AS I SEE IT 2/28: Thoughts on "extreme reunions"
AS I SEE IT
ECW died on March 5, 2001 after declaring bankruptcy ....four years from this very same week as you're reading this column.
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
But if you believe Shane Douglas and believe the WWE offices...well, ECW was dead....but it's better now.
To explain for those who don't know what I'm talking about...
There are two "ECW reunion shows" planned for the weekend of June 10-12....the "Extreme Reunion" show announced for the ECW Arena on June 10th, and the WWE version of an ECW show on PPV (still officially listed as a PPV "to be determined" on WWE.com) on June 12th.
The "Extreme Reunion" show, organized by Shane Douglas, was originally scheduled for Saturday, June 11 at the ECW Arena, the night before the WWE-sponsored "ECW PPV" at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, scheduled for June 12. Those organizing the event and announcing the June 11 date apparently forgot to check with the ECW Arena for availability, and ran into the small problem of Combat Zone Wrestling having already booked the building for the June 11 date at least a month prior to the "Extreme Reunion" announcement.
"Extreme Reunion" organizer Shane Douglas then attempted to get CZW to change their previously booked date. According to Joey Styles of 1wrestling.com, Douglas offered to pay CZW's rent for the ECW Arena for the date to get them to change dates to Friday, which CZW refused to do, having already publicized the June 11 date on their company website.
Some of the press put out by "Extreme Reunion" regarding Zandig's refusal to move his previously scheduled date tried to paint CZW as the bad guys. But it's worth remembering that this is the same Shane Douglas who worked for XPW, a promotion that tried to steal local independent talent (including some of CZW's) and shut all other promotions out of the historic ECW Arena (including CZW, forced to move to a smaller building in southwest Philadelphia for 2 months) until XPW's checks to ECW Arena management started bouncing left and right.
It's not surprising that CZW wasn't willing to be flexible given all of that, not to mention that trying to draw on Friday nights in Philadelphia is difficult under any circumstances; and that CZW had no desire to give up a Saturday night with presumably confirmed bookings of workers...all for someone who worked on behalf of a company that tried to put them out of business.
Therefore, the "Extreme Reunion" was moved to Friday, June 10 with tentative announcements that the show "should feature (their words, but emphasis mine) every major former ECW star not currently under a WWE contract", with names mentioned by Styles including Shane Douglas, Raven, Jerry Lynn, Chris Candido, The Sandman, Sabu, Bam Bam Bigelow, Terry Funk and many, many more former ECW stars.
I do wonder about the choice of words "should feature". But there may have been a reason for those legal weasel words.
WWE isn't dealing well with what they see as a competition show, although again...it has to be mentioned that they have yet to officially announce this show as of yet as an "ECW PPV".
But the reaction to someone competing with their show that they have yet to announce has gone so far that there are reports that Tommy Dreamer, who is in charge of WWE's version of an ECW show, is trying to contact former ECW talent that they believe will appear on the "Extreme Reunion" show. Dreamer is reported to have offered Sandman $5,000 to do the WWE-promoted show on June 12 instead of the "Extreme Reunion" show at the ECW Arena two days before. It's safe to guess he won't be the last.
Now let's look at these two shows.
The "Extreme Reunion" is a very clever marketing tactic by Shane Douglas, Joey Styles, and other involved with the event to run what is in essence, not much more than an independent show.
There are also others who have speculated that this "Extreme Reunion" show may well be a trojan horse of sorts to start running some sort of TNA house shows at the ECW Arena (a suggestion made months ago by an official of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission); but we'll leave that one alone for now, except to say that TNA's Jeremy Borash is also involved with the show.
Let's see who can't work the show...and start with the WWE-contracted talent: Paul Heyman, Rob Van Dam (who has also said he isn't working the WWE-sponsored show that weekend), Bubba, D-Von, and Spike Dudley, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio, Jr., Stevie Richards, Little Guido, Rhino, Tajiri, and Tazz, to name a few.
The odds are also that, no matter what the promotional announcements say, Sabu can't work the show, given his recent health issues.
"Pitbull #2" Anthony Durante is dead.
"Rocco Rock" Ted Petty is dead.
Big Dick Dudley is dead.
Now consider this: Raven, Jerry Lynn, The Sandman, Sabu, Bam Bam Bigelow and Terry Funk have all worked for 3PW.
Given who CAN'T work this show, its very easy to come to the conclusion that what is being run at the ECW Arena on June 10th is a glorified 3PW show.
That isn't a bad thing, mind you.
It's just that I'd rather see people support 3PW by coming to their monthly shows, or support the regular shows of their local independent on a regular basis; far more than I think getting all excited about an "Extreme Reunion" show that is at best, a good marketing strategy makes any sense.
Then, there's Vince McMahon's so-called "ECW PPV".
Vince McMahon can't use any of the talent under contract to TNA which includes Shane Douglas, Raven, or Chris Candido. In addition, Jerry Lynn has had his issues with WWF/E, and might not want to take part in such a show.
Sabu's health issues make him participating on this show just as unlikely as his semi-advertised appearance on the other one two nights before.
With all those considerations, there's also one small matter regarding this WWE-promoted "ECW show"...
Paul Heyman isn't involved in any way.
Say whatever you want to about his lack of personal honesty or his lack of ability to run a profitable business...but Paul Heyman was the creative genius that made ECW what it was in the post-Eddie Gilbert era. The ECW that most of you know...came out of the mind of Paul Heyman.
Without him being involved, this WWE-sponsored show claiming to be an "ECW PPV" is a fraud. Vince McMahon may have the right to the ECW name legally. But he can't promote an ECW PPV in anything but name.
ECW began in Philadelphia's Original Sports Bar on February 22, 1992, and ended on March 5, 2001; with far more with a whimper than a bang... in an arena somewhere in the Midwest that nearly everyone has forgotten.
During those nine years of its operation...ECW changed the artform known as professional wrestling forever. Those nine years gave those of us who were ECW fans special memories; memories that aren't Vince McMahon's memories to sell on PPV in any way but name. They are OUR memories, and no matter how many dollars Vince McMahon paid for the remains of ECW... he will never be able to make those memories his own.
Since neither Shane Douglas or Tommy Dreamer/WWE can do the impossible...and since Stephanie and Vince McMahon won't even allow Paul Heyman to give it an attempt; they should all just leave ECW alone. Leave those of us who attended the shows at the ECW Arena and elsewhere with those memories.
ECW died four years ago this week, and no matter how much hype certain websites will put out to promote this "Extreme Reunion" show...no matter how much the McMahon propaganda machine tells you that you're seeing ECW again...You can't recreate the past or recapture the magic that ECW had.
ECW's dead. Let it rest in peace.
Until next time...
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