Sunday, September 28, 2008

Analysis revisited: Tale of the Tape - Part 1: The new ECW vs. TNA

This is a repost and a revision of a blog I posted on Myspace that was worth reposting for this blog. I think it is still prevalent to this day.

Here's the link to the original:

Now, here's the revision:

I have spent the last few months and years watching both TNA wrestling 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.

TNA (Total Non-stop Action) is a 6-year-old organization that was created as a subsidiary of the NWA under the watch of the Jarrett family, until the agreement between TNA and the NWA had subsided. Since then, TNA has been its own entity. For the past 6 years, TNA has been providing viewers with some of the hottest talent in the wrestling industry straight from the independent wrestling circuit. Due to the popularity of these talents, the popularity of TNA grew steadily. The TNA formula is simple: build an organization with high octane professional wrestling from these new talents as well as the veteran talent that may or may not have been given a fair shake in the major organizations. So far, this formula has earned TNA spots on cable television and now they are a prime-time television show which is on every Thursday at 9 P.M. for 2 hours. This is much better than their failed stints at different times and networks in the afternoon and at late night.

Now, since TNA 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? It's no secret that ECW's resurgence is the WWE's attempt to compete with TNA on TNA's level. The main question this blog asks is this: can this new ECW compete with TNA?

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.
TNA does exactly what they say they will do: give you total non-stop action. The matches are fast paced and well wrestled. They tell stories in themselves. The talent is very energetic, well-known via the indy circuits, and professional. The promos are on-point, although not always. And, even though, lately there has been more talk then action, the higher-ups are quick to make that change to improve the product. In short, they live up to what they bring to the table and the fans are not disappointed. That was then, but now, it's different. There's actually more talk, but still the same action. However, there are dumb storylines and gimmicks clogging up the airwaves, older stars from WWE and WCW main-eventing the show, and women wrestling with the utmost of excellence which is the only selling point of the show.

Winner: ECW, because there is a lot less talk, and a lot more action.

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.
This is where TNA falters. They are situated on Thursday nights at 11 P.M. and Saturday nights at the same time. Quite frankly, no one is watching wrestling at those times. Heck, no one is probably home at those times either since it is around the weekend. Why this situation? Spike T.V. did not want another wrestling show on their network, clogging up their chance to show original television. Another problem w/ the ratings involves the fact that most viewers know the outcome already and won't want to see it all turn out if they do not like it, through spoilers via the internet. TNA may want to consider going live to alleviate this, and they did. During the course of the two year run of the new ECW, TNA moved to 9 P.M. and added an extra hour to boot, with Saturday at the same time as before at 11. Did the ratings improve? Absolutely. It went from the .5s and .6s to 1.0 and 1.2. The only problem with all of this: that's the highest it has ever been. It has never gone past 1.2. Now, there was one time when ECW lost to TNA in a ratings war, but that was in December, and ECW was pre-empted to Thursday against TNA's 2nd hour. However, since then, not even 2 hours of TNA can merit higher ratings than 1 hour of ECW

Winner: ECW because it has consistently risen much higher than TNA Impact many times.

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.
TNA has about 20 more pieces of talent to use than that of ECW. In fact, they can go to other uncontracted talents from the past and utilize them when they must, in order to put together a match or two. 80 percent of them are utilized. No one is left out. In fact, they just recently picked up Kurt Angle, who was in the new ECW. That's more than enough to put their talent pool over the boundaries. Currently, the amount of talent TNA has over ECW is still pretty high. However, the amount of them that are utilized has dropped significantly to my estimation. This is a trend that is growing steadily only due to the fact that there is no farm system TNA can go to in order to grow talent. So, they have to either stop using talent and/or release them to keep the show fresh with people that will work or that can be used. The talent that is not being used however, do not have the star power to keep themselves on t.v., unlike others like Kurt Angle, who has been changed dramatically, Samoa Joe, who has also changed, along with A.J. Styles, Christian Cage, Sting, Rhino, and even Booker T. So, it's not a total loss. Throw in the fact that you have a division full of women that can wrestle like no other, and that's still enough to get over the hump.

Winner: TNA

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.
A good portion, maybe 95% of the wrestlers in TNA have wrestling ability that puts ECW to shame. This is due to the facts that there are more wrestlers in TNA and they are allowed to showcase their craft as much as they can. Kurt Angle alone makes up for most of that wrestling ability TNA presents. However, the entire X Division and some of the tag teams in TNA also bring a lot of ability to the table. The matches will look spot-on most of the time, and the moves will be well-executed for the most part. You won't go home unhappy after seeing some of these guys in action. Currently, this hasn't changed. The only thing keeping from being a standout thing is some of the dumb storylines surrounded by them. But, if you eliminate that, the wrestling ability of TNA is immeasurable. When they say they have the most talented roster in the world today, they aren't kidding. Just look at the quality of some of their ppv matches compared to some of the ECW stuff. Sadly, the quality has dwindled, but not by much.
Winner: TNA

In closing, TNA was better when I wrote this originally. After two years, they are about even. TNA has more quality wrestlers and two hours to utilize these guys. Basically, they have a quantity of quality talent. If you look at the roster on TNA and take what they have done matchwise in and out of TNA, you see what I mean. However, when it comes to ratings and presentation, ECW beats TNA hands down. ECW is one hour of little talk and lots of action. The storylines aren't so mind-bending that you have to take an aspirin. Some stars are entertaining enough to keep you watching long enough to see something you might like. Lastly, the focus of ECW was changed dramatically. It went from a show that was trying to be a legitimate brand competing with Raw and SD to a developmental brand that is showcasing new talents, prepping these talents for the future, and utilizing older veterans who have lost their standing on their respective shows. They are the new top stars of ECW. Throw in some ECW stars wrestling some Raw and SD stars on the show and vice versa, and you have the new ECW in a nutshell. Simply put, the expectations of the show were lowered greatly by fans, bookers, agents, etc. and it's paying off because nothing great is expected, but when it happens, it's a good thing. This is probably why TNA is not doing so well. The presentation is off. They continue to look like a lighter version of WWE or WCW, and that's a big turn-off.

That's what I think. Now, what do you think?

Analysis Revisited: ECW's moving day

I made this analysis before one day, and just like before, it will be short, because there isn't much to say about the matter except the brass tax of it all. So, here goes nothing.

As you know, ECW is doing the big move this coming tuesday on September 30. On that day, it moves from 10 P.M. to 9 P.M. on the Sci-Fi Channel. This is actually considered to be a great thing. Now, ECW is at an earlier time, and those whom the WWE is looking to get as their target audience should have a better chance to watch it without time being a factor. This is the best move for the WWE to make for ECW. It's perfect. Now, here's why it doesn't work.

The number one reason and the only reason I can think of that will hurt this change is this: ratings. Now, I know you're instantly thinking that ratings would actually be a positive here, but I'm thinking not. Why? Here's why: ECW was maintaining some semblance of ratings at 10 P.M. b/c it was unapposed. I mean, sure there was Law and Order and Dog: The Bounty Hunter, and such, but the people watching this were not the people who were watching this new ECW. It was probably because they were either not wrestling fans or fed up with what they were seeing on television. Now, ECW is moving to 9 P.M. and its fans have changed to somewhat casual fans with children and such and even teens. Big mistake, in my view.

Why is this a big mistake? 9 P.M. on a tuesday night is a key night for some quality, or not so much quality, television shows to step up and gain some ratings. Bones, House, baseball games, basketball games, and even some stuff on Nick at Nite, TV Land, or such are examples. Sure, they don't seem like much, but they are still good ratings getters. My general fear for ECW will come next year from January through parts of the summer when it comes to that timeslot. Why? Two words: American Idol.

How and why am I bringing this annoying show up? It's because this and ECW will most likely be sharing the majority of their fans. Simply put, fans of ECW will and are most likely generating fans that watch American Idol and shows like it, which is what the WWE wanted in the first place. If and when the show returns, do you think those ECW fans are going to want to waste a minute watching ECW when they could see people screw up songs, or make a great impression? No, I don't think so. American Idol has a tendency to draw all types of viewers, including little kids, teens, families, etc. These are the people that ECW is trying to win and that the WWE wants to hold on to. As soon as this show comes back, ECW will take a ratings hit, like it did when the NBA playoffs and the NCAA playoffs were on.

Now, a show is considered a success on a network if it has ratings that pretty much outscore the other programs on its network. Basically, the reason ECW is still around is because it is still the highest-rated show on Sci-Fi. How long is that going to last if ECW's viewers are flipping between that and American Idol, or the MLB Playoffs or something? Putting ECW at 9 P.M. at night is putting it in the crosshairs of any and every halfway decent show that can grab the attention of the audience. At 10 P.M., they had something of a safe zone, since most shows that were on that could take from its audience were already done for the night. Now, it doesn't look good.

The only way to see for sure is to wait, watch if we choose, and see how well it does in the ratings during the week. But, if I'm the WWE, I'm trying my best to have good shows for ECW so the fans can get back into it, be it hardcore or casual, because if ratings are an issue for the company, then putting yourself in the crosshairs is the last thing you want to do.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Special ECW Analysis: Why Cena and ECW just don't mix (for the A.C.A)

Picture this if you remember:

June 11, 2006, around 10 p.m., if not earlier. An angry crowd fills the Manhattan Center in the Hammerstein Ballroom, and they are taking turns spitting on and wiping their butts with a t-shirt. They throw it into the ring. The person who owns that t-shirt throws it back into the crowd after seeing what happened to it when he threw it in the first time. The same thing happens again, this time with obscene gestures, lewd remarks, screaming, glares, and even signs promising anarchy. The t-shirt owner is John Cena. The event was ECW One Night Stand 2006. One of the signs, which has reverberated all over the wrestling world when seen on pay-per-view television said the following: "If Cena wins, we riot!" As sure as I'm writing this, this was what happened. In fact, as sure as I am writing this, there would have been a riot that night, of epic proportions. Cena was in no-man's land. Cena was in a world he couldn't quite comprehend. Cena was in ECW country, the most rabid, unpredictable, and violent part of the wrestling world.

Now, this whole scenario should be proof positive that ECW and Cena don't mix. ECW is about many of the things that the wrestling world didn't take stock in. When ECW was created, it was created amidst the bad gimmicks, poor politics, and overt silliness in the wrestling world. All ECW was trying to do was change the way we saw wrestling. Story lines were cutting-edge, matches were well fought and fast paced, stars were different, gimmicks were realistic to a point. It was a different vibe that many of the wrestling fans enjoyed. They were sick of the current products out there and wanted something new, something different, something they could relate to, and ECW delivered. These fans all clamored into the Hammerstein in 2006, and they saw something they could not stand: John Cena, the embodiment of all that was wrong with the way wrestling was and how it is currently. Yet, two days later, we are watching Cena confront RVD about the WWE title on ECW television, and what happens? He gets in a fight with him and Edge and Paul Heyman and he gets away Scot-free. How do you think some of the ECW fans felt after that?

It's real simple. You can't take something like ECW and try to put something that embodies WWE with it and expect something good to happen when the WWE part succeeds. Well, I mean, it worked with Jerry Lawler, but even Lawler got his in the end. Did Cena ever get his? No. He might have lost a chance to get the belt from RVD, but got the belt 2 months later, without beating him, and stayed WWE champ for a whole year. Now, just think if that had been done on ECW or if Cena was a main fixture on this show.

Look, it's no secret. Cena has been made into this generation's Hulk Hogan. Hulk Hogan, back in the day, was the embodiment of baby face. He was "The Real American" who fought for every body and their rights and for fairness. It was perfect for the WWE since it brought in a slew of new, younger fans, and even entertained older fans who either didn't know the inside scoop about wrestling, or didn't want to know. As we grew up and as the world changed, things like ECW came along to change our perspective on wrestling. Because of its popularity, WWE and WCW had no choice to take some cues from them and change the ways they did business. As ECW folded and became WWE property, aspects of it were starting to meld into the world of wrestling, but slowly faded in the WWE as time passed. Cena then emerged and became this sensation, using his pseudo-ability to rap as a way to connect with fans who thought they had street cred, when in turn, they were just trying to be gangsta. In short, Cena was the poser that every wanna-be gangsta was at the time. He was the embodiment of the fake thug, and every fake thug supported it. Fake rappers did, too. But, there was one thing the WWE liked about it all: Cena's passion for the business. He has such a passion and a hard work ethic to get people to like him or hate him that it's admirable. Yea, right. I'm sorry but I don't mistake a word like "passion" with words like "blind obedience". The reason Cena is Vince's little treasure is because he is doing what Hogan, the Warrior, Macho Man, and the like have done in the 1980s. In all specifics, he's doing exactly what Hogan was doing: cutting promos to appease a bunch of simple-minded fools, appealing to the lowest common denominational fan, giving his all for children, and doing it with a limited move set, something greats like Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, or even Christian don't abide by. Yet, it was ok for Cena to beat those guys, as long as he did was he was asked to do. He loves this business so much that he'll give his life for it. Sure, he sees the political games and how bad his wrestling style is, but will he raise a stink or even his voice? No! Simply put, he's just protecting his own carcass and being blindly obedient to Vince. Now, can you imagine this guy in the new ECW?

If he were put there, untouched, unaltered, and utilized to the degree he has been, let me tell you what would happen. First off, he would become the ECW champion as soon as RVD got picked off for his marijuana charge. For this to happen, however, he would have to beat the Big Show, which will happen, and then Big Show's value on ECW would drop dramatically, as it has before elsewhere. As for the WWE belt, Edge would have it, and would probably hold onto it for a long time on Raw, at least until Triple H's return. Now, Cena would dominate as ECW champ, which would not only cause a massive amount of original ECW fans to stop watching, but it might even affect ticket sales. I'm sure it would have at the Hammerstein on August 1, when C.M. Punk debuted. If not, there most definitely would have been some rumblings when the main event of Cena vs. Batista at the Hammerstein went down. If there wasn't a riot, there would have been a mass exodus of fans as soon as the match happened. Cena's title reign would have been just like Big Show's, only Heyman would not be supporting Cena as a face, but he'd be trying to get at him as a heel. Then, we would have December to Dismember. By then, I would have figured that a handful of ECW originals would have quit over this, but if they needed money they would remain. But, come this event, the outcome would be as follows: Cena wins. That's it. No big, elaborate ideas. Cena beats everyone in that match, plain and simple.

This is supposed to be a new brand with new and different talents. These wrestlers were put here because their style was figured to be conducive to that of the ECW brand. Cena is in no way conducive to the brand, with his wrestling style, mentality, or his backstage protection. He would do to the new guys what he does to every new guy: beats them and forces them off the brand to find new direction. It's fact, folks. Every new and upcoming talent that has battled Cena while having some relative form of push or upward movement has been downgraded dramatically because of Cena's untouchable nature, and inability to lose. Kenzo Suzuki, Rene Dupree, Matt Striker, Muhammed Hassan, Chris Masters, John Morrison, Lashley, Mr. Kennedy, Umaga, The Great Khali, and the list goes on. Every one of these people after losing to Cena has been downgraded dramatically to either losing big matches almost every time, pushed to the lower card, moved to a new show to be re-established, or at its worst, being fired in a matter of months. This kind of nonsense has crippled the talent pools on Raw and SmackDown. The damage was so great that it has yet to fully repair on SD, while on Raw, the damage may very well continue as long as he is there. To be frank, Raw's wrestling quality is at a low, and Cena's presence and victories lowers it every time he shows up. Can you imagine what would happen to the talent that debuted here? Mike Knox would not be seen on ECW because he would be fired, thanks to Cena, along with Test. RVD would be relatively forgotten, as he is now. Sabu would have ended up losing so much, he would be worse than Dreamer. Both Dreamer and Sandman would not stand a chance. As for others like Kevin Thorne, Elijah Burke, and Matt Striker, don't count on them seeing the light of day on this show.

See, it's real simple. If you are looking to advance talent that couldn't get a chance on Raw or SD b/c of Cena or people like him (i.e. Batista), having those types of people on this show would be very counter-productive. In fact, Batista's last stint on ECW cost us Elijah Burke on a more active basis. We haven't seen him wrestle actively on ECW, and win even since then. ECW is supposed to be the "land of the misfit toys", which according to Tazz, is what the original ECW is. So far, the WWE has made it that way to the extent of finding more conducive uses for some of the toys which will lead them to being accepted to a Raw or SD toybox. If you send a toy like Cena to ECW, there won't be space for the misfit toys. Then what happens? They get destroyed, thrown out, sold in a bargain basement, or left without anyone playing with them.

In conclusion, Cena and ECW just don't mix. Yea, we've seen some things that don't mix with ECW like Test, Big Show, and Hardcore Holly, but with the right booking and with a little believability, they could belong. I mean, they don't belong anywhere else, thanks to Cena and such. Why not give them a shot in another place that was lacking some talent if you wanted to use them as talent on television? In the hands of Heyman, they could adapt to the ECW style. In the hands of Heyman, Cena became what he is now, as the WWE took his character and ran with it, ramming it down everyone's throats. He became exactly what the WWE wanted. If something the WWE wanted ends up in the original ECW, they will be destroyed. Is this the original ECW? No, but there are aspects of it. Cena's involvement in this would destroy those aspects. ECW has created its legacy by making it completely different from WWE and stuff like it, vehemently rejecting those who support the WWE. Cena is WWE, erego, Cena has no business being in anything ECW, for if he is, the very fabric of ECW, new or old, will be destroyed.

I'm running out of words or things to say either because the thought of Cena in ECW is troubling me to the point where I'm actually thinking of what would happen. So, I better end it here. On June 11, 2006, if Cena won, there would have been a riot. On June 13, Cena got away with murder on ECW television. But, the possibility of Cena being on ECW? I think that would be WWE's way of finally destroying ECW, its spirit, its legacy, and its existence once and for all. The ultimate revenge for Vince McMahon, wouldn't you say?

One was Tommy...who lived by himself...

The title of this blog entry is a parody of a song from Carole King. The song was called, "One was Johnny". It came from a cartoon called, "Really Rosie". Johnny was a character on the cartoon who lived alone after a bunch of things happened while in his house. He was the only one left after all the chaos.

Now, is Johnny similar to Tommy Dreamer? I doubt that since Tommy is not a cartoon character. However, his constant jobbing makes him look like Wile E. Coyote, sometimes. But, you see, that can't bother Tommy Dreamer at all. See, Tommy Dreamer is the "heart and soul" of ECW. He can't give up. He'll take a licking and keep on kicking. And you know what? The WWE wants it that way.

When word got out that ECW would be having a reunion show in 2005, the first people to jump on the idea were RVD, for suggesting it, Paul Heyman, since he practically owned the company, and Tommy Dreamer, who was practically Heyman's right-hand man backstage. They put the pieces in play and ECW One Night Stand 2005 was underway. It was a success to the point where another one would be planned in 2006. Now, a lot can happen in a year: people can die, sign contracts to other companies, or even retire. Knowing this, Tommy and Paul both gave it a shot. In the end, we were treated to a lackluster pay-per-view that segued the re-launch of ECW on television. The first episode walked away with a 2.7, the highest the show would ever do. Since then, it was a steady down-turn in ratings, which were caused by many things: inter-promotional nonsense, dumb characters that were funny for about a second, under-utilization of ECW originals and the almost-complete absence of anything extreme. This would cause many of the "original" fans to stop watching, if not all. Tommy and Paul were undeterred and were sold on the fact that this was not the "original" ECW, but a new type that would sort of take pages out of the books of JAPW or ROH. While there was doubt from some, Tommy remained somewhat hopeful. One was Tommy....who hoped by himself...(sorry, I couldn't help it).

As time passed on, many things were changing about the new ECW. One of the biggest changes came in December after the debacle which was the December to Dismember event. After this, Paul Heyman was relieved of his booking and writing duties, leaving all of his supporters within the ECW brand fearful of losing their jobs. This, of course, was common-place since over the months, some ECW originals did lose their jobs, if not their spots on television. Still, Tommy, watching the dejection, remained hopeful, since he still had a place on t.v., as a jobber. One was Tommy...who jobbed by himself...

About one year after December to Dismember, ECW was without many originals as well as newbies. We're talking Francine, Trinity, Tony Mamaluke, Sandman, Sabu, Ariel, Rodney Mack, Jazz, Test, and later on, Mahoney among others, and the biggest of them all due to his impact, RVD. Why say that? It's because he suggested that ECW come back, for crying out loud. What was left was a meager portion of wrestlers who followed Tommy Dreamer's example: love the fact that ECW is on and you represent it in a way, job if you're asked to, and keep your mouth shut. All the people I have mentioned were released because they had no use according to creative, got in fights backstage, had no interest in putting the new ECW over since it was sacrilege, or whatever negative reason. Still, Tommy remained, and what did he do? He mentored Colin Delaney, and both got beat down, mercilessly at times. One was Tommy...who obeyed by himself...(I didn't include Colin because he didn't even have a job yet. He was just being payed to appear).

Fast forward to now. The new ECW consists of the following things: new talent looking to get over, old talent looking to remain in some semblance of a spotlight, an ECW title with no semblance of the original feel to it, and...Tommy Dreamer, the only original left on the show, and sadly, even in the WWE. No, I don't count Super Crazy or other like Jericho or something for two reasons: 1) Super Crazy was first discovered on WWE television as Super Loco back during 1997. In truth, that was his first wrestling outing. Do the research as I'm sure it's there. 2) Super Crazy and others like Jericho have found ways to transcend the ECW feel by melding into the WWE or WCW style of presentation. You could have watched them anywhere else and said to yourself that they were going to be top stars someday. Now, yes, they were discovered on ECW, no doubt, but compared to the other people synonymous with ECW, they have done or are doing relatively more with their careers. Ok, maybe this isn't the best defense for number 2, so how about this: I didn't count them b/c they aren't on the ECW brand, which means that someone feels they have more value than to be placed on a 1-hour show that lampoons the "era of Extreme" to the point of sacrilege. I didn't want to be that harsh, but that's the case. Amidst all this, who is left? Tommy Dreamer. He has no "original" friends in the ECW brand, no "original" proteges, nothing. He just has himself. One was Tommy...who survived by himself..

So, yes, Tommy Dreamer became the heart and soul of ECW, and the WWE is loving that idea. Now, why is this the case? It's this case for 2 key reasons.

1) Tommy Dreamer is the only palpable ECW original from the embryonic stages of ECW. If I'm not using the right wording, how about this: Tommy Dreamer is the only ECW original who will do as he is told. You see, Sandman got fired because he ticked off Ricky Steamboat by not listening to him. Sabu got fired for trying to no-show some events based on his injured neck. RVD didn't renew his contract because he was tired of being linked to this new version of ECW and what it stood for. Paul Heyman got fired for trying to make the new ECW in his vision instead of Vince's. Tommy Dreamer? All he did was plan a few tough and heavy-handed blogs that either never happened or were toned down. You see, these guys have what Tommy Dreamer lost about 6 years ago when he agreed to eat things like hair, tobacco spit, and such: pride. Tommy knows he has kids to feed and a beautiful wife to support (he's married to Beulah McGuillicuty). He knows what's at risk if he opens his mouth. Plus, he's a mark for the business as well as a mark for ECW. He and Paul Heyman showed that they were willing to put aside their petty feelings of pride to at least give us the original ECW for a bit. Once Paul knew there was no getting his way in any form, he quit. Tommy already knew there was no way, but he never gave up. He probably feels that if he does, he will have betrayed the legacy of ECW that he pushed so hard to get re-established. I mean, sheesh, people chanted "ECW" every time he came out there. ECW is all he's ever been, sadly, so why not hold onto it?

2) Since Tommy Dreamer needs to hold on to ECW, WWE needs to hold onto Tommy Dreamer. It's a "give/take" type of thing in a weird way. Let me explain. Tommy Dreamer loves ECW to the point where he'll watch it be tarnished on television. He's passionate about it to the fullest. Now, the other originals who did what Tommy did and still got fired were sort of in his position, but honestly, they never were. Why is that? Stevie Richards was a fine talent, but they believed what most other pundits believed: without Raven, he's nothing. Nunzio is a great wrestler, but the pundits thought he was too small to do anything and they didn't want to waste money on people they didn't need like Mamaluke, Smothers, J.T. Smith, Tommy Rich, Big Guido, or even Big Sal. Mahoney knew how to wrestle amateur as Joey Styles pointed out every time he was out there. However, the pundits thought that all the damage done to his body wouldn't allow it. Also, he was an ugly fat guy with nothing going for him except ultra-violence. Tommy Dreamer, however, had the average WWE superstar build. He could still string together moves despite all the damage, and he had been in so many wars where he got his clock cleaned. To the WWE, he was perfect for a guy who was a jobber. Even better, he was an original that they could use to smear the name of the "original" ECW in the dirt. Why him and not all of them? He was in some pretty high-profile ECW matches and feuds. Plus, he was a former ECW champion, and probably the last high-profile one around, excluding Rhino. Now, let's say they get rid of Dreamer by giving him an office job or something. How does that affect the ECW brand? Simply put, it destroys the remaining credibility it has. 90 percent of it is already gone with all the nonsense that has happened. Tommy Dreamer is the only thing on that show that is worthy of the letters, E, C, and W. You take Tommy out, and there is no ECW. At least, there would be no need to call it ECW. The reason being is that the WWE needs to hold onto whatever form of history ECW may have had before this new one came up. No Tommy Dreamer means no more originals, meaning no more past, and possibly no more future. You would need to give it a new name altogether. They go out of their way to say that Tommy Dreamer had been in some extreme wars in the past. Without Tommy, where is the past?

Now, I know I hit some points that might not sit well with whoever reads it, but if you don't like it, let me know. I love feedback. But, the analysis is showing the following: Tommy Dreamer is the heart and the soul of ECW, and that's how the WWE wants it. Tommy is programmable, obedient, and high-profile enough to latch the letters ECW onto. He'll take a beating, do a job, and even get shaved bald on national television for ECW's legacy. He knows that ECW is the brainchild of Paul Heyman's fantasies and the WWE has adopted it. Tommy has no choice but to be the surrogate mother to this child or it will die. And you know what? The WWE, like a mean stepfather, wants an obedient mother to do what she is told, especially when it comes to nurturing. In further truth, the WWE needs Tommy more than some people think. You take out Tommy Dreamer, you take out the heart and soul of ECW, and then what do you have? A one-hour WWE wrestling show that is showcasing the new development stars of their choosing and the veterans that want to help them get over. It's not ECW, which is why Tommy has to stay. One was Tommy....who fights by himself...

(If I touched a nerve or offended anyone with stepparents or have had bad experiences which stepfamilies, I sincerely apologize with some of those remarks made earlier. I just wanted to get a point across, not tear open old wounds)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Miz and Morrison: Too good to be true, to stay together, or to break up?

In a world full of winners and losers, two men have risen above to give us one of the most entertaining tag teams we've seen in a while. Those two men are John "John Morrison" Hennigan and Mike "The Miz" Mizanin. Love them or hate them, these guys are the most entertaining heels the WWE has and that ECW showcases. One is a self-professed chick magnet, while the other is a self-professed shaman of sexy. One was a possible contender for ECW gold, while the other is a former ECW champ. Together, they have the funniest show on which is called "The Dirt Sheet". It's a show so talked about, so full of itself, that it has made its way to ECW television a few times. Together, they were WWE tag champs for 8 months, which makes them the longest reigning tag champs in recent history (London and Kendrick were the last ones to hold the titles for a while; they had it for more than a year and are fourth on the all-time longest tag title reigns list in WWE history). It's quite an impressive showing to put together, don't you think? These guys are virtually perfect for each other with their characters. Also, they are pretty good apart. That's the dilemma. Where do you go from here when the time comes to turn a corner? Do you stay together? Do you split up? What do you do?

This arguably is a dilemma every tag team has to answer to, as well as every booker, owner, and sometimes, the occasional super-fan, or not. The Miz and John Morrison veritably complete each other. Both have egos the size of the hometowns or their hometowns' populations, which is why they can't stand each other at times. But both know that sweet smell of success and are willing to put aside the pettiness and work together to succeed. Upon doing that the first time, they realized how great they were (kayfabe), and continued their partnership. As stated, it has brought them gold and notoriety. But, now, the gold is gone, and the questions are starting to come up. What's going to happen when the fun stops? Will the fun stop?

You can't disagree that it would have been inevitable for these two to gravitate towards each other because they are very much alike in their mindsets, but different in their lifestyles. John Morrison started out a rather A-list party boy with a smokin' hot babe named Melina and a tag partner whom he always rolled with named Joey Mercury. They got gold as a team, but then they also got ahead of themselves when they lost the gold. In the end, the team split up, Melina and Johnny went to Raw, Johnny got the IC title a few times, lost to John Cena in a few main events and eventually started to become yesterday's news. Proof of such was his failed attempt at tagging with Kenny Dykstra and his gal Melina becoming Women's champ while leaving him in the dust. The 2007 draft came calling and he was sent to ECW via the supplementary draft. He won the title at Night of Champions and later declared himself by his "real" name, John Morrison. He was starting to embody the late rock star, Jim Morrison with his feathery hair, aloof nature, chiseled good looks, and rather obscure view of life. This new mentality, coupled with a rather amazing wrestling style helped secure his main-event status on ECW and secure a place in the minds of his critics, followers, etc. He was a guy to watch out for as his star was rising steadily.

Now, the Miz, more or less, had a rather different approach. He started out on SmackDown as its host. That quickly dissolved. He continued on as a wrestler who was obnoxious, unproven, and rather sneaky. He had innovative moves, something of a chip on his shoulder, and he was always in JBL's vocal cross hairs (which I believe was a reason the Miz never got over). Time passed, and the Miz disappeared from SD, only to be drafted to ECW as well. He was going to debut on ECW as a face, but his "bad heat" followed him. Instead, he professed himself as a ladies' man and a chick magnet. Everyone found that laughable, until of course, the Extreme Expose of Kelly Kelly, Layla El, and Brooke Adams started hanging out with him. Their relationship went sour and Miz was without the ladies. However, while all that had occurred in his career was made clear, his wrestling abilities were showing improvement as he had been shown to be ruthless, conniving, and very innovative.

These two became a team as they had a mutual interest in obtaining gold after they had battled each other for ECW title contendership. Their need for gold helped them put aside their squabbles and since then, they have been inseparable, but nothing lasts forever. The way I see it, there are three scenarios these boys can follow when it comes to their team. They can stay together, they can break apart with one surpassing the other, or they can break apart with both failing or succeeding. These scenarios are not original by any means as many teams have had to come to these decisions.

Let's say they stay together. They will continue their success as a team. They will continue their web show, The Dirt Sheet, and its entertaining nature. Great. However, what's going to happen when internal talks begin and it is seen that one could be holding the other back? Some already say that Morrison is one incredible talent and has shown that he can main event, let alone vie for major singles gold. But, can the Miz? If anything, the Miz can be a solid mid-card talent, winning mid-card gold at best, with room for improvement if allowed. But, how will he know if he can if he's stuck in a tag team? On the flipside, how can Morrison break out as a top star if he's limited to tagging up with Miz? Tough dilemma..

Let's say they break up. Miz and Morrison re-dedicate their singles' careers. While doing so, they are shown to be moderately good and only passable as top card talent. They both end up mid-carders who will only elevate talent that is chosen to take the next step, while they will be asked by other bookers to step up their game a little bit if they want to get noticed (a la Shelton Benjamin). They can't do it, and are relegated to their spots, until they are fired. Now, that's not a definite, but it could happen. However, you can easily say that one of them does succeed in stepping up, while the other does not. If that were the case, then wish the Miz the best of luck because he hasn't blossomed like Morrison has. Once again, tough dilemma..

Alas, this is not the first time these problems have surfaced for teams, as I've stated. The breakup choice always seems to help one star and hurt the others. A prime example deals with the Rockers. Great high-flying, fast paced team, but once the split occurred, Shawn Michaels became the star he is today, and Marty Jannetty, the more experienced one to some, is now unemployed. It's currently happening with Kendrick and London as Kendrick is "The Brian Kendrick" and London is on the fast track to the doghouse for many reasons. Sometimes, however, the breakup choice doesn't come out that way. Look at the Dudleys. They broke up and their careers suffered for it. They were quickly reunited, and fired 3 years later, as a team. Then, there's the Hardys. They were split up and look what happened. Jeff became a star, but not without his personal demons busting him up. Matt was not as big a star, but had the fan support to get there. If only he had the full female support of his girl, otherwise, he wouldn't have been fired. The fan support got him his job back, though, and later, Jeff regained his when he beat his demons for the time. Now, Jeff is in the main event spotlight with a major title in the wings, but it's not guaranteed, because of his past. Still, he has had moderate success with some IC title wins. Matt is the current ECW champion, which is the best he will ever do in his career, sadly (tune in to the 10/12 post to see what I mean). Still, that's some success for Matt.

What will happen to the Miz and Morrison? Practically, only time will tell. But, I will say this. The fact that they got this far is very impressive. You are looking at the only two superstars to actually successfully come out of WWE's Tough Enough program. They are living their dreams of professional wrestling and are making the most of it. They had an opportunity of a lifetime, and they are running with it. While some people are stuck in neutral trying to figure out what's wrong with their gimmick, they are taking their ideas and lampooning it to the fullest form of entertainment. If anyone can step up their game creatively, they can, and they are showing it. So, truly, anything is possible.

In a wrestling company full of whiners, cheaters, legends in the making, stars on the rise, spoiled brats, super athletes, and the like, two men are rising above to superstardom because it is what they have always wanted to do. But, they are doing it without having too much of the rigors of "paying dues" on their careers, so it's a big opportunity for them. Be Jealous! I already know some that very well might be.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Matt Striker: The best man for the job?

Matt Striker. Your teacher. Your color analyst for ECW. Your man for the job?

Although this seems rather far-fetched, it actually makes some sense when you think about it. Now, I'm not a poster boy for the Matt Striker fan club, but I do recognize talent when I see it. As a wrestler, he's very sound, although most people don't know that. But, on the mic, he can come off very entertaining as well. That said, Matt Striker positioned as the color analyst on ECW is actually a very good fit. Why say this? Why make this claim? Well, here's a few reasons I think you might agree on, or not:

1) He has that old school-heel color analyst mentality. I mean, who here doesn't miss that of the good old days? Who could forget Jesse Ventura tearing into Vince McMahon every Saturday night (or afternoon if you count Superstars)? Who would want to forget Bobby Heenan going barb-for-barb against Gorilla Monsoon? Those were the things of legend. Where does Striker fit in? Just like Ventura and Heenan, he's smart, he will lean towards heels if needed (although not as much as the aforementioned two), and he has a heel mentality. I mean, he swears he's better than all of us b/c he's smarter than us as a teacher with a wide vocabulary and a mind for intellectual pursuits. That's perfect in my book for color analysis. Now, I know things have changed over the years, but giving a nod to the mod is always a good thing once in a while.

2) For the most part, he actually sounds like, if not, knows what he's talking about. When he makes references to what should be done, or when a wrestler does something specific to someone else, he at least makes good on describing it to the point where it makes sense. If not that, he doesn't sound like a complete idiot. That's Todd Grisham's job. I mean, let's look at some of the many color analysts of the WWE: Jerry Lawler (earlier WWE days), Bobby Heenan, Mr. Perfect, Ted DiBiase, Jesse Ventura, and Jim Cornette, to name a few. If these guys did anything right behind the microphone, it's come off sounding very evil, for one. But, whenever they could, they would try to sound smart when it came to analyzing a match by saying what a wrestler should do to get the advantage (albeit underhanded, since these guys were mostly heels), or why they would do something differently.

3) When it comes to the wrestlers, he knows them well. He's been in the new ECW long enough to have wrestled the guys who were there for the most part. So, he knows their tendencies, he knows what they are known for without having to rewrite their history on the mic (something Tazz and Cole are very guilty of), and he knows why they may or may not be winning whatever match they are in. He's feuded with Dreamer through the New Blood/Old School faction war. He's battled Hardy once or twice, I believe. He's been on the same brand with the likes of Miz and Morrison. He's battled Finley and has managed Mark Henry for a bit. So, when he makes note of what they can do, he knows.

4) When it comes to the new guys, he knows them well. This is my banking point. My thesis, if you will. I was elated when I heard Striker mention that Evan Bourne was from the Dragon Gate organization for a while, learning his craft. Now, when Bourne was there, he was Matt Sydal, but he didn't mention that to keep the mystique of it all. He knows Ricky Ortiz's background, and was even able to mention that Gavin Spears was a former casino worker and hockey player. I'm sure as Spears starts to win matches, Striker will mention that Spears has wrestled under many Canadian organizations and has much talent under his belt. This is very important in my book for this reason: ECW is a televised farm system brand. If you can't make it a point to explain the new people to the viewers, why will they care? He is at least giving some listening viewers something to think about when these new guys come out with little or no fanfare. You may think it's not important. If not, then tell me why Vince McMahon makes it a point to yell at all his commentators in the headset about things? The reason is b/c he knows that some people are listening to what the commentators are saying. They are a necessity to explain whatever the heck is going on, who this person is, or the like. You can't just have any old person do that, in my opinion, otherwise we have Mike Adamle. Sure, some people call his ineptitude behind the mic a work since he has done commentary for football, but Tony Schiavone has done Braves baseball games and he was the worst commentator on the mic in wrestling history. You can only call so many things a "dragon screw" when they aren't, and, no, Tony, this isn't the biggest night in the history of wrestling. That was a few nights ago, remember?

5) He is a talented individual who shouldn't be wasted. Without a doubt, Matt Striker is a well-versed mat wrestler. He brings a good amount of stuff to the table. However, his gimmick and his stature don't have him winning many matches against many people. But, as I said, he's good on the mic as a heel. Now, he's got a mic on him. His gimmick has him as a teacher who is an intellectual. It's only fair that you utilize him as a color analyst. He can come off very standoffish, aloof, and rather nerdy. But, he will make good points here and there. I remember a certain someone who did come off as nerdy and sarcastic behind the mic on ECW. Now he's on I miss ya, Joey Styles. Now, Striker is here to fill that void. Although he's not a play-by-play man, he does the trick in being a lot like Joey in those cases, which is helpful, b/c listening to the White Coachman, Todd Grisham, can get annoying after a while. We need entertainment behind the microphone and headset once in a while, and Grisham is far from it.

6) Simply put, this is the new ECW. I was not made any more clear of that fact than the day Joey Styles got demoted to for Mike Adamle. As you notice, there's only one ECW-related person on the show, and that's Tommy Dreamer. However, without Dreamer, there is no ECW as he has been called ECW's heart and soul (I'll make a blog on this aspect on 9/21). Everything else on ECW is different. New belt, new theme song, new wrestlers. It would not help to keep things that no longer truly connotate with ECW anymore on the show. Now, Styles, he connotated with ECW, don't get me wrong. I'm just saying that when he left, he was the last part of the original aspect of the new ECW. Heyman was the other part. I can't count Dreamer that much, sadly (once again, wait for 9/21). Since, there's no semblance of the original, there's no point in avoiding the use of Matt Striker.

There you have it. There might be some ideas you do like, and some you don't. Quite frankly, I hope either is the case. To close this up, let me say that Matt Striker is good at what he does on ECW, and might have a very good future in color analysis. If he continues to work on it, who knows? It could be J.R. and Matt Striker calling a match. It's a good thing that this came when it did, though, or Striker's time on ECW and in the WWE would be shortened, despite his talents. School would be out permanently, and sadly, it wouldn't have bothered many of us. I mean, who doesn't have an annoying teacher who can be very good at what he or she does? Wait, does that even make sense?

Monday, September 1, 2008

The revolving door of releases

As you probably all know, there was a good amount of wrestling personalities released from the WWE within the past 2 months. Of these personalities, 99% of them have had some connection with the new ECW. It may seem like over-analysis, but it's something you have to keep in mind. The reason is that their involvement on ECW was multi-faceted. Basically, if you're involved with the new ECW in any way these days, you're either a new talent looking to get yourself over, an old talent that needs re-direction, or just a piece of the big picture which involves getting ECW over as a brand. Sadly, I see each of their firings and releases as a failure to do any of the three.

Let's see, here's who was released that has a connection: Braden Walker, Shannon Moore, Nunzio, Domino, James Curtis, Big Daddy V, Stevie Richards, Colin Delaney, The Highlanders, Cherry, and Referee Wes Adams. Such a motley crew if I do say so myself, and yet each of them had a chance to shine on the new ECW if not for a brief second.

Now, if you'll indulge me, I'll let you in on what they brought to the table as of their debuts, actual or not, on the new ECW, what they did last, and the reasoning behind their releases, be it factual or opinionated. If you come off as offended by what is written hear, voice it. I'll also give you the general reason why they all might have been fired, as well as what could have been done instead. Be warned: this may be lengthy as some of my analyses will be, so bear with me.

Braden Walker: For those of you who know, his real name is Chris Harris and was a regular for the TNA organization before coming to the WWE. He came while asking for his release from TNA, hoping to finally get a fair shake at a decent career. His debut on ECW consisted of him pretty much threatening Armando Estrada with a bad joke, coming out to generic country music, wearing even more generic tights (probably to cover his extra weight) and winning his match against Estrada with slow moves, no energy, and a flying cross-body block so botched that it would re-injure Ricky Steamboat's back. Although, I'm sure it injured Estrada as it looked like Walker crushed him. After this debacle, he wasn't seen on t.v. until he talked to Matt Hardy about his match w/ Colin Delaney who was with Mark Henry at the time. Another bad joke was made about Harris' former company, and, get this, he never even came out once to help Hardy after promising to. His last appearance on ECW consisted of a match against James Curtis that ended with a fisherman's suplex, with no energy and slow moves. He was then shown the door afterwards, with the reasons being that he kept shooting his mouth off backstage about his TNA accomplishments, which don't mean anything in the WWE as they aren't seen as competition. Throw in the fact that he didn't have a good look about him or much charisma even after being taught the WWE style of wrestling (which I think he didn't need) along with a very corny ring name, and Chris Harris is out of work.

Shannon Moore: He was brought in to the new ECW as "The Reject". Basically, his girlfriend got him rehired by the WWE after seeing how successful he was getting in TNA against A.J. Styles. Heck of a way to stick it to your pseudo-competition, yes? Well, this just about burned his bridges with them, as he started to have vignettes of himself, decked out in eye-liner, black fingernails, chains, earrings, and a mohawk to play up his punk status. What did it get him? An on-air, kayfabe, slap in the face by C.M. Punk, who called him a poseur. They instantly got into a feud, which was a big no-no for Moore's push, because Punk was already being pushed as an undefeated, well-versed wrestler from the indies, who thrived on competition as his addiction (he is straight-edge after all). This pretty much shoved Moore into the back burner of ECW, which later placed him on SD in the midst of a cruiserweight title hunt, as Gregory Helms was pretty much unstoppable. He never got a title shot, the fancy mohawk was gone, and he was soon straddled in two angles that might have put him over if not for the bad creative ideas behind them. One angle had him at odds with Jamie Noble as Noble was determined to become the cruiserweight champion. There was one problem: Hornswoggle had the belt, and since the WWE couldn't possibly have a midget get beat a meanie like Noble, or anyone, the title was taken from him and disappeared for good. Angle two had him tagging up with Jimmy Wang Yang as the 3-Count/Jung Dragons connection was set in place to get tag team gold (if you don't know WCW, you won't know what I'm talking about). It was the combination of a Japanese guy imitating a southerner, and a southerner imitating a punk teaming together. They feuded with the champs of Miz and Morrison only to lose every step of the way. Then, Yang was suspended, and Moore was last seen jobbing out on SD to Hawkins and Ryder in a tag match with Yang as Yang returned (insert Yang's burial). That was the last of the reject.

Nunzio: He was an ECW original named "Little Guido" James Maritato and was to see his ECW original status rejuvenated with the new ECW coming forth. He was teamed with his running buddy Tony Mamaluke and his valets included Big Guido (who disappeared after episode 1) and Trinity (another former TNA superstar who was a)trained to be a wrestler by Mikey Whippwreck, b) trained to be a stuntwoman, and c) one of the few attractive divas who could wrestle). They made up the F.B.I. (Full Blooded Italians). Their highlights included jobbing out to any tag team that showed up and dissolving after Paul Heyman lost power in the WWE after December to Dismember (Trinity and Mamaluke were fired shortly afterward, along w/ Francine). He went back to being Nunzio and lost almost every match he was in since then. I say almost b/c he won an 8 man tag match involving himself, Funaki, Delaney, and Batista. He was last seen losing to Evan Bourne in a very well-fought match, good enough to make us forget about those atrocious Halloween and Christmas matches where he dressed up like Dracula, and an elf, respectively. It was just a sad case of misused talent as he was fired recently. He did win the cruiserweight title in Italy though...

Domino: He was Clifford "Domino"Compton, one-half of the throwback team of Deuce and Domino. They were practically greasers from the 1950s who won the WWE tag belts on SmackDown one a few occasions. His ECW debut: it involved a squash match between himself and Festus, I think. You see, in order to put over ECW's ratings, it was decided that Smackdown stars would appear in matches on ECW television. Did it help? Sparingly. Domino was last seen losing to the Big Show on SD within 5 minutes, maybe less. He was fired weeks later after being seen as the weak end of his tag team, which explains the split-up of the two and the drafting of Deuce to Raw. It didn't help matters that he had made it publicly known that he thought Deuce was way better than him. Not smart..

Cherry: She was Domino's sister and Deuce's girl (kayfabe). She was their valet when they were a team. She was also with the two on ECW in that squash match incident. In recent news, she was dumped and ditched by the two. She went on to be a wrestler (which she really is) on SD, and did battle with some divas, in her quest to break out as a star. She never did, and was last seen getting kneed in the face by Maryse and jobbing out of the 6 diva Olympic salute tag match. Once again, wasted talent.

James Curtis: He was originally known as K.C. James on Smackdown. He teamed up with Aaron "Idol" Stevens and they were managed by Michelle McCool. Their tag team exploits led them to lose against London and Kendrick over the belts. Soon after, Stevens was fired after violating the drug policy, and McCool was repackaged. James became James Curtis and practically jobbed out of most of his matches, putting over talent. As stated, he last put over Braden Walker, and both were fired subsequently.

Big Daddy V: He was Mabel from Men on a Mission, King Mabel, Viscera of the Ministry, Viscera, the world's largest love machine, and whatever else the WWE could think of. None of those gimmicks worked, but they kept him b/c he was the only big man who was consistent with his weight and ethic. This time, he was to be drafted to ECW and pushed as a one-man wrecking crew known as Big Daddy V. He practically was unstoppable, even beating then-champion CM Punk on a number of occasions. Well, physically beating him up. Now, why didn't this work? a) People remembered him for his train-wreck gimmicks and no one would buy him as a dominant threat. b) He looked veritably repulsive physically. There was a reason he wore shirts and baggy pants. Sadly, the WWE forgot why and we were treated to some of the nastiest folds around. No offense to the obese people out there, but the WWE and its fans aren't looking to see that type of stuff on t.v. When his ECW days didn't work, he was teamed with Mark Henry to wreak havoc on SD, only to be stopped every time by the Undertaker and/or Kane. He recently got over a bout with pneumonia, which kept him off t.v. for a while, and was fired afterward.

Stevie Richards: What more can be said about this guy? He was an ECW original through and through until he left for greener pastures in first WCW and then WWE. Sadly, those pastures weren't greener or helpful to his credibility as a wrestler. We all hoped the new ECW would re-establish his cred, but to no avail. It wasn't long before he became a perennial jobber to new talent, just like Tommy Dreamer. He was then taken off television due to a lack of material to work with creatively. He then returned to t.v. with a new angle: to re-dedicate himself to his career after yet another difficult round of throat surgeries due to his recently broken neck. He started winning, until they decided to push Mike Knox for the first time in 2 years, and was relegated to job out to Vladimir Kozlov on SD. He lost his job later.

Colin Delaney: Man, what a story with this kid. He goes from a top star in a top indy federation, CHIKARA as a heel, to jobbing out to everyone on an ECW television episode that was at least 6 feet tall and 220 pounds. His gimmick: he was the stringy, scrawny jobber who continued to take loss after loss and beating after beating in an attempt to gain a contract on ECW. Tommy Dreamer took him under his wing and watched his back whenever possible. Delaney finally got his chance and won his contract by beating Armando Estrada, the former G.M. Then, he would be straddled with more losses, some wins, and his last angle would be as a heel, as he turned on Dreamer, costing him the ECW title match. After that, he was beaten for one solid month, until the WWE fired him.

The Highlanders: Rory and Robbie McCallister were two Scottish countrymen who moved to the U.S. to become a tag team on Raw. They were like a modern-day Bushwackers, only they were Scottish. However, they started to become jobbers a few matches in. Their debut on ECW consisted of a new theme song and a sound defeat by the Miz and Morrison. They were last seen on Raw as a tag team, losing their last match against Cryme Tyme, after they came back from Rory's injury and Robbie's punishment behind-the-scenes.

Wes Adams: He started out a wrestler, then was made a referee on SD, who was also seen on ECW. Sounds fair, yes? The only problem: he botched a 3-count by Matt Hardy over John Morrison. Morrison kicked out at 3 but Adams signaled for the bell. He would then be fired for it.

That's a lot, eh? Now, here's the kicker: they were all fired for one general reason. The reason was that their novelty as superstars ran out while being with the WWE. Some quicker than others, sadly. That's the story, plain and simple. Now, this could have been avoided, most definitely, if the WWE wasn't so short-sighted. But, alas, instead of making proper stars, they were focused on cutting out dead weight. What's even more annoying was that some of this weight was around for a while, only they were either pushed through the gate to the moon or horribly mismanaged. How hard could it be to manage someone more creatively if you just showed some care? Not very. Here's some ideas I came up with:

-Instead of creating Braden Walker, leave him Chris Harris, push him to be a star, and stick it to TNA

-Instead of putting Shannon in a no-win situation, make him an annoyance to Punk, either costing him matches, or blindsiding him. Heck, you can even take other poseurs and place them with him as a crew. I can see him with the Miz as a team. Better yet, call upon the OVW group you didn't want to use in Gothic Mayhem (Melody, Pat Buck, Johnny Punch, Roni Jonah) to be his musical entourage of poseurs

-How about a working FBI faction for once, for Nunzio's sake?

-Big Daddy V as part of a recreated "Nation of Domination"? Possibly, but it would still be difficult. The reason: V has been buried so badly in the past that no one will take him seriously...ever

-If you saw Grease, you know about the musical number, "Goodbye to Sandra Dee". That would've been Cherry's angle for a breakout transformation right there.

-Why not put Colin Delaney under Stevie's wing as they are both wrestlers looking to dedicate themselves to finding success as they always seem like underdogs. Or better yet, make him a lackey for an up-and-coming heel (like Gavin Spears), and make it so this heel teaches him the opposite of what is right and wrong?

I would have included everyone, but not everyone could be saved by good ideas. I fear that the same will be happening soon with some new talents as well as some old talents within ECW. Not only that, but this hurts the creation of new stars as they have no one to beat as jobbers or enhancement talent. Why not hold on to some of these jobbers and have them help putting over new guys? Sadly, that won't be the case as long as we have non-wrestling experienced writers at the helm.

These revolving doors keep on swinging, and it's only a matter of time before your favorites are shown the door as well. Don't be so short-sighted, WWE. Make new stars, or at least develop them. By revolving the door with releases, how long will it be before the other stars of ECW or the like are gone? I don't see Gavin Spears lasting this long or Ryan Braddock, or Scotty Goldman. I mean, look, they are all new guys, true, and unestablished, but should they start off losing? Why not win? Oh yea, the jobbers are gone, and in fact, they probably would have had a heck of a start on ECW and a showing, too, if they were around. And what really tweaks me is that the creative team has the nerve to say that these three haven't done anything special since debuting. Ridiculous. In closing, those released have shown that ECW, as useful a commodity to get new stars over, it is a bad commodity for re-establishing stars. Now, it may prove to not be a very good commodity for getting new stars over either. This may sound trite, but don't be surprised if the next time you hear about future endeavors being wished.