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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Tons More About ECW's Return, plus
A Smattering of Other Newsbites 
April 26, 2006

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Wow, it's only Wednesday, and it's a banner week already here at OO.
  

First, I get a bunch of e-mails declaring yesterday's RAW Recap the best one ever. Hey, I thought it was pretty much my standard effort, just with a ton more ManJuice Humor. But if that's what you folks like, well.... maybe instead of serving up more of it, I'll go re-read the thing with a fresh mind in a week or so and see what else I might have done differently.

 
And then, after those e-mails peter out, my in-box is flooded around 3pm this afternoon with word that I just got pimped on ESPN.com. I respect Bill Simmons more than ever now that he's publicly acknowledged the writer-y genius of a filthy Yankees fan such as myself!

So, with my already prodigious ego fully stroked and ready to render me insufferable, let's get to bidness:

  • There's no two ways about it: the most fascinating news of the day continues to be Extreme Championship Wrestling.
     
    Since Monday's breaking of the news, more details have come out about the time table and scope of the revival of ECW. We know about house show scheduling, we can take solid guesses about the TV situation, and we've even gotten some names locked in for the ECW roster.

    The most important change since Monday is that there's no waiting till September for a full ECW launch... it now appears that coming out of the One Night Stand PPV in June, ECW is looking to immediately begin running house shows. WWE's booking department has even contacted the old ECW Arena about running a show there before the end of June.
     
    And cable industry folks have told me that advance schedules for USA Network stop listing "A.M. RAW" in its late-night replay timeslot effective June 3, and instead have that slot filled by "To Be Announced." As I was spit-balling on Monday, the scenario I proposed was that -- given the incongruously strong ratings the crap-ass recap show does at 2am on Saturday night -- plugging ECW into that slot would make a LOT of sense. [By "incongruously high," I mean that the 2am replay is routinely doing low-1's -- between 1.0 and 1.3 -- while the 10am first showing is doing 0.5-0.7. Considering that a year ago Velocity was doing 0.7 in an 11pm slot, and it's just sorta weird to me that a recap show on that late is doing so well, even outdrawing TNA's 11pm show most weeks. You can also compare the current ratings in that slot to ECW's ratings back on TNN: ECW's primetime show on TNN started out drawing 1.0-1.2, but after six months, had slid down to a 0.8 average. Conceivably, ECW could end up with a bigger audience at 2am on USA than they had at 8pm on TNN.]
     
    Another odd TBA on USA's schedule pops up on Wednesday, June 7, at 9pm. And that one I can personally confirm will be an ECW-themed show providing the final build-up to the June 11 PPV. How? Because I got word yesterday that the SD! Tapings scheduled for Dayton, OH, on June 6 had been cancelled, and replaced with an event on June 7. An informant at the arena says they've been told it will be a joint WWE/ECW event. Combine that with the "TBA" and you've got one big mystery solved. 
     
    FYI: Dayton actually is a strong ECW Town. ECW set a new attendance record here with HeatWave '98, and even as they started running some bigger buildings after that, Dayton still supplied them with 2 of their 5 biggest audiences ever. It's cool that they made this move with the scheduling (poor Toledo, picking up that lame SD! taping from us)... and needless to say, I've gone from not really giving a shit about the TV taping coming to town to 100% stoked about heading out to the Nutter Center in June.
     
    In terms of who's been contracted for the new ECW? Sabu's in and Sandman's in, and they're the biggest names to surface so far. But some underneath guys like Axl Rotten and Balls Mahoney are supposedly in, too. Basically: anybody you saw on the One Night Stand PPV last year who isn't now under contract to TNA... you can safely assume they've at least been contacted. [An interesting sidebar will be how this affects ECW alums in TNA... the Duds are, unfortunately, locked in for three years. But guys like Jerry Lynn, the Sinister Minister, Raven, Shane Douglas, and Rhino should all be having contracts coming up within the next six months. Well, there are mitigating factors with Douglas, but the other four would probably all get offers from ECW, and they'd have to make a tough choice.]
     
    Now: can you run a full-time wrestling company with maybe 2 dozen guys who are all a little older and a little more sore than they were the last time they tried doing this under the ECW banner? Of course not; that's where the "developmental territory" aspect of our discussion on Monday kicks in, as the new ECW may deplete the OVW roster and also sign away some of the current crop of younger indie guys. ECW will start this summer focusing on established stars, but by the fall, the process of creating a next generation of ECW Stars will certainly be underway. At least, in my mind, the prospect of an ECW Undercard filled up with could-be's strikes me as more entertaining than an ECW Undercard filled up with never-was's like Da Baldies or other failed experiments.
     
    Then we move on to another element of this discussion: exactly how will ECW be reintroduced? The remarkable thing about this is that it is happening so fast. This is not something that had been percolating and that WWE had mapped out... this is something they literally decided to do last week. To me, that means that WWE sees the importance of using the One Night Stand PPV as the launch pad for the new ECW. Otherwise, why not wait and plan things out a bit more carefully?
     
    And then, once I realized that, the Fantasy Booking Switch flipped into the ON position, and instantly came up with the one, necessary thing that would a PERFECT way to bring back ECW as its own entity. It would, if WWE had the balls to allow it to happen, result in a nationwide explosion of ecstasy as long-time hardcore wrestling fans experience a previously undocumented form of mangasm; and it would send ECW merrily on its way.
     
    Of course, if the idea is so perfect, it stands to reason that I'm not the only one who could figure it out. And it turns out that's the case, as I've gotten a couple dozen variations on this theme from readers who've put their heads to it. But my version is my own, and I think it's got a few wrinkles y'all will enjoy, so even though my guess is similar ideas are appearing on other sites or message boards, you'll get my version:
     
    First: this Sunday at Backlash, Edge wins the WWE Title. And Rob Van Dam wins the IC Title.
     
    The next night on RAW: Paul Heyman and a core group of familiar faces (Dreamer, Sabu, Sandman) show up and announce the existence of the ECW One Night Stand PPV. After some general hype, Heyman drops a bombshell: RVD comes out and announces that he's cashing in his Money in the Bank at One Night Stand against WWE Champ Edge.
     
    Over the next several weeks: Vince McMahon opposes Heyman, claiming that the MitB stipulation only applies to WWE events, and he'll not have his champion put at risk inside an ECW ring where there are no rules. Vince vs. Heyman would, quite easily, blossom into another version of WWE vs. ECW. A match or series of matches would be features on both RAW and SD!, I figure, and in the end, ECW ends up on top, and per some storyline device that'd be easy to create, that forces Edge to defend the WWE Title at ONS. In my version, I vote that an additional result of all the Vince/Heyman wrangling is that no uninvited WWE wrestlers will be allowed into the building to screw up the match. Edge will have Lita, and that's it.
     
    And at One Night Stand: Rob Van Dam defeats Edge in an awesome match (if you're gonna try something schmozzy with Vince or WWE wrestlers trying to interfere on behalf of Edge, I say you do it early on, have the ECW lockerroom clear them out, and then do a clean finish), thus unifying the WWE and IC Titles for the first time in history. And he did it on an ECW show. During the lengthy celebration, Joey Styles makes it clear that this is something that will NOT sit well with Vince McMahon.
     
    But it's fixing to get worse: because after a lengthy celebration, Rob Van Dam picks up a mic and announces, "They said I couldn't do it, they spent the past 5 years trying to hold me down. But now I'm standing here with both the InterContinental and WWE Titles, something that's never been done before. I'm so proud, and proud I did it here, in front of you ECW fans who always supported me. So at this point, there's really just one thing left to say to everybody back at WWE.... [pause].....
     
    "FUCK YOU~! I spent the last 5 years wanting to show everybody I'm the best, I'm the whole fucking show, and you spent five years making sure that never happened. Being the best, giving these people their money's worth, that's what Rob Van Dam is all about. Not jumping through politic hoops and not being told to tone it down. And you know what I've realized? In a company where the best isn't allowed to shine, where you have to play political games just to get on TV much less get title shots, these two gold belts don't mean shit. My performances in this very ring the past six months are what prove that I'm the best, not these titles.
     
    There's only one title that's ever truly been about being the best, and that's the only title that Rob Van Dam has ever cared about carrying. So WWE, you can have your belts, I don't fucking care. I've beaten your best and I've stolen the show, and I think it's time that RVD be recognized as the best in the world. And the only way to do that is if Rob Van Dam is the ECW World Heavyweight Champion!
     
    ECW isn't dead, ECW doesn't have to be a One Night Stand granted to us by WWE. Fuck WWE. We don't have to go back there and jump through their hoops again for the next 12 months. We can do what we did for all those years: we can go out there and fight and bleed and give the fans the best fucking shows this business has ever seen. So c'mon, who's with me?"
     
    At this point, the entire locker room empties and fills the aisle. Paul Heyman is in front, looking conflicted. The crowd will no doubt be egging him on, but he'll milk the moment for a bit. Then he'll slowly move into the ring, and approach RVD. RVD will give him a final "So what do you say?" and Heyman will adopt the posture of a man who's about to disappoint a lot of people.... but then he'll shout "Let's fucking do this thing!" and embrace RVD. 
     
    The two will then turn to all the guys in the entrance aisle, and ask who among them wants in. Dreamer will practically break an ankle being the first into the ring... as a few more ECW staples hit the ring, though, an odd thing becomes apparent: the full-time RAW and SD! wrestlers aren't moving so fast to get involved. In fact, they're milling around, shooting awkward gazes at each other and muttering to each other...
     
    Eventually, all the "true" ECW stars are in the ring, and the aisle is filled up with the handful of active WWE wrestlers who once passed through ECW. And then, as they continue to look conflicted, it's Mick Foley who finally breaks the ice. He turns to the guys and encourages them.... Foley gets in the ring.
     
    Slowly, the rest follow, too. Nunzio, Kid Kash, Super Nova, and so forth... until only one man remains: Rey Mysterio. Joey is apoplectic as he realizes that if Rey decides to come along for the ride, ECW will have completely decimated WWE's roster and stolen both their championships. What will Rey do? He unstraps his World Title belt, and begins teasing that he'll drop it to the floor... then holds it close... then teases again... and then eventually time will run out, and Rey will be a Man Without a Country as the PPV fades to black with Joey Styles shouting that "ECW lives!".
     
    After the PPV: Rey obviously has to go back to SD!. RAW can spend the summer holding matches to determine new WWE and IC Champs. At the ECW Arena house show in late June, you will do the promo where RVD is awarded a new ECW Title belt. And the only way I could make this any better is if Rhino could get out of his TNA contract so he could show up and Gore the shit out of RVD that very night, and lay claim to still being the ECW Champion. [But assuming Rhino signed a one-year deal with TNA at the start, he wouldn't be able to do that until mid-July, I believe. Oh well...]
     
    With house shows and TV already taking shape, the infrastructure really would be there for ECW to come out of the gates at full speed, and mostly independently of WWE (i.e. no frequent cross-overs). I'm talking a separation more defined than what exists between RAW and SD!, because the second you have a "SmackDown! Rebound" or a WWE Live Events Crawler on an ECW TV show is the second the illusion is blown and the second fans won't take ECW seriously as a brand of its own.
     
    And then the capper in my Master Plan: ECW will need pay-per-views. I propose a plan in which ECW gets four PPVs per year, RAW gets four PPVs per year, SD! gets four PPVs per year, and then you have the traditional joint RAW/SD! Big Four PPVs per year. Not only would this keep the pressure low on ECW (with only one hour a week of TV time, it takes longer to build up PPV-worthy feuds), but it would vastly improve the Traditional WWE Product by bringing the number of PPVs presented under that banner back down to 12. Which is one per month and is more than enough.
     
    You'd end up with WWE running the Rumble (Jan.), a SD! PPV (Feb.), WrestleMania (March), a RAW PPV (April), SD! (May), RAW (June), SD! (July), SummerSlam (August), RAW (September), SD! (October), Survivor Series (November), and RAW (Dec.). And then figure on ECW doing: Living Dangerously (Feb.), Hardcore Heaven (May), HeatWave (July), and November to Remember (duh) which mostly stays out of the way of WWE's Big Four and gives ECW an extra month to build to the signature N2R show.
     
    It all fits together beautifully. Although I now realize that I'm not just Fantasy Booking the on-screen product, but also the behind-the-scenes/business aspects.... must be all that ego-stroking: it's got me to the point where I believe I deserve nothing less than complete and total control over everything.
     
    Oh well: tell me that all this wouldn't be enough to get you a little bit more excited about the state of wrestling, though.... it really would perfectly recall seminal ECW moments like Shane Douglas throwing down the NWA Title to create the ECW Title and also RVD's own break-out, shoot-style promo from ECW's first PPV that turned him into a star. But enough of me telling you how great my idea is; I figure that's about enough ECW talk for today, anyway. Let's move on to a handful of other loose ends... 

  • The rating for Monday's RAW was a 4.1, which is down slightly from the week before, but still rock solid. As I tried to make clear in the Greatest RAW Recap Ever, it was a surprisingly enjoyable show, and did a great job getting me a bit more interested in the Backlash PPV coming up on Sunday. 
     
    Which is all you can ask out of a pre-PPV show.
     
  • Brock Lesnar and WWE settled their legal issues out of court. If you don't recall: when Lesnar left WWE in 2004 he signed a No Compete clause that prevented him from wrestling anywhere else for the length of his WWE contract (which ran till 2010). Then Lesnar flopped at football and decided he wanted to wrestle again, and tried to get the No Compete voided or at least reduced.
     
    All the while, Brock has been wrestling sporadically in Japan, and the courts did not grant WWE's restraining order to stop him, as they couldn't show how Brock wrestling in Japan caused immediately harm to their business operations.
     
    The terms of the settlement certainly do include permission for Lesnar to wrestling in Japan (since he's already wrestled a match since the completion of the settlement, which means it must be legal), but my guess is that Lesnar is verboten to talk to TNA or any wrestling company that has any TV presence in the US. So if you want to see Brock on TV again, it'll probably have to come in WWE.... which Brock's agent made clear is not something he's pursuing right now.
     
  • WWE.com has an interview with Bob Holly posted that updates his health status... and it's not good.
     
    Holly had arm surgery late last year; we knew that, we've talked about it here. Holly had one bout with a staph infection following the surgery that I knew about, and it delayed his return. But the last update I knew of, the arm was doing better and Holly was finally starting to eyeball a return to the ring. Then it all went to hell about 2 weeks ago....
     
    From the sounds of things, it's a seriously jacked up version of a staph infection. Although he's on antibiotics and is fighting the infection, the interview definitely makes it sound like it's no exagerration that Holly's not just fighting for his career, his life might actually be in danger, too, if anything else goes wrong.
     
    That really sucks, and I hope you all join me in wishing that Bob pulls through...
     
  • Batista's scheduled to make a non-wrestling appearance at an indie show in Maryland on May 7th... and the buzz is that he could be back on WWE TV even before that.
     
    With Kurt Angle gone from house show line-ups for the foreseeable future (and ominously, he's just been pulled from announced line-ups for the next two SD! TV tapings), purportedly due to accumulated injuries, getting Batista back will be vital for SD!.... 
     
  • I think that's about all I got for today. The way things are going, I wish I could get out of here to cap off my day of being told how great I am with a few cocktails and the Reds game, but..... the Reds already played this afternoon. [And it appears they won. Awesome.]
     
    Maybe what I need to is just relax, keep to myself, and not do anything. At all. Don't want to fuck with karma; I'm liking it right where it is.
     
    I'll see you all Friday, when I corral all the trOOps for the Backlash PPV Preview. Later on, kids.....


  
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E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES

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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