AS I SEE IT 6/30: WWECW...not for everyone

Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets reported on June 27 that the old ECW referees (John Finegan and Joim Molineaux) are "expected to get the axe very soon" like former ECW ring announcer Stephen D'Angelis did last week (he only worked the One Night Stand PPV in reality).

The news further went on to suggest that Vince McMahon was "disappointed" in the ECW Arena house show reaction, and ticket sales at various arenas, including the Wachovia Center; and that he wastaking control over the ECW product, and that it sounds like ECW may become a glorified Velocity.

Did WWE honestly expect that this information getting out before the RAW/Smackdown and WWECW tapings in Philadelphia on July 3 was going to:

1) Increase ticket sales in Philadelphia for the WWECW only taping on July 4?

Yup, people sure were motivated to run right out and give up their July 4 evening to see what is reported to become a glorified Velocity show in the near future. Vince McMahon might first want to think for at least five seconds about the fact that the July 4 taping first wasn't announced at all until the last minute, then the location was moved from the ECW Arena to the Wachovia Center with little advance notice. The taping is also done in Philadelphia on a day where many Philadelphians will be at the Jersey Shore, local or neighborhood events that they planned a long time ago, or at the yearly July 4 celebration on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

If WWE had been smart enough to tell people in advance about this taping far enough in advance, they could have gotten a PR bump for this from Philadelphia. If they'd have done it far enough in advance, maybe it could have even gotten on all the publications about events during the "Welcome America" celebrations that the City of Philadelphia puts out. Hell, with the push WWE is doing (very admirable, by the way) to give free tickets to military personnel, they could have even imported military personnel from local bases not involved in some local celebration to fill in some of the crowd.

So Vince McMahon's pissed because the ECW Arena reacted poorly to the house show at the Arena? Well, Mr. McMahon, when people want a good stiff drink and you give them 3.2% beer, what do you expect? Did he ever think the crappy advance for the Wachovia Center might have been further affected after the crowd at the ECW Arena saw a 2 hour 20 minute show (including an intermission, long Paul Heyman and Tommy Dreamer speeches, and a watered down product)?

Ever think it might be because Justin Roberts was brought in as an announcer instead of Steve DeAngelis or Bob Artese? Before you write me letters saying I'm overdoing it, the crowd at the ECW Arena first reacted that way, not me. The fact is that Roberts got the most heat of anything all night along.

Ever think that the crowd was pissed because WWE refuses to either license the rights to Metallica or the sound alike version by Motorhead, or even an instrumental sound-alike version of some kind?

Could WWE have possibly thought this news getting out would help build sales for July 4?

Face it, a sizable number of people are going to take July 3 (Monday) off, so will be starting their July 4 holiday early (hell, some people are taking Friday off as well)..and will be fired up before they even walk in the doors. For those (probabyl a majority of us) who had to work July 3, we got out of work and were just getting into the building as Smackdown was taping given that it's a 5:30 pm start. Nice way to come into a wrestling show.

So, does anyone else have any other illusions about WWECW being anything remotely resembling ECW now?

Face it, you can put earrings on a pig...and it doesn't become kosher or halal just because you say so, Vince. You can call it can legally own the rights to the name...but it doesn't make the product you present ECW.

Here are comments from the last column:

From Will Bowers:

I have to agree with you on your thoughts about ECW. It does seem to be more of a watered down version, but in all honesty, I expected that. We have to realize that with censorship being tighter in recent years, there is a lot less ECW can get away with. (look at the WWE during the Attitude days and compare it to now).

...I think we need to give ECW some time. We should express our views, but I think once a few things happen, you can see the doors open up. Once ECW has its own tour fully running, things should be more relaxed...

...If ECW had a two hour show, things could really come together. Another thing we all need to remember is we need to get re introduced to the fans again. My two younger brothers (ages 16 and 19) don't remember much about ECW, so they are getting used to Balls, Masato, the FBI, Roadkill. One hour is just not enough time.

As for Sci Fi, I think they need to just sit back and ride this. They are starting to realize that they really should not put their hand on this product... Have the show live and the finger ready to censor something. ECW has a great chance to really make Sci Fi something taken seriously....

Some have said that ECW is missing its soul, I don't think that's the case. I like to think it's missing a chance to fully express itself and a chance for use to get to know the wrestlers. You know this, what makes a wrestler over with the fans? That's the fans having feelings for the wrestler. BTW, I am starting to dig Sandman beating up the wrestlers made by "corporate America".

I say give it time, let's give it a chance to grow, but let Vince and the rest of the guys in Connecticut know that we are expecting some huge things eventually. That and unlike the XFL, if he messes up, we won't forgive him."

I'd like to see WWE show that they can put on an ECW show 60 minutes long first... that has new talent coming in and does a reasonable job of introducing them. Mike Knox was brought in, but with little reason to treat him as a heel, other than he's keeping you from seeing "Kelly" naked.

Where's CM Punk? Where's CW Anderson? Where's the other talent that is available, even from within the WWE system? The failure to debut new talent seems to be one of the most glaring problems with WWECW.

The wrestling action is certainly there...but we're only seeing it from WWE talent (with the exception of Rob Van Dam, who is more or less seen as a WWE wrestler, anyhow).

From Johnny LaRue:

"As an old school wrestling fan and OWW columnist (cheap plug) I felt the need to vent to someone who 'gets it'. This is NOT the ECW any of us old school fans remember. This is watered down and why on earth would you use WWE stars (Cena, Edge & Orton) on the ECW show? Why put over WWE wrestlers on the show?

The ECW wrestlers should be able to go out and put on a show. Balls vs Credible, Sabu vs Dreamer, ...etc is what should be shown. Let them do what made them ECW back in the day and not this 'new breed' BS. Sorry, I don't see the point of having the Sandman coming down and beating zombies and male strippers. The whole show is gimmicky and not ECW. If this was Vince's answer to TNA he failed.

I watched ECW the first week and was appalled. I figured it was a fluke and watched for week 2 and was still dissapointed. I did not watch all of week 3 and doubtful if I will waste my time with week 4. This will be like the XFL all over again when they started out decent (10, 5 and 3 ratings the first 3 weeks then crashed to low 2's and 1's) and then died a quick death. You are being WAY too generous when you say they will be done by Labour Day. I say before that they are dead. I also can't see the investors wanting a failing show on the air that is losing $$$.

Lastly, what is the most sad is I work with kids and it's bad enough they think Ric Flair is a jobber and a joke. Now I am hearing the kids say and I quote "ECW is horrible and I can't believe you people watched that crap back in the day." So yea kinda like the one guy said in your column Vince will kill the legacy that is ECW (to the newer younger fans)."

From TJ Marshall:

"....The equivalent of doing what the WWE has done thus far to the 'new' ECW product, would be to find an over-weight Elvis impersonator, have him dress in a scary hat, and call him 'The New Version of the Undertaker', and explain that to have Undertaker back at all after some number of years of not being on TV, the fans should expect to make some sacrafices that he wouldn't be the same Undertaker they once new, but a new version.

C'mon on. Anyone but a blind fool would reject such an offering and never recognize that character as the true Undertaker, nor even a reasonable replacement. People would simply rather remember him as he was, and not what we are forced beyond a reasonable doubt to accept.

I am completely understanding with the WWE in that, yes, we have to accept many sacrifices in order to have ECW back on tv. At the same time, the WWE is expected by its fans to provide at least some reasonable element of what we loved about ECW. So far, at least for me, it hasn't been even close to acceptable. I can deal with the loss of many of the original roster. I can deal with new theme music.

I'm not going to be forced to like a vampire or a zombie, simply because it's on this new ECW. If Sci-Fi had any idea what it was doing, it would have brushed up on its knowledge of ECW beforehand, before making such a ridiculous request for these characters to be included to begin with. If ratings and revenue are what it desires, then bring back the true ECW we know, or at least a reasonable facsimile.

I say this to WWE executives in closing. If you want me, as an ECW fan, to accept the sacrafices you are asking the fans to in oder to bring back ECW, then you have to be willing to accept the sacrifice of letting go of the idea of 'sports entertainment', at least on Tuesday nights on Sci-Fi. "

For those who've said that I'm complaining too much about this, let me again make it clear. I don't expect to go back in the way-back machine and see an ECW show from 1996. It's not possible. Period.

But getting new talent and character development of that talent IS reasonable to expect. WWE needs to let Heyman alone and let him do what he's capable of doing in that regard. Next, allow high-flying action as part of the formula is possible. Bring in the cruiserweights already in house and let them do what they're capable of...not the watered down style that WWE forces on its cruiserweights. Also, allow SOME hardcore action asa part of the formula. No one expects to see flamethrowers at 20 paces. But at least SOME hardcore action needs to be part of the formula.

From Jesse Smith:

"I think the second week, fans were giving the 'new ECW' a second chance. Vince is listening to a few people out there, but he's not listening to the right ones. Kurt Angle and Big Show are fine additions to the ECW roster, but that's it from WWE.

Bring in at least one new name every few weeks or a month or so, even if for a little while. Give it the real ECW feel that anyone can show up, perhaps by working a deal with TNA on letting Rhino show up or Raven (who are ECW originals.)

I think the big thing is that they're not letting the fans feel smart the way ECW did. The fans aren't stupid, they appreciate any wrestler there is, they can understand copyright laws, but most importantly, the fans can respect a real wrestling match at such calibers of Dean Malenko or Taz....

...The real problem, however, is Vince's ego. He only wants money from it, but he wants to get it with his view of a show. He wants sports-entertainment in it, that way he can say that the new ECW succeeded because of his involvement. Though, if it fails, he'll just claim that no one worked hard enough to help it succeed or something like that. Remember, this is the guy who brought in dancing turkeys in November and allowed necrophillia to be known to the kiddies; he isn't a wrestling fan, he's a sports-entertainment promoter... not one for a 'real' ECW."

From Dale Bagwell:

"After watching the first ECW show, I was horrified. I felt sickened, and majorly dissapotinted. This wasn't ECW, not even by a long shot. Then I watched the second show, and felt that it had improved alot from the first show. It's still not there yet, but it's improving. This is crucial if the new ECW television show is going to work.

Like alot of ECW fans, I too had high hopes for the return of ECW. I started watching ECW progamming on the Sports Network around the summer of '95 while living in Florida.... They put each other through tables, had almost naked women on the show, beat the hell out each other with fan-supplied items like frying pans, cookie sheets, and basically anything the fans gave them. After moving from Flordia to South Carolina, I no longer saw ECW television, except for the occasional PPV my dad paid for.

It wasn't until TNN decided to show ECW that I saw all the ECW stars I loved on a consistent basis. The point is I'm glad ECW is back on television once again, even though it's basically Vince's to do with as he pleases. He's never successfully pushed any promotion, product, or wrestler that he himself didn't make. He just hasn't....and it shows because his heart and creativity are never into it.

Despite all the bad things I could point out, and others have already done a much better job than me on that one, I think we need to continue to hang in there and support ECW. I'll do it for Paul, for Tommy Dreamer, for The Sandman, for Sabu, Taz, RVD, and everyone else that is busting their ass for the fans. The show is along way from perfect, but so was ECW...

What Vince and the Sci-Fi network needs to do push new talent like CM Punk, Mike Knox, etc. They need to let Heyman have more control over the book and the structuring of the show. Make no mistake, there will be growing pains, and from the looks of things so far, damn do they hurt. I also found out the results of the 6/24/06 ECW house show. They definately don't need a fuck-up like that again. WWECW keeps that up and they'll kill their live shows. Vince may not care, but I know Paul Heyman and Co. do.

At the end of the day, we just have to set back and enjoy the car wreck, because it's going to be Extremely bumpy for awhile."


From John Raide:

"I have been reading your columns since I first stumbled across the site in late 2002. Been a bit of a fan since, even though I find myself disagreeing with you as much as I agree with you.

Well, on the subject of ECW, I'm a bit on both sides of the fence. On the one hand, I can definitely understand where you're coming from with the complaint of this not being the ECW you knew and loved back in the 90's, or the impotence in your anger towards the treatment it's been getting from Vince McMahon and the folks in Connecticut. However one thing I have to say is that I don't really feel as though you're giving the new ECW a chance....

....So ECW has money behind it now, and has higher production values... why is that a problem? What this complaint sounds like is a temper tantrum, really. You're worried about the aesthetics of the show. How it looks and how it's presented when the people tuning in and ENJOYING the new ECW are sitting back and watching a pretty damn good wrestling show. The first show on Sci-Fi? Rushed and didn't do very well. Week 2? Definitely an excellent improvement, and I think it's going to get better and better as time goes on...

No I wasn't there when the legendary ECW feuds happened. I wasn't there for Born to be Wired or Stairway to Hell (take your pick on the number). I wasn't there when Sandman caned the holy hell out of Dreamer's back. I wasn't there for any of those moments. Does that devalue my opinion on whether or not the new ECW has a hope? It probably does in your eyes, but as I see it, with the ECW I saw and the ECW that I loved (from 98 onward), what's being put on television right now isn't exactly a large stretch from what was going on during closing time in 2001."

Late 2000 didn't feature zombies...or aliens or tarot reading witches. There was wrestling that adults didn't have to be ashamed to watch.

Until next time...


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