AS I SEE IT
NOVEMBER TO REMEMBER: A REGRET I WISH I COULD FORGET
Well, we finally saw it... ECW and Paul Heyman had a PPV which was clearing its largest potential audience ever. Just days before, the company had reached an agreement with Fox Sports Net to allow them to negotiate to purchase time on all Fox Sports Net affiliates, giving them the potential for near-national TV clearance. ECW had the greatest opportunity to take things to the next stage in the company’s 6 ½ year history.
ECW flat out blew it.
>From the promotion that always told you it was something better, something different November to Remember was for six years ECW’s signature event, much like WrestleMania is for the WWF, and Starrcade was for WCW.... ECW flat out blew it.
How badly the company blew it is painfully obvious when even Wrestling Lariat editor and 1wrestling.com columnist Dave Scherer, known as supportive of ECW over the years, made the following two statements about November to Remember:
“...Fast forward three months to the N2R and again, the company slipped back into their past bad habits, production-wise, and the show once again came off better live than it did on TV. That said, it was not the blow-away, super show that the company likes to associate with their signature event...”
“...Overall, it would be hard for me to call this show a success or a failure. It was more like it was just there. I guess that would have to make it a failure after all, since this particular PPV should be memorable. ”
A further indication of how badly this PPV was received comes from a look at the messages posted on a message board run by Strictly ECW, a fans group that has been a tremendous help to the company. Some would argue they’ve been a far better help than some in the ECW office. Those posting on this board could reasonably be referred to as “true believers”...those who seldom if ever question what the company does. But message after message, ranging from disappointment to outright disgust with the PPV and the company’s direction were posted on this board.
Three samples of some 50 critical messages left on the Strictly ECW board, (locate at http://itscwrestling.com/si/forums/ecw) over the last few days:
“I have seen every show since 1993 and have purchased every PPV. After a long week of work, I would still would be up until 3 a.m. Saturday mornings taking it to the extreme on the Sunshine Network , although I also receive the show at 8 a.m. on the Empire Network, just because I could not wait the 5 hours. Those days are now gone. After a summer of no title defenses, a fake title, and this ------ Spike gimmick, I can no longer defend ECW from people I know who put it down. I have been feeling this way for a while now, but last night’s show clinched it. I am through with ECW. I think I can come up with better ways to spend my time and money.”
“Now ECW is going to have 6 PPVs next year? With matches like they had last night, 2 PPVs is more than enough.”
“This PPV looked just about as mainstream as WCW. It’s a damn shame that ECW spent big money for advertisement commercials for a PPV that offered nothing more than anything the big two deliver on a regular basis. ECW can claim that there is a difference between them and the other guys, but you couldn't tell based upon the November to Remember 98 PPV. In fact, the WWF looks more like ECW these days, than ECW! “
ECW must go back to what made it stand out in the first place. At its peak, it was THE promotion in the United States if you wanted creative, unpredictable angles; an exciting in ring product, with exciting new talent. As we speak today, the company features little or none of those. There once was a time when you could come to an ECW show, and realize you didn’t know what was going to happen at a show that night. You were prepared to be excited by what Paul Heyman would create in his head, and the ECW workers in the ring.
Now storylines and matches have become predictable, with surprises being few and far between. How many times can we see the “Spike Dudley beats the giant” bit? How many times can we see the FBI “break up and make up”? How long can we keep the Heavyweight belt on Shane Douglas without him “defending” it?
Fans have reacted in Philadelphia to this lack of creativity. A recent ECW Arena show received multiple local advertisements on the Howard Stern radio program. These were the first non-PPV advertisements needed in the six years of the company to draw a crowd for an ECW Arena show. It took that kind of advertising (and expense) to draw the crowd that was for years an automatic sellout show after show.
Then there’s the lack of new talent. For “new talent”, ECW fans have been getting the Mid-South/USWA Seniors Tour...Jack Victory, Rod Price, Robert Gibson, One Man Gang, and Jake Roberts. THIS is new talent? Oh yeah, let’s not forget Mabel... What’s next? Frogman LeBlanc-Gustavo Mendoza as the main event at Guilty As Charged?
Paul Heyman must realize that there IS fresh and available independent talent from the Northeast, from the South, from California, the Midwest, and outside the United States that can be brought into ECW to replace those who’ve moved on from ECW to other companies. For example, ever hear of Reckless Youth, Mike Quackenbush, Lance Storm, Ace Darling, Lance Diamond, and JR Ryder from the Northeast? American Kickboxer and Tarek the Great from Ian Rotten’s IWA? Chris Daniels and Kevin Quinn from the Midwest? Michael Modest and Vic Grimes from California? Or any one of a dozen workers for independent promotions in Mexico? If not, why not?
I have to wonder if any of the issues I’ve mentioned will be addressed...substantially. Or will ECW and some of its followers again go into “damage control” mode, and explain why this PPV was just an aberration, and change nothing?. The next three months leading up to the “Guilty as Charged” PPV will give us the answers.
Until next time.....
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