out of YOURSELF for being one of the early adopters. ECW, instead of making you ashamed to be a wrestling fan, made you proud to be a fan of good wrestling.

Although I would attend a bunch of ECW events in Dayton and Indianapolis (including 2 PPVs here in Dayton) once they made their westward expansion, it's my first ECW experiences in 1995 that pretty much made me an ECW fan for life. Twice during the first 3 months of 1995, I braved the 8 hour drive to Philly for weekend road trips. And twice I got home feeling like I'd never spent my time or money any better.

My second trip, I already told you my favorite story about quite recently (about returning to the hotel bar and hanging out with wrestlers, specifically, a great anecdote about Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch)... that trip was kind of a last-second decision, and wasn't meant to be anything special, even though I walked away with great stories and great memories.

But my first trip? That was the first ever ECW/Internet "Convention." It eventually morphed into an annual event called "CyberSlam," but that first one had no special name. It was just 100 or so people coming in from all over the country to witness, firsthand, this thing called "ECW" that we'd been reading about and watching on tape for the past year. It was, needless to say, kind of a motley crew, but there were some cool folks in there, and it was as much fun to feel like you "belonged" with them as it was to feel like you "belonged" with ECW. One minute, I'd be in the ECW Arena parking lot, drinking beers and choking back laughter (and being ordered to NOT reveal the joke) as Dave Scherer ran "angles" (including fake fights and even, if I recall, some fake gunplay) that actually suckered in some of the slower-witted convention attendees. The next, I'd be eating cheesesteaks with CRZ at the little place a block down the street from the ECW Arena. And then, before you know it, we'd be in the Arena itself, talking to Chris Benoit like he was one of us, getting to pass around the Public Enemy's tag title belts for photo ops, and presenting our official "convention t-shirt" to Tommy Dreamer (which was then turned into a storyline prop later that night during the show, to the massive satisfaction of our bleacher section). After the show, we were even allowed to take home souvenirs: I still have a 3' x 3' section of broken table (the DECISIVE broken table, no less) from that night's Sabu/Taz vs. Public Enemy Double Tables Main Event!

Even the night before, at what was just supposed to be a crappy little "house show" for ECW was amazing. The venue was just a bar out in the sticks an hour or so north of Philly. There were MAYBE 200 fans there, and it was basically just a wrestling ring in the center of a room: no barricades, no real organized chair set up. Because of the disorganization, the "entrance aisle" was actually something that would only form during ring entrances: otherwise, it was standing room for fans. Which was fine for ring entrances, but not so great for surprise run-ins! I almost go killed by 9-1-1 doing a run-in: I don't remember who, but somebody yanked me out of the way mere moments before I'd have gotten chucked hard in the back. That night's also the counter-point to my Chris/Tammy story, as there was no "backstage" area, just a section of the bar that had a curtain separating it, behind which the wrestlers changed. At one point, a face, a hand, and an empty pitcher poked out and demanded "More." A few of us were standing there, not sure what to do; finally, I just took the pitcher, went up to the bar, and came back with 64 oz. of Budweiser. And that's the story of how I, despite being underage, bought "The Shah of Philadelphia" Hack Meyers, a pitcher of beer. In the middle of a show and BEFORE he had his match. If Hack's still out there: you owe me, Moochie!

It's stuff like this that made it IMPOSSIBLE to not get personally vested in ECW. You wanted it to succeed because it was good and you enjoyed the shows, but you also wanted it to succeed because you had a hand in making it what it was. Paul Heyman gave his performers the freedom to do their job the way they thought best: to have the kinds of matches and characters that they wanted to have. Paul Heyman let the fans decide what worked and what didn't. And in the end, that freedom and that connection with the fans resulted in a product that really did revolutionize wrestling and is DIRECTLY responsible for wrestling's mainstream boom phase of the late 90s.

WCW going head-to-head with the WWF on Monday nights was big... but combined ratings for the two shows rarely topped 6.0 that first year. But once things started heating up, once combined Monday ratings were hitting 10.0 and above? ECW's fingerprints were all over the place.

WCW's best stuff? The Cruiserweights, Benoit, Eddie, Jericho, Raven's Flock... all this stuff was cribbed from ECW. The nWo and Bill Goldberg might have been the only two things Eric Bischoff actually created himself that ever drew a dime.... but he still managed to screw both of them up in the end. Meantime, underneath that very top level, the guys and the ideas he poached from ECW were filling up 2/3rds of his TV time and contributing substantially to Nitro's ratings success.

And the WWF? It's phoenix-like rise from The Suck is usually summed up in one word: Attitude. And it's a shoot when Paul Heyman says that without ECW there would never have been "Attitude." Before Jerry Lawler ever screeched "HLA," Kimona and Beulah were making out in the ring. Before the requisite one Announce Table Spot Per PPV, the Public Enemy was breaking a half-dozen tables per match. Before Steve Austin made drinking beer in the ring fashionable, the Sandman was downing six Budweisers DURING HIS RING ENTRANCE.

In short: those of us who were with ECW from the start (or near the start) really do feel like we had a hand in shaping the product. And looking at what direction the WWF and WCW went in as they got HUGE in the late 90s, it's pretty obvious that ECW had a hand in shaping pro wrestling's most profitable boom phase ever. ECW was the conduit through which Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff were forced to listen to the fans and give them what they wanted.

To me, THAT is ECW's legacy: giving wrestling, however briefly, back to the fans.
 

THE RESURRECTION 
 

Rocky Swift Says....

ECW's MVP? 

RVD?

BWO?

JYD?

Nope. The best thing that fed had going for it were jump-cut commercials and shaky, out-of-focus cameras. In the light of day, the in-ring performers and product were often as disappointing to look at as your dance partner from the previous night's rave as you sit together over an awkward, early morning breakfast.

There is a very crummy book by William Henry called In Defense of Elitism, which is not very useful or elucidating, but it does have one proposition that I think applies to ECW. Henry says that a crucial factor behind the strength and superiority of a society is its ability to defend itself from destruction or assimilation. The same could be said for wrestling companies; and ECW failed miserably. While it should have been cozying up to cable mandarins and getting talent under real contracts, ECW rushed to market action figures and video games.

As the boat sank, the best swimmers found refuge in other organizations, including the deranged captain. And to stretch this metaphor even further, I believe PPV will play out much like a recent fantasy pirate movie. The damned crew will reappear from the depths and no-sell grievous injuries, but harsh lighting will show them to be terribly decayed brutes, deserving of their fates in the unseen underworld.

Yar!

 
But for as much as we may romanticize or mythologize ECW's past, it's true: the company went out of business. Paul Heyman could spin you any number of different yarns about the hows and whys that would make it anybody's fault but his own, but none of them are probably quite the truth.

Rocky Swift clearly believes that there's a reason ECW went out of business, and deserved to do so. Certainly, it'd be no stretch to say that, by the end, ECW had served its purpose. The company was being mismanaged, its best talents and best ideas had been co-oopted by the WWF and WCW, and it was kind of a shell of its former self.

Maybe the only thing left for ECW to do was to die.

But then fast forward four years, and ask yourself: why is ECW so spectacularly coming back to life?
 

Matt Hocking says...

August 28, 1999 is a day that will live in legend in my wrestling fandom. For those of you that don't remember or never learned in the first place, that was the day ECW debuted on TNN, and the first time I'd ever laid eyes on a little promotion operating out of Philly, which I'd become so enamored with, sight unseen. I never have been much of a "tape trader," most of the DVDs I own are WWE ones or the late model ECW ones, or gifts from friends or family who know I like wrestling but figure I probably have all the WWF/E stuff on the shelf. For years to that point, I'd been following ECW, almost as if it were a novel desperate to glean new information about Sandman and Raven and Tommy Dreamer and the Dudley Boyz. They'd become almost mythic figures. Icons bigger than what the WWE was offering, bigger than WCW. It was cooler than the nWo, more anti-establishment than Stone Cold Steve Austin, to be honest, ECW was probably my favorite promotion for a good portion of that time, and I'd only heard and read about it. Would I have had the money, I probably would have been tempted to go out and buy tapes of these shows.

A small part of me wishes I had. In essence, ECW was the spark that reignited a passion for wrestling in me. I'd never stopped watching, but I didn't have the same interest that I once did. Once ECW came about, I started watching RAW and Nitro more closely and enjoying them more because my interest in wrestling was piqued. Unfortunately, the ECW that landed that night in August was a shell of its former self. In short order champions like Steve Corino and Justin Credible took over the main event scene, guys were leaving to the greener pastures of the WWF and WCW, and even more were succumbing to years of injuries. In the end, I think, when I finally saw ECW, the veil of the myth was lifted, and I saw it for what it was at the time. Fine wrestling, fine brawling, but not a whole hell of a lot else.

But it's been years now, since ECW collapsed, and time and absence have made the heart grow fonder. Hearing Paul Heyman talk about the heart and soul of ECW, which caused its workers to forgo getting paid to continue to serve the vision, seeing guys like Sandman and Balls Mahoney so obviously excited to be given one more shot at the ECW legacy has made me more excited for this show than any other to this point this year. Even though there will be no Raven, no Funk, possibly no Cactus Jack, this is the ECW card I want to remember. Not the ECW that was throttled by a slowing market and a desire only to have national TV, but a collective of guys who just want to get out there, have some fun, and put on the best fucking wrestling show they know how. If this is indeed the last ECW show I'll ever see (and I'm not convinced it is), I don't want my last memory to be Joel Gertner wrestling Cyrus on The Nashville Network. I think…I hope that One Night Stand is the legacy I want ECW to have in my mind. One last great show to remind me how great it can be to be a wrestling fan.

 
Maybe it's because of how ECW died that fans are so enthusiastically embracing its resurrection. Matt Hocking's sentiments are ones I share and ones I know a lot of you have shared in e-mails. And I think it strikes to the core of why it feels so good to have ECW back, and to have it seem like it'll be the ECW we WANT to remember. 

Nobody wants to remember ECW for the Credible/Corino era... nobody wants ECW's last shows to be obscure house shows somewhere in the deep south... SURELY nobody wants to remember the idiotically handled inVasion/Stephanie-McMahon-ownership era of ECW, either. We want to remember the Good Stuff. After Paul got settled in and had found his formula for ECW (mixing great wrestling, great storytelling, and plenty of envelop-pushing), but before he got poached and burnt out (ironically enough, on the eve of his company finally getting on national TV).

Again, it goes back to a weekend when we can forget what *is* and remember what *was*. We can forget about WWE's rampant head-up-its-own-assery, and how the lack of competition has allowed them to pursue their own vision of wrestling without bothering to consider what the fans might actually want. And for one weekend, we can harken back to the days when there WAS competition and there WAS an alternative, and it was so much fun to watch that it inspired the other companies to get better.

And likewise, we can forget all about our most recent ECW memories. Just erase them completely. And replace them with a more fitting legacy. An ECW with access to nearly all the talent it could possibly want. An ECW performing on its home turf in front of its most loyal fans. An ECW under the command of a fresh, rested, and inspired Paul Heyman.

ECW's resurrection is as much a catharsis for fans as it is vindication for Heyman/Dreamer/et al. They've approached the reunion enthusiastically because they believe in their own vision, but WE have embraced the resurrection because we remember what that vision was when it was focused like a laser. We want to see *that* ECW one more time. And it sure as hell looks like the pieces are in place for us to get what we want. 
 

THE SHOW: ONE NIGHT STAND 
 

Canadian Bulldog says...

This PPV will be a tremendous chance for those who never had exposure to the product to get a little glimpse into Paul Heyman's world. No, I don't think he will have complete creative control over what we see on Sunday (WWE is a publicly-traded company, they have to have some quality control in place, even given Heyman's history with the company). But obviously he will have a say in what goes on -- he wouldn't show up in storyline or otherwise if he didn't at least get that guarantee.

So what WILL we see? Benoit and Guerrero will tear the house down and now that they're both on SmackDown, I don't see why they wouldn't make this the starting of a new feud... The Dudleyz will hopefully be refreshed after their 6-plus-month vacation and put on an inspired showing against Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman. I'm sure that Lance Storm will want to make a lasting impression in what could be his retirement match with Chris Jericho. Beyond that, there will probably be some inspired spotfests from the other two matches, as three of the five competitors are trying to get signed (or already have been signed, depending on which newsletter you read) by WWE.

As far as the other appearances go, I don't know what will happen exactly. I just hope we don't have pre-recorded interviews from Kid Kash, Joel Gertner, etc. about what they thought of ECW. That was already captured in DVD format quite nicely. What the New York fans want will be plenty of live interviews, angles and impromptu matches. I'm actually more psyched for the matches that *might* happen than I am for the ones that are already scheduled.

With the Raw and SmackDown invasions, I'd actually be surprised if it didn't end with the ECW folks on top to close the show. Yes, it could make people like JBL, Kurt Angle and Christian look bad by getting pounded on by unproven commodities, but none of these guys are exactly Triple H -- all of them know the value of getting their opponent over. And yes, this may be "one night only", but if there's genuine interest in the event, what's to stop Vince McMahon from making this more permanent, for example a late-night slot on USA Network this fall or something? Nothing. Two years ago, would you have thought an ECW PPV was even possible?

Finally, who will show up? Mick Foley is almost a given, in my eyes. If New Jack can get his legal challenges settled in time, I'd expect him to be there too. Beyond that, I don't expect many "surprise" appearances. I mean, why overload an event where much of the show is filled with people you already don't get to see every day?

The only person I really hope doesn't show up is Vince McMahon. Now, I don't expect him to, but its certainly within the realm of possibility. Unlike Bischoff and Heyman, Vince is recognized as more than just a character. His making an appearance at One Night Stand clearly signals to the ECW faithful that this is NOT an ECW show.... not the type of impact this PPV wants to make.

 
At some point, discussion must turn to Sunday's actual event. I've talked about what ECW means and why it has such great appeal both to long-time hardcore fans AND to folks who never saw Minute One of ECW. I've explained ECW legacy, its downfall, and the underpinnings of its resurrection.

But hows about we finally talk about what we'll all be paying to see on Sunday night?!?

Canadian Bulldog gets us rolling with a few thoughts about the matches and talent roster... but perhaps for sake of reference, let's actually go ahead and list everything we know about Sunday's line-up. 

Officially Signed Matches

  • The Sandman and Tommy Dreamer vs. Bubba and D-Von Dudley (w/ Joel Gertner)
  • Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero
  • Rey Mysterio vs. Psicosis
  • Tajiri (w/ Sinisiter Minister) vs. Super Crazy vs. Little Guido (a/k/a Nunzio)
  • Chris Jericho vs. Lance Storm (w/ Dawn Marie)

Other ECW Stars Officially Announced As Appearing

  • Joey Styles, Tazz, Paul Heyman, Rob Van Dam, Bill Alfonso, Sabu, Rhyno, Kid Kash, Masato Tanaka, the bWo (Stevie Richards, Nova/Simon Dean, and Blue Meanie), Al Snow, Spike Dudley, Justin Credible, Balls Mahoney, Axl Rotten, Angry Amish Roadkill, Danny Doring, CW Anderson, and Mikey Whipwreck.

Known WWE "Crusaders"

  • Eric Bischoff, Coach, Edge, Christian, Tomko, William Regal, Maven, La Resistance, Gene Snitsky, Kurt Angle, JBL, Orlando Jordan, the Bashams, Carlito Cool, and Matt Morgan.

If you Paul Heyman can't fashion a compelling 3 hours out of this roster, I will eat a bug.

The Sandman/Dreamer/Dudleys main event is simply gonna be fun as hell. ECW was about a lot more than just crazy brawling: but they also did crazy brawling WAY better than just about anybody else. Tommy Dreamer wasn't called "The Innovator of Violence" for nothing. Even though that style brawl might get old if you were seeing it week after week, the simple fact is: we haven't really seen it done by ECW in over four years, and WWE/WCW's co-opting of the brawling style (in hardcore matches and what not) was never really done right. This'll be like having an crazy uncle over for dinner for the first time in years: you wouldn't want to live with the sumbitch, but is he ever a hoot in small doses. 

The history to this one: the Dudleys broke Beulah's neck (in storylines, she was Dreamer's girlfriend; in real life, the two are married today), and Tommy didn't like that. Beulah has never been seen again, and Dreamer held a grudge against the Dudleys until their very last night in ECW. In fact, Dreamer was one-half of the team that relieved the Dudleys of the ECW Tag Titles that night. I fully expect the Dudleys to try to play the heels, and I fully expect that the fans will love every second of it: an hilarious Dudley introduction by Joel Gertner is almost a given. As long as this doesn't end with a lame schmozzy deal with the "crusaders" showing up to crash the main event, forcing Sandman/Dreamer/Dudleys to form an alliance (no cheesy/obvious "ring full of ECW stars all celebrating together" happy ending, please!), I expect this to be tons of fun. All the "crusader" stuff should be completely done well before the main event. And then: these four should be free and clear to deliver Old School ECW. It'd be "right" to have Dreamer/Sandman score the win, but the one thing about Tommy: he hated winning big matches, and would campaign to lose. Because he thought it was right for his character. So it wouldn't surprise me if he's made sure that he loses yet again.

Benoit vs. Eddie? Do I really have to say anything? You know what these two can do. And the reason they got the chance to do it in WCW and then in WWE is because of what the did during their tenures in ECW. Eddie was only there for a cup of coffee during the summer of 1995, and didn't really ever cross paths with Benoit (who was an ECW staple for over a year) in that time. So in terms of "ECW History," there isn't much of any between the two. Instead, I look at this as almost an ECW Dream Match. A feud that, if I could go back in time and re-write 1995, would have electrified the wrestling world. A feud that, sure, we've since seen under the auspices of WWE... but which was never allowed to burn as hot as it would have in an ECW ring. This isn't a re-do of any historic ECW match/feud.... it's the first-do of an ECW feud that never quite got to happen. I am stoked.

Rey/Psicosis and Tajiri/Super Crazy/Little Guido, on the other hand, ARE both re-dos of memorably awesome ECW matches. Rey and Psicosis were both plucked away from ECW by WCW mere months after their debuts in 1996... and a big part of the reason was an eye-opening 2-out-of-3-falls match at the ECW Arena. The blending of high-flying lucha libre with hard-hitting brawling was absolutely amazing, and Eric Bischoff realized this was something he wanted on his show. Assuming Rey is healthy (he has missed 2 weeks of WWE shows with an ankle injury), expect those two to do things that they'd never get away with in WWE, and to do them so smoothly that even the most spot-tastic X Division match would weep with envy.

Rey/Psicosis heading to WCW set ECW's lightweight/high-flying back a bit... but in later years, they did reconstitute that part of their roster. One of the few truly amazing bright spots of ECW's latter days was the work done by Tajiri and Super Crazy (including a feud over the ECW TV Title). Little Guido also got into the mix, and this trio had a couple of blow-away Three Way Dances. No disrespect to Guido (who is massively underrated), but here's hoping he get eliminated first and Tajiri shows you people just why I'm such a fan of his, and Super Crazy shows you why he deserves that WWE contract he's rumored to be getting.

And finally: Lance Storm vs. Chris Jericho rounds out the announced matches. I don't believe the two were even in ECW at the same time together (Jericho's stay was brief-but-memorable before he, too, got poached by WCW), but that's not to say there isn't history here. Storm and Jericho broke into wrestling together as tag team partners. As the Thrillseekers, they probably achieved their greatest fame together in SMW. And so it's fitting that, considering that this is quite probably going to be Lance's Farewell Match, he faces off against his old partner. Lance's old valet, Dawn Marie, joins him and it could also be HER farewell appearance (at least, for a while; she's pregnant, which probably also precludes any catfighting for her at the PPV).

And then you've got that whole big list of other CONFIRMED stars. Having Joey Styles to handle announcing is huge, and it simply wouldn't have been an ECW PPV without him. Tazz is also there, purportedly to announce, but you know he and Kurt Angle are gonna tussle at some point. Rob Van Dam is getting an in-ring promo, according to Paul Heyman on "Byte This," which could get VERY interesting considering how outspoken RVD has been in interviews lately. Rob seems to have little love for WWE, and just might get to tell the world about it on WWE's dime. Ouch.

The rest of the batch of names: how they utilize Sabu, Rhyno, and Masato Tanaka are probably the things that most interest me. Those are the guys I want to see get a chance to shine, since their the guys I have the most fond memories of on that list. Oh, and I'm totally down with the bWo getting a segment of their own. Just hearing their entrance music again will be sweet. Hopefully, there is time and there is room to squeeze the others into meaningful roles, too. The absence of video packages and other fluff SHOULD mean that this show is super-fast-paced with slots for everybody.

To me, a key to making the most of the time is gonna be distilling the RAW/SD! "invasion" down to its core elements. Even if there are 20 invaders or more, the vast majority should get less than 3 minutes of TV time, and should be "written out" (i.e. have the crap beaten out of them to the extent that they decide "Fuck this crusade" and they leave) as quickly as possible. The only two "crusade" stories that should get ANY significant time on this PPV are Kurt Angle vs. Tazz and Eric Bischoff (maybe with Coach) vs. Paul Heyman. That's it: 2 (maybe 3) crusaders contribute to the PPV. The rest: I don't care if you're Edge, JBL, or whoever... this is not your show, and you serve no core purpose here. Obviously, I'm with Bulldog on the "No Vince" (and NO STEPHANIE, TOO!) thing. This show should be about ECW, and NOT about the Crusade. The Crusade should fail, and I wouldn't mind if it failed in the first 5 minutes of the PPV. And then you can do more involved angles with Kurt/Tazz and Bischoff/Heyman if you want, and still have room to make sure that Roadkill and Doring get to earn their paycheck.

Heyman and Dreamer have also promised "extras" for the live audience, which could mean that although Roadkill/Doring/Axl/Balls/etc. are listed as appearing, they might NOT appear on the PPV, but only in dark matches. Just because there's only a 3-hour window for One Night Stand doesn't mean that ECW's only gonna supply fans at the Hammerstein Ballroom with 3 hours of entertainment. There could be 2, 3, even 4 bonus matches. Makes me kinda jealous of the live attendees, no matter how much they paid per ticket.

And the thing is: even if the Announced Roster seems loaded enough that it could contribute to 3 or more Dark Matches, Heyman and Dreamer have also made it clear that they haven't even officially announced every person that they expect to appear on the show. That there will be surprises, that there will be other stars and other matches that they are keeping secret just so it's more fun for us when we watch it all play out. Neato.

It was all part of Heyman and Dreamer's Byte This promise to make One Night Stand as "authentic" as possible... the original ECW referees, security guards, the smaller ring, no huge pyro or fancy hi-tech production obscuring the actual content. Just the guts of what made ECW tick. Which is a pretty nice segue into a few show-related comments by Byte This' recapper, PyroFalkon:
 

Hmm… what can I say that I didn't already in my BT recap this week? I guess just in case you didn't read it, I have to get this off my chest…

I get it. After this week's BT, and hearing Dreamer and Heyman talk so passionately about ECW, I understand why it was so special. I don't think by any stretch that it was perfect, but I now partly regret not paying more attention to ECW ten years ago. I see why it was special, and why it did things that WWE and WCW couldn't possibly have duplicated.

It's because of that that I am really looking forward to One Night Stand. It may not be "pure authentic ECW," but it's eons closer than anything else I could get right now. Plus, the Rise and Fall DVD juiced me, and I've been anxious ever since to see some ECW action. I just never thought it was going to be possible.

Looking over only the schedules matches, I'm most looking forward to Rey Mysterio's match with Psicosis (my apologies for misspelling that in my recap). Whether Rey is 100% is, to me, irrelevant, because Psicosis will probably be able to more than make up any deficiencies. Besides, Rey (like everyone else) will probably do damn near everything bad to his body anyway, so it's not like he'll be as fresh as a daisy when he's done anyway.

Of course, I am all primed for Chris Benoit's match with Eddie Guerrero. In WWE wrestling (and WCW for that matter), there just was not too many technical wrestling matches that involved in no interference, no ref bumping, no DQing, and no other shit. It's been… what, years since the last match like that? I will probably be glued to the set for that one.

The rest of the matches and stars are third-tier compared to these two matches, but don't take that as an implication that I think the rest of the show will be shit. In fact, I think I may make this a Super Bowl-type event. That is, unlimited food, no Internet or video games while watching it, no making out with my girlfriend during the show… Just total full paying attention to One Night Stand. I normally only reserve that for the Super Bowl and Wrestlemania, and I didn't even bother doing it for Wrestlemania 21. But this will be special, right?

Okay, I'm rambling here, and I don't think I have more to say… Oh, one more thing. I want Kimona Wanalaya to show up. She is, in a word, yummy… Just give her Beulah some time to make out, and I'll be happy. But even without it, this weekend will kick all manners of ass.

 
You know, there ain't a whole lot I've got on my own personal Wish List for this show that we don't already know about. I mean the announced roster is loaded for bear as it is. I'd feel greedy if I asked for more. But that said, PF's mention of Kimona certainly whets my appetite.

So let's be greedy: because it ain't an ECW PPV without a catfight causing Joey Styles to require a lozenge. So we need some chicks. They came no hotter than when Raven plucked Kimona out of a strip club and put her to work in ECW, but it takes two to tango. Dawn's in a family way. I'm guessing the time just ain't right for Tammy. Lita only had a cup of coffee in ECW. And it may be rude to say so, but I never really got the appeal of Francine. But how about Beulah? I know it's cool that she's managed to retire and STAY retired, but won't she please think of the greater good? Two women who once purportedly shared the purest and most-rightest of love, rolling around on the mat together, under some flimsy pretext, so as to reveal plenty of be-thonged backsides? Hell, if we're going back in time, I'll go ahead and rewind my brain to when I was still convinced there was nothing hotter in all the world...

My only other real wishes: would be for appearances by Raven and New Jack. Of the handful of big names not appearing on this show, those are the only two that strike me as major losses. Yes, Shane Douglas was "important" to ECW, perhaps more so than anyone; but "important" doesn't always equal High Entertainment Value (as proven by later ECW champs like Credible and Corino). Take away "shooting" on Ric Flair and doing all manner of foul-mouthed promos to convey intensity, and Douglas was not all that special a performer: a good guy to have on the team, but not anybody who figures prominently in many of my Favorite ECW Memories. Yes, Terry Funk probably deserves some kind of proper send-off, and an ECW reunion show would be perfect; but we should probably wait until Funk finally gets serious about making one of his retirements REAL before we go signing him up for such an appearance. There's probably a few others that you could make a case are "major" names, but I'd disagree on Mike Awesome, Bam Bam, or Jerry Lynn; not saying I didn't love all three, but I am saying that they wouldn't necessarily be instant value-adds for an ECW PPV.

Raven and New Jack on the other hand? Bottom line: Raven can still brawl with the best of them, and his last morsels of promo work against Jeff Hardy in TNA were some of the best he's ever done. ECW is still the best venue for Raven to cut the style of promos he's best at cutting and having the style of matches he's best at having. He would be a HUGE asset, if only it were possible to get him on the bill. And New Jack? Can't wrestle a lick, but it doesn't matter: for one five-minute segment on nearly every ECW show I remember, you couldn't take your eyes off the guy. He took garbage wrestling to all new levels, would whip the living shit out of 3 men at once, and would cap it all off by jumping from someplace really high. New Jack's not the reason you'd go to or buy an ECW show, but you'd definitely miss his little interlude if it wasn't there. And from what I gather, it won't be there on Sunday unless certain legal hurdles can be overcome. Oh well....

Like I said, though, there's still more than enough here (and more than enough other possible surprises, which I won't even really bother naming by name, since if I got one right, would it really be a surprise?) to put on a jam-packed, over-flowing-with-goodness 3 hour show that is about as authentic to old school ECW as is permitted to be broadcast on PPV.

I could not be more stoked.
 

THE FUTURE
 

The Cubs Fan says...

I'm not exactly sure when I last purchased as WWE promoted pay per view. I might have never purchased one, technically; I went to Backlash '01, before the name change, and I can't recall buying a show since. I have seen PPVs, but with lots of no cost wrestling available and more I've paid for but never actually found time to watch, it takes a lot for me to want get a PPV. I think I'm getting One Night Stand.

Part of the reason is I know they'll do their absolutely best to make it worth my while. Forget the patronizing "counter culture/in your face" corporate buzzword Paul Heyman rant from a few weeks ago. When ECW was great, it was great because it promised matches and events unlike and better than anything else you could get in the US, and more often than not, it delivered on those promises. For the show, they're promising a Rey Mysterio and Psicosis match. While we'll get the same promise from WWE in the months ahead, I don't believe I'll ever get the same quality match as we'll get Sunday, because it becomes a much more credible promise when it's under an ECW banner.

I don't expect the whole PPV to be full of what could be called 'pure' matches or even just of matches I like; the garbage tag match advertised, as well as whatever else of the ilk which gets added during the show probably will be interesting to me for the random cameos, but not enough to balance getting squeamish as the match gets more deathmatch-like. Even if the show was just featuring the kind of gory matches I don't have a taste for, I'd still think about supporting it.

ONS is a test case for future ECW events, but I also see it as a chance for every cult and niche product the WWE is able to produce. This is an experiment to see if the WWE can sell things which are not in it's own mold. If ONS flops, WWE will have all the proof it needs to know that it's way of doing things is the right and only way of doing wrestling, and I believe we'd be stuck with a less interesting product over the long run. If ONS succeeds, it cracks open the door for different ideas. I'm not saying they'll be running Super J Cups, but it's more likely for them to take cruiserweights seriously if they've got a little proof it might work. By supporting the PPV, I'm supporting the notion of more variety in WWE offerings.

ONS is going to be unlike other WWE PPV offerings. Unlike other WWE PPV offerings, I think I'm going to shell out the cash for it.

 
Sort of bringing it all back around, the Cubs Fan puts his own spin on the "this PPV is more interesting than anything WWE has done lately" angle that Erin kicked us off with and that I expanded upon... and in so doing, he brings up the issue of The Future.

The general consensus is that if this PPV performs even close to expectations, ECW will become, at the very least, a regular "guest star" on the WWE stage. There's talk of everything from running bi-annual PPV events to actually trying to rebuild ECW into a fully-formed third brand. How informed is that talk? Tough to say: on one hand, surely most of it is pure speculation... but on the other, how crazy is it to speculate that if an ECW PPV makes money that WWE would want to milk it for all its worth?

To me, this raises issues, though. For "one night," WWE may be willing to glance the other way and let Paul Heyman do what he wants to do. But for ECW to survive past tomorrow night, it would almost certainly be absorbed back into WWE's corporate structure. It would HAVE to be; it would be difficult (or at the very least, irresponsible) for a publicly traded company to have some renegade division that is not accountable to anybody.

It becomes a touchy issue: would WWE have the balls to let an authentic ECW survive? Or is it simply impossible -- as Eric Bischoff posits -- for a financially-successful "corporate ECW" to even exist? What, then, should we as fans wish for?

Cubs raises another issue: that if the ECW PPV is successful, it should open WWE's eyes to the fact that there are other ways of doing business; ways that don't involve hiring idiot Hollywood writers, pushing cosmetics ahead of substance, and willfully ignoring the fans. I wish I could be so optimistic.

But you see: I fully expect One Night Stand to be a success (if the buzz I'm sensing is an accurate representation, at least)... but I don't expect it to matter at all in the long run. I am NOT one of these whiny douchebags who thinks that having the RAW/SD! invaders is proof positive that Stephanie's Creative Team have "taken over" the ECW PPV and will ruin it and make it unauthentic. Rather, I believe that those angles were done on RAW and SD! with a dual purpose: (1) to figure out a way to reach casual fans, unfamiliar with ECW, with a storyline that might inspire them to check out the PPV. To my way of thinking, this has certainly worked (again, go back to my "even people who never saw one minute of ECW are chanting 'E-C-Dub' on RAW and are fired up for this PPV" thing) and is a good thing. But (2) it also gives WWE an easy out, and certain higher-ups will be able to take any success generated by One Night Stand and attribute it NOT to ECW, but to RAW and SD!. This is cheap, it's probably mostly bullshit, but I promise you, it's also not by accident: the presence of a score of RAW/SD! stars makes it possible for WWE to rationalize giving credit for One Night Stand's success to somebody other than Paul Heyman and ECW.

That, my friends, is why I am fundamentally unsure about WWE learning anything from this weekend. They've ignored their problems and had their blinders on for this long, I don't see that changing just because of one event. I wish they would, but as long as ECW is a WWE brand and not genuine competition: the simple fact is that the excuses are already in place for those in power to defend their way of doing things. It doesn't matter that those excuses hold about zero water... it merely matters that those in power believe them to be true. And as long as these are the same people who think Chris Masters belongs on TV every week, I think we know just about all we need to about their judgment.

COULD ECW's PPV be just the shot in the arm WWE needs? Sure, and nothing would make me happier. But I wouldn't bet on it.

But I also don't really care: because what we've got in front of us on Sunday is one glorious night of wrestling the way we remember it, the way it was when it either made us fans or rekindled our fandom when it was threatening to die. Tommy Dreamer himself said, "Come Monday, I don't have a career." He's thinking about those 3 hours, he's not worried about what's to come.

We can argue semantics over whether enjoying the hell out of ourselves on Sunday is "living in the past" or just "living in the moment," but I do know I'm not gonna be worrying myself about the future. On Sunday night, assuming everything goes off like it should, it's just gonna be fun to be a wrestling fan again. There's no significance to who wins or loses, there's no storylines that won't be blown off by the end of the show, there's no chance to get annoyed at lame trends like a retarded storyline or somebody getting pushed who you don't want to watch (well, unless Justin Credible has more than a cameo! ZING~!)... there's absolutely no reason (nor any real way) to watch this ECW PPV with the same sort of cynical, critical eye with which so many of us watch WWE. Even with that sort of consequence-free atmosphere loosening things up, the knowledge that the evil genius of ECW, Paul Heyman, has done his best to put together an event that gets his stamp of approval if this is to be the final word on ECW's legacy should make this the easiest purchase decision a wrestling fan makes all year.

But if, for some reason, you manage to resist that urge? Well, OO's got your back. Scotty Szanto-Nicodemus is so fired up for this weekend that he's actually REQUESTED to handle the One Night Stand PPV Recap. And that's after he already took the time today to prepare a review of The Rise and Fall of ECW DVD for use as a primer to fans who might not be wholly aware of ECW's story. So I know I'm not the only one around here who is jazzed.

I mention Scotty mostly because he just barely snuck in under the wire with his own mini-ramble about ECW, and I didn't have time to think of the clever way to weave him into the whole big piece, so this'll have to do as a segue. Afterall, you should get to know the guy who's recapping the PPV, right?
 

Scotty Szanto-Nicodemus says....

Why I love ECW in a thousand words or less…When I started watching wrasslin’ again in college, the folks I was watching with were WCW fans.  They threw Nitro parties.  Occasionally we would switch over to Raw, but mostly we watched Nitro…until Nitro became basically unwatchable.  I was about to give-up on wrasslin’ altogether when my buddy Snake came to visit from Dayton one weekend.  He had with him a tape of ECW’s first ppv, Barely Legal.  We didn’t watch the whole thing, but we did get to see the main event match…

At first, I will admit that I was a little disgusted.  I felt like I was watching entertainment for vampires at one point.  But there was something else…it was reminiscent of seeing Ric Flair bleed all over the Cincinnati Gardens at house shows during my youth.  The extreme style would take some getting used to for me, though.  At any rate, I caught there syndicated show at 3am once or twice in the following year or so.  Then, Snake calls to offer us two tickets to Heatwave in Dayton…somehow, Amey and I got the idea that he was offering us free tickets (he was room mates with The Rick at the time, after all), and who can turn down free tickets.  We did eventually compensate Snake and Rick about a year later, and its all water under the bridge, but it makes a good side note to my ECW fandom story.  So we went to the show, and made The Rick proud by proudly waving our nWWWo sign.  That was the night that I became a fan of ECW.  I was immersed in the cult-like fan atmosphere, and witnessed some of the most exciting wrasslin’ I had seen in years.  I was hooked.  I started recording their syndicated show more often, and waited for the day that they achieved the Holy Grail…a deal on TNN.

The best and worst thing that ever happened to ECW was to sign a deal with TNN.  I taped every show, and didn’t tape over them this time!  Amey and I were living in Wisconsin at the time, and a friend had free cable, so I was also able to get copies of almost every ppv during that time.  We went to shows in Milwaukee (twice), Green Bay, Chicago, and St. Paul, MN.  The Green Bay show is the only one we were at that wasn’t televised, and afterwards I met Balls, New Jack, Big Sal and Chilly Willy at a gas station outside of Green Bay.  I was alone because our friend that was with us got drunk and Amey had to drive him home in his car.  I approached the guys tentatively, even apologizing for pestering them…New Jack was digging in the back of their suv, and popped out at that time, still bleeding from the forehead, and asked if I had any tissues or a band aid!  I did, and as we walked to my car, I also offered him a joint for the road, which he politely declined.  I stood there talking to them as they pumped their gas, and waited for Balls to come out of the store.  When he returned, they all signed a scrap of paper for me (yes, I still have it somewhere), and I wished them a safe drive.

I made it halfway to my car before Balls called me back over, “you say you got some weed?”  So I am proud to say that I slipped two joints to a car full of ECW’s B-level talent on that night.  The next night in Milwaukee was the last televised ECW event.  We were able to meet-up with them again, and snapped some pictures with Sal E. and New Jack.  In fact, the pic of Amey and New Jack is hanging right next to our computer to this day…she was wearing our “HEELS” hat, because if God was a heel, He’d be the Dudley Boys.

 
Well, Scotty: The Rick may be capable of getting himself free tickets, but... well, sorry 'bout that, and it's a funny story to tell nowadays, ain't it?

And there you have it: after this ride, you don't have to be as excited as me about Sunday night. But you oughta be feeling more fired up than you were before reading OO's comprehensive PPV Preview. And for once: I don't feel guilty, I don't feel ashamed, I don't feel anything but proud if I've in any way contributed to your enthusiasm. Most months, yeah, it's OO's job to succeed where WWE's fails by making their PPVs sound more interesting than they really are. But this is one where, as much as I know my excitement shines through, I'm STILL not doing full justice to just how much fun we're in for during three sweet hours this weekend.

I hope you join me in checking out the show. But if you don't OO's ECW One Night Stand PPV recap will be posted shortly after the show on Sunday night, and you can bet on more coverage continuing on Monday in my column, too. 

I'll see you then, kids. 


  
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Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

 

 

 


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