Sunday, December 27, 2009

ECW predictions for 2010

It's time once again to gaze into the crystal ball and see what the future holds for ECW in the year 2010. It's quite funny that as I tried this last year, most of what I said came true. Is the WWE listening to me, copying me, or is it just that predictable? Whatever the case may be, it's time to tell you what I think is going to happen to ECW in 2010. So you know, these predictions are based on what is happening on-screen, backstage, and what would make logical sense based on the information we know from both or separately. Confused yet? I hope not. If you think about it, it would make sense. So anyway, here we go:

Abraham Washington and Tony Atlas
-They will continue to hold their hackneyed show, in a failing attempt to garter ratings, until they start inviting more prominent stars to the show, like D-X, Cena, and Batista. Once they expose the show for how bad it is, the show will most likely get canceled, coercing Washington to change his approach on the ECW brand. His next move? Something political, as he becomes a ridiculous version of Barack Obama with Tony Atlas as his "vice president", as he makes his play to become...the ECW general manager.

Byron Saxton and Josh Matthews
-The ECW announce team will continue to burn our ears off with their terrible excuse for commentary. When Matt Striker returns, Byron will become ECW's newest backstage interviewer. This might or might not lead Byron to become the new official announcer of Superstars with the WWE's newest hire or hires for their announce crew.

Caylen Croft and Trent Barretta
-These two will continue their winning ways against jobbers until they encounter a tag team combination that will give them more trouble then they need (most likely involving Goldust, the Hurricane, Yoshi Tatsu, and/or Shelton Benjamin). Once this happens, Croft and Barretta will find their way to the Unified Tag Titles and challenge for them, only to lose. But, this won't come without a relocation onto another brand. My prediction: they will call Smackdown their new home when they challenge for the titles

-Christian will lose the ECW title before, during, or after the ECW Homecoming event where a bunch of ECW stars will take part in a challenge to get a shot at the ECW title. Christian's loss of the ECW title will have something to do with the possible destruction of ECW. If the title leaves Christian, it might very well go to a former ECW member and they will attempt to unify that title with another brand's title. Either way, expect Christian to be doing battle for ECW's honor in a last ditch effort to ferret the brand some respect. He won't be alone in this battle, though.

Ezekiel Jackson
-Jackson, with William Regal's tutelage, will make a play for the ECW title, in which he might very well win it. However, it looks more as if he will not. Once this is the case, his teaming with Regal will end brutally, with Jackson on the receiving end on a beatdown by Regal and his new Ruthless Roundtable that will involve wrestlers directly from the U.K. After which, Jackson might either end up working with Abraham Washington, or continuing his war with Regal

-The golden one won't be doing anything big for the next year. I can only see him getting embroiled in feuds where he will be making new stars out of the heels he's facing. But, don't be surprised if he plays a major role in ECW, pertaining to its demise...

Gregory Helms/The Hurricane
-After stifling Paul Burchill's chances to make his way back to ECW, Helms will make a new arch-nemesis in the form of Vance Archer who won't care if Helms is or isn't the Hurricane. He'll be pretty sure as to who is who, and still brutalize whomever he sees. Helms will find solace in the form of Vladimir Kozlov as Kozlov will take on Archer, allowing the Hurricane to focus on more important things.

Rosa Mendes and Zack Ryder
-This power couple will prove to be problematic for Tommy Dreamer as the war between Yonkers and Long Island will continue with Ryder embarrassing Dreamer almost every step of the way. This will coerce Dreamer to bring his "ace" out of his sleeve in the form of Beulah McGuillicuty as a battle between the old and new school continues. Despite the result, Ryder and Mendes will find themselves warring with another new couple on the horizon. Whom, you ask? Well, let's just say that Eve Torres will be showing us more of her skills in the ring, while the "Masterpecs" dance in all jolliness.

Shelton Benjamin
-Shelton will make his play for the ECW title, just like Ezekiel Jackson, but will most likely secure it. Come to think of it, Jackson and Benjamin might find common enemies in Regal and his new allies. As for how long Benjamin has the belt, well, that's not very clear. However, it is seeming more likely that if another brand does end up with the ECW title, it will be after someone beats Benjamin. This will put Benjamin on the front lines fighting for ECW.

-She will have her job in question, to the point of where she will end up losing it. She will be challenged by Abraham Washington and William Regal within ECW, and outside of ECW by Vickie Guerrero. She will make a play at being the only female capable of running a brand, sending wrestlers like the Hart Dynasty, Dolph Ziggler, Mike Knox, C.M. Punk, and Luke Gallows to cause unrest for the ECW brand. This will most likely cost ECW its title, and Tiffany will lose her job. Will she reclaim it? Most likely not. I can see her becoming another standard diva, as she will be seen as someone who isn't capable of being in charge of a show.

Tommy Dreamer
-It's been made known that Dreamer will be leaving the WWE. Having known this, I can predict that ECW will most likely leave along with him as he is the only thing connected to ECW's past. That said, Dreamer will be taking part in a slew of random battles hoping not to die as hard as John McClaine. These battles will include Zack Ryder, Christian, William Regal, and...Bryan Danielson? Expect Dreamer to be there making his last stand with and for ECW

Tyler Reks
-He will re-establish himself as a heel, showing his jealousy toward stars that are furthering themselves. One such star is Yoshi Tatsu. As he will continue to take shots at Yoshi for his inability to speak English, Yoshi will have some help from someone who does understand Japanese, and that someone will be the bane of Tyler's existence. Who do I mean? Well, let's just say that this guy has had his experiences with a "Tyler" or two. After this, Tyler might not last long enough to see his career succeed. Can you say, Ricky Ortiz, because I can see "future endeavors".

Vance Archer
-Archer will continue his path of destruction, involving the Hurricane. Upon doing intense damage, he'll come face to face with the Moscow Mauler, Vladimir Kozlov in a brutal battle that will see only the strongest survive. Will this be the last time they do battle? Doubtful. The ECW title might be involved with their battles as one of them might be holding it.

Vladimir Kozlov
-See Vance Archer. After Archer, the ECW title might very well be in his future. Otherwise, both Kozlov and Regal will cross paths again and a few times more before Archer. Don't be surprised if Jackson is involved as well...on Kozlov's side.

William Regal
-I've mentioned him a few times, so here's Regal's story: a new round table will be formed of Regal and his fellow countrymen. These stars will include the M.I.A. D.J. Gabriel, Wade Barrett (a.k.a. Stu Sanders), Paul Burchill and Katie Lea. Now, you're wondering how this is going to happen with the final two names. Well, Regal will hold a prominent place of power in ECW that will see those two re-hired and supporting him. Also, Regal will find a way to get the title from Christian. Once he fails to keep it for himself, he will put ECW in a compromising spot, coercing its slow downfall

Yoshi Tatsu
-Yoshi will continue his rise to power, and like his international counterpart, Kofi Kingston, he will make a big splash on ECW, which may involve Bryan Danielson. Once they establish their foothold as a competent tag team, Danielson will make his play at being the savior of ECW by assisting in the battle for ECW's honor, while Yoshi will do more interpromotional work. This type of work will land him a cushy spot on Raw, allowing Yoshi a spot on Monday nights to form a new rivalry...with the Miz

and now the finale:

-the ECW brand will meet its untimely demise in one of or a combination of 3 things:
1) the ECW title will end up in the hands of another brand
2) Tiffany will lose her power as ECW G.M.
3) a battle will take place between ECW stars and stars of another brand or brands, where ECW will lose

Regardless, the ECW brand will have one last hurrah at survival before it ultimately becomes a new entity. An entity in which the new stars and rookies reign supreme. This entity will be showcasing Bryan Danielson as its premiere star, most likely, along with a slew of the remaining stars that aren't quite ready for the other brands yet. As for those that remain, they will either stay, or be disseminated between Raw and Smackdown, either losing their jobs later, or surviving.

Those are my predictions for 2010. Now, they're just predictions, so don't get all uptight about it. Just comment away.

Have a happy new year!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

ECW 2009 Christmas wish list

Yes, folks, I know it's late, but bear with me. I was wrapped up in work, school, present shopping, and whatnot, and virtually forgot about all my faithful readers. Well, you're lucky I have a lot less time on my hands...again, and I have a good memory otherwise, I would have to have made two posts on one day. I wasn't looking forward to it, thank you. So, here's the post of the week that you were waiting for.

So, anyway, here's the premise: I celebrate Christmas (not to insult any other non-celebraters), and as a form of analysis, I act as the general manager of ECW and make a slew of wishes to Santa to see if he listens. So, here's me doing my best Tiffany impression asking Santa for gifts for Christmas. The catch: it's all ECW-brand related, so, no material stuff. That said, here's my wish list:

-the cancellation of the Abraham Washington show: this show doesn't help in any way to get any ECW stars over...anymore. I used to think that Abraham had some quality, but now, it's no longer the case. I can't take Tony Atlas' laughter, the horrible jokes, the lack of topical humor, and the incessant need to take non-ECW stars and place them on this show as filler. Cut if!

-a better ECW announce team: ever since the departure of Matt Striker to SD! to cover for Jim Ross and the debacle of the Mike Adamle experiment, the ECW announce team has been atrocious. This is what happens when you deal with an organization that feels it's better to make changes due to spite instead of due to quality. Why has commentary taken such a terrible hit in 2009 across the wrestling world?

-more competent tag teams on ECW: Trent Barretta and Caylen Croft are a start, but clearly not strong enough to topple a tag team like DX or Big Show. No, neither were Vladimir Kozlov and Ezekiel Jackson...despite the pending break-up. If you're going to taut a tag division or something like it across the brands, at least make it believable. Then again, this might counteract my next wish:

-No D-X of any kind on ECW: please grant this one. They put themselves over. They don't put over young talent. They aren't funny. Their merchandise is terrible. And now, they have Hornswoggle, the human logic killer as their friend? To quote Owen Hart: Enough is enough and it's time for a change.

-Christian, ECW champion, on a DIFFERENT BRAND: Yes, it's nice to see Christian as a champion, but, really, he can do much better than this. He has charisma, talent, and he has appeal, even years after his first departure. Give him to Smackdown. Give him to Raw. Most importantly, give him a competent push. ECW can do well without him.

-Shelton Benjamin, in Christian's current spot: Has the boat really sailed on Shelton? Not entirely. If you're going to put a star as an ECW champion, make the Shelton fans happy and just hook him up already. He's got the talent to have great matches. Haven't you seen the ladder match with him Christian? He's making it.

-No more fluff: I'm seeing way too much nonsense on ECW. Too much clips, foolishness, goofiness, and whatever has been making ECW look and feel like the failure of that which is RAW. Let's keep it nice and plentiful with the wrestling, folks.

-William Regal, in Christian's current spot: refer to Shelton Benjamin, sans the ladder match reference

-a new GM: sorry, I find it hard to take Tiffany seriously if she's been showcased as a rather robotic diva who looks good, and at times is showcased as a piece of eye candy on Here's a hint: if you aren't going to make Regal a champ, make him a G.M...again.

-Better pushes for certain new stars: it seems they've pulled the plug on Yoshi Tatsu, Zack Ryder, Tyler Reks, and soon enough, Vance Archer. I don't know about you, but if you're going to make new stars, how about some consistency? This wasn't a problem with C.M. Punk, and if it was, it came after Heyman left. I don't know. I guess more talent would be needed and better storylines, too, instead of copying popular movies for their ideas.

-Another hour and/or a secondary title: ECW needs depth. If it makes any sense to make changes due to ratings, then get rid of Superstars and give the second hour to ECW. If it means scripting ECW twice a week on two different shows, then move it to Thursday and have it compete with TNA, like it's expected to.

And my final wish

Either a complete overhaul to the original days or a complete cancellation of ECW:

There's only two ways about this, here. If this new way isn't working ratings-wise, take a page from Heyman's book and go that route or get rid of the show as planned, rumored, and expected by next year. If it isn't working anymore, it's time to pull the plug. Don't worry about finding a place for stars you want to use. Eventually, they'll end up replacing stars on other brands anyway. As for stars on the rise, well, you haven't used Bryan Danielson yet, so why expect him?

That's my Christmas list, abridged albeit, but it's what I want. Comment away, if you can pry yourselves away from your presents.

That said, have a happy holiday season.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Breaking news; The American Dragon, Bryan Danielson, descends on ECW?

Don't you just love rumors? It's always something to think about and follow, you know? It's always fun to follow the buzz behind it. The reactions from people are interesting. I think my favorite part of rumors are the level of truth to them, usually because it happens to be right. So, where does this place our main idea and thesis for this week? Well, I only hypothesized that Bryan Danielson could severely help out ECW if he was drafted there. Now, it's turning out to be the truth. It's been confirmed that Danielson may very well debut on ECW, and with the WWE's way of operation, I can see that being 90% true. What's my take on all this? I'm glad you wondered.

Bryan Danielson's addition to the ECW brand is perfect for his career to blossom and bloom, to be honest. He won't be overshadowed by the likes of Cena, HHH, Batista, the Undertaker, HBK, or even Orton while on ECW. He also gets a place to showcase his talents without hindrance. Yes, I made this point a few times before, if not once. So, it's old news. Now, it might very well be official.

To continue with old news, Danielson's time on ECW can prevent him from getting any exposure since no one really watches the brand. Also, it might typecast him to being a C-grade level wrestler since he is on that type of brand. It could be exactly what some of the WWE pundits who detest people like Danielson and other castaways from wrestling organizations that are competing with the WWE are looking for. Why not stifle the "best in the world" by placing him on the worst brand in the world? Well, technically, it's the worst due to ratings, but if you want to say Monday Night Raw is the worst, you have a good point.

One key element I'm not bringing up here, interestingly, is the longevity of the ECW brand, on the whole. So far, it's week two in the countdown to the imminent departure of ECW, seemingly. If ECW does get repackaged, where does this leave Danielson? Quite honestly, I think it puts him in position to be the top star of this new brand or show. Yes, Christian and William Regal are great hands and workers. However, if you throw Danielson in the mix, you have three great workers with great charisma that can make new stars as well as have great matches with each other. They can be your main focus group for main events. Also, Danielson can draw out the best in any wrestler, no questions asked. If ECW re-brands, then Danielson has to be the main star.

Ok, so, technically, I can't really add to this since I've added more to this already with my pros and cons blog. Basically, Bryan Danielson will most likely be one of the main focal points of this show, if not for his skill, but for his connection with HBK. His involvement on ECW might very well help ECW in the quality department, as more people will most likely watch now. However, the general possibilities are endless. Only thing that can be done is to let the "Dragon" descend onto ECW and see where it goes.

[UPDATE] Want to know if Danielson can survive in the WWE? Well at the TLC PPV, Sheamus became the WWE champion beating John Cena, while Drew Mcintyre became the IC champion after defeating John Morrison. They are two stars highly regarded by HHH, HBK, and now, Vince McMahon. Also, they are new stars ready to start a tidal wave of new talent crowding up the main event to mid-card scene. If this is any indication of things to come, I expect Bryan Danielson to have gold within the first 3 to 6 months on television. The difference: he could probably outwrestle both Sheamus and Drew, and it wouldn't be a bad thing, either.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Hurricane/Burchill conflict: endings and beginnings

*Editor's note: I'm well aware of the possibility of ECW being re-branded and disappearing for good. That said, I will honor my vow to end my ECW analysis blog. So, the countdown is on. I will, however, continue to blog as if ECW will still exist until said expiration date is given. So, enjoy to the fullest. If I have to, and if there's a lot of demand for such, I will immortalize these blogs elsewhere for your reading and viewing pleasure. That said, enjoy the ride while it lasts.*

Once upon a time, a wrestler named Paul Burchill was drafted to the ECW brand with this sister, Katie Lea. His plan was to make a new name for himself and be the brute of a Brit that he has always been. He wasn't very successful at that, as he started losing more matches than he won. At the same time, another wrestler was struggling like Burchill, but not to win matches. He struggled to make due on ECW while he could not wrestle due to injuries, ring rust, and a lack of confidence in his health from his superiors. It was Gregory Helms, and his only solace was to be a broadcast journalist, interviewing people backstage. One day, while interviewing Mark Henry, someone was in peril backstage. All of a sudden, Helms disappeared. Then, a mysterious yet familiar figure saved this person. It was a masked man wearing green and black, with dark ominous hair. Then, as this figure disappeared, Helms returned to interview Henry. Who was this masked man? It was the Hurricane and he was slowly making his return to wrestling. As his heroic exploits were making waves, Burchill couldn't help but notice along with others. However, it was Burchill who jealously demanded Helms admit that it was he who was the Hurricane. Burchill didn't like the fact that everyone was falling for this obvious ruse and wanted Helms to admit that he was insulting the people's intelligence. Burchill even threatened Helms with physical force, until finally, the Hurricane confronted Burchill, and the war ensued.

What followed were a string of matches between Helms and Burchill, along with various skirmishes between the two with the Hurricane winning more battles against Burchill. Discontent with the situation he was in, Burchill challenged the Hurricane to a "Mask vs. Career" match where if the Hurricane lost, he'd remove his mask and reveal his identity, but if Burchill lost, he and his sister would leave ECW forever. Burchill lost the match and his place on ECW. Now, the move was made for one, if not various reasons. First off, the WWE liked Helms as a wrestler, but knew he wouldn't survive on any other show besides ECW. So, the decision was made and given that he wouldn't go anywhere. As for Burchill, the early decision was to move he and his sister back to Raw. As for the reason, well, I can only assume that it was to get Katie in the mix for the Divas title. However, that idea was nixed, and now we see Burchill and Lea begging for their jobs on ECW, while elsewhere, a masked individual is attacking the Hurricane. His mask is reminiscent to that of The Scarecrow on Batman Begins and his frame looks rather hulking as if it were....wait for it....Burchill under the mask. Yes, we're taking that road, folks. Paul Burchill is now attacking the Hurricane while under a mask, as a masked super-villain. And that, in a nutshell, is the Paul Burchill/Hurricane conflict with the fallout as mentioned weeks ago by yours truly. The end.

What? I'm supposed to analyze this? Great. I couldn't just go out like the Game Overthinker and just walk away with a short day. Ok. So I really have to analyze this? You know what? I'm not going to. I'm just going to leave it as is. That's all. See you next week.

Still here? Looks like you are. Ok, here's my take on this situation. How many times are they going to repackage, shift around, mess with, abuse, and downright screw with Paul Burchill's career? I mean, come on already. He started out as a British brute teamed with Regal as a mentor, and was looking to do some damage. Then, just like that, he's got the plug pulled on him. The next time he shows up, he is dressed like a pirate, pushing the fact that his great ancestors were pirates. This was his own doing, mind you. He was so adamant in making something of his career that he came up with this idea about him portraying a pirate. He was also cashing in on the fame and success of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise. Heck, he made William Regal dress up like a woman while with him. Then, around the time that he got a real female valet (Shelly Martinez, if you recall, who became Ariel to Kevin Thorn), the WWE pulled the plug on this idea only because the always innovative Vince McMahon didn't get the pirate idea because he never saw or even heard about the "Pirates" franchise. This is the same Vince McMahon who thinks it's relevant to have Verne Troyer host Raw and make a bunch of Austin Powers jokes, which are, to date, 10 years out of reference. Meanwhile, the "Pirates" stuff was still fresh and actually current. So, Burchill gets written off of television selling an injury by Mark Henry, and is back to square one. He disappears from the WWE for months on end to return to this current gimmick only to receive more static from the WWE. Initially, this gimmick was to have an incest-based relationship between Paul and Katie, but the WWE put the kibosh on it as soon as it started. This was because the WWE decided to become more kid-friendly at that exact time. So, Burchill was curtailed, and sadly, lost more matches because of it. Now, he's doing the same thing he was doing when he was curtailed, only now, after losing this war with the Hurricane, he's now donning a mask. Sadly, the WWE commentators took it upon themselves to make a bunch of references to "The Dark Knight" and "Batman Begins", while doing it. Ok, so now, it's good to make a bunch of references to movies, since we have a major blockbuster like Batman on our hands, but if it's Pirates of the Caribbean, it doesn't work? I get this sinking feeling that it's Triple H in Vince's ear, making mention to the movies that are worth joking about. It's gotta be fart jokes, midget jokes, toilet humor, and lots of testosterone-driven action, not silly, frilly pirates or something. What's even worse is that Burchill has probably gone through 5 or so different finishers which have all failed to catch on. Traversing through gimmicks can do that to someone.

Why am I neglecting the Hurricane? What should I say about him? He won, remember? He's going to keep his spot. Now, he's the barometer for Burchill's career as they are involved in this pseudo-comic war that the knucklehead hacks of the creative team could come up with. All we know about the Hurricane is that he's about a few losses away from becoming virtually irrelevant as Tommy Dreamer. Sadly, he and Burchill are in this mess together. But, I guess the real reason I'm neglecting the Hurricane is because he was a success, more than Burchill has been. You'd be remiss to neglect the titles he's won, owned, and defended. Burchill, on the other hand, hasn't had that success.

Hold on a minute! I'm getting an interesting piece of news. It turns out that fellow British ECW star, D.J. Gabriel, is now working a mask gimmick in FCW as a way to retool his failing career in the WWE. Perhaps, maybe, it would be wise to team Gabriel and Burchill together as some sort of masked super-villain team? Both are British, both have to hide their faces behind masks to hide their ECW shame, and both are suffering from being re-tooled for their own good, one more so than the other. It works if you think about it. But, thinking and the WWE don't really go hand in hand.

What is it going to take for the WWE to finally get behind Paul Burchill? If it's nothing, then fire the guy, stop squandering his talents, and be done with it. Otherwise, just commit to something and make it work. He's a great wrestler and a fine hand in the ring. If he doesn't seem as such anymore, it's due to all that time off he's been getting for, well, not wrestling. Make the move already! Give him something to work with. So far, he has something to work with, but how long will it last? It's through the whims of a creative madman in Vince that keeps Burchill from ascending up the ladder, let alone existing in good favor in the WWE. He's like a weekend hobby that a person never gets around to, but always promises to. In my case, he's my guitar, which hasn't been touched in months, despite my incessant need to learn.

Poor Paul Burchill, what are you going to do? You lost on ECW, now your career is through. You're wearing a mask to fight your way on t.v., because the writers don't have a clue. Now, it's only a matter of time before they make you the next "Who?" (Jim Neidhart's masked gimmick that was a failure from the start). So, there's the fallout of the war between Burchill and the Hurricane. It's not even over yet. It's still going. It's now entered the "ran out of ideas, so let's steal from pop culture" phase. This usually has pretty bad results, so time will tell where this goes. In my opinion, it will go down the toilet, like the rest of Burchill's gimmicks. But, hey, it's not like he doesn't have a job, right? Getting paid to not know your future is still getting paid, when you think about it. And if they can pay a slew of wrestlers in the WWE without having creative direction for them, there shouldn't be anything wrong with this. Well, there is one thing. See, you have two solid hands at wrestling stuck working an angle that not even the most jaded of young fans will hope to get, let alone care about. Instead of putting them in better position to move their careers, they are placed in a position to fail or be forgotten. Trust me when I say this: when you are on this version of ECW, you will be forgotten. If I'm wrong, explain why ECW was missing from close to three straight PPVs.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

An "intense" look at Vance Archer

Intensity. It is defined colloquially referring to strength, level, amplitude, or magnitude. Usually, when this term is used on someone or about someone, it refers to the person's attitude. It's very strong, very direct, very powerful. It refers to how a person approaches every aspect of their life, if not a certain part of their life. This is usually head-on, full-on, immersion with some extra energy. In wrestling, an intense wrestler is usually a brute of a man or a woman. Some intense wrestlers include Snitsky, Test, Mike Knox, Umaga, Psycho Sid, Bruiser Brody, Buzz Sawyer, Cactus Jack, the Necro Butcher, Homicide, Abyss, Kane, Batista and the Sheik. Those wrestlers are intense for their strength and their unpredictable hardcore nature. Then there's Raven, Jake "the Snake" Roberts, Eddie Kingston, Jimmy Jacobs, Kevin Sullivan, Edge, and even Rowdy Roddy Piper and Chris Jericho. They are considered psychologically intense using their vast intellects, pure cunning, or underhanded diabolical nature to get their points across. Where does Vance Archer fit into all of this? Well, they say he's intense, and although it seems he'd fall into the first category, his silent, stoic, half smirk may prove otherwise. Then again, he might not fall in either category. One thing is for sure, though: his arrival on ECW came rather conveniently, and he has to make due with it or he may never be seen as an intense wrestler again.

Thanks to wikipedia, I can give you all an in-depth look at Mr. Archer and what he's made of. His real name is Lance Hoyt. In the year 2000, he began his training under Solo Faitala and debuted in July of that year against Tarzan Taylor. He worked the Texas independent circuit until 2005, under many aliases, such as Lance Steel, Breakdown (a name he chose when he had to wrestle in his street clothes upon forgetting his ring gear), and Shadow, a dark villianous character. He maintained his Shadow persona for all 9 years of his time with Professional Championship Wrestling (2000-2009), fighting stars like Ahmed Johnson and Paul London and starting a faction called "The Dark Circle". He held the PCW Tag Team Championships with Wally Darkmon in 2006. In 2007, he was the first AMW Heavyweight Champion after beating Shawn Stasiak (former WWE superstar). He lost the title in a three-way dance match involving Action Jackson and Mike Foxx. After which, he was "released" from his contract only to have signed a PCW "legends contract". He was commisioner of the organization for a brief stint until his imminent departure.

While working in PCW, Hoyt maintained a steady position wrestling for TNA: Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. He was hired to work there in March of 2004, acting as a bodyguard/relative named Dallas for the then-TNA X Division star Kid Kash. On April 7th of that year, Kid Kash and Dallas won the vacant NWA World Tag Team titles in a tournament, defeating Low Ki and Christopher Daniels of Triple-X in the finals. One week later, they dropped the tag belts to D'Lo Brown and Apolo, only to win the belts back the subsequent week. They then lost the belts to America's Most Wanted on June 4th. Hoyt lost some exposure when Kid Kash was suspended from TNA in June, but regained some of it, helping Kid Kash in his feud with A.J. Styles. In January of 2005, he chose to wrestle under his actual name of Lance Hoyt, as instructed by then-booker Dusty Rhodes, to avoid confusion between himself and Diamond Dallas Page, who was wrestling for TNA at the time. Hoyt and Kash competed as a tag team until Kash was fired from TNA on April of 2005. Hoyt then took part in the TNA Lockdown Pay-per-view event on April 19, 2005, teaming with Chris Candido to fight Sonny Siaki and Apolo in a cage match. During the match, Candido suffered a severe leg injury, Hoyt was pinned, and then Hoyt was attacked by the Naturals, Candido's associates, turning Hoyt into a fan favorite. On a side note, the injury Candido suffered would ultimately lead to his tragic death afterward.

Hoyt's career started receiving a strong fan following, leading to his becoming a character called Hoytamania, referencing the "Hulkamania" movement surrounding Hulk Hogan. His career led him to feud with Team Canada, lose to fellow big men Abyss and Monty Brown, and get eliminated in a 10-man Gauntlet Match at TNA Bound for Glory of that year. The match was to determine the new #1 contender for Jeff Jarrett's NWA World Championship. What followed was a tag team formed by Hoyt and Matt Bentley, that ended in a violent feud that ended at Destination X. After many months off, Hoyt returned to TNA to team up with Ron "the Truth" Killings, in a tag team battle royal which they lost, and in a winning effort against Bentley and Frankie Kazarian. Hoyt would take part in the Fight for the Right Tournament where he lost to Abyss upon being one of the last two men in the match. When that failed, he continued his teaming with Killings to win some matches. Hoyt then started acting as a bodyguard of sorts with the Voodoo Kin Mafia of BG James and Kip James, which ended with Hoyt turning on them and becoming a heel when he saved Christy Hemme from Kip James after the VKM won their tag match at Slammiversary. After Hoyt failed to defeat Abyss and even Kip James on TNA Impact!, he and Christy joined up with new TNA hire Jimmy Rave, a notable independent wrestler from such organizations like Ring of Honor, to form the Rock 'n Rave Infection. They became a comedy rock trio, complete with Guitar Hero controllers, Hemme screaming on a microphone, and Hoyt and Rave impersonating Slash of Guns N' Roses, and Vince Gill of Motley Crue, respectively.

As part of this new faction, Hoyt took part in and lost the "Cuffed in the Cage" match against "Super" Eric, changed his name to Lance Rock, and lost to Matt Morgan on that same day after Morgan beat Jimmy Rave. Since then, the team lost against virtually every tag team in TNA until Hoyt was released from TNA on February 10, 2009. Hoyt then wrestled in All Japan Pro Wrestling for a short while until signing with the WWE on April 26, 2009. He went to the WWE farm system organization, FCW, under the name Lance Archer. He changed his name to Vance Archer and later debuted on ECW in November of this year. On a more personal note, Hoyt appeared on such shows as the Jenny Jones Show, elimiDate, Scrubs, and Room Raiders. Hoyt also played basketball, football, and baseball, attended Texas State University and played there as a quarterback, has a degree in English, and worked in a nightclub, where he met his wrestling teacher.

That's quite a short resume, but a rather intense one if you look at it from a certain standpoint. Now, he's Vance Archer, and he has intensely ran through whomever has gotten in his way. As I stated before, it was a rather convenient debut for Archer, with all types of implications to it. Here's 3 such implications that I figured I'd share with you all that may very well determine his future.

First off, he debuted one week after another intense individual made his departure from the ECW brand. That wrestler was Sheamus. He was Irish, pale, red-headed, and brutish. He put the hurt on whomever got in his way and dominated virtually every match he was in. Then, when word got out that he was gaining some support from Triple H backstage, he was sent to Raw, depriving ECW of at least one stand-out dominator of a heel. Enter Vance Archer. Are those some big shoes to fill if you're Archer? Well, let's see: Sheamus left to Raw and "retired" Jamie Noble (kayfabe), decimated the competition in his Survivor Series match, and is now the #1 Contender for the WWE title. Yea, I think it's safe to say that Archer has a lot to match, don't you? Sheamus would have to be seen as a pretty big deal for this to happen. Archer, well, is not quite there yet.

Secondly, Archer's debut and subsequent success will mirror the veritable success of his fellow TNA expatriates that now call the WWE home. So far, those who have come to the WWE from TNA have either done it as a return of sorts or as a chance to continue their careers away from TNA. What's the verdict on their careers? R-Truth returned to some pretty decent fanfare. Too bad his match record couldn't match it. He's lost to a number of many important talents, curtailing whatever chances of his becoming a big star. He even cleanly lost to a star the WWE clearly demoted in C.M. Punk so he can prepare R-Truth for the main event scene. Throw in a failed attempt at reinventing his character, and that's R-Truth, a wrestler who is paying his dues at great lengths for being with the "enemy". Gail Kim returned to losses, losses, and more losses to the worst in the Women's and Diva's divisions as well as decisive losses to the best. That's what she gets for joining the "enemy" and establishing their women's division. Christian was supposed to be the person responsible for Jeff Hardy's attacks. However, due to an internet leak and Vince McMahon's general disdain toward Christian, he is now relegated to wrestling on ECW and is now the current owner of the ECW championship. That's not so bad or wouldn't be if, say, Christian was involved on pay-per-view events to a much greater capacity. Then again, can you expect much from a guy who went to the "enemy" afer being spurned by the WWE? I'll sum up Braden Walker in an equation, since the story is just too annoying to hear: former TNA star + big mouth about accomplishments + bad gimmick = instant failure. Do the math! Now, Archer wasn't anyone to bury the WWE while in TNA, but that doesn't put him in the clear at all. This brings me to my third and final implication.

Lastly, Archer is yet another powerhouse of a big man who has debuted in the WWE that...for lack of a better term, has no dimensions to him. Then again, he's another wrestler who, for lack of a better term, has no dimensions to him. Mike Knox is a brute who just developed a need to destroy the human body. Snitsky became a bald brute with bad teeth. Tyler Reks is a surfer from California. D.J. Gabriel is a party animal from England. Vance Archer is intense. The big question is this: and? What else do or did they bring to the table? Why not spend the time to flesh out these guys with better backstories? When you just shoot these guys out there with nothing to go on, no one reacts to it, and in turn, no one cares about it. Sure, Vance Archer is an intense wrestler, but so is Batista, and we already know why he is intense, what he brings to the table, and why he should be watched. Shoot, even Sheamus is branching out using his Celtic roots and his unique look as extra flavor to his blatant disregard for others. What's so special about Vance Archer? Just because someone mentions the intensity of another, doesn't guarantee abject success. So, Archer has his work cut out for him.

Vance Archer is an intense wrestler. However, his intensity should be focused on being seen as something other than a cheap replacement for a far more valuable wrestler, along with his need to be more than just a useless TNA castaway as well as a bland, one-dimensional character. He has to step away from those schemas and be more than just that. I have an idea. Why not have the intense Vance Archer do some research? Study the tapes. Watch the promos. Be bigger and better than those around you by learning from the best. Find out what intensity is by observing the intense. If you can do that, and can become a truly intense wrestler, then the world will take you seriously. Being intense is more than just a smirking scowl and an endorsement from some general manager. If you work on it, it can be a belief, a mindset, or even a lifestyle. In Archer's case, it's a wrestling style. That's great for you, Vance, granted you were the first to do it. Sadly, you weren't, so you have a long way to go. To your credit though, you're doing a prety decent job, which is more than I can say for some guys with gimmick issues..

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fan Appreciation Week: The failures and successes of the new ECW

For this year's ECW analysis, we have Vafa Behnam giving his insight on the failure of the new ECW. Check he and Nic Steenburg out at the website below:

Creatively speaking, it's their way of booking the WWE in a fantasy format.

Now, can ECW be seen as a failure? Well, let's see: it's the rebirth of the 7-year old revolution, coerced by Paul Heyman and Tod Gordon, and is lived vicariously through many different means. Compared to what we saw then, what we learned then, and what we encountered, it's not exactly a very good comparison. I could go on and on as to why that's the case, but this time, it's Vafa's turn. So, here we go. Feel free to comment on such:

What I would like to talk about in this post is how the new ECW completely embarrasses the original ECW. Its very essence does no justice to its past, whatsoever. What I would also like to mention is how ECW could not be listed as the C show. As bad as it sounds or seems, it's actually still pretty promising.

How does the new ECW embarrass its predecessor? For one, ECW stands for Extreme Championship Wrestling (notice the emphasis on the first word). Nowadays, if you switch on the channel, one bloody chair-shot is really asking for it. Even if in the old ECW, there was no hardcore action(which was rare), there would surely be explosive high-flying, terrific technical maneuvers, or extreme strength as a fine, blood-pumping substitute. If you need some evidence, search up any pre-2001 ECW video. I've even done the liberty of selecting a video right here:

Notice that at ringside in the video, you see tables, chairs, trash cans and tons of other hardcore weapons. Now, one part of ECW's failure has just been proven. However, three to four years ago, it wasn't the C show because of its wrestling talent. See, back then, it was real entertaining or at least remotely entertaining. Nowadays, ECW is neither. It's a place for youngsters to job while looking to make an impact, or washed-up has-beens who are looking to restart their careers. Even if they get the occasional wrestler who has talent, they instantly export him or her to some other brand, and in exchange, they get even more youngsters and has-beens.

Back in the day, heck, back three to four years ago, ECW would have some of the top talent in the WWE on the roster, such as the first and only ECW and WWE champion at the same time, six time IC champion, Mr. Money in the bank for the year of 2006 and grand slam champion, RVD, the world's largest athlete, the only wrestler to have held the WWE, WCW, and ECW titles, and highly decorated wrestling titlist, The Big Show and even the owner of the WWE, Vinny Mac was on ECW. So, what disappoints me the most is how ECW let itself go, dropping in entertainment, and most importantly, letting down its fans. Sadly, this problem has spread like a virus, and all over the WWE, brand by brand. I hope that one day, the WWE would reconstruct ECW, and make it a real brand, not some sort of a joke. What is good about ECW is that it is a place to revive old-timers, and test out new talent in the main event. If ECW wants to continue as the C show and wants the training ground for has-beens and youngsters, then they are on the right track. If ECW wants to become an entertaining, blood-pumping A show, then there's lots of work to do...

My opinion: a well-thought analysis by Vafa. Good job on your submission, my friend. I have basically echoed what Vafa wrote in as many posts as I could. It's up to the WWE to see the err of their ways and make ECW what it could be, what it should be, and what is what meant to be: a revolutionary entity here to change the face of professional wrestling, on par with that of Raw or Smackdown. You don't have to like it, but darn it if you don't respect it.

Next week: we take an "intense" look at Vance Archer. In the weeks to come, we look at the fallout of the Burchill/Hurricane war, ECW's existence at Survivor Series, the returns of the ECW Christmas Wish List and ECW predictions for year 2010, and to start off the new year, we look at how the new creative direction for the WWE might affect ECW.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Old habits die hard, and old wounds still tear easy

Due to circumstances beyond my control, the proposed Hurricane/Burchill analysis will wait until the week of December 13. Don't blame me. The WWE didn't want to book a match they talked about just a week ago for whatever reason, so, yea, can't help that.

As I was making my rounds through the internet, I came across an interview from Rob Van Dam for the UK Sun newspaper and website. As it turned out, he still had a lot to say about the new ECW, his final months in the WWE, and how Vince really did his work at trying to destroy ECW. He recounts how he never expected ECW One Night Stand 2005 to be a continued tradition, but its success produced a return engagement one year later. He spoke about how it was going to be difficult to get the same feel for the next One Night Stand PPV, as wrestlers would decline due to death, commitment to other feds, or just distaste for the WWE. He also stated that his victory over John Cena at One Night Stand 2006 was the crowning achievement of his career. And, why shouldn't it be? He broke the glass ceiling in front of the fans that made his career and captured the WWE title, meriting his use and values as a wrestler. It also gave ECW value and gave Rob a chance to celebrate among his real fans (like his loving wife). However, his breaking the ceiling of glass didn't come without a price, as he makes mention to a few scathing stories of how it all came about, flaring up his old wounds. I can't make mention of them all as I don't fully remember them, but I do remember a few things that stand out.

Before I go on, here's a link to an excerpt to that interview:

If my facts are wrong, look this up and feel free to correct me.

RVD made mention of how the ECW originals in 2006 were made to look like bad guys when they were featured on the ECW vs. Raw: Head to Head television special as they battled perennial good guy, John Cena, as well as when they welcomed two current heels into the fold in the forms of Kurt Angle and the Big Show. It didn't help ECW's cause when they were grossly outnumbered on that event by Raw's faces and heels, and beaten in the final moments of the show in a brawl. RVD also mentioned how Vince McMahon would go out of his way to curtail RVD, Paul Heyman, and even Tommy Dreamer's attempts to legitimize ECW as a brand when it was created. Vince would tell Paul that he would have to appeal to the casual fan or new ECW follower by making many changes to the product, which included adding failing WWE stars, disqualifications, silly gimmicks, and setting up the ECW style as a stipulation instead of as an unwritten rule. Paul, Tommy, and Rob would agree, knowing that this was going to happen in all eventuality as it has in all wrestling organizations. They just weren't aware of the lengths Vince would go to in order for it to happen. Sure, Vince would not allow RVD to win the title after his arrest, but the pending moves after such were virtually incredible. RVD made mention as to how Vince told him that the people chant "ECW" because it was he who got them to for the past set of years. At that point, Rob knew that talking to Vince was a big waste of time and that any arguments they had would always end up with Vince winning out. You can only talk to a wall before you grow tired and try to lead a horse to water. Rob then made mention of the December to Dismember PPV, one of the worst PPVs in ECW history, WWE history, and even wrestling history. He mentioned that this would be the place where ECW was officially dead and for good reason. The whole PPV was littered with bad moments that could not be fully equated with the original ECW feel. However, Rob said it was the main event that sealed the deal of ECW's death. It was an elimination chamber match that was going to showcase the changeover of the old ECW to the new ECW. How was this done? Simply put, RVD was defeated in this Elimination Chamber match, and Lashley won the ECW title instead. It didn't help that RVD was one of the first eliminated from the match. But, it was at that moment that the originals of ECW admitted the death of any trace of the original ECW in this new entity. RVD went on further to mention how Vince rubbed it in their faces when he won the ECW title for himself in the following year. It was a destructive move, to say the least, not to mention a very disrespectful one. Then again, can we really be surprised when it comes to Vince and his ego? No, not really, but it still hurts and is still obscenely difficult to accept.

To be honest, the fact that Rob Van Dam can still talk about this and not seem bitter is surprising. He's actually pretty mellow about the situation, as he is about many other things in life. However, the fact that he is mentioning all this beyond the fact that it all happened about 2 to 3 years ago, coercing his departure in late 2007, still rings true and damagingly loud in our ears, hearts, and minds. Now, some people will say that RVD and any originals who still talk about this should really just get over it and accept the fact that it happened and they should move on. However, you'd be a fool to say that they should, especially if they spent the best years of their life trying to define ECW as its own entity. They shed blood, sweat, and tears to maintain a living while wrestling in ECW. It was their lives. It was what defined them in the world of wrestling. It was who they were. So, when they see their very lives paraded around like a lifeless marionette by a power-mad puppeteer to fit his own whims and ego, they can't help but mention how sick they get or how disappointed they get. It really hits home with them, and you can't blame them for being bitter. I mean, sure, the WCW guys who are now in the WWE might have their reservations about how WCW was a success in certain areas and a failure in most others, but still deserves a level of respect. Yet, when the company is trashed, they take it upon themselves to harp the negatives, and they should, for good reason, because the horrible mismanagement of a successful company that made up their livelihood should not be forgotten, or brushed aside. ECW, despite its mismanagements, was not gentrified to the point where even the stars didn't want to be there. While it was tough to be in ECW due to the lack of pay at times, the dangerous conditions in matches, and even the lack of stars due to competition, it paled in comparison to working in WCW, where although you were guaranteed more money, you weren't guaranteed a good piece of mind. If anything, it came down to the money, but if it came down to raw ability and just having fun showing it, ECW was the better fit.

See, RVD has every right to be bitter at this point in life, as does Paul Heyman, and others. Paul Heyman, to his credit, did everything to kowtow to his bosses with the December to Dismember PPV, but no matter how well he did, he would have been looked at as a failure. Never mind the fact that the WWE did everything to make sure the PPV was atrocious in one way or another. It was Paul's fault because he was creatively in charge of it all. So, he took the fall for it, and was relieved of his duties creatively, until his contract expired. For the second time in his life, he saw his baby or his stepchild taken in by nasty foster parents against his will or his volition. The first time, he openly gave it up to save himself from debt. This time, he had joint custody of this child, and it was swiftly taken from him when he was labeled unfit to raise it by its other foster parents (Note: I really hope I'm not offending anyone with this choice of an analogy. If I do, I humbly apologize as it might hit home with whomever is reading). I mean, the former WCW wrestlers liked WCW, but when it was taken by the WWE and turned into a joke during the Invasion angle, they probably hurt over it, but not to the point where they could fully defend WCW, as it was hard to do it with what went down near its end. It's safe to say that virtually everyone involved with WCW was hurt by WCW's infrastructure one way or another. I say virtually because there were most likely some that didn't feel the effects at all as opposed to those who felt it to the fullest. However, you'd be remiss to think that there are or were any ECW originals that wouldn't defend ECW if it were being treated like trash. It was the place for stars to get their big break, the place for stars to wrestle without limits, and the place to help change the face of professional wrestling. Now, it's just a name in name only, as nothing, save for Tommy Dreamer represents ECW in any way, shape, or form in the current iteration.

If any of you get a chance, read that article and its follow-up. Take stock in the words from the only ECW star, virtually homegrown from ECW, that actually broke the glass ceiling and reached the top of professional wrestling, when others would have never been given the chance. Sure, you can mention Benoit, Jericho, and even Guerrero, but we all know they got their real training and notoriety from their respective countries. Maybe I'm tooting the wrong horn here saying what I said, so feel free to disagree. I just think that RVD is worth listening to, if not for the reason I mentioned, but for the reason that, to this day, he is still considered one of the most popular stars to come out of ECW, to the point where he is still cheered, revered, and even demanded in wrestling to this day. He got over being Rob Van Dam, despite what organization he was in, and that was mostly attributed to ECW.

Old habits do die hard and at times, old wounds still do tear easy. In RVD's case, the habit to talk about ECW, defend it, and discuss what it has become is still very fresh in his life and even unavoidable. ECW was RVD's life, and you'd be remiss to discredit any portion of your life that was considered a great era or time period. However, the wounds RVD received or already had upon being associated with the letters ECW at its re-edification in 2006 have never healed or may never heal because of his association with ECW. All he wanted was to relive the glory days, if not for one night, for a little while. Instead, he got a full-fledged return that was less than stellar as time went on. It was hard to deal with, but RVD knew or had to know what to expect out of Vince, based on his track record. That, however, didn't mean that he should be the least bit depressed, outraged, or bitter about the outcome. You wouldn't want pieces of your life left in the hands of a bad storyteller.

I will say this: Rob's interview does shed some light on two distinct truths that I have come to contemplate. I remember a promo RVD had at ECW Barely Legal 1997 about how he was worth more money in ECW and not worth more money elsewhere. In truth, ECW is the same way, but instead of money, it's worth more respect and honor on its own than it does under someone's watchful eye and control. Another truth comes from Vince and RVD's conversation about ECW fans chanting "ECW" and how it was Vince who taught them that. Well, Vince, you might not have taught them to chant "ECW", but, based on your actions, you sure as heck taught them not to.

Reader appreciation week is next week for the Thanksgiving week. If you're interested in blogging about anything concerning the new ECW (2006 to present), let me know and I'll post it for next week. Otherwise, I'm off next week.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Yoshi Tatsu: reaching new horizons

I just finished watching the Ricky Steamboat/Randy Savage Intercontinental title match at Wrestlemania 3 and was once again, amazed at the talent of both men. What caught my attention, however, was Steamboat's promo before the match. He expressed great rage towards Randy Savage for his attack to Steamboat's throat. He made it clear that he would get revenge, win the title and reach new horizons. A few days later, before writing this blog, I thought of a person, who, like Steamboat, is from the Pacific, is an athletically sound wrestler with great aerial tactics, scientific prowess, and raw energy that makes him a very popular wrestler. Like Steamboat, he may very well remain a face for the majority of his career, entertaining the crowd for the majority of, if not, the rest of his career. Like Steamboat, he had a chance to reach new horizons by capturing gold. However, he failed to do so, as he lost to Christian for the ECW title. Quite obviously, I'm talking about Yoshi Tatsu. However, unlike Steamboat, Yoshi can still reach new horizons without the need to win a title. Yet, just like Steamboat, he may never fully get to relish in that opportunity.

Yoshi Tatsu has finally started to turn heads in ECW, with his ability in the ring. His rise to the top is rather reminiscent to Kofi Kingston, only without the undefeated streak. I would say that about 4 to 6 months from now, he will be seeing greener pastures on Raw or Smackdown. In my opinion, it could go either way as to where he ends up. Whatever the case may be, he can make a serious push for the Intercontinental or U.S. Title and probably walk off with it, but maybe in a few tries. In fact, I'd say that with the right marketing, he could even be very approachable and acceptable to many fans alike. However, it is in this air that Yoshi faces true danger. See, Yoshi Tatsu is from Japan. He doesn't speak English, he's already being portrayed in a comedic light with his incessant need to say "Thank you" (Tajiri did the something like this when he first showed up), and he's got the wrestling chops to outshine the majority of the lower and middle card. Throw in the fact that he's a cruiserweight and you have enough key reasons as to why he'll never see true success. Then again, as mentioned, neither did Steamboat.

Ricky Steamboat's most notable feud in his WWE time included his battle with Randy Savage after getting assaulted to his throat and larynx. The feud culminated at the Wrestlemania, as mentioned with Steamboat winning the IC title. However, no more than a few months later, he dropped the title to the Honky Tonk Man. All that hard work, and only 4 months of success. He never got the IC title back since then. In fact, he disappeared from the WWE shortly after the title loss. He showed up in the NWA to battle Ric Flair on a number of occasions. He returned to the WWE on a short-term basis, then he disappeared to WCW for a possible push there. Why didn't Steamboat go places? Well, he spoke English, his gimmick was very much like the "Karate Kid" or "Bruce Lee", in a sense (which could be seen as a positive or negative, based on your opinion), and he was very over with the crowd. Plus, his ability in the ring was virtually flawless. My guess: he wasn't big enough, size-wise, to make any waves since Vincent K. McMahon liked bigger stars, and also, his gimmick wasn't as flamboyant as the Honky Tonk Man's or others. Tough break, but he made some strides at least to make himself notable.

Yoshi Tatsu, albeit in a similar situation, or could be in a similar situation, will have it much worse for himself. His lack of comprehensive English-speaking skills can put him at a definitive disadvantage, when it comes to giving promos or interviews. He's probably one backstage segment away from embodying a negative stereotype (I can see the anime-references coming a mile away. Shoot, someone had a sign talking about him with the Yoshi character from Nintendo on it). He's a cruiserweight, which means he'll be shuffled towards the lower card, possibly on the losing end of things. Lastly, he's received good training from his former organization, New Japan Pro Wrestling, which may put him at odds with many wrestling politicians backstage that don't want to be shown up by his ability to execute maneuvers better than others. Truth be told, it looks like he's behind the 8-ball on this one. Don't believe me? It's happened before, in fact on 4 occasions.

Taka Michinoku came in as the answer to WCW's rising cruiserweight division, winning the Light Heavyweight title, and embroiling himself in different feuds, including with his fellow stars in Kaientai, Brian Christopher, and the Oddities (which was when he teamed with Kaientai). How did his career pan out? He literally destroyed his shoulder in 2000, watched everyone but himself and Funaki get fired, got relegated to an idiotic tag team gimmick with Funaki in Kaientai as they were voiced-over like a bad martial arts film (in case you were wondering, it was Shane McMahon doing the VOs, I'm sure of it), then was fired. Funaki remained in the WWE, only to become a backstage interviewer speaking in broken English, then later became Cruiserweight champion for a short time, only to linger on as a jobber, and is now called Kung Fu Naki, with a martial arts gi, a red headband, and a crane kick as a finisher. Yea, idiotic, I know. Jimmy Wang Yang was originally a dangerously skilled Japanese wrestler in WCW with Kaz Hayashi and Jamie Noble, before getting signed on to the WWE as a member of the Japanese mafia, supporting Tajiri. When that fell through, he was just another martial artist, teaming with Billy Kidman until he was transformed into Jimmy Wang Yang, your stereotypical Asian person trying to be a Southerner. Where did that take him? It got him a few choice victories in tag team and singles wrestling, but never any titles, and then, out of nowhere, he was suspended for a wellness policy violation and hasn't been on the winning end of any matches since then. It's bad enough he had a gimmick that was already wearing thin since its beginning, despite his tremendous ability. The suspension just made things worse. Lastly, we have Tajiri. After appearing briefly on WWE television, he joined ECW and was embroiled in a long-time feud with Super Crazy. It was enough to get him an ECW Television Title and a few ECW World Title shots. Upon coming to the WWE, he was already a flunky for William Regal. He then became Torrie Wilson's love interest, and then he became a heel, but not before winning the Cruiserweight championship, I believe, along with some other titles, if I'm not mistaken. After many stellar runs as Cruiserweight champion, he departed from the WWE in 2005. This was attributed to his grief of the loss of Eddie Guerrero as well as his travels straining on his marriage. However, as respected and as cheered as Tajiri got, he never received any forward movement, even when Rey Mysterio was getting it, and he was smaller than Tajiri, too.

Some of these examples might not seem very prevalent, but they all share one thing in common: they, like Yoshi Tatsu, all have had the same problems coming into the forefront of their careers. Be it a language barrier, size differentials, bad stereotypes or even just general talent, it wasn't enough for them to go anywhere near a major singles title, let alone a major mid-card title, if not for a long period of time. It could have even been just general backstage politics, but the outcome remains the same. Yoshi Tatsu had better be ready to expect this for his career. It's just a bit depressing and saddening only because the WWE can choose to be progressive and allow for a change by allowing for a foreign star to succeed, let alone one of a different nationality. Like it or not, you won't be seeing many foreign stars as champions in major wrestling organizations in the U.S. We got that chance with Yokozuna (even though he was Samoan, in reality, but he still wasn't American). We even got that with various Canadian stars (but they spoke English, so there was no language barrier). Simply put, the possibilities are too few and far between to consider it progress. That said, Yoshi Tatsu might not see anything more out of his career but a possible IC or U.S. Title run....that could end in a blink of an eye.

Yoshi Tatsu is slowly but surely reaching new horizons as a superstar in ECW and in the WWE, as a whole. It doesn't look like he'll go very far, as based on past examples, but there is always hope. Rey Mysterio could barely speak English, and sadly, he still barely can in some instances, but he was still given the World Title for his merit, his ability, his heart, and his connection with Eddie Guerrero (a connection that would make him a key culprit in the exploitation of Eddie's life...after his death). Kofi Kingston spoke English, despite a forced and labored Jamaican accent, and he has won the U.S., IC, and World Tag titles within the first year and a half of being on Monday Night Raw. He did have his fair share of losses, but now he's embroiled in a feud with a top main eventer in Randy Orton. Does this show promise for Yoshi? You could say so, but with all the things against him for possible forward progression, it's very hard to say. Regardless, you'd be a fool to discredit his amazing ability, which is his biggest selling point in ECW. If it got him a title shot, it can get him a spot on a better or bigger brand.

Yoshi Tatsu has his career right in front of him and has to do his best to make the best of the situation that he's in. In fact, all superstars who find themselves in limbo, jobbing here and there, or not even showing up on t.v. should do the best with the situation they are in. Showing initiative, despite the negatives is always a good sign for upward movement. Although it might be too late for some, it isn't for Yoshi Tatsu. Who knows? He might actually reach those "new horizons" that so many of his brethren from Japan have missed. Or, he could just be relegated to some Japanese Anime-related gimmick/stereotype....which just screams of creativity.....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

ECW: love it or leave it...

Sheamus, formerly of ECW fame, has made his debut on Monday Night Raw, 2 weeks ago by destroying Jamie Noble in a match. He did it again this week while during the match and even after the match, proving his dominance once again. Between those two matches, he got even with Shelton Benjamin and defeated him on his last ECW match before completely going to Raw. However, on the ECW side of things, what really mattered was the internal feelings about the move. When asked by Abraham Washington on his show, ECW G.M. Tiffany made it clear that if a person did not want to be in ECW, they could leave. No questions. No fuss. Just leave. Now, where have I seen this type of bravado before, when dealing with ECW? Oh yes, from Paul Heyman. Funny how things remain the same, the more things change.

Paul Heyman controlled ECW from 1993 until its last show in 2001, putting together at most 7 years of incredible, ground-breaking wrestling. There were compelling storylines, well-wrestled scientific matches, incredible promos, innovative characters, and some of the most violent wrestling you would see in the United States since the days of the Shiek and "Classy" Freddie Blassie. Paul had no problem taking in stars who needed exposure, experience, and just a place to work, but when the topic of leaving ECW ever came up in a convo, Paul made it clear that he wasn't going to try to compete with WCW or WWE's money or offers. If you wanted out, then go. Apparently, it holds true for this iteration of ECW as well. I just never thought it would be said, mentioned, or even considered. Also, instead of jumping to different companies, it's about jumping to different brands. So, I guess Sheamus figured that there wasn't enough on ECW to conquer that was worth conquering. The ECW title wasn't enough. The remaining competition wasn't enough. It had to be the greener pastures of Raw that would be enough to satiate the needs of the Celtic warrior. Either that, or Triple H's influence, but that's another story...

So, if ECW isn't enough for certain stars, why is it that certain stars we would love to see succeed on other shows like they would deserve to, don't consider the same thing? Why is it that some of the most skilled stars and veterans on ECW don't take it upon themselves to do so? The easy answer of course, is backstage politics. But, if that wasn't even a factor, why not have some stars just up and leave? Is it because they stretched out their chances on the other brands? Is it because they are biding their time until they are ready to burst onto the scene elsewhere? Whatever the reason may be, I have a few stars in mind that should just up and leave ECW with the talent they have and try to make a run on Raw or SmackDown. In fact, I only know three stars.

First, there's the Hurricane. The Hurricane has the wrestling credibility to be a big time high-flyer on SmackDown, let alone a great singles wrestler who utilizes ground-based moves. If this hasn't been proven, just look back to his singles matches with Matt Hardy when he used his alter ego, Gregory Helms (or so it's believed to be his alter ego...wink wink). They had some of the best midcard matches on SmackDown at that time. Helms proved he could hang with bigger stars, and had some crucial maneuvers that could secure him victory against bigger stars, be it bigger in star value, or bigger in size. I remember Helms defeating Rosey, a 300+ lb Samoan superhero sidekick, with a well-place "Shining Wizard" to the side of his head. It's the wrestling knowledge that Helms acquired through his tours of Japan and such that has polished his wrestling style extensively. As it turns out, the Hurricane has the exact same skill set and expertise. If we are seeing stars like Morrison, the Miz, Dolph Ziggler, Evan Bourne, and even Kofi Kingston who have comparably the same size as the Hurricane along with the charisma (if not somewhat lacking for some of them), utilize their skills against stars their size and caliber as well as stars beyond those limits, why not the Hurricane? Is it because he's a tired act? Is it because he's not as sharp as they are? Or is it because he never had that opportunity nor deserved it?

Second, there's Shelton Benjamin. Say what you will about his expertise, his style, his attitude, or whatever, but you can't take away the fact that he is the best pure athlete in the WWE today. He has the speed, the agility, and the athleticism to go very far in the WWE. He is cut in the same mold as that of the aforementioned stars, but has the ring experience they do not in the WWE (with the exception of the Hurricane). He would and should be a star looking to leave for greener pastures and ply his trade on another brand. However, with his track record looking less than stellar on those shows, due to his rather stagnant title runs, his go-nowhere storylines, and even his lack of....well, whatever he was told he was lacking, it wouldn't be prudent to take another risk like that. Regardless, if anyone should be taking that risk on ECW, it's definitely Shelton.

Last and definitely not least is Christian. About 11 years ago, he debuted in the WWE. He went from promising cruiserweight, to Gothic sensation, to incredible tag team wrestler, to charismatic new sensation, to midcard star, to proven commodity, to big fish in another organization to returning veteran looking for a big run to ECW champion. The biggest question on everybody's mind was this: why didn't he return to a more prominent brand? Yes, we might know the answers. However, if you take out that part, you get to thinking about the true answer. Christian stated he wanted to become ECW champion. Ok, well you've done that. Isn't it time to step up your game, or is being a big deal in a small place enough for you? Christian should and would be that upcoming star in whatever title pictures you consider on Raw or Smackdown. Would it have been he battling the Undertaker instead of C.M. Punk? Would it have been he doing battle against Punk or Jeff Hardy? Would it be he that is next in line for a shot at the WWE title? We may never know at this point. Or at least, we won't know as long as he is content to be on ECW.

Tiffany made it short and sweet: if you don't want to be on ECW, then leave. Guess what? There are at least three stars that we would love to see leave ECW and continue their runs or success elsewhere. Christian, Shelton, and the Hurricane are all capable enough to gain some ground on whatever show they go to. In fact, they probably have. However, numerous setbacks prevented them from ascending. It ranged from general malaise towards the job, forcing them to look elsewhere, or even a general lack of interest in doing more with one's career. How did they find solace? By heading to ECW and re-focusing their careers. I say, the time for re-focusing is done. They've gained their focus. They have the tools necessary to be more than they were before. They can make the jump and it wouldn't be a problem. However, the WWE doesn't see it that way. Sadly, they don't either, so leaving ECW isn't in the cards now or maybe forever.

It's the new version of ECW. Like the original ECW, you either love it or leave it. Christian, Shelton, and the Hurricane might not love it, would probably love to leave it, but can't due to the same problems they had before coming there. Since this is the case, they have no choice to stop "loving to leave" ECW and start loving ECW as it is. However, since the quality of ECW has been better than Raw's or Smackdown's, despite terrible ratings, I wouldn't consider leaving ECW either. Sometimes, it's good to be with that growing expansion team for a while, then that high-priced team that doesn't go anywhere for the most part.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

ECW Progress Report: Quality vs. Quantity

I'll try to be brief with this one, but, you know how it gets when you're in front of a computer and you have a lot to talk about, with little or no interruption. So, here we go.

Lately, after much talk with fellow wrestling fans and even some other reviews here and there, I've come to see that ECW has become quite a quality show. Despite Raw's endless cavalcades of clownish entertainment, and SmackDown's slow descent into the same spiral as its sister brand, ECW remains the way it was, virtually untouched, and on the same path: creating new stars, re-focusing old stars, and remaining more on the action side of things, with little-to-no extra exposition. This isn't always the case, though, as we do see a lot of recap footage on this show, mostly to push the upcoming PPV event. However, when that's not the case, we can see ECW shine with the talent it brings to the table.

For the month of October, we've seen Yoshi Tatsu establish himself as a growing sensation, Zack Ryder maintain his standing as an increasingly adaptive heel, Sheamus become the big deal of a big man that he is, William Regal remain the dirty, rotten, scoundrel he has always been, Vladimir Kozlov and Ezekiel Jackson dominating as a tandem of tough brutes, veterans like Goldust, the Hurricane, and Tommy Dreamer fulfilling their roles to the best of their abilities, and Christian being as entertaining, charismatic, and athletically sound as possible. It's been a pretty solid effort on all their parts, hence, making ECW a very watchable and entertaining show. And yet, I wasn't shocked to learn that last week's ratings were at a .95, which I believe was ECW's lowest ratings to date. Why the lack of shock? Well, sadly, ECW's quality, as good as it can get, is still not enough to merit new or continuing viewers. This can be pretty disappointing, since ECW is the only quality show that's on WWE television now that hasn't been fully gentrified with "too much entertainment". So, one would say that it is the only show worth watching that is within the WWE programming schedule. However, some, if not most people don't think so.

If you don't know by now, ECW has been completely forgotten on the October PPV schedule, being frozen out of any and all matches on Bragging Rights or Hell in a Cell, when it's obvious that they would have fit in well for either PPV. However, the WWE's booking schemes have virtually proven to be very shoddy in some instances, whether it is in overbooking matches, or overplaying certain gimmicks. If that's not the case, then the match logic has been rather off when it comes to stipulations. In either case, someone must have gotten the message across that ECW wasn't worthy of being on PPV for the month of October. Also, it has been confirmed that the WWE wanted to shift the Smackdown team for Bragging Rights around to a team with more notable wrestlers instead of young and hungry wrestlers that could use the rub for a good push to the top. Instead of making new stars, they went with old ones only because the new guys looked weak against team Raw. Perhaps, they looked weak because everybody's favorite duo of "push killers", DX, made them look like a bunch of nobodys. Since DX keeps on talking, and is consisted of Vince McMahon's favorite "son" and his actual son-in-law, everyone has to listen. How much do you want to bet they had something to do with freezing ECW out of October's events? Well, they probably didn't, but someone obviously did.

I just find it very disappointing that the WWE's only quality show with little or no spots to make you change the channel isn't even an idea of their own, let alone a 2-hour show or wrought with top stars. If you haven't been watching ECW lately, I suggest that you do. Get an inside look at the stars of tomorrow on WWE television. Instead of breaking your brain on nonsensical booking, lousy announcing, re-hashed storylines, dreadful celebrity guests, and the same old main event you've seen a hundred times, go with ECW. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

Yea, this is starting to sound like an ECW infomercial, but it has its merits, and I just wanted to let everyone know what they are missing. When the WWE was floundering around, looking for new stars to put on Raw, they completely forgot they had a place that was making new stars almost often. ECW continues to make new stars by having great matches with these new stars every Tuesday night, while Raw continues to spiral downward in quality every Monday, and Smackdown follows right after it. The problem is: no one really cares. When these new stars find a new place to go, be it Raw or Smackdown, ECW gets forgotten completely as if it never existed and the new stars just appeared out of nowhere. Can something be done to laud ECW's quality? Only time will tell, quite honestly. But, I will say this: ECW has been doing a better job at entertaining than Raw or Smackdown has, to be quite honest. It has also done a better job with athleticism and action. If you look at any match that has occurred this week, you'd be hard-pressed to say that ECW didn't deliver. ECW delivered, and in spades. It might not seem like a problem, but it is. It is reflecting the quality of Raw and Smackdown, on a whole. When you have people saying that the best rematch of the week was ECW's Christian vs. Chris Jericho over Raw's Cena/HHH battle #1000 or Smackdown's attempt at revisiting the C.M. Punk/Undertaker controversy, which was based on another controversy, you know you have a problem.

I'm just saying........that you can stand to do much better for certain shows that have been around for 10 years or more. Why is it that a show that is reborn from the ashes of an organization that died 8 years ago is doing your jobs for you?

Special note: if you have what it takes to blog about this version of ECW, get in touch with me by
Thanksgiving weekend. That Sunday is Fan Appreciation Day!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

How ECW can reclaim its "Bragging Rights"

So, it looks like Cyber Sunday, which was formerly Taboo Tuesday, is now a memory, as the WWE has changed this PPV event to WWE Bragging Rights. The theme: a slew of Raw and Smackdown superstars square off against each other in a "Raw vs. SD" showdown of sorts. The point: well, not just to get over yet another themed PPV, but to also plug and support the upcoming Smackdown vs. Raw videogame, aptly named Smackdown vs. Raw 2010, as if it were a John Madden football game. This seems like a great idea to push new stars, see some stars from each show in dream matches against each other, and generally show some pride for each brand. I can think of at least 2 things wrong with this motif. One: no one really cares which show is better. It's safe to say that active Raw viewers watch Smackdown when they can, and vice versa. So, why would they care which show is better? In fact, by doing this, your forcing the fans to decide which show is worth watching, which can cause the fans to ultimately stop watching the alternative. Problem two is this: why is this just subject to Raw and Smackdown? Where's ECW? Yea, you can use the video game's title as an excuse to leave ECW out, but even ECW is represented in that game. It's almost as if ECW is a "dirty little secret" that the WWE doesn't want to share with anyone. Yet, it deserves to be shared, honored, and at least respected on some levels.

ECW was, without a doubt, one of the most controversial, unorthodox, and generally, ground-breaking organizations in the U.S. I could go on and on about what was done there and how it changed wrestling, but odds are, if you're reading this, you are like me, and you know that story already. When it was re-introduced by the WWE in 2006 as a brand, it was treated as if it was an infected sore that needed to be treated the WWE way, but was still infecting thanks to Paul Heyman's involvement. Once Heyman was gone, it was treated, but then its value was non-existent. Who would care about a 1-hour show that had as much to do with the original ECW as Vince McMahon had to do with changing professional football? The ECW originals didn't care, the original fans didn't care, the new fans didn't care, the pundits didn't care, no one cared. So, ECW existed as a place to hold matches with stars that couldn't hack it on the other brands, as well as new stars that couldn't find a place on those brands to start without getting lost in the shuffle. It was in this light that ECW found its niche and deserves to be respected.

Ever since the word went out that ECW was to become the haven for new stars that weren't quite ready for Raw or Smackdown, amazing things happened. We were treated to stars that re-focused their energy on re-inventing themselves, and new stars that were focused on becoming the new generation of wrestling stars that we see today. The results: six superstars have emerged from this version of ECW and have become the stars that we have always seen them to be, with accolades that are very noteworthy. John Morrison became John Morrison after securing the ECW title for the first time as Johnny Nitro. He then became the charismatic, somewhat obscure, "Shaman of Sexy" and "Weekday Night Delight", walking away with about 3 Intercontinental title reigns, a long standing WWE Tag Title reign with the Miz, a World Tag Title reign with the Miz, two Slammy Awards for his tag work and his web show, "The Dirt Sheet", and he's poised to become a top star on SmackDown. Speaking of the Miz, he pretty much did exactly what Morrison did, except for win the ECW title and instead of the IC title, he won the U.S. title once. He is also poised to be a star, but on Raw. Evan Bourne electrified crowds all over the world on ECW with his high-flying abilities. Because of this, he made his way to Raw and forged a great following there. Kofi Kingston had an amazing undefeated streak on ECW before being added to the Raw roster where he would become a World Tag Champion, an IC champ, and a U.S. champ, to say the least. His amazing wrestling style makes him an instant hit with the fans. Jack Swagger established excellence and dominance with an decent streak going on ECW as well as 2 ECW title reigns. This was enough to merit him a spot on Raw in the U.S. title hunt. Lastly, the biggest success story out of ECW has to be C.M. Punk, who went undefeated for the rest of 2006, captured the ECW title on a number of occasions, then became a 3 time World Champion, an IC champion, and a World Tag champion while on Raw and then Smackdown, becoming the fastest superstar to the fabled "Triple Crown". These 6 superstars are living proof of the effectiveness of ECW. That's plenty to be arrogant about. And yet, ECW is still given the shaft, but not to the extreme that I've seen recently.

ECW has given Raw and Smackdown six excellent superstars in the Miz, John Morrison, Jack Swagger, Kofi Kingston, Evan Bourne and C.M. Punk. These men have made Raw and Smackdown a haven for new and different wrestling for new and old fans alike. So, you'd think for a PPV like Bragging Rights that every group would have something to fight for. Instead, ECW gets frozen out of this PPV. In fact, ECW got frozen out of the Hell in a Cell PPV as well. In other words, ECW has been completely neglected for the month of October. Does that stink or what? ECW doesn't get a chance to brag, get involved in any inter-brand battles, or even have matches of their own. Also, and I have noticed this, when it comes to mentioning the history of those aforementioned six stars, there's barely any mention of their success in ECW. It's like, the WWE doesn't even want to acknowledge their history before the brands they are on. So much for ECW's bragging rights. I guess my "dirty little secret" theory is proving to be right.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that this iteration of ECW is great. It is missing a lot of things that can make it great. One major thing is the fact that it has little or no connection to the original ECW at all, in its matches, promos, etc. It doesn't have that feel in almost any way. But, you know something? Despite all that, it has done some things right. It gave us those stars I mentioned. It's going to give us more stars in Yoshi Tatsu, Zack Ryder, Sheamus, Paul Burchill and even veterans re-focused and rejuveneated like William Regal and Christian. It's still very qualitative in those sorts and cases. Still, the schema of ECW being a low-level brand and an "unwelcome guest" in the eyes of the WWE through many facets still exists and it's stronger than ever. However, I think ECW could have made a bit of an impact in this case, even with only a few weeks removed from the PPV at hand. The move to make: do what ECW is good at doing in the WWE: INVADE!

You want to make an impact? Have seven of ECW's stars, despite what they are doing, show up on Raw or SD, and attack one of, if not a few of, the qualified stars for the Raw/SD match. They can start on the week of the Hell in a Cell PPV, and then have it escalate the next week. When ECW's GM, Tiffany, is confronted about this, she states that it was Regal's idea while she was out of the picture with her injury. But, after looking at the big picture, she feels that it was a smart move because ECW has just as much to brag about as does Raw and Smackdown. After conferring with the necessary people, ECW finally gets involved. As for ECW's involvement, it would be limited to just two matches.

Match one is obviously the tag match. Instead of 14, it would be 21, in this case. However, with this many people, it could be rather packed in the ring, so lower the number to 5 guys a team or something. If not, just leave it at 7 and see what happens. As for the teams, well, just assemble the top guys on ECW right now that's not the champion. This would be William Regal (the captain), Vladimir Kozlov, Ezekiel Jackson, Yoshi Tatsu, Zack Ryder, Tommy Dreamer (Co-captain), and either Sheamus or Shelton Benjamin. This would be a great way of showing how viable ECW is as a brand. If not, it would at least give them a spot for showcasing their talent. Also, you can leave that possibility that ECW can actually win with stars like Yoshi Tatsu, Zack Ryder, and even Shelton or Sheamus doing a great job as athletes on their show.

Match two is my main thesis point in this analysis. Forget a Raw-only main event. Forget a Smackdown-only main event. Instead, bring back the "Champion of Champions" triple threat match. Instead of putting the title or titles on the line, since that has proven to be a bad move only due to the fact that the fans will only vote to one side, just make it a non-title affair, and not make the threat of letting the title change hands, since the titles have been changing hands a lot. This would give Christian the main event importance that he not only deserves, but that ECW can use. However, the idea isn't as solid as one would think it to be.

The possibility of a "Champion of Champions" triple threat would have only worked if we had a certain set of champions in place, instead of the ones we see now. I had hoped that if Christian was to be in this match, the champions would or should be John Cena and C.M. Punk. See, if you put Christian in this match with Randy Orton and Undertaker as the champions of their respective brands, the possibility of Christian winning goes square out the window. No one is expecting him to get the pinfall on Orton or Taker, let alone a submission. It just wouldn't make sense, nor would it seem believable. Now, if it were Cena and C.M. Punk, then you have a level of believability. You can see Punk taking Cena out, but falling to the "Unprettier" (Killswitch Engage? Sorry, that's a rock group, not a finishing move. Try again!) and Christian winning. It would be a good combination of a veteran, a star on the rise, and an established star working as you can see three styles combined to make a good show, with three stars that can hang with big and small guys alike. Truth be told, it would be a decent match to watch. It would keep Raw and Smackdown on the top, and it would validate ECW as a brand with a star that can hang with the best. Believe me, I'd pay to see Christian/Cena/C.M. Punk because it has a chance of being good logically, than Christian/Orton/Undertaker which has a strong chance of being horrible due to its bad logic.

There you have it. ECW can get its bragging rights by taking part in the two Bragging Rights main events. Quite honestly, ECW can use it, and is due for it. They've made six great stars on the rise. They've given us the best of the new when we needed it and the re-focused potential of the old when it counted. They have given a haven to stars who couldn't find a place on Raw or Smackdown to get over. They even prove to be a starting point for new stars from other companies to start their quest to the top of the WWE (not so much for Braden Walker, but very much for C.M. Punk). I think they have just as much a stake in this PPV than the others do. Sure, they won't trump Raw or SD, especially since their best stars are on those shows, nor would they have a great chance of winning in their battles. But, you can't ignore something that has actually done some good for the WWE. If you just want to talk about Raw and SD and who's better, then just use those brands. Get rid of ECW! Destroy it. Do away with it. Just utilize the stars on the shows you have and push them properly instead of throwing them on some extra show that you don't even care about and in truth, which no one will watch. If you want to brag that you have two shows that might have had more episodes than most television shows, that's fine. If you want to brag that you won the big battle of wrestling feds of the 1990s and 2000s with the acquisition of ECW, go ahead as you've done so already. Why not brag about one of those acquisitions actually having the potential to do good stuff for you with creating stars and having quality matches at times?

Oh...that's right.....ECW wasn't Vince's idea, but it succeeded in changing the world of wrestling. You have weight-lifting organizations that do nothing but sell bad supplements, and lousy football leagues that don't do more than stink up the place this side of horrible arena football. I guess it's better to brag about bad ideas and laugh about it later than brag about good ideas that you didn't have, stole from, and can help you even though you don't want it to, since you didn't think of it yourself. Good to see the right priorities intact...

Monday, October 12, 2009

ECW Talent Search: so you think you can wrestle....for the ECW brand?

I've been harping on this for the past several weeks, quite honestly. I had hoped that ECW would have fixed this problem, but sadly, that would be asking too much. The problem in question deals with the ECW roster. No, it's not the fact that there is no talent, because there is. It's not the fact that some of the stars there belong on more qualified brands, because we all know they do. The problem is this: the talent roster is too thin. There aren't enough stars to go around, coercing us to either watch favored stars look bad, not-so-favorite stars get all types of face time, and the same matches with the same people over and over again. Don't get me wrong. Sometimes it's good to have a feud with the same person to establish that wrestler's cred. However, when there is no one to transition to afterward, be it after a long or short-term feud, you have no choice but to watch the same old story, with most likely the same result (the greater of the two wrestlers wins). If you see anything different along those lines, then people see it as an attack against the greater's cred, or worse, a chance to elevate the lesser, even though the lesser might not deserve it or can't do anything with it. Another key problem I have with this whole situation is that there are a plethora of stars that either are or aren't used on television in a way that could stand to be on ECW and flourish due to their talent alone. This would be great for them to somehow get themselves re-discovered and relied upon for bigger things the second time around. Having said all of that, let's look at the talent pools of both Raw and Smackdown and see who can benefit from making the move to ECW, in a sense (note: I will even be including stars that have been on ECW before):

-Charlie Haas
This has to be the most forgettable wrestler that I can think of that has all the talent in the world to be a big deal as a wrestler. Even while on SD, he was wrestling stiff and concise and, well, that's just not enough. This guy has talent, without question. However, Vince McMahon would rather watch paint dry than watch him wrestle. Sadly, everyone now thinks this. This didn't help matters even when he started impersonating wrestlers. Does this mean he sucks, completely? I don't think so. ECW can be a fresh start for him as a singles wrestler. No, scratch that. It seems that Charlie's best success, despite having some concise submissions, is in tag wrestling. So, how do you save his career? Put him on ECW with a running buddy or as a running buddy and make him a perennial tag team wrestler. Hands down. Who do you tag him with? Look ahead.

-Curt Hawkins
Curt has the skill to be a great wrestler on the singles' scene. He has good maneuvers and skill as well, but lacks the charisma to match Zack Ryder....sadly. So, what do you do with him? Easy! Find where his true success was (tag team wrestling), and stick him with a perennial partner that can't possibly overshadow him to be split away from him. Enter Charlie Haas. They wear similar tights, and similar colors. Also, they are similar in..well...charismatic delivery. So, here's an approach: They are the C.H. Athletics Club, whose main purpose is to show that they are the best wrestlers in the WWE. To build on this: they attack anyone who is all about stupid gimmicks, ideas, or personalities. Where would be a good place to try this, while allowing them to wrestle virtually uninhibited? ECW.

-The Hart Dynasty
Don't get me wrong. I love this team. I love virtually anyone connected to the Hart family that has made something of themselves positively, one way or another. I just hate the fact that they are on a major show, like SmackDown, and getting trashed by tag teams that don't appeal anymore (Cryme Tyme) or just against stars that don't need to be pushed over them (Great Khali). Heck, they put John Morrison and Matt Hardy together in some makeshift tag match to get them both over as they were both involved in something major at the time. How did they do it? They ended up beating the Hart Dynasty. Instead of putting them out there so soon, why not let them build up on ECW and then become a big deal? Unfortunately, that didn't work too well, either as they were being buried on that show by the likes of Finlay. Still, with the show now focusing more on wrestling, they belong back on that show.

-Mike Knox
This guy has been looking bad as a wrestler ever since ECW and his name were connected. However, when he was on ECW, he at least had something of a push before he was traded to Raw...and then to SmackDown. How did those trades go down? Horribly! He took Snitsky's place as a jobber on Raw, and once again, as a jobber on S.D. This time, he's probably replacing Chuck Palumbo or something as a jobber on S.D. He's not chiseled. He doesn't have boyish or mannish good looks. But, I'll tell you what: he's a heck of a hand as a brawler and a powerhouse. Give him one break for once and let it be somewhere good, like ECW. Heck, they've got hard hitters in Ezekiel Jackson, Vladimir Kozlov, Sheamus, and Paul Burchill. Throw Knox in the mix, why don't ya?

-Jimmy Wang Yang
Here's how this works: drop the stupid cowboy gimmick. Give him something different. Make him a standard Japanese wrestler, like Yoshi Tatsu. Or..go back to the whole Japanese Mafia idea with Sakoda. Or better yet, look to Dragon Gate or CHIKARA or something for some ideas and do something with him. I know Jimmy has the talent and is a great athlete. I just think that ECW would be a great place to see that if he a) drops the gimmick, b) gets out of the WWE doghouse fully by not violating anymore policies, and c) adopts one of his better finishers.

I know a lot of you will disagree with this. I'm only saying this to give him some direction. Now, yes, this is a demotion, but it gives Carlito a chance to once again, spread his wings as a wrestler and fly. This is also a chance for him to re-focus himself as Shelton Benjamin is doing. He's a great wrestler who needs a platform to show how great he is, but there's too many things keeping him from doing this, be it backstage attitude, no space on Raw for his talent, jobbing ridiculously, or being saddled with his rather generic brother. I can see great matches between Carlito and Christian. However, Carlito going to ECW isn't a definite. It's only definite if the next person doesn't go there.

I would more prefer that Primo goes to ECW to at least polish his game a little as a singles wrestler. He really doesn't have a signature maneuver, which I think really hinders his upward mobility. He is athletic, to say the least. However, with the pecking order on Raw being limited to big players like Cena and DX, how does a face like Primo spring out of the shadows behind more capable stars like the Miz, Jack Swagger, and especially Kofi Kingston, not to mention MVP and Mark Henry, to say the least? My answer is that he goes to ECW and slowly makes a name for himself that way.

-Evan Bourne
To be honest, he never should have left. In fact, if he was going to, he should have left to SmackDown. He could have been the next Rey Mysterio. Instead, he's become the target for all types of abuse and beatdowns on Raw, by....virtually everyone. He's an extremely talented wrestler who is getting the shaft for being smaller than everyone on Raw. Instead of touting his skills, like they did in his ECW title match with Matt Hardy, he's now relegated to make others look good, if not better. How about we do Evan a favor and put him back on ECW where he can mean something again...if not on a lower scale? If this doesn't float your boat, put him on Smackdown.

-Jamie Noble
Is he a goof? Yes. Does he do silly things? Yes. Is he an accomplished wrestler? 100% yes! That's why he belongs on ECW. He can have great matches, put good stars over, help bad stars look good, and at least have a purpose. I'd rather watch Jamie Noble wrestle well, than fail miserably every night.

I changed my mind in wanting to get outside talent to be on ECW since essentially, that was or is going to happen anyway. If you're wondering why the other seemingly perennial jobbers of each show haven't been considered for this is because a) they really don't have any standout qualities to be a big deal, even on ECW and b) they are better off serving their purposes on Raw and Smackdown, specifically, with what they do (sorry, but Santino doesn't really do anything for me anymore).

All that said, I think that ECW is in need of some talent. I figure that if you have talent lying around that you aren't using that can be used, then use them on a show that can use them. ECW can use some fresh rivalries, with stars that actually look or wrestle competently. So, fish for them. We know they aren't using them on Raw and Smackdown. So, use them on ECW.

Every day, a halfway decent wrestler gets neglected on WWE television. Every day, a wrestler is considered not good enough to be hired. But, as days go by, Raw is losing its quality in certain ways, and Smackdown isn't far behind. But, ECW is still doing its job right, creating new stars, making some decent moments in wrestling, and acting as the jumping point for new stars on the rise and continuing stars who need to be re-focused. There are a slew of stars that can take that focus and make waves with it. If ECW can give direction for stars who are going to start it out, as well as some direction to present stars that can use it, don't you think it's time they raid Raw or SmackDown for the stars that can use this opportunity? I'm sure it would be a little better than, say....watching paint dry. But, that's just my opinion. Let's hear some of yours!