Things you must watch on the WWE Network – WWE’s ECWBy thinksojoe · · Leave a Comment
The WWE Network launches in less than three weeks, and there is a wealth of programming available immediately after you pay your first $9.95. Over the next few weeks, I will be giving you my personal picks of things to watch on demand on the Network. Today, I’ll be focusing solely on WWE’s ECW. Many people hated the product, considering it a bastardization of the Extreme Championship Wrestling we all knew and loved. At the time, I had long since given up hope that the magic of the original would be captured full time, so my disappointment wasn’t as deep as it was for some. In fact, the brand produced some great television, if sometimes for the wrong reasons.
(We know that every single PPV on this list will be available. Let’s assume for argument’s sake that the non-PPV stuff listed is on there as well.)
1) ECW One Night Stand 2005
The brainchild of Rob Van Dam, ECW One Night Stand was intended, as the name implies, to be a one night reunion of the original ECW. Many questions were raised about the WWE’s ability to recreate the look and feel of the original ECW, but with Paul Heyman’s guidance, and an old ECW haunt, the Hammerstein Ballroom, serving as the backdrop, the stars of ECW shined once again. In the main event, The Dudley Boyz (in their final WWE appearance) teamed to defeat Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman. WWE stars were in attendance at the event, “invaders” from RAW and SmackDown. At the end of the show, ECW alum “Stone Cold” Steve Austin invited them to the ring – where they were trounced by the ECW stars. The brawl led to a brief return to WWE television of the Blue World Order, as JBL legitimately punched The Blue Meanie, re-opening a wound Meanie had suffered at an earlier event. Meanie would go on to defeat JBL on a later episode of Friday Night Smackdown.
2) ECW One Night Stand 2006
The first One Night Stand was so successful, not only did WWE bring back the event for a second consecutive year, but they brought back ECW as a complimentary brand to RAW and SmackDown. Once again emanating from the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, ECW One Night Stand 2006 saw the inclusion of WWE stars that had never been a part of ECW before, including Kurt Angle, who was chosen by Paul Heyman to be a part of the new ECW, which debuted two nights later. ECW alum Rey Mysterio defended his World Heavyweight Championship against ECW Original Sabu, a match that ended in a no contest – something you wouldn’t see in the original ECW. A six-person tag team match pitting Mick Foley, Edge, and Lita against Tommy Dreamer, Terry Funk, and Beulah McGillicutty was a very hardcore highlight and worth re-living. But it was the main event, pitting WWE Champion John Cena against Rob Van Dam, who was cashing in his Money In The Bank contract, that was most memorable. With the referee unconscious, a man in a motorcycle helmet – later revealed to be Edge – speared John Cena, leaving him prone for a Five Star Frog Splash. With no referee in sight, ECW Representative Heyman made the count, declaring Rob Van Dam the new ECW Champion.
3) ECW on SciFi 6/13/06
The premiere episode of ECW on SciFi took place from the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, NJ. It was a mix between the old ECW and the what ECW would become. The show kicked off with The Zombie, who cut a zombie-like promo before being destroyed by The Sandman. The vampire character Kevin Thorne made his first appearance on this episode as well. Kelly Kelly debuted as an exhibitionist – yet failed to figure out how to take her bra off during her strip routine. Rob Van Dam was awarded the ECW Championship belt by Paul Heyman, but opted to keep the WWE Championship as well, because “it spins.”
4) ECW on SciFi 8/1/06
When ECW returned to the Hammerstein Ballroom on August 1st for ECW on SciFi, the landscape of ECW had changed. Rob Van Dam and Sabu were arrested on marijuana related charges, and as such, RVD lost both the WWE Championship (to Edge) and the ECW Championship (to The Big Show) prior to serving a 30 day suspension. The New York City crowd, very accustomed to the original ECW, as it had run in the venue numerous times, were raucous all night. This episode features CM Punk’s first televised match as he took on ECW veteran Justin Credible. Kurt Angle returned to face – of all people – The Brooklyn Brawler. The reason to watch this show, at least for me, is to hear the crowd pick apart the main event, which saw Batista challenge The Big Show for the ECW Championship. Vintage ECW, it was not. The fans in the arena were booing loudly, chanting things such as “you both suck” and “change the channel.” To make it perfectly clear that this wasn’t the renegade promotion of the 90’s, Big Show lost via disqualification when he hit Batista with the ECW Championship. Sabu hit the ring to lay waste to The Big Show, but this episode laid waste the notion that ECW as we knew it would ever return.
5) ECW December To Dismember 2006
In 2003, WWE began promoting it’s smaller Pay Per View events as being presented by RAW or SmackDown, and featuring only matches from that event’s brand. The ECW brand finally got it’s own Pay Per View on Sunday, December 3, 2006 as it presented December to Dismember. This event is on this list purely for the masochist in you. At a time when WWE Pay Per View cards were finalized and advertised for weeks in advance, December to Dismember was not. Only two matches were advertised prior to this event – The Hardys presented an open challenge to any tag team, and an Extreme Elimination Chamber match, which was advertised to feature ECW Champion The Big Show defending against Rob Van Dam, Bobby Lashley, CM Punk, Test, and Sabu, who was taken out prior to the match and replaced with Hardcore Holly. The fans in Augusta, GA’s James Brown Center weren’t too happy with the change. This Pay Per View event drew 4,800 fans to the live event and 90,000 PPV buys – the lowest in WWE history. This event was the impetus for killing the branded Pay Per Views, and it’s the reason Paul Heyman, scapegoated for the poor buyrate, left WWE, not to be seen in the wrestling industry for the next six years.
6) ECW on SciFi 4/14/09
By 2009, ECW became nothing more than a glorified developmental territory for the WWE. However, much like NXT today, that didn’t mean there weren’t good quality wrestling matches. This episode in particular, from the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN, featured one of the matches that I considered the Match of the Year for 2009, a great battle between John Morrison and Evan Bourne.
There are a lot more that I could include here, but I’m hard pressed to think of what they are at the moment. I’ll return with more things to watch on the WWE Network very, very soon!
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