June 5, 2006
Jesse Balzer

Rebel Without a Pause

Normally, I don’t compare Extreme Championship Wrestling to the revolutionary rap group Public Enemy, but on their seminal 1988 album “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,” Chuck D drops a few lyrics which, while certainly not directed at the revived promotion, are applicable regardless. With the current fervor over the rebirth of ECW on WWE television, the following four lines seemed to be a clear statement of the principles that were held by the professionals associated with the company and the devoted fans the company attracted:

So here it is again, another def jam
but since I gave you all a little something
that we knew you lacked
they still consider me a new jack.

And now that ECW has been rejuvenated, with the purpose, the function being to give us something that we lack, a desire that the WWE in its current and past form could not fulfill. WWE wants to diversify its programming by promoting the “expansion brand” of ECW, so that the fans, like myself, who write these columns, and those that read every breadth of information on the “real” business of professional wrestling – which more often than not is far more interesting than the product shown in the ring – can be placated for the sake of their business.

If you look at the situation honesty, ECW survived for as long as it did simply on the support of the smart marks – us, basically. If you’re reading this column, then you are a smart mark, just like I am. Admit it. And what exactly gives us the audacity, the supposed understanding to critique the business with each other, on the Internet, on websites such as this? Believe what you will, but I believe that ECW gave birth to the smart marks of today.

ECW’s most popular promos are evidence of this fact. ECW’s most popular and quite frankly, best promos were essentially shoot interviews. Steve Austin’s interviews during his tenure in ECW were funny, intense, realistic, and at least a partial shoot at all times. And they were phenomenal. And original. Look forward a few years later, however, and you’ll see that many ECW promos were filled, or at least laced, with shoot comments. The fans at an ECW show were smart to everything, which can be at least somewhat linked back to those shoot interviews. The proof? See the chants of “You fucked up!” whenever a wrestler visibly blew a pre-planned spot in a pre-planned match, chants which the fans seemed to revel in, probably because they felt that they were inside the businesses inner-most workings.

Today, ECW is on the verge of its second One Night Stand, as well as a second national television debut. Many can speculate on why WWE has chosen to return ECW to the wrestling world, but I feel that we are the reason for its return. We are the ones complaining about the business, we are the ones that want to see a push for this superstar or that wrestler, we are the ones who wish for an arena where a wrestler has no boundaries, we are the ones who want a promotion without a creative team that consists of failed Hollywood writers. So WWE is reviving ECW to bring all of these disillusioned fans back from the welcoming arms of TNA, but WWE has made it clear that this will be their ECW. And the Internet crowd, ever the cynics, has rebelled against the idea of a recreation of ECW.

They don’t understand. ECW can never be recreated, at least not in full. This ECW will not be the ECW we have come to glorify. The initials we still be there, the acronym will remain, but only the spirit will be the same. The new ECW has only one purpose, and that is to give us the honesty, integrity, and realism that we sophisticated fans need.

Something that they know we lack.

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