Sunday, December 28, 2008

ECW Predictions for the 2009 year

Well, 2008 is over, or coming to an end. It's now time for 2009. ECW is nearing its 3rd year since its rebirth. So, I wanted to take this time to make some bold predictions about what will happen to ECW and its superstars for the new year. Just so you all have a leg up on what's going on, my predictions will be based on what I know will happen, what I think should happen, and what should happen based on common sense and good logic. So, let's get to the predictions:

Bam Neely
-What does the future hold for ECW's resident bodyguard? If all works out, a change of scenery is in order. Body guarding will still be his main job, but his employer will be different. Who will it be? My guess is The Brian Kendrick. So, then, he'll have Ezekiel on one end and Bam on the other as protection and as a potential tag team for the WWE tag titles, leaving Kendrick free to pursue singles gold. If all doesn't work out, wish Bam the best in his future endeavors.

-I'm predicting that the Boogeyman will continue to terrorize the ECW superstars of his choosing and amusement, but it will benefit him based on gold. His next target will the Dirt Sheet duo of the Miz and John Morrison. But for that to work, won't he need a partner? Sure, and the only person who could handle this crazy creature is another one, only shorter and spunkier. I'm talking about Hornswoggle, of course. You can't get him without his tough father, Finlay. So, these two will join forces to make things very unorthodox for the World Tag Champions Miz and Morrison as well as for ECW.

Chavo Guerrero
-He doesn't use Bam anymore, and he's regularly showing up on Smackdown in defense of his aunt. It looks like a change of scenery is in order for Chavo as well and Smackdown is the only place to go. A flunky he'll remain for the most part until he finally fights for his respect. But, not before he makes another attempt at becoming the ECW champion, which he won't succeed at.

Evan Bourne
-The high-flying aerialist will make his return to ECW in a big way. However, his run on ECW won't last forever as he will be joining the Raw brand in the future, most likely the near one. If and when that happens, expect him to give the Intercontinental title a look or the Miz and Morrison a run for their money as he will reprise his role as Rey Mysterio's partner and shoots for the World Tag titles. But, until that may or may not be a reality, his time on ECW will be accentuated with another shot at the ECW title and a big win to solidify his importance. He will be the one to end Jack Swagger's undefeated streak. I can feel it.

-The fighting Irishman will continue his shenanigans (much to my chagrin) until the ECW champion takes notice again. No, Finlay won't win the belt, but he will set his sights elsewhere. For more on that, see the Boogeyman's prediction.

Gavin Spears
-I don't see anything positive with this guy. I predict he will remain a loser, jobbing until he's fired. If there's anything that will happen as a positive for this guy, I don't know it. I would say he'll come to Smackdown and receive some well-deserved motivation from another Canadian in Edge, but who really knows for sure.

Jack Swagger
-Jack's future? He will remain undefeated until a certain ECW upstart upsets him. See Evan Bourne's prediction. Once upset, Swagger will be very upset, unleashing a mean streak to go along with his cockiness. This will propel him to title contention. A title win is imminent if he remains on ECW for the year, but I see Jack going to Smackdown to continue his winning ways. If the singles game fizzles out for Jack (which will depend on his U.S. title reign), a tag team will form between Jack and.........Vladimir Kozlov??! Both talented, tall, and powerful wrestlers will form a "summit" of sorts (a la Reagan and Gorbachev) and wreak havoc on the tag scene. I'm making a lot of tag predictions aren't I?

John Morrison and the Miz
-This dynamically dangerous duo will continue their World title run, fending off challengers left and right, from ECW and even Raw, as mentioned in earlier predictions. This will prove to be a very tough spot for them as I believe that they will relocate to Raw before 2009 finishes. Why tough? The allure of gold will get the best of them as the IC and World titles will be in plain sight and ripe for the taking. This will place some friction between the two, coercing or signaling a possible break-up. It will be a breakup that will benefit one more than the other. On that note, expect Morrison to return to the World title picture.

Mark Henry and Tony Atlas
-The world's strongest man will continue the punishment in ECW, and may get an ECW title run out of it. However, I'm starting to see that Tony is getting tired of being Mark's whipping boy. This could coerce Tony to step out of retirement and teach Mark Henry some manners. This will effectively end the relationship between the two, and I doubt Tony will be returning....

Matt Hardy
-He will continue his push to become the best ECW champion ever, getting into battles with all those around ECW. I predict that there is a chance that the ECW title won't stay on Hardy's waist, leaving him with all the time in the world to help Jeff in his quest to remain a champion. Slowly and surely, Matt Hardy will reveal to us that he was the one that cost Jeff the title at Survivor series. This will definitely give us the Hardy vs. Hardy match we've been waiting for. Why Matt? Isn't it obvious? Matt's been working hard at being a top star, and Jeff has been messing up. So, why should Jeff get the richest prize in the industry over Matt, who is champion of a reborn and severely weakened ECW? (Note: to members of the A.C.A. on Facebook, I thought of this around the same time as some of you did. I'm not stealing it from you. If anything, I'm agreeing with you).

Matt Striker and Todd Grisham
-They will keep announcing. Duh. I would hope that one gets removed,

Ricky Ortiz
-The rambunctious Latin Assassin will continue to rally for some support. He may even get some help in the form of a very pretty person (See Theodore Long's prediction later). If he does, say, utilize this girl, we can be assured as to where DJ Gabriel will lie (See Gabriel's prediction later) and we'll see something of a rivalry between the two, as both are charismatic, but both are still blossoming into stars. If this doesn't look likely, I predict that Ricky will do what he probably should have done since the beginning: turn heel. That annoying attitude of his will give him Carte Blanche to be under the skin of the many ECW personalities. Granted his in-ring style shapes up, I can see him setting up shop elsewhere in the WWE. I'm predicting Raw, since Carlito is the only Afro wearing Spanish wrestler on Smackdown and that's all we need. I wouldn't frown on a match between the two, however. Ortiz is going to be big as a singles wrestler.

Theodore Long and Tiffany
-Teddy will continue to get his shine on doing this job, but I predict he'll be losing Tiffany to Ricky Ortiz very soon based on how they look at one another. Can you say "backstage romance" because I can say this was more than obvious. This will continue into Ricky's prediction as noted earlier. What will Teddy do? I predict he will work out a partnership with a new person working alongside him. Who? Let's just say that he's an innovator.

Tommy Dreamer
-Dreamer will leave the wrestling aspect of ECW but not the brand itself. See part of Theodore Long's prediction. If that works out, Theo will work out a deal with Tommy for a partnership, giving Teddy a second-in-command and a great mind to utilize for future purposes. Dreamer will eventually get into a situation where he has to run ECW on his own, preparing for the show of a lifetime. This will place two scenarios in play. One scenario is his last ditch effort to be a big star on ECW before the move is made to administrative purposes. He'll try to find victory only to lose to say...either an established star like Mark Henry (who will "injure" Tommy, forcing him to retire) or a new star like a Jack Swagger (who has already beaten him at his own game). The second scenario has Tommy being coerced into combat while being in charge. Someone will provoke him into returning and he will. This may or may not work for Dreamer as I can see his administrative career being on the line in this match, and I can see him losing that, too.

DJ Gabriel and Alicia Fox
-They will keep on dancing. Will they dance their way into our hearts or into our hatred? If the former, expect a certain superstar to have his game checked to find its legit. The superstar in question is one of great "confidence" (Yea, it's that obvious). If the latter, watch for an angle with the Latin Assassin as mentioned earlier. The latter will help us get a better understanding of their allegiances.

Those are my predictions. Now, which do you think is what I know, like to see, and what makes common sense? Either or, it's going to be an interesting year. I can definitely predict that. As for ECW as a whole, I will make this prediction: it will...probably continue on, but not without some changes occurring and quickly. Now that it's at 9 p.m. and shows like American Idol are returning, they have to protect themselves, ratings-wise and keep their key demos from changing the channel. Otherwise, the rumors of ECW's departure might very well be truer than you all think...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

All I want for Christmas

Hey, readers. It's time for the holidays. Yes, those holidays: Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and the ever-popular Christmas. We all know Christmas, right? A big guy named Santa Claus comes down into our house and leaves presents under our tree. To make sure we get what we want, we have to tell Santa what it is we want in one of many different ways, like sitting on his lap and telling him. This can only work if you've been good, though, so don't be a bad person. Now, I know some of you either don't believe in Santa, never believed in Santa, or do believe in Santa and his mysterious ways. This blog isn't about your beliefs or lack thereof. It's about ECW and this golden opportunity. Let's say you were Teddy Long, the ECW general manager, or someone else holding a high position in the WWE. Let's say that Santa does listen and will put your wishes to use if you've been good. So, here you are, ready to tell Santa what you want for Christmas along the lines of ECW. You've waited on line long enough, and the moment has arrived. Now, what do you ask for? Whether you do or don't know, I think I have an idea as to what I'd want this year for the new ECW. I say this year, because I have posed this thought for the past 2 years doing this for my own enjoyment. It's changed here and there, and not all my wishes were fulfilled. Well, actually, I think none of my wishes were. Still I've got some wishes in me that I hope Santa and yourself will enjoy reading. So, here's my ECW Christmas Wish List:

1. Talent
Man cannot live on Evan Bourne alone. This goes also for whomever is severely talented on ECW. I mean, seriously, why is it that only a handful of people on ECW are watchable? For a new breed unleashed, they sure lost a lot of their steam. You either have regulars like the Miz and John Morrison moonlighting on other shows to get the show's ratings up and guys from other brands that are here because they have no other place to go to find success. Matt Hardy, Mark Henry, Finlay and Chavo are all good wrestlers, but watching them here is no different than watching them when they were on Raw and Smackdown, which we still end up doing anyway. How about some fresh talent like Evan Bourne that captivates the crowd at every turn? You can afford to check the independent circuit and find some new talent. Why not use talent like that and do what your competitors are doing only to show them up? Show the world that this new breed is worth unleashing. Yes, I know Jack Swagger and DJ Gabriel are also stars here that stand out, but not as over as Evan.

2. An extra hour
Raw is 2 hours. Smackdown is two hours. Why not give us more bang for our buck with another hour? I'm seeing the same stuff I'm used to seeing on the aforementioned shows pop up on ECW. With just one hour to go on, there's not enough time for wrestling. Also, I'm starting to get a little tired of watching the same people wrestle each other over and over again, with unresolved results. How about allowing the other guys to show up once in a while? With another hour, you can have the best of both worlds.

3. The ECW Television title
I think it's a good thing to have with that extra hour. An extra title to reward those who have worked hard at becoming main-event players, or are not yet main-event players but very good anyway is something I can go for. It also stands as a way of showing us fans who's next in line for a match for the ECW title. That was exactly what the Intercontinental title used to do. I think this would also add some depth to the ECW brand as well. You've got to love depth, right?

4. The removal of the fluff
What happened to ECW being about lots of hard-hitting action, and less talk? Those days are sadly fading. Why am I seeing all this wasted foolishness on an 1-hour wrestling show that was once heralded for its direct and to-the-point approach with their wrestling? If you make it more about action, and let the matches and little things tell the story instead of endless backstage or front stage caperings, I'm sure the show will be interesting again. There's no need to spend time watching Teddy Long look like Ron Burgundy. Seriously. If the crowd isn't laughing, neither are the viewers at home.

5. A better play-by-play man
Why in the heck should ECW get the Slammy for Best Announce Team of 2008, when a) Matt Striker is carrying the team as the analyst, b) the majority of this year was predicated with Joey Styles and Tazz doing the play-by-play, and c) Mike Adamle was the main focus of the announcer situation, as well as ECW's main stories? Striker is a good analyst, as a man of knowledge who knows his wrestlers. Sadly, he has to rewrite history as ordered, but he does a good job at being an analyst, which is more than I can say for his partner, Todd Grisham, doing play-by-play. He sounds bland like a white Jonathan Coachman, which made listening to WWE HEAT confusing. He has no sense of charisma, he has no sense for wrestling or even getting news across, and he's like a D-version of Michael Cole, who already sucks at announcing. Please remedy this in one of 2 ways: get a better commentator, like, say Josh Matthews who knows his wrestling like Matt Striker, or.......................BRING BACK JOEY STYLES!!!! Convince him to come out of retirement or something.

6. Respect
When you only have just one match at a pay-per-view regularly, that just goes to show how much attention is being payed to you. No one cares for ECW administratively. Come on, people. ECW helped change wrestling over time, be it minuscule or massive. It gave the major players the motivation to be "cutting edge". Now, no one even wants to give it a second glance, or even acknowledge its champion as a major player by putting the champ's match first and not near the end. Wow. That's really respectful. ECW doesn't have to be a third-rate side show with midgets and boogeymen. It can be more, if you just give it the right amount of respect.

Lastly, there's this:

7. A big fat pink slip
If all else fails, pull the plug. If you aren't going to at least make the show watchable with these wishes, then I wish for an end to this show. It's running out of steam and novelty, and it's also very cumbersome when it comes to scheduling. Why not stop this charade and cancel the show? Because the ratings are good? Because you have no place for these stars? If the WWE is good at anything, it's making big mistakes and trying to assess the damage and control it. How about you avoid the damage and just destroy it? You'll be thanked for it. Trust me

Now, I'm not sure how many of you have had these wishes or have different wishes altogether. I just wanted to point out what I'd probably ask for this year from Santa if I was running ECW. I'm sure you all have better ideas for wishes, whether they have to deal with ECW or not, like world peace, lots of money, etc. If I were you, I'd ask for those. However, if you were running the show with a chance to ask for a handful of gifts for ECW this year, what would you ask for?

You might need some fruitcake to digest this idea, or some eggnog to dull the pain.

Have a happy holiday season!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hey, Mr. DJ.....Gabriel....

Don't you just love that person who always wants to be the life of the party? You know that person. He or she is the person that dances with everyone they see, or just dances in your way in hopes to get attention. He or she makes it a very memorable party by doing that or other rather rambunctious things. How about that boisterous celebrity? The one that always dresses like he or she is the best thing going today? The one who needs an entourage of supporters or a bunch of BFFs to hang with and assure the celebrity's popularity? The one who has probably made his or her fortune in a few action movies? Well, ECW has the best of both worlds in DJ Gabriel. He's a cross between an action hero movie star and the life of the party. In my view, he's like a cross between Johnny Cage, Daniel Craig, with just a hint of dancing pop star in him. However, there's more to DJ than meets the collective eye.

His real name is Steve Lewington. If you've heard his only interview in ECW so far, you'll know that he's British. He was born in Wokingham, Berkshire, England. He graduated from Senior School, Sixth Form and then attended Farnborough College of Technology. There, he received a higher national diploma in Aeronautical Engineering. Then, the wrestling bug bit him in 2003, and he was pulled into the WWE's first major farm system organization: Ohio Valley Wrestling. He continued to train and improve his craft in many different places and through many different matches until he was moved to WWE's current major farm system: Florida Championship Wrestling. It was here that the persona of DJ Gabriel was born.

He then debuted on ECW on November 18th, and that's when we got a taste of the phenomenon named DJ Gabriel. His debut was very interesting. He came out to some funky pop entrance music, in which he danced his way around the ring, sporting his trademark leather flight jacket, big shades and his valet/publicist/dance partner, Alicia Fox. Her story is quite simple really. She was the wedding planner for Edge and Vickie Guerrero's wedding. She was caught in an affair with Edge before the wedding, and her life was pretty much over. After attempting to help Edge win the WWE title, she disappeared, only to reappear months later with this fine fellow, as her new protege. What followed after the dance was a bit of a wrestling clinic that Gabriel put on. He outmaneuvered his opponent, overpowered him, and made him look like a fool. To end it off, he hit a flying European uppercut from the middle rope, in a well-crafted and well-executed way. After that, he danced some more to his music.

So, why the comparisons? Here's why:

-Johnny Cage is a character from the Mortal Kombat fighting game who is known to have shades, a cool jacket, a chiseled body, some dangerous martial arts moves and is a boisterous action movie star, who does his own stunts. He joined the Mortal Kombat tournament in an attempt to boost his career as a movie star. Little did he know that this tournament was the real deal, and he found himself fighting for his life. Gabriel looks and reminds me a lot of Johnny Cage.

-Daniel Craig is a British movie star who is currently playing James Bond in the movies today. He is also known for having a great physique and does his own stunts. He's also a blond, as is DJ Gabriel.

-DJ Gabriel sure does a lot of dancing. However, I couldn't put a finger on a certain pop star, so I just generalized it. I mean, I can't just call him Michael Jackson or Justin Timberlake. However, he did do the "Thriller" dance...

So, that's DJ Gabriel in a nutshell. It's pretty funny to watch him, but I focus more on his wrestling ability, which is very promising. His style is part European, part American which is sort of like the best of both worlds. It's also pretty precise, even for a guy his size and his physique. But, there's something missing. You see, when he comes out to wrestle, he doesn't quite get a reaction. That's kind of what's missing. The problem is that he's not quite a face or a heel. He could be either. But, what would suit him?

Let's say he goes heel. In truth, his wrestling demeanor as we see it on television is tailor-made for a heel. He does look a bit cocky in the ring as well as dominant. One would say that he might even give Jack Swagger a run for his money as the arrogant newcomer in ECW. There's nothing more brash than dancing up a storm with a beautiful girl at the expense of your opponent. Also, Alicia is his manager. It's rare to find any good guys or gals with managers, don't you think? Knowing where Alicia has been and is coming from, who's to say she won't do some cheating when this is over? So, that's a possibility.

However, let's say he gets entertaining enough to warrant some cheers. He becomes a good guy. Then, he'd give Jack Swagger a run for his money in the ring as a potentially more talented wrestler who can bring him off of his pedestal and into the loss column. Also, another top good guy in ECW would be useful. ECW seems to be short on top good guys, if not new ones. It would be helpful to add him to the mix and at least balance things out. Plus, I don't know about you, but I find his character to be too entertaining to not like. Maybe it's me.

So, it looks like ECW has a new face to add to the superstar initiative in DJ Gabriel. He's full of energy, likes to dance, and can wrestle with the best of them. Whether he annoys you or grows on you won't change the fact that he's here and most likely to stay. He's not as forgettable as Gavin Spears or as expendable as Braden Walker. He's got way too much personality for that. So, let's see where DJ takes us. Hopefully, it will be to one heck of a party...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

ECW's Team Extreme: Then and Now

I remember a distinct t-shirt created years ago during the run of the original ECW. It was entitled, "Team Extreme", and it had cartoon drawings of four of the top ECW stars at the time. I believe it was the Sandman, Sabu, Tommy Dreamer, and a fourth star that I don't remember. I believe it was Raven, "The Franchise" Shane Douglas, or Taz. When I saw that shirt, I couldn't help but agree with the message the shirt was sending. Yes, I know it was developed by Taz, as were all the cartoon ECW t-shirts, but the message was a profound one. These were the stars of ECW that were at the top of the ECW ladder at the time. They were the embodiment of ECW through their gimmicks, angles, feuds, moves, and the like. These were the best misfit toys in the "land of misfit toys" as Taz would compare ECW to. It was something that got me more interested in ECW as an organization because I was familiar with their work and I enjoyed what they did on a regular basis. I bring up this anecdote because of what a fellow blogger asked of me last month.

Marvin, the dude who blogged last month for Reader Appreciation Day, asked me to blog about how ECW was losing its quality after losing Mike Knox to Raw. The only decent wrestlers they had left were Matt Hardy, Finlay, Evan Bourne, Mark Henry, Ricky Ortiz, and Jack Swagger. He then stated that Tommy Dreamer's firing will mean the death of ECW, and the Sci-Fi Channel made a mistake extending the contract of ECW for another year. He went on to blog about this in a way for Reader Appreciation Day, citing different examples. I took this all into consideration and came up with the blog for today. You see, the team I saw on the t-shirt resembled ECW in the fullest of the letters. The wrestlers I see on today's ECW....might not really be connotated with such or as much.

Back then, ECW was about rebelling against the system. They had all the wrestlers no one wanted or considered, so they took their rejections, and, led by Paul Heyman, rejected the norm and decided to live by the extreme. By doing so, a cult following had ensued. It was a following so great that they remained in the thread of the wrestling world for about 7 years. They were a non-publicly funded, out-of-control, adverse, and intriguing wrestling group that looked to take the norms of wrestling and make it cutting edge. ECW had the mind of Heyman to do it, and the wrestlers to back it up. Who were these wrestlers? Let's take a look:

-The Sandman was the "Extreme Icon". He was a beer-drinking, cigarette-smoking, cane-swinging, ex-construction worker-turned-wrestler whose penchant for violence earned him his icon status. He was involved in some of the most violent feuds and matches over the course of ECW's tenure. Whether he was getting blinded by his own cigarette and Singapore cane, caning someone repeatedly in the back, or getting kicked in the face with a ring of barbed-wire on it, this guy was the embodiment of extreme.

-Tommy Dreamer was the "Innovator of Violence". At first, he just wanted to belong in the land of "Extreme", sporting a bit of a baby-face look to him. Upon warring with his rival, Raven, the baby-face was gone, and the rugged look was in. This came at a very convenient time as the fans were practically riding him to take it to an extreme level. When he did, there was no looking back, and the innovator in him was born. He always tried to come up with new and different moves dealing with weapons. If not, he was finding new and different weapons to bring to a match. Throw in a few innovative moves without weapons and that's Tommy in a nutshell.

-Sabu was exactly what he was called every night. He was the "homicidal, suicidal, genocidal, death-defying" wrestler who didn't know a risk he wouldn't take. He would dive off of anything, fly into anything, and literally use his body as a weapon on several occasions. Other than his body, his other weapons of choice were chairs to launch off of, tables to crash into, a spike to carve into somebody's head, and even barbed wire that, for the most part, caused scars all over his body. Yet, regardless of the injuries, he bounced back and continued to wrestle, risking life and limb again to, well, take out someone else. Did you know he actually Krazy-glued one of his wounds shut? Sick

-Raven was a testament to what a wrestling personality can be when his or her full potential is unlocked. He was a disturbed, deadly, manipulative wrestler that preyed on human weakness and the human mind to get what he wanted. Sure, he could be extreme, but the lengths and depths he went to in order to get to his opponents were intense. He stole and manipulated the Sandman's wife and son from him in order to get the ECW title. He enlisted the help of an old ex-girlfriend of Tommy Dreamer's in order to further their rivalry and destroy Dreamer on numerous levels. He surrounded himself with misfits to create havoc all over ECW. He was a very athletic and talented wrestler, without a doubt. But, when it came to blending mind games with violence, nobody did it better.

-Shane Douglas was a well-grounded and well-versed wrestler that was cast away from the major organizations despite his talent. His bitterness towards these organizations would be shown in his cutting promos about how he was the best wrestler around and that these organizations were fools for dumping him. He was also very wily in the ring, utilizing many different opportunities to get ahead of the curve in ECW. He resembled the part of ECW that gave the misfit wrestlers who didn't regularly use weapons a chance to showcase their talents. He did a very good job at that, and didn't mind bragging about it either. Basically, he would be like the Triple H of ECW, only, well, a little more talented.

-Taz was known as the Tazmaniac first. He was an unkempt, unruly savage from Tasmania who took pleasure in brutally destroying his opponents with different displays of strength and savagery. Think Umaga, only shorter and leaner. When he was injured, he refocused himself and remodeled his wrestling approach. He then returned as Taz, the human suplex machine. No long the unkempt warrior, Taz was a quiet, angry, powerful dynamo whose explosive power was seen in his staunch MMA-style approach. He would suplex you in almost every fashion, and when he grounded you, he would make you submit in various holds and submissions that have been only seen in martial arts competitions and the UFC. After one match with him, you would be convinced that he was truly the most miserable person on the planet. If not him, then his opponents were for going through a match with him.

This was a very interesting crew of stars that ECW had showcased as the poster boys of ECW. They were the embodiment of ECW's mentality. Yet, we fast forward to now, and ask ourselves, "Has anything changed?" The answer is a resounding "yes". The problem I have with it is this: no one from the ECW roster of today can logistically call themselves true representatives for their brand. I mean, sure, they are adverse wrestlers, in some aspects. But, can you actually call any of these stars tried-and-true reps for the "New Breed unleashed"? I'm not sure if you can, at least fully.

Tommy Dreamer is still around in this version of ECW. However, his role has changed. Instead of innovating violence, he has become the heart and soul of the acronym of ECW. He represents the annals of the old school of ECW, and serves as a link to the past from the present. It's too bad that he's become the new training dummy for the ECW roster. He loses almost every time he is on television. Now, what about his colleagues, the Sandman, Sabu, and the gang? Well, they are either no longer in this ECW or were never signed. So, who's the new Team Extreme?

There might very well not be a "Team Extreme" this time around for numerous reasons. Sure, there are talented wrestlers that can or have shined on ECW, but do they resemble the mentality and aura of this new ECW? Not all of them do. Some wrestlers like Matt Hardy, Finlay, and Mark Henry are just wrestlers drafted to this new ECW, giving the roster some depth with their veteran abilities. That's actually a pretty good deal for this brand. However, they don't really resemble a new breed being unleashed. They aren't new, and they have been wrestling within a span of at least 10 years, representing either the WWE or WCW. What's so new about them?

This brings us to the other possible figureheads of ECW today. Evan Bourne is a high-flying aerial wrestler who wows the crowd defying the laws of gravity and bringing people to their feet. Ricky Ortiz is the "Latin Assassin", filled with ambition, energy, a frizzy haircut, a rally towel, and a laid-back mentality that has some people turning heads. Jack Swagger is the "All-American American" who has never been pinned in amateur wrestling on the collegiate level, has yet to be pinned or submit in ECW, let alone the WWE, and has an ego the size of his home state of Oklahoma. Lastly, there's the Miz and John Morrison. The Miz is a resident chick-magnet, attracting girls with his style, and causing damage in the ring with his under-handed and cruel approach. John Morrison is the self-professed "Shaman of Sexy", who has a well-toned body, chiseled good looks, a very abstract view on life, and an air of total arrogance. These guys are the new breed of wrestlers flying under the ECW colors. However, it's almost as if they don't even belong. Sure, they can be innovative with their moves and approach, but why don't they seem to resemble or represent ECW fully?

One such reason they don't is because of ECW's new scope. What was once a show dedicated to the rebirth of ECW is now a show made to showcase the new blood of the WWE. When they are ready to roll, they will be promoted to Raw or Smackdown. In an attempt to see where they lie, they are paraded around on Raw and Smackdown in inter-promotional matches to test their appeal to the different crowds on different shows. What does all this mean? Well, I tell you. How can you be the embodiment of ECW when you won't even be there in the long run? Here's a better question. How can you represent ECW when you aren't even on the show some weeks because you are being used on another show? The truth is, no one on ECW is really there as a permanent fixture to represent ECW as part of the new breed unleashed. That can take away from the brand in a large way.

Another reason is that these new ECW talents have a certain feel to them: the WWE feel. I mean, sure, they come off with some very innovative and interesting maneuvers. But, the feel is still very WWE. That's something you might want on Raw or Smackdown, but ECW brings a different vibe to it. It has before, and it should be now. But, the possibilities of making this ECW like the old one are long dead and gone. Paul Heyman was at least trying to get a different feel out of this brand, so it didn't resemble Raw and Smackdown. However, Paul Heyman is gone now. Now, this ECW is a lot like its counterparts, if not for just one hour. So, the wrestlers have to go with the flow. The thing is, why waste them on a show like ECW when you can use them full-time for a Raw or a Smackdown? The point I'm trying to get across is that the new blood on this show would be better suited in an area where their talents would be applauded, like Raw or Smackdown, which ultimately, they will be when this is all said and done.

I guess, in the big picture, the stars on ECW today don't really add anything to the depth or aura of the brand. There are no break-out personalities that you haven't seen or won't see on another show. Plus, the experience level on these guys is still pretty low. Getting good quality matches from all of these new guys is almost impossible. This could affect many different aspects of this show, from length to content to ratings.

I know, this might not be the best analysis made or even the most enthralling, but I just wanted to point this out on some level. The chosen few of ECW are a mix of throw-away superstars who can't survive elsewhere in the WWE and new stars being bred to take the spots they lost. That's kind of terrible if you think about it. Also, these new guys may take years to be as qualitative in the ring as some of their wrestling cohorts, so it will take a while for the quality of their style to come in, if it does even come in. The old guys may have qualities in certain areas, but they are not strong enough to get them over on other television shows. What does that say about their quality? It says that the quality is lacking.

When ECW came about in 1993, it was littered with wrestlers who weren't good enough to be in the upper leagues of wrestling. However, their tenacity, innovation, and cutting-edge approach was more than enough to gain them cult status, and get the attention of the upper leagues. It's 2008 and this two-year old version of ECW is littered with wrestlers who aren't good enough to be in the upper leagues. The differences are these: some of them are being bred for the upper leagues while having to work on their ring quality, and some of them have used up their attempts to make themselves known through their qualities and are stuck here. Either or, these differences are not enough to gain them cult status on a whole. Maybe partially through certain wrestlers, but not on a whole. Ultimately, this is what separates the new Team Extreme from the old. The chosen few here aren't here to change the world of professional wrestling. They are here to just exist in the world. It's going to take more than existence to get yourself ahead. It's going to take initiative, which is something lacking from this show and brand for the most part.

Tommy Dreamer, The Sandman, Sabu, Raven, Shane Douglas, and Taz were ECW's chosen few. Through their efforts, they helped change the face of professional wrestling.

Matt Hardy, Finlay, Mark Henry, The Miz, John Morrison, Jack Swagger, Ricky Ortiz, and Evan Bourne are the new chosen few for ECW. Through their efforts, they helped give and sustain life to a shell of an organization reborn through the mad machinations of the WWE.

If you were going to battle to make an impact in the world of professional wrestling, who would you choose? Yea, I can see why you'd choose that...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

ECW Progress Report: What happened to my ECW?

If you've been actively following this new version of ECW, you would have noticed that the format of the show has been changing over the past 2 years. There have been many gimmicks, angles, and even match-ups that have come and gone since the rebirth in June of 2006. We've seen stripteases, dance routines, factional warfare, talking segments, backstage shenanigans, inter-promotional warfare, and even vignettes that prep us for the next big superstar to show up. Now, the quality was not exactly the best of the best, but when it came to critics and their opinions, ECW had some good reviews coming to them. In fact, there was a time where ECW flat-out had better ratings than SmackDown. A one-hour television show flaunting the rebirth of a fallen organization topples the next generation of WWE television in the ratings. That's impressive. So, what happened? Why is that no longer the case now than it was then?

Let's start out first with what the critics had to say. First, you had J.R. or Jim Ross, former WWE Talent Relations VP and legendary commentator. Now, I've mentioned that J.R. has an eye for talent and for quality (see the Mike Knox analysis from 11/9). His first assessment of the new ECW was that it was a pretty good show because they skimped on the talking, and fully utilized the action. More bang for your buck, without that much talking behind it. Pretty good, yes? In fact, that was the common conception amongst most old-school pundits who watched this and other shows like WSX where there was less talk and promos, and more action and wrestling. They liked it this way, because it had a certain level of substance to it. The action told the story, like it did back in the days of old. And you know what? ECW did that well. There was hard-hitting action, innovative moves, and unique characters to boot. Paul Heyman had a good thing going there. It was his take on the independent wrestling federations that we see each day, if we are that dedicated. So what went wrong?

The first stumbling block was the removal of Paul Heyman. He made some key mistakes that cost him his job, but we'll forgive him, because the mistakes he made were things the loyal ECW fans would have supported because it was his way of thinking outside of the WWE box. First, he tried to make ECW a brand that didn't rely heavily on the WWE way of doing things. That was a problem when your boss is the owner of the WWE and had the final say on everything. Because this was the case, a lot of Heyman's ideas were flushed down the pipe and we were treated to a lot of WWE style booking that did not suit ECW. This led to his second mistake: trying to book a PPV with this kind of pressure. In the end, we were treated to the abomination of that which is ECW December to Dismember 2006. The matches were low quality because you have either seen them on ECW already, or because there was too much of a WWE feel to them. The main event lost its only credible ECW champions within the first few minutes with C.M. Punk and RVD being eliminated first. Lastly, the show ended in 2 hours and 12 minutes, when a regular ppv at least makes it to the 2 hours and 40 minute mark before ending. Vince was not pleased. Paul had done his best to appease everyone, but that was the result. In the end, there would be no more ECW singular ppvs and Heyman would no longer be a writer for the show. This spelled the beginning of the end of the quality ECW stuff.

The next stumbling block came in the form of spare WWE writers writing for the show. They consisted of assistant writers from SmackDown, or even Dusty Rhodes writing for the show. Why was this a problem? All of Heyman's work was going to be undone. Now, we would get a full-fledged WWE-style show with the ECW name on it. This meant the following: more talk, more pointless filler, the de-pushing of Heyman-supported wrestlers like Punk and Elijah Burke, and the pushing of WWE castaways like Test (who would be fired shortly) and Hardcore Holly (who would disappear from ECW to end up on the bench of Smackdown). How did the viewers react? They reacted with a lack of viewership. Slowly and surely, people stopped watching. The ratings slipped. The people cared even less about the show now then they did when Heyman was around. This being because the show had even less of a connotation to the original ECW than before.

The last stumbling block was the re-assessment of ECW through numerous ideas. One such idea was to allow ECW to be showcased on as a replay without commercials. This didn't leave anyone any reason to watch it live when they could just tune into and see it then. Why do this? It was out of fear that Sci-Fi would cancel the show due to its low ratings. In truth, the ratings were much better than any Sci-Fi channel show ever put on. So, no worries. Another idea is the WWE talent exchange. This allowed ECW wrestlers to wrestle on SmackDown, and now currently, on SmackDown and Raw. Why? To get ECW wrestlers over as a way to get people to watch ECW more. Think of it as an out-of-town preview of sorts. This is a double-edged sword as now people who are watching ECW for their fave stars can just wait for them to appear on a show that they watch regularly to see them there. Why wait until Tuesday to see The Miz and John Morrison when they can just wait until Monday night to see them or Friday? The latest and most influential idea is the re-assessment of ECW's direction. The idea was passed down that ECW was to be considered a brand where the new and different stars of the WWE can begin their t.v. careers. If they get rave reviews, they get sent to one of the two main shows. So far, C.M. Punk, Kofi Kingston, and Mike Knox have cashed in on this and are on Raw and on their way to some more exposure. There are others, but I don't remember them either because it was a long time ago, or because they didn't make any significant impact as the aforementioned three are. Why this move? This is so they have some fresh blood walking into a main show without having to thrust them out there as a green wrestler. Give them some experience and let them fly later. This is a bit of a problem because the best, quality wrestlers on ECW are now being shipped off to a better show, leaving the scraps to fend for themselves. So, then, why watch ECW if the best stars aren't even on their anymore?

Fast-forward to now, and how did ECW progress? Well, it didn't. Instead of having at least 4 matches on a show within a 10 minute frame or so, we get about 2 5-minute squash matches, a 15 to 25 minute main match at the beginning or end of the show, and all the filler to squeeze the life out of you. Things like promos, recaps, etc. are just swallowing up the quality of the show. I, for one, think this is a big no-no. Why? Because instead of making ECW a distinct brand where it is separated from Raw and SD, it's exactly like them, but it's only one hour long. So, now instead of being slightly better than WWE Heat, it's exactly like WWE Heat. Great. The quality of ECW has dwindled and is continuing to dwindle. The stars are not as qualitative as the days of old or of late (check out what I mean on 12/7's analysis), the matches lose quality because the stars are of low quality. This is very counter-productive. In fact, it's downright lame. I liked this new ECW because it was different from the other shows. Now, it's exactly the same. And, you know what? The ratings haven't even improved because of it. In fact, they spiraled downward and rest comfortable at the 1.0 range.

One can only hope that ECW will progress the next time I have another progress report analysis. However, can we really be sure? I mean, if ECW is still the highest rated show on Sci-Fi, despite the low quality, should it really be an issue? Not if you're the WWE. However, it should when the fans you are competing for might be looking to change the channel when the situation presents itself, like say, during a playoff game or an American Idol episode. Can ECW regain its quality? It could, but, it's like I always have thought to myself and said to myself ever since its rebirth. People have to actually care about the show for it to succeed. Sadly, no writer, booker, or even fan cares enough to see it flourish. I mean, sure, some fans do. But does everyone? Not really. I think this ECW can be a quality show wrestling-wise if they cut out the crap and showcase the talent. But, alas, this is not a perfect world, and ECW is a less-than-perfect brand. Oh well. There's always hope, right?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Reader Appreciation Day: Marvin Hermanstyne's ECW Declining Analysis

Sorry, folks. No ECW analysis from me today. Instead, I placed that responsibility in the hands of the faithful readers. What did I get? I got a very in-depth analysis from a fellow blogger named Marvin Hermanstyne. You can catch him on for some reviews of Raw, ECW, or SmackDown. Otherwise, go to his blogspot at this address:

You can catch his many different blogs here. They consist of reviews of WWE shows, his buy or sells for the week, pertaining to the WWE and it's goings on, and his predictions. You can catch today's analysis there as well. But, if you're too lazy and want to see what he has to say, have a read. Thanks again, Marv. (Be warned: the language and content can be a bit salty. Reader's discretion is advised)

EXCLUSIVE!!!! The ECW Declining Analysis: How Quality Stars are Moved to Other Brands Hurts their Cred

ECW has been one of my favorite wrestling promotions of all time. The fact that ECW was a smaller company and was overlooked by the WWF (now WWE) and WCW in the past, the EXTREME portion is what caught my attention. The fact that we got to see stars like RVD, Mike Awesome, Sabu, Tommy Dreamer, Mick Foley, just to name a few was an excellent alternative to the WWE and WCW programming.

But when the company flopped financially and Vince took over, I know it was the beginning of the end of the EXTREMEness of the show (now conisdered a brand). Tommy Dreamer is the ONLY current ECW original left on the brand, really let alone the WWE because everyone else was either jobbed out, got fired, quit or working indy shows or in Justin Credible's case, working at a Olive Garden to pay the bills.

But the main focus of this argument is not to digress about the makeover of ECW, is to particularly focus on WWE talent who moved to the ECW brand or stars that moved to the bigger brands (RAW and SD) just to get buried. Lets focus on the following stars:

1. CM Punk - Yes he is an Chicago talent and I am suppose to be a mark automatically? NO. Punk has talent and potential but the creative team has not really elevated him enough to consider him as main event level talent. I mean look at him since he got in the WWE:

a) Wack ass heel turn when he was in the New Breed storyline
b) Became ECW Champion (which is basically a mid-card championship in the WWE)
c) Wins Money In The Bank (because Jeff Hardy needed to be Extreme, so he does drugs and get a second wellness violation)
d) Becomes World Heavyweight Champion just to be in JBL's words: "A Transitional Champion"
e) Gets demoted to the mid-card because he got squashed by the main eventers (Jericho, Batista)
f) Get a meaningless World Tag Team title run currently

What does that do for his career? Nothing in my opinion because he is already buried by being on the RAW brand and I think staying with ECW for a little while longer would have helped him in the long run. With him being on the RAW brand and too many main eventers being there, he will forever be in the mid-card unless main eventers get injured and they have to carry him in a storyline.

2. Kofi Kingston - What the Fuck? For one, this guy is not Jamaican. Why make his gimmick so fucking stupid? But anyway, this is another guy who got pushed too fast and now he is getting buried on RAW. He was exciting to see on ECW even though he was there with the crappola Adamle commentary. But he was doing fine as a ECW superstar and there was not a reason to move him to RAW. What has he done since moving to RAW:

a) Wins the Intercontinental Championship from Chris Jericho at Night of Champions just to have a 2 month title run ended by the likes of Santino Marella?
b) Basically became a jobber on the brand for the time being
c) Suddenly become 1/2 of the world tag team champions?

This shows that not only the tag team division is just as buried as MVP, but the belts are totally worthless in the WWE. Kingston could of still be in ECW and probably make a run as ECW champion, but moving to the RAW does ZERO for his career and he will forever be a mid-carder which may lead him to become a jobber after the WWE finish releasing people.

3. John Morrison - Clearly the most talented on the ECW brand and being stuck on this brand is burying him. Its great to see him work on other brands with the douchebag, The Miz but Morrison is clearly the star of this team. I would love for him to have a singles push on another brand. ECW Champion was good enough a year ago but now he needs a real belt in his life. When he was Johnny Nitro years ago, he got pushed but suddenly he is demoted with working with the Miz? In next year's draft, get Morrison out of ECW and push him on RAW or SD and don't bury him to the likes of Punk or Kingston.

4. Mark Henry - This move was really needed because for a 12 year veteran, his career was not going anywhere. The ECW championship was really a stepping stone to his career because what has he really done over the years besides being someone's jobber? ECW is perfect for him to work because if he goes back to one of the two big brands he will be back to square one and once again become the World's Strongest Jobber.

5. Mike Knox - Moving to RAW will be a hit or miss depending on what they have in store for him. I would hope they have him beast through the mid-card and tap into the upper mid-card because I do not think they would bury someone big like him. If they bury him, I will be disappointed in WWE because he has the potential to be a force and wasting talent will cause them to go to TNA and succeed. Look for Knox to be a star to watch for in 2009.

These are just an few people that I had in mind because there were more people to discuss but they have been released from WWE and not worthy of discussion. But moving from ECW to the bigger brands does hurt their careers because they basically become jobbers. I hate the fact that younger talent have so much potential and they get buried by the likes of Batista or John Cena and never heard from again.

ECW has been quite an enjoyable show for 2008 but my personal forecast for 2009 is kinda ugly because of the lack of talent on this brand. You have your veterans an you have the younger talent who I am not fond of with the exception of Evan Bourne who is high flying but I have a feeling he will be moved to RAW to get buried because Vince hates little guys.

To be perfectly honest, ECW should strictly be a mid-card showcase and no one on the current roster should be moved next year except John Morrison because if they move anyone now, they will get buried and maybe jobbed the fuck out.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

ECW: The killer of the grass roots

Many of you might not know this, but ECW actually has an unseen purpose or two. It's more than just a brand to get new superstars over (no, I won't say entertainers like the WWE asks to), and it's more than a third-string brand for superstars who can't go anywhere past the middle of the wrestling card. In truth, it's actually WWE's secret weapon. The target: WWE's competition. The mission: destroy them. The reasoning: do it at their pace. You see, my friends, ECW is the WWE's weapon against their wrestling competition. The approach is to attack their competition at their own level: at the roots!

This little blog today is a follow-up and a resolution to my "Tale of the Tape" series where I compared the new ECW to TNA wrestling, Ring of Honor, and Wrestling Society X. In those blogs, I compared them to ECW on the presentation level, ratings level, wrestling ability level, and wrestling talent level. Based on the assessments I've made, the results are as follows. First, I stated that TNA and the new ECW are on par with each other. Then, I stated that the new ECW couldn't compete with ROH. Lastly, I stated that the new ECW would be surmounted by WSX. However, that was all on paper, or in this case, on screen. In reality, the new ECW outlasted WSX, can't be bothered with ROH since ROH is not on par with it, and has toppled TNA in the ratings even though TNA has two hours to work with and ECW has one. It seems that ECW is succeeding in the WWE's ultimate plan to squeeze the life out of its competition. Does that sound too far-fetched? Maybe. But, here are some rather interesting things I noticed.

When it comes to ROH, the new ECW can't compare with the talent, wrestling ability, or the presentation. Basically, ROH is everything the new ECW used to be, and more. It's been around for 6 years and has been the talk of most inner circles of wrestling. There's just a few problems. ROH has dvd distribution on a personal scale through their internet sites, and quasi-nationally with 4 dvds in retail. ROH even has some pay-per-view events every two months. However, the one thing ROH could use is a television deal. The problem there is that it takes money to do that. ROH doesn't have that much money to go around as they are spending themselves to the ground on dvd creation, venue setups, and their ppv deal. They would need a very large sum of money to get themselves noticed on television. That's just part of the television problem as they would also have to find a channel to utilize their talents on a national scale. That is not very likely, as the WWE has a stranglehold, or in this case, sleeper hold, on the television market as they are working with two key distributors in MyNetwork and Universal.

Sadly, another problem against ROH is their talent. Don't get me wrong. Their talent is top notch and comprise of some of the most athletically sound wrestlers in the world today. The problem is that they can't hold onto them. When a better deal comes knocking for these stars to showcase their talent, they would be remiss to pass it up. This is something that WWE has taken advantage of, more specifically, ECW. I can sum it up in two names: C.M. Punk and Evan Bourne. Punk went from impressive ROH talent to controversial ROH champion to undefeated new sensation on ECW to ECW champion to RAW draft pick to 2-month World champion in a span of almost 2 years. He's become a mega star by opportunity, chance, and discovery. I'm sure someone has known exactly what Punk could do (either William Regal, RAW writer Brian Gewirtz, or Jamie Noble), and relayed it to someone for his opportunity in the WWE. From there, his straight-edge lifestyle, punk-rock look, and in-ring ability got him on the radar for a title shot as well as good merchandise sales with a somewhat strong fanbase. He's about as popular as Matt Hardy at this point, which speaks volumes. Currently, he's on live television as a tag team champion feuding with Randy Orton, a former world champion and WWE champion. Tell me that's not huge. As for Evan Bourne, well, he was called Matt Sydal in ROH and had merited some tag team victories as well as some excellent matches to the point where he was considered one of the best opening match guys around. However, his dream of becoming a WWE superstar had grown to the point that he had to search for greener pastures. Ironically, he did end up on WSX for a spell before the WWE discovered him, put him in a farm system, sent him to ECW, changed his name, and gave him the chance to wrestle with high-flying offense, which didn't come sparingly as he had to earn the trust of his bosses to do what he does now. Since his official start, Evan Bourne has wowed the crowds with this gravity-defying wrestling ability to the point where it earned him an ECW title shot on a ppv, and a possible spot on RAW in the near future. In one word: impressive. Too bad ROH couldn't give these guys that. If they did, it wasn't on a grand scale like on national television or on PPV with high buyrates. This was the message the WWE sent through Punk and Bourne's rise in the WWE, which was more than enough for some of ROH's wrestlers to get to thinking. If I'm wrong, then loyalists like Takeshi Morishima and Bryan Danielson wouldn't be wrestling in dark matches for the WWE or any type of match. That doesn't sound like a loyal ROH wrestler. It sounds like an ROH wrestler who will take an opportunity if it comes along. I'm sure there's more to their stories as to why they did it, but doing something like wrestling for the competition just doesn't sit well on even the most infinitesimal level for your fans or even your peers.

What about WSX? Well, to be honest, WSX had something ECW didn't have when it was competing against it: hardcore action. There were weapons, explosions, innovative moves, and it was all done in a fast-paced, non-stop style. This was more than enough to get people buzzing about it. Throw in some musical guests and you might have something. What did ECW do to compete? They just threw on their top stars in matches that ran at the same time WSX started, in an attempt to keep fans from flipping the channels. Another move was to have their ECW originals do some extreme stuff to their then-rivals: the New Breed. If that wasn't enough, they would show some crazy finishes like Lashley jumping into the side of a cage. Why? To have it break off the hinges, and fall on Umaga, Lashley's rival, while Lashley was still on the cage. I had to admit that it was a sight to see, and I was impressed. In the end, WSX had suffered numerous setbacks. Its ratings plummeted because either the audience they shot for walked away from the show or the audience they wanted never came on board because of the show's over-the-top nature. Also, MTV began to curtail the show due to its violence, a problem that MTV should have addressed well before the show came on. Instead, they preempted their fourth episode due to a fireball incident that they practically green-lighted. After that, they preempted the show a few more times, until deciding to air the next five episodes in a marathon to get the show off the air and let the wrestler contracts run out. The last episode never aired, and the show was forgotten subsequently. As for the show's stars, they appeared on WWE television, to either lose as jobbers or become superstars that either job or succeed (see Matt Classic, a.k.a. Colt Cabana, a.k.a. Scotty Goldman and Matt Sydal, a.k.a. Evan Bourne, who appears on ECW). All ECW did was step up a thing or two, wait for the ratings to drop, and then, if need be, shop around for the better stars on the show to use.

Now, in TNA's case, they are still around. They have been around for 6 years being the unspoken thorn in the side of the WWE. Sadly, its ratings don't speak otherwise. The most they have ever done as a television show was maintain a 1.2 in the ratings, which is something the new ECW has surmounted a number of times before. So, what's the big deal? The big deal is that ECW has already taken two top TNA stars and used them for their bidding. First, there was Marcus Cor Von (real name: Monty Brown). He was lured to the WWE thinking he'd get a great deal at being a main-event player. Instead, he gets sent to ECW, goes undefeated, gets a monster push of sorts like Mark Henry did, and never receives one title shot. He was involved in the New Breed/ECW Originals war as a major player, but like most of the people involved, he was released. The reason was because of personal issues, but it doesn't correct the fact that he didn't get anything for his time in ECW. Braden Walker (real name: Chris Harris) is another example. Like Cor Von, he was lured to the WWE to be sent to ECW. Unlike Cor Von, he never made it out of his first month of action. His matches were boring, he looked sloppy in the ring, and his ring name was atrocious to many. He was fired almost instantly. What does this prove? That there's not always gold at the end of the rainbow for one. But, it also proves that the homegrown talent in TNA doesn't stand a chance in the WWE. This is what the WWE sought to prove as well as rest on especially since these guys were only in the lowest of the three WWE brands. Now, if you were an ex-WWE star coming back from TNA, maybe things would be different...

It might seem like I'm rambling here, but this is a lot of info I feel that needs to get out there for the point to get across. The WWE is so confident in their success and so determined to be successful that they would even stoop to the level of their competition and compete with them there. Each organization was and is looking to make some sort of grass roots movement to the top of the wrestling world as a stable and competent alternative to the WWE. When ECW was created, Paul Heyman wanted it to be just like these organizations with less talk and more action. As Heyman was released, his work fell into the hands of other WWE loyalists and they began to orchestrate a different approach to the movement. Instead of beating the competition at their own game with this brand, they beat them or are beating them at the WWE level with some remnants of the original idea, by still having more action, but usurping the stars and doing what they do when the time comes. Nothing hurts more than to have an idea that you came up with showcased by someone else as if it was their own but on a larger scale. Right, Microsoft? (Publisher's note: although I know this is what Bill Gates did, I still fully support Microsoft and PCs. Apple is crapple. lol)

Through ECW's existence and approach, the WWE is giving these organizations a run for their money on their own level, and making bank while doing it. Sure, the show is lackluster compared to the original ECW, but the ratings are still good enough for the Sci-Fi channel to keep it on. Sure, it's nothing compared to Raw or SD, but it is still a breeding ground for the future stars of Raw and SD and, so far, it's doing a good job of that. Through ECW, the WWE is telling their competition some advice or threats they should start listening to, or else. If anything the WWE is telling their competition one, if not, two key things.

1) Anything you can do, we can do better. Push new talent? ECW has put new talent on the map within the past two years in the forms of C.M. Punk, Evan Bourne, Kofi Kingston, and even the Miz and John Morrison. Currently, they finished prepping Mike Knox for his move to Raw, and are in the process of making Ricky Ortiz and Jack Swagger two pieces of top new talent to keep an eye on. Use hardcore action? ECW was the breeding ground of the extreme in the past. It can still be if the WWE wills it to be. Have less talk and more action? For the most part of two years, that's what the new ECW was all about. In fact, that's why most pundits took to the new ECW. It was hard-hitting, fast-paced at times, and in-your-face as well. This was something Raw and SD didn't do for the most part until about a year or so after ECW's resurrection. These other organizations are living on being the place to find these things, but only ECW is succeeding at it consistently. If not that, then they are succeeding in getting the message out there.

2) If you want to survive, just sell out. Plain and simple. Harsh and to the point. ECW existed as its own entity from 1993 to about 2001. It was the catalyst for a change of pace in the wrestling world. It helped bring about a more cutting-edge approach to the business. This was not lost on its competitors who were quick to steal their style and lampoon it on television, when ECW could barely distribute it. In the end, the rising debts, bounced checks, and failed television deal was more than enough for ECW to fold. Paul Heyman, in a desperate move, sold ECW and its properties to the WWE to cover those debts. Now, if ECW wants to exist in any way, shape, or form, it has to fly the WWE colors while doing so. It's something Heyman didn't want to do, but he had no choice. Even as he saw his brainchild, ECW, taken from him by the WWE and showcased as the new ECW today, he felt it was inevitable and the wise move to make. Currently, WSX is dead, ROH is dying, and TNA is deeply entrenched in battle with the WWE, as ECW is on the front line. The problem with TNA is that their stars are slowly walking away when they realize that TNA can't give them what they want. However, ECW was brought back to life two years ago. It's not the exact same thing as the past, but its remnants and memories remain. This might not be in the future of TNA, ROH, or WSX.

ECW is the WWE's secret weapon against these organizations. Some would say it's a far-fetched idea, while others would not be the least bit surprised. It's not an all-out assault either. It's a subtle, calculated one that ECW is making. At this rate, ROH will fold up soon, with most of its stars splintering into the WWE, most likely onto the ECW brand. If TNA loses another star and he or she ends up on ECW and succeeds to any effect, how bad will TNA look? Sadly, the WWE loves to squeeze the life out of their competitors any way they can, even if it means using a former competitor like ECW to do it. Call it cruel, but it's good business. I guess this is why some people consider the WWE to be the "biggest heel in professional wrestling" right now. However, the heel ultimately gets his or her comeuppance in the end. With the three -pronged attack of Raw's longevity as the flagship of wrestling, SmackDown's quality as the new generation of WWE television, and ECW's existence to assault on the grass roots level, that might not happen to the WWE soon.....or ever...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bold predictions and big defections

There's been something that's been turning around in my head for quite some time now. When Jim Ross came in to sub for Todd Grisham on ECW, he made a very bold statement pertaining to Mike Knox. The claim: Mike Knox will be ECW champion by the end of 2008. The reason behind the claim: J.R. likes his strength, his demeanor, and his mean streak. It reminded him of some of the brawlers of old that have been champions with that style. Now, we all know J.R. has an eye for talent. I mean, this is the guy that helped green light Steve Austin, Mick Foley, the Rock, and Triple H as Talent Relations vice president. You have to believe that he is making sense when he says things like that, even though he no longer has that position. However, there's a problem with this claim. You see, Mike Knox has had some vignettes on WWE Raw television. At the end, the Raw logo popped up next to his name at the end. This is a clear cut sign that he will be debuting on Raw in the near future. So much for J.R.'s prediction...or was his prediction a sign of the move to begin with?

Let's face facts. Raw is still the flagship show of the WWE. Yea, Raw's quality is in question, but it's still the barometer for how wrestling operates. It's been around for 800 episodes, with some of the most memorable moments in wrestling history. To be part of Raw by debut or by random chance is still a big step in your career. The way I'm starting to see it: J.R.'s prediction might have been a sign that big things were coming for Knox, if not in the form of an ECW title run, than in a brand change where upward movement is a possibility. Maybe this isn't such a bad move for Knox. Sure, with the ECW title, you have one of the three major titles for the brands. You're guaranteed a spot on the pay-per-view at least. But a chance on Raw? The flagship show? This is big for Knox. Then, the rose-tinted glasses come off...

Knox's biggest problem with moving to Raw is that he is yet another WWE wrestler who is big, bad, powerful, and destined for a push due to his size. How many times has that been the case on Raw? Several. How many times has it succeeded? Few. So far, Batista is the only person I can think in which that has happened in recent memory. As for the others, not so much. Kane went from being an ECW champion to being in a Rey Mysterio feud that is starting to lose steam. The Great Khali is now doing a Kiss-cam segment on SmackDown, but not before he was literally obliterated on Raw by John Cena as he was traded there to fill in for an injured Triple H. Snitsky went from a dominating tough guy with awful teeth to a jobber to the likes of anyone half his size, including Santino Marella. Deuce has yet to be used on t.v. fully as he is the only remnant of his group that still works in the WWE, and Chuck Palumbo has been fired. You see the pattern? I hope so. Even though there might be a semblance of character to go with the power for each of these individuals, they have never gone anywhere further with it outside of the mid-card. Sure, Kane has, but that was about 10 years ago. Khali? He was world champion on Smackdown for about 2 months. Sadly, this is the category Mike Knox falls in.

You know what? This has actually been a growing trend when it comes to Raw, to be honest. Whenever the draft is finished, a handful of stars are sent to Raw with the belief that they have been promoted to the main stage. However, they are stuck in creative limbo either jobbing to make a debut or not debuting at all. Sometimes, if not most times, the people that do fall into this category are being drafted from a situation on another show where they were losing big time or were just not used. It's almost as if Raw ends up being the final resting place for your career because you've exhausted most of it elsewhere, but not for the better. In Mike Knox's case, he started out his career as a jealous boyfriend of Kelly Kelly's who prevented her from stripping on ECW. He would then be subject to all kinds of embarrassment through doing jobs and random attacks on his person. He then disappeared from the radar for most of the year only to return to ECW as a bad-to-the-bone grappler who has a beard as extreme as his demeanor. His losing ways would continue here and there up until the Raw vignettes started. Not the best start, which will most likely lead to a bad finish.

But, how could this be? J.R. just said that this guy is destined to be ECW champ before the year is over, not to say that it's impossible since he's going to Raw. This is due to the talent exchange the brands have in order to get ECW over. Still, J.R. just endorsed him. But, then again, he also endorsed the Miz and John Morrison as two men reminiscent of Mr. Perfect and Ravishing Rick Rude. I don't know about you, but that might be giving these two guys a little too much credit. Sure, Morrison does have a Rick Rude feel and look about him, but Rude was just a bit stronger. And Miz as Mr. Perfect? Not even close. So, there's a chance that J.R. could have said what he said about Knox just to get him over as a legitimate star. So, there is that possibility.

I don't know what the future really holds for Mike Knox, but he will be getting some serious attention in the near future. I'd keep an eye out for him. However, his being on Raw might not be very helpful for said future. I'd say he's earned the move, but who is to say that he won't get the Snitsky treatment? I'd also say that he's probably good for a possible chance at the ECW title, but with his track record on ECW already looking spotty, can he really be a credible champion? I mean, he already lost to Matt Hardy in a non-title match. I can only hope the WWE isn't short-sighted and knows what to do with Mike Knox. Otherwise, it will be another day at the office for the WWE with another big guy coming through to the big scene only to be dropped like a bad habit. I always saw being on Raw as a big step in one's career. I would have never thought that moving to Raw would also be career suicide, especially for ECW stars. I mean, they de-pushed both C.M. Punk and Kofi Kingston. The Sandman ended his WWE career as a Raw star with nothing but losses to show for it. Mike Knox? Well, I'll put it to you like this: if he's on the receiving end of a loss to say, Koko B. "Haas", stick a fork in his career! He's done.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The triumphant return......of the ECW T.V. title?

The ECW Television title. What a title that was, huh? It was a mid-card title to be proud of, like the WWE Intercontinental title before it became a prop for amusement. RVD held it for nearly 2 years and we were treated to some of the most amazing matches in ECW history. It was a treasure to ECW in a way that many of us have seen in the years of ECW's existence. Wouldn't it be cool if it came back? Wouldn't it be great if it became a part of the ECW family again? Seemingly, I can find a few things right and a few things wrong about that possibility. Indulge me, if you will about the pros and cons of this possibility.

Ok, first, the television title would be a great and welcome addition to ECW again for the sheer fact that it would be a great reward for all the decent ECW stars who aren't quite ready for the ECW title or might never be. It would be great to see on Evan Bourne, John Morrison, or even Chavo Guerrero for their work in the ring and their charisma as characters. It would be a testament to what they do and how they present themselves as wrestlers. Not only that, but they would do a great job defending the title on occasion as they have shown that they either have the capability to be champ or that they have been a champ before.

Secondly, the television title will add some things to ECW that it has been lacking since its rebirth: depth and prestige. ECW doesn't have to look like or be the third string, third-rate brand it was built to be. It can have some level of prestige with another long standing title added to the mix. It can truly be as important as the other two brands. With another belt, that can be accomplished. Also, the T.V. title can add some depth to the brand. It's not just some one-dimensional showcase for young bucks to attempt to get over. It can actually be a brand for that very case with another title in the mix. It's a pretty cool idea.

Now, as for the wrongs, well, there's about 3 key ones. One such wrong is the fact that its...another title belt, which is something the WWE doesn't need or want right now. There are 9 titles altogether at this point in time. Both Raw and Smackdown share the same title types between each show with one major singles title, one mid card singles title, one title for the women, and one title for the tag teams. ECW only has a major singles title for the sake of it being a brand that needed one. With it, you can guarantee that ECW will have a spot on PPV almost every time. With an added title, it just adds to the confusion. In fact, it adds to the clutter. It's just one title too many. I can be distracting, which leads to point two.

The second wrong deals with the very importance of said title. The television title will have to be defended almost every time there's a television taping, since a t.v. champion is the champ of television specifically. This would have to guarantee a spot to the champ every time ECW is on. This could be interpreted in a very negative light in the sense that it would get more attention that the ECW title itself. That is a big no-no in the world of wrestling: a mid-card title overshadowing the main title? Don't count on it now...or maybe even ever again...

The final wrong has to deal with the general structure of the t.v. title match itself. Every t.v. title match has a 15-minute time limit. Lately, on ECW, the match count has gone down. On a good episode of ECW, you'll get at least 2 good matches that fall into the 15 minute range. Everything else is filler, albeit pointless filler. Also, in these matches, you will most likely get a wrestler that can go 15 or so good minutes of wrestling, and a wrestler who...well can't. This type of match quality isn't good for the longevity of the television title in any case, which is why the television title might not be a hot idea.

So, in turn the T.V. title might very well be a hit or miss concept. It can be good for adding depth to ECW, and it could be bad because of what it might do to the infrastructure of ECW. While this remains unclear, it would probably be best to leave said title in the past for the time being. Maybe it will come back when ECW is one of the best things to watch on t.v., to pardon the pun. Nah...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bourne to fly....on live television?

Evan Bourne must probably feel like he's the luckiest ECW wrestler there is right now. He has gone from starting in the indies, to being neglected by TNA, to having great matches in ROH, to wrestling on MTV, to now being a candidate for the ECW Title at Cyber Sunday, granted he gets the votes for it. How did he do it? He took his high-flying, high-octane wrestling style and adapted it in each and every scenario, with his WWE style being the most impressive, only because he's able to tell a great story at a slowed pace for everyone to comprehend his moves. I'm saying this right now: whatever length of a match you get with Evan Bourne, be it standard time or not, will be worth the price of admission. I guess you can attribute it to his need to fulfill his dream of being a part of the WWE family. But, something big has come on the horizon for Mr. Bourne. Word is going around, and it might become reality. Evan Bourne may take his high-flying skills to Raw.

This kind of exposure could not have come at a better time for Evan. Amidst the sea of ECW stars that fall under either the category of new blood, wily veteran, or new breed of talent with some experience, you can get lost in the shuffle. Since he has come out of the gate, Evan Bourne has been tantalizing the crowd with this moves, skills, and acrobatics the likes of which we have rarely seen. I say rarely because there is another who, like Evan, will take to the sky to do battle. That someone is Rey Mysterio. To answer a question, yes, these two have teamed up on Raw and have had one incredible tag match. But, as Rey gets older, somewhat weaker, and less appealing, someone is going to have to take the reins and keep that spirit alive. That someone is Evan Bourne. In short, Evan Bourne is in line to take the torch from Rey, and it might come sooner than you think.

See, Rey was moved to Raw in an attempt to spark the ratings on Raw from his followers, as well as to bring a new level of excitement to the show with his wrestling style. It had been a long while since Rey was a staple on Monday night television (in fact, it had been close to 7 years, as he was last seen actively on a Monday night on the final WCW Nitro episode). His being on Raw is a gift to the many Raw followers who loved watching his stuff in the past or even present. But, let's face facts. Rey isn't getting any younger. His knee has been surgically re-constructed on a number of occasions. He can't even hit the hurricanrana with ease anymore. In fact, he steers clear of it. When Rey is gone, who can fill that gap of high-flying excitement? Enter Evan Bourne.

Now, this is a wise move for the WWE and for Evan. However, like most wrestling bookers who are afraid of the here and now not producing good ratings, the move may end up coming sooner than most of us expect. Evan has been showing up on Raw a number of times recently to get involved with Rey's feud with Kane. His match against Kane was also great. So, instead of leaving him on a dead-end show like ECW, why not put him on Raw's live stage? Why not place him on the longest running television show in history? Why not place him on the longest running wrestling show in history? His tenacity, electricity, and agility could be perfect for chance rivalries with Chris Jericho, Santino Marella, and the other heels. Also, it wouldn't be a problem if he did battle with some of the faces like C.M. Punk, a wrestler who shares his ECW allegiance, albeit a past one, as well as the fact that they both have traveled to the same indy feds to get themselves over. Let's not rule out HBK who could very well benefit from a wrestler like Bourne, or vice versa. The sky could be and is the limit for young Evan. But, in the sky, there are some dark clouds here and there, and those could settle on Bourne's sunshine in his potential move to Raw.

One of the biggest cons against Bourne is the fact that he's not even 200 pounds. He's legitimately the smallest wrestler on the roster (no, I'm not now nor will I ever count Hornswoggle). Usually, big wrestlers only win titles in the WWE. In that case, Evan better get used to disappearing since he won't win any title matches due to his lack of stature. Another con that will bother me when it comes down to moving is his status on Raw, in general. Why this is a factor boils down to C.M. Punk and Kofi Kingston's current status on Raw, which is now relegated to them being on the low or the mid card. They started off as champs, only to lose them after about 2 months, and now, they remain on Raw, in second gear, idly waiting for another break. Realistically, this could happen to Bourne which will hurt him greatly as well as his momentum. Here's to hoping that the WWE do the right thing when it comes down to high-flying. They've allowed so much of it at this point, so why not?

I'm probably the last person to promote anyone from the WWE. Trust me, I'm not. However, I know talent when I see it, and Bourne is filled with it. Raw would be the perfect compliment to his already off-kilter wrestling style. Live crowds will very well swoon to him as they do Rey, until, it's Evan's turn to set the standard for high flying wrestling in the WWE. But, who's to say that success will come knocking? Who is to say that Bourne won't end up like Punk or Kingston right now? We don't know until it happens. Until then, all we can do is count the days until Evan Bourne's next take-off. If you blink, you'll most likely miss something special. Bourne has proven this a number of times. This may become something of a great novelty to Raw. The question is, can he go beyond the novelty and become a believable reality?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

ECW has some swagger

Swagger. There are many definitions of the word. Verbally, it means to walk with a bold, arrogant, or loudly stride. In other words, it's strutting. It also means to boast, brag, or show off in a loud, superior manner. As a noun, it sort of means having an air of overconfidence, arrogance, and cockiness. Now-a-days, it's just one of the many words in the English language that people wouldn't give two thoughts about, if it had not become a buzz word popularized by celebrities.

In the world of wrestling, there have been many wrestlers who have had quite a swagger to them. Most of these wrestlers were heels, because an honorable wrestler would never be so cocky. As time has passed, wrestlers with swagger were not relegated to just being heels, as faces with swagger started coming out of the woodwork. Either that, or, heels with that much confidence became the objects of the fan's desire. When it comes to a wrestler with incomparable swagger, many names come to mind: Harley Race, Mr. Perfect, "Superstar" Billy Graham, "Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase, Randy Orton, Rob Van Dam, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Edge, and the king of wrestling swagger himself: "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair. These guys have had their best matches as they brimmed with confidence, to the point where it was so darn annoying. Now, another wrestler has come onto the scene, brimming with confidence, and he's in ECW. His name is Jack Swagger. With a name like that, you'd be hard pressed to think that he didn't ooze with confidence. You'd also be hard pressed to think that he might not have the makings of being the crown jewel in the ECW superstar initiative. But, who is Jack Swagger, really?

First off, his true name is Jake Hager. The story about Hager is that he was recruited to the University of Oklahoma as a two-sport athlete, playing as a defensive tackle in football and a heavyweight wrestler. In 2006, as an All-American wrestler, he set the single season record of 30 pins/victories in a row. After this, he reported to WWE and its farm systems, where he spent 2 years developing into a star for one of the main shows. He would win major matches their for an amount of time with his amazing ability. The rest is history. Now, this story is abridged, so feel free to check on its validity. In the end, that's how he maintained the moniker, "The All-American American". He's a red-blooded American wrestler who is an All-American as an athlete.

So, that's who he is in a nutshell. He's a big man, about 6'6" with a wrestling prowess that some people wish they had, and an ego the size of his homestate of Oklahoma, maybe larger. Every week, he comes out putting on an impressive showing in the ring against other superstars on ECW. Not to mention the fact that he's undefeated. Why is he the crown jewel in the superstar initiative: he's just what the WWE is looking for. The WWE will always perennially be a big man's organization. Big wrestlers will always have a place in the heart of Vince McMahon, no doubt. He loves watching big, powerful men run over their opponents. Jack Swagger is a big man, who can wrestle, and has moderate to good mic skills. Not to steal a phrase, but he's the total package of what an upcoming wrestler should be. He's "the next big thing" in pro wrestling.

Now, here's why this is a crucial time for the WWE. They have already lost two other big men who could wrestle excellently. Bobby Lashley had an impressive set of tools that he could use as accolades for his wrestling future. However, it took some backstage politics to chase him out of the WWE and a malaise for the wrestling industry as well. Meanwhile, Brock Lesnar had the same credentials as both, and only stayed until 2004. He was given the impression that he had done just about everything there is to do in wrestling. So, why not move on? In short, Lesnar was pushed to the moon rather early, costing the WWE a top talent for the future. If the swagger of Jack Swagger has to stay alive, the WWE has to make sure they do not give him the impression that leaving is appropriate. He has to be tested with decent challenges and pushed moderately. On the other side of the coin, Swagger can't get ahead of himself and should keep himself in the best graces of anyone backstage. It's great that Swagger is tops as a wrestler, but one wrong word and he's finished, but good.

For once ECW has some swagger: Jack Swagger. For it to stay, the necessary precautions have to be made and considered as to whether or not Jack is or isn't leaning towards departure. If he stays, the WWE will once again have a complete package they can utilize for the future as a top talent like know other, with title shots coming left and right. Now, that's something to smile about, eh, Jack?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Analysis revisited: Tale of the Tape, Part 3: The new ECW vs ROH (Ring of Honor)

Here it is: the final tale of the tape. Once again, there's cutting and pasting, but that's because the ideas haven' t changed. Enjoy:

I have spent the last few months watching both ROH and the new ECW. Both shows give a different look or have been trying to give the wrestling fan a different look at the world of professional wrestling.

ECW was once an upstart wrestling organization situated in Philadelphia. For seven years (1993 – early 2001), they have been a source of some of the most violent, innovative, and cutting edge forms of professional wrestling to date. ECW provided fans with a different style of wrestling as well as a different batch of wrestlers that some said were not ready for the major organizations. However, due to monetary problems, the organization had to fold and sell its wares to their competitor, the WWE. However, as of June 13th 2006, the ECW brand of wrestling has returned to television under the auspices of Vincent K. McMahon, owner of the WWE. ECW can be now found on prime time television for one hour on Tuesday nights. It is billed as "a new breed unleashed", touting a new generation of ECW wrestlers for the new generation of fans.

ROH (Ring of Honor) is a 6-year old wrestling organization formed in February of 2002 by former ECW employee, Rob Feinstein. In an attempt to capitalize off of the void left by ECW as well as the complete distaste for the WWE from some wrestling fans after the wrestling wars, he created this organization for the "smart" wrestling fan. That is, the fan that wasn't going to be swayed by bad booking, stupid gimmicks, bad finishes, and many other ideas that the WWE flaunted on a nightly basis. There was going to be more realistic finishes, good wrestling, great stories told by such, and no one would have their intelligence insulted. Time had passed since its inception and many things have changed and remained the same in ROH. Rob Feinstein was forced to leave due to a scandal of a sexual nature and the company was later handled by Cary Silkin, the president of ROH, and Gabe Sapolsky, former protege of Paul Heyman during the ECW days. Also, the matches were changed to give off more of a standard wrestling feel to make it more accessible to those who are not quite high on the match or story stylings that don't resemble that of what you might have seen during the years of wrestling's peak. The match quality of this organization has received many rave reviews as many organizations seeked to copy or at least benefit from some of the talent in ROH. To this day, some of the five-star matches amongst wrestling pundits through the past few years have come from ROH. Basically, if you can impress a wrestling mind like Dave Meltzer, you've got potential. In that case, ROH has lots of it. From talented superstars, to logical booking, to excellent matches, ROH is one of wrestling's best kept secrets, just waiting for a full discovery.

Now, since ROH and ECW have co-existed, a few questions have come up. Which has a better showing as an television show? Who would win if they were put head-to-head against each other? To date, ROH does not have a television show, but they do have pay-per-view. Also, they have had a handful of their stars come to this new ECW in some ways. Still, a question or two can be brought up as to who has the edge if they were to be placed head-to-head, or if they were just compared? Is the new ECW better? Is ROH better?

I decided that in order to make this fair, I broke down the competitive analysis into 4 categories: Presentation, Ratings, Talent, and Wrestling Ability. It will be along these lines that the two groups will be compared and contrasted. So, with all that said, here we go!

The new ECW is, without a doubt, not the original ECW. There is no question about that. However, in the presentation aspect, those in charge have taken it upon themselves to make it completely different from the original ECW. This not only alienates the real, die-hard ECW fans, but it also kills the credibility of the product. When people hear "ECW", they look forward to what the original brand offers: professional wrestling, cutting edge promos, hardcore matches, and innovative moves and wrestlers. The new ECW has veritably none of that. Instead, we are given one hour of WWE style matches, where the ECW originals (RVD, Sabu, etc.), lose to wrestlers that they would never lose to in the original ECW. Also, we get silly gimmicks and happenings like Kelly's Striptease, Macho Libre, and, of course, interpromotional matches with wrestlers that have no business being in an ECW ring. As for hardcore matches, don't bother. They aren't implied, they are stipulated. This means that all matches aren't hardcore. For the first time in ECW history, there are disqualifications. If you were looking for anything close to the original ECW, look elsewhere. This is WWECW. Since its inception, things have changed. Now, instead of just getting what I mentioned earlier, we get one original losing to everyone in Tommy Dreamer, no more stupid gimmicks or strip-teases, interpromotional matches with Raw and SD, to the point where they just have Raw or SD stars wrestle on the show to take up time, veterans trying to retain some semblance of importance wrestling on the show, and a great place for the young and new talents of the WWE to showcase their skills. The last point made seems to be the major selling point for ECW at this point in time, and is now the major focus.
ROH's presentation is simple: ROH is wrestling. Day in, day out, week in, week out, match in, match out, ROH strives to tell its fans and those looking to be fans that they are a wrestling organization first, and a form of "sports entertainment" second. The entertainment is not found in long promos, silly gimmicks, nonsensical booking, or predictable matches. The entertainment is found is hard-fought matches by each and every wrestler on the card, as they are given carte-blanche to exercise their wrestling prowess to the fullest. There are no boundaries preventing good talent from executing other moves that make other wrestlers look bad or lazy. If there are politics, it's not as glaring as what you see in other places. Compared to ECW, it doesn't strive to be what it is not. It is what it is: wrestling at its finest.

Winner: ROH for the simple fact that the organization is not trying to be a re-tread of a dead organization. It tries to be the new face and the new flame of the sport of professional wrestling.

ECW is on Tuesday nights at 10 P.M. That's just 24 hours from the second hour of WWE RAW. Smart move. ECW gives a back-to-back wrestling feel with the timeslot choice, allowing WWE fans to keep watching wrestling twice in a row. Also, that's the main part of ECW's ratings. The WWE fans are watching the show, knowing full well that a former WWE star they liked, a current WWE star they like, or an ECW star that made a killing in the WWE is on ECW. So, when the ratings come in, you know who's been watching: the WWE fan or mark, not the die-hard ECW fan. Currently, the die-hard ECW fans are few and far between, while the WWE marks are in full effect. ECW will be moving to 9 P.M. on 9/30/08. Since its inception, ECW went from a high of 2.7 to a low of 1.2, just recently. As for the new timeslot, it still got a 1.2.
It's simple: ROH is not on television. There is no t.v. show for ROH in the U.S. at least, nor are there any conclusive ways to measure the ratings to compare it to ECW. No, not even with PPV.

Winner: ECW by a landslide

The talent roster of ECW is a slim one. Not only are they short many wrestlers, but the wrestlers they do showcase probably have no place in any ECW-related program. The Big Show is the best example, as he has always had the WWE or WCW feel to him. He just doesn't fit in with the ECW feel. It takes away from the product. He is not the only one, either. Wrestlers that have failed to excel on Raw or SD! have found solace here. These include Rene Dupree, Matt Striker, and Hardcore Holly. Test and Shannon Moore are just examples of wrestlers that were recently re-hired but won't be overly utilized on a Raw or SD! event b/c of their bad track record on Raw or SD! Mike Knox is a new blood from the WWE farm systems that looks more like a Raw/SD! guy than an ECW guy. As for the ECW originals, only the ones that matter (Sandman, Dreamer, Sabu, Mahoney, RVD) are utilized, and job out at times to the new guys. The others (FBI, Stevie Richards, C.W. Anderson, Jazz) are not even necessary, so, they are kept home. The only exception to the new talent rule is CM Punk, who fits in on any show and can give a great showing as a wrestling talent. He's just in ECW so the RAW/SD! guys don't look bad compared to him. Currently, a lot of changes have been made. Most, if not all of the aforementioned wrestlers were either fired, died, moved to another brand, or even downgraded to announcing (That's you, Striker). The talent roster once again slimmed down, but, the quality has improved. Apparently, they took the example of C.M. Punk and started to add talent that was either in need of retooling or new to the game with a lot of potential. The Miz and John Morrison make up two very entertaining and talented heels after some stints on Raw and SD. Mark Henry, Matt Hardy, and Finlay, and Chavo Guerrero are some veterans added to bring some depth to the young roster as well as help them work a little better in the ring. Mike Knox has re-surfaced as a top talent and a threat. Lastly, the new stars that are coming through make up the best and brightest from WWE's farm systems, or at least those that have been around and ready to go. Evan Bourne, Gavin Spears, Ricky Ortiz, and Jack Swagger are the talents, and they bring a lot to the table.
The talent pool of ROH is full to the brim with the wrestlers of the future, and the wrestlers who have made the independent wrestling scene something to talk about. Why is this so? It's so because a number of talents from ROH have moonlighted on TNA to the point where they got full contracts. Others have been in WWE dark matches, while some ROH alumni are currently tops in the wrestling world, including in the new ECW. Evan Bourne, Scotty Goldman, and C.M. Punk are three fine examples. Other than these guys, ROH is full of wrestlers who would, if they could, set the wrestling world on fire with what they bring to the table. Wrestlers like Bryan Danielson, Nigel McGuinness, Jimmy Jacobs, Tyler Black, Davey Richards, Delirious, Kevin Steen, El Generico, Roderick Strong, and even international stars like Takeshi Morishima, Naomichi Marufuji, Go Shiozaki, and more. Heck, even the women can wrestle pretty darn good. It all comes from years of experience, good teaching, positive reinforcement, and artistic freedom. Something the stars of the new ECW might not have

Winner: ROH by a lot. As I said, Evan Bourne came from ROH to be in ECW. If one Evan Bourne match for about ten minutes can get people to stand up and cheer, can you imagine what the matches that current ROH stars can do?

Wrestling Ability
There are only very few ECW stars with wrestling ability. This is the ability to make a match interesting along the lines of pro-wrestling. The ECW originals that do have this ability are not very polished at it (except RVD). This is mostly due to the fact that they specialize in hardcore matches that has degenerated their bodies and their wrestling efficiency. As for the new blood, only CM Punk and Matt Striker fit the bill when it comes to wrestling. The others are too cliched from the WWE style of things. Their matches look clunky, rushed, and sometimes silly. This, of course, is all in good fortune for "sports entertainment", which is something that ECW hasn't majored in since its inception. Currently, ECW has improved in the wrestling ability aspect and dramatically. Finlay, Matt Hardy, and Chavo are excellent wrestlers. Morrison and Miz also have some severe credibility. Evan Bourne and Jack Swagger are also great talents to have as wrestlers with their great skill along with a better utilized Bam Neely and Mike Knox. So, the overall wrestling ability has improved, albeit slightly.
These guys have all the wrestling ability that's fit to print. They can execute moves well, they can tell stories well with their matches, and they can show you some moves you've never even seen before. There's little or no limit to what they can do in the ring because they are allowed to show you what you want to see: wrestling at its finest. Compared to the wrestlers on the scene in the new ECW, ROH beats it by leaps and bounds. ROH's wrestlers aren't wet behind the ears at all. They are accomplished wrestlers with a vast library of wrestling know-how that they bring to the table. While some of the new guys in ECW have promise, these guys have all the potential needed to give their fans what they want: wrestling at its finest

Winner: ROH

In truth, ROH is better than the new ECW in many of the ideas and facets I mentioned here. In fact, Paul Heyman was using ROH as an example as to how he wanted the new ECW patterned. It was too bad that Heyman was relieved of his duties in late 2006 before we could get a good feel of that. This was due to various creative differences. Still, on paper, ROH is better than the new ECW. But, that's just it. It's on paper, or in this case, on computer. Only time will tell as to whether or not ROH can hang with this version of ECW. Only time will tell. Until then, if you haven't done so already, look into ROH and see for yourself.

That's what I think. What do you think?