June 13, 2006
Jesse Balzer

Rebel Without a Pause

I do not intend for this column to have a constant running theme about ECW; rather, I want this column to reflect the current state of the wrestling industry. And if ECW appears to be the topic of many columns I should write, then that situation is simply a reflection. Just a reminder if anyone should wonder why my first two columns have focused on the rejuvenated ECW brand, and if any future columns may have a similar focal point.

Anyway…

I have this theory, a very practical philosophy which can quite easily determine the level of awesomeness provided by any specific pay-per-view. If at any point during the show, at any local restaurant such as a Buffalo Wild Wings, a presumably sensible adult woman should stand up, scream “Fuck you, Edge!”, and then storm out of the restaurant with her boyfriend trailing close behind, to the bewilderment and humor of all the other patrons, then I would say that that pay-per-view had to kick many different kinds of ass.

For me, that was ECW One Night Stand.

Quite literally, the woman was so incensed by Edge’s blatant interference that in a public restaurant she openly vented her frustration with John Cena’s impending loss. That resonated with me. For this mature woman to be so infuriated by the outcome of a predetermined wrestling match is a testament to the quality of the show on which it occurred. Or maybe she has a penchant for incessant, wigger-y, over-written champions. Nevertheless, such an open presentation of sentiment in a little eatery in North Dakota is pretty indicative.

If you’re wondering, yes, I loved ECW One Night Stand. Now, this is not a review of the show; this is merely one writer’s observations on what the show accomplished and how it will affect the company’s long-term plans.

First and certainly foremost, Rob Van Dam defeated John Cena for the WWE Championship, albeit by rather devious means when Edge speared Cena through a table, prompting the incident that I already mentioned to occur where I was, and then Paul Heyman counted the pin, using what I suspected to be his emergency referee powers of extreme influence. Or something. This morning, as I write this, the Internet is buzzing, and nearly everyone is voicing their opinion on the matter. The general belief, at least on the message boards that I visited, is that the finish was terrible and will only serve as a platform for a rematch in which Cena will regain his lost bling. However, this does raise an interesting question for those of that opinion: How else could WWE have booked a finish to please that crowd? The finish simultaneously gives ECW an essential championship needed for any wrestling entity with national television just around the corner, and allows the crowd to go home happy instead of rioting and possibly setting fire to the building and killing some people. This is good. Even with RVD as champion, this will give Cena the ability to claim rightful ownership of the title, and therefore RAW can still have its championship while RVD won’t have to look weak by immediately dropping the belt back.

As for the rest of the program, my words are inept at describing how tremendous One Night Stand was. The crowd created an atmosphere that even my usual cynical attitude was assuaged for at least one night. The booking of the Tazz/Lawler match was perfect, because nobody should realistically be expecting either to have any ability to perform for an extended period of time. Although Kurt Angle wrestling Randy Orton is not something I would want or expect at an ECW show, the match itself was solid, and served its purpose in establishing Kurt’s new style. The FBI/Super Crazy and Tajiri tag match was actually one of the best matches of the night, even with Big Show coming down and attempting to institute himself as the new 9-1-1 of this ECW. Mysterio and Sabu tore the house down in an insane brawl, and even though the crowd was fuming over the non-finish, I actually thought it gave the match closure, allowing neither man to job to the other. What was supposed to be Foley/Edge vs. Dreamer/Funk became a six-person tag match, also involving Lita and Beulah. Definitely the match of the night, this was just vicious, although I think Dreamer and Funk should’ve gone over, but whatever. Balls Mahoney and Masato Tanaka had a fun, albeit very short match. Sandman destroyed Eugene, showing that the ECW fans in attendance were big enough assholes to boo a retard, and cheer his decimation. Good for them. And finally, the main event was incredible, if only for the atmosphere. I loved the crowd throwing back Cena’s shirt when he threw it out into the audience, and I also loved the various chants hurled his way. Good match with the necessary and appropriate finish.

I had my doubts about this new ECW prior to One Night Stand, and still after I have my reservations prior to the Sci Fi network debut. But if what Heyman said to the Miami Herald holds up, well…

“It can't be a nostalgia show because if it's a nostalgia show, it's doomed right off the bat. It's going to be a progressively thinking promotion. It's going to have the most contemporary music. It's going to have the most riveting and compelling characters. It's going to be able to reach out and create new stars and not have to rely on the guys that were hot five, six or seven years ago. With that in mind I'm very excited about it.”

So am I.

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