I believe the title says it perfectly. Paul E explained it best. To Vince, ECW was beloved because the WWF made it loved. In Vince’s understanding it had nothing to do with what Paul had done. Anything could go out there and be ECW and be beloved because Vince said ECW is to be loved. If you look at history though, you never heard fans chanting WWF or WCW during any of their shows cause they were appreciating it. Yet nearly every ECW show had the infamous ECW chant, among other classic ECW chants. To me this reborn ECW died after the first one night stand. I realize there was a second one night stand that wasn’t awful, and the begining of ECW wasn’t bad. There was nothing as classic as the old school ECW fans chanting at the new ECW shows. The highlight being the Big Show Vs Batista match during which fans started chanting “Change The Channel” and even Taz had to comment on saying “Why would you want to change the channel on this great match?”
Fortunately ECW is Dead, but it is not forgotten. ROH has continued on with working towards smart fans with high quality matches. But the other way, the Hardcore, has gone even further. ECW only had four barb wire matches. Two of them being Sandman and Cactus Jack. I can’t remember the third, but the final ECW Barb Wire match was the most infamous. Born To Be Wired was Terry Funk Vs Sabu. Sabu managed to tear his bicep during the match, tape it up and continue. In the big spot finish, or what became the finish Sabu rolled up Funk in barb wire on a table, rolled himself up in the wire and dropped a leg onto Funk. They became so intertwined and Funk was in so much pain that you can hear Funk yelling for Sabu to just pin him to finish the match. The next five minutes of the video is nothing but paramedics trying to cut Funk and Sabu loose from each other without hurting each other. Paul E never had another Barb Wire match, for fear of trying to top it. Obviously they had matches with Barb Wire, but no matches in which the ring ropes were wrapped or replaced with Barb Wire.
And so CZW brought forth Ultraviolent wrestling. Matches with every weapon imaginable. Cactus’, Light Tubes, Staple Guns, Barb Wire bats, Light Tube Bats, the list goes on and on. They also have the yearly Tournament of Death, which is something thats been missing in American wrestling. I’ve long been a fan of the Death Match tournaments I have on tape from Japan. The first one I ever saw was the one Cactus Jack famously won over Terry Funk. From my catching of CZW (and lets not forget IWA MidWest which is just as insane and run by former ECW wrestler Ian Rotten) it not only follows in the footsteps of Hardcore ECW but ups the ante. If you enjoyed Born to be Wired or any of the number of Hardcore matches ECW held, then CZW is for you.
There are those that are critical of CZW and the like. They claim they are garbage wrestling with people who have no ability beyond a high threshold of pain. They say that they are lacking in any technical skills, and will never get beyond the outer rims of the wrestling scene. But lets get one thing right. In the end, Wrestling is fake. The matches tend to be pre-scripted, and in the bigger feds they tend to repeat the same scripts over and over. Obviously sometimes they go on the fly, but its the same general outline.
So if you were watching two men beat the living crap out of each other, do you want to see three suplexs in a row, or do you want to see people actually trying to injure each other? Do you want to see wrestlers flying around the ring like Ballerinas? or would you rather see a body splash onto a plank of wood which has barb wire on top of it and a pane of glass on top of that. Would you rather see someone’s head get pretend smashed around the ring and have the guy give himself a tiny little cut on the top of his head, or see someone get thrown through flaming tables and barb wire and glass and have wounds covering half his back and chunks of skin hanging off.
Say what you will about TNA or WWE, but those guys don’t leave half of what the CZW guys leave in the ring. They don’t go above and beyond for the fan, they do what they have to do to hit their payday. Vince has loaded up his Roster with steriod freaks of nature, and then he lets Triple H’s politicing keep him on top. Vince doesn’t care about the fans, he feels that they will show up anyway. In front of a full arena, The Giant and Brock Lesnar (I might be wrong) go off the edge of the stage onto tables with padding under them to cushion their fall. The cameras zoom in and you can hear them talking back and forth making sure each other is okay while the commentators try to sell the move as oh my god its the end of the world. Meanwhile the Giant just smiles. And yet, in front of a handful of spectators, the CZW guys will give it their all, will do everything short of trying to kill each other during a match for the fan to enjoy it. There are no foamy pads for soft landings, just bodies, shattered light tubes, barb wire and maybe a table.
And TNA? The TNA fanboys are even worse. TNA itself is nothing but leftovers from WWE. Their latest event, the Main Event was all cast offs – Sting, Kurt Angle and the Dudley Boys, two of the next three matches at the top of the card involved Booker T and Matt Morgan. The match that involved no WWE castoff was the Tag Team match which one team had WWE castoff Jacqueline as their manager. TNA needs to look at the History of ECW. When ECW picked up WWF talent and WCW talent they tended to repackage them, or pick up guys whose personality fit the product at the time. Only towards the end of their run did they have guys who were recognizable from WWF. That was when they were already set with wrestlers upon wrestlers who were ECW, who could be considered ECW and who spouted ECW. RVD, Tommy Dreamer, Raven, Sandman, The Dudleys, The Franchise, Sabu, Taz and others were all considered at their core ECW. Even as they would come and go between ECW, WCW and WWF they were still loved when they returned. When you talked about ECW and you had to come up with a feud, there was always the eternal Raven Vs Dreamer which lasted about as long as ECW did. There was Sabu Vs Taz, RVD and Sabu as a tag team before they started feuding, The Triple Threat with the Franchise. But whats the face of TNA? Kurt Angle? Who was created by WWE for all intents and purposes? Samoa Joe who made his way up from ROH? Sting the heart and soul of WCW? When I see any of these guys, they are replaceable and it doesn’t seem like a step would be missed in TNA. Yet can anyone imagine an ECW without Tommy Dreamer? or any of those I mentioned especially early on? Even Terry Funk who has been wrestling forever is remembered fondly for his time in ECW and helping it get off the ground as the Champion. If TNA is going to compete with WWE it needs to bring in unknown talent. It needs to bring in high quality wrestlers from around the world along with bringing guys up from unknown feds who at least don’t have 2 years of their video past you can find on youtube. They have to be TNA guys.
In the end though, its not about TNA. Its just about wanting something to compete with WWE so that theres some shakeup at WWE. The worst period in WWE history was the 90s before the Monday Night Wars. This period since Vince bought WCW seems to be reaching that Era of horrible. At least Duke The Dumpster had a personality. These steriod freaks have no personalites and are a throwback to some of the worst aspects of that day. Now it seems that since wrestling isn’t considered a sport that no one cares if they use steriods.
For as long as CZW, IWA MS and other feds continue the hardcore tradition of ECW, there will be feds where wrestlers work hard. Where wrestlers will bleed for the fans and any injury in the end is worth it to pop the crowd. The only garbage wrestling out there today is coming from the two biggest wrestling promotions out there. No heart, no emotion, just garbage.