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...