Extreme Reunion: revival of ECW or just using its blueprints?

The Franchise Shane Douglas as BTW Champion, C...

The Franchise Shane Douglas as BTW Champion, Chicopee MA, March 26, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, I know this is my first post in a while and sorry for that but I have been busy lately. So, Extreme Reunion is set to place in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory and with the event just under two weeks away I figure that I would enter my opinion on this latest attempt to revive the extreme style of wrestling, or as Shane once called it the SPORT of wrestling. If this is an attempt at another ECW reunion and is just something to top what WWE and Impact Wrestling did then I’m not sure this is a good idea. I would see it as just an attempt to rekindle what the ex-ECW wrestlers all once had but don’t have anymore. However, if this is not just a reminiscing event and is an attempt to start a new wrestling promotion then I applaud this.

Some fans out there have cried to keep ECW dead and honor the memory of it because past revivals have failed miserably but am I the only one who does not see this as a revival of ECW? ECW is dead, Shane knows that, everyone at the event know that and to think otherwise is just being blind or stupid BUT the idea behind it is alive and well. The principles that ECW stood for, the wrestling it brought you, the new and old names it gave chances to, and the extreme style it revolutionized did not die with it. I know that in the movie industry, typically, remakes do not work out but this is not a movie, this is something different. This would be no different from someone who came up with a revolutionary invention and it failed… but someone else took it over and pushed it in a new direction while using the same core plans as a foundation. It does not make that remake a bad idea; you just hope that it does not completely mirror the old one.

Where wrestling is now we do need a new ECW-type of promotion to make a splash and shake things up. WWE is back to the PG-era and gimmicks that look as if they were regurgitated from the early 90’s. I mean come on, Brodus Clay is Flash Funk and Tenishi is Kwang, what is next Man Mountain Rock or Bastion Booger? Need I say more? Impact Wrestling is not much different from WWE except with a weaker product so until they get themselves out of that shadow they will not get better in the ratings and I do not know if Hogan and Bischoff can take them, there… you would think so. So in steps Shane Douglas and his idea at reviving not ECW but what its foundation was, the core style that stood behind ECW and I think… good timing. Now it cannot fully rely on old ECW wrestlers to guide them to being a new promotion but it can slowly make that transition if it can attract some young, talented wrestlers to them. In addition, what is your name going to be? Extreme Reunion I think is a good name for the show but not the promotion so where do you take it, or do you waits to see if you can get a new promotion rolling before naming it?

I don’t know how many wrestling fans are still out there waiting for a promotion to come along and pull their attention back but I think it’s still a good amount, plus you have some current viewers who were trying to color in the lines back when ECW perished who could watch WWE and be bored with it. No doubt, the opportunity is there to grasp and capitalize on and you could make it work if you have the right vision, financial backer, and mastermind controlling it. I do not see this as an attempt of Shane Douglas’ to try and keep ECW alive at all, or him trying to hold onto his spotlight that ECW gave him but him trying to bring back what he loved in the business and something that has been missing from it since the attitude-era ended and ECW died. I myself watched all of the promotions but especially ECW and when it died I didn’t watch as much and I don’t know if I ever will get into it completely like I was since I’m older now but the idea of a new promotion with the core fundamentals behind the old ECW does intrigue me.

So, to ECW fans who don’t want this to happen: We all know this is not ECW but try it and buy your ticket. If you go to the event and go in thinking, it will be like ECW then there is a good chance you will be disappointed but if you go in thinking that this will be a good WRESTLING show then I think you will come out having been thoroughly entertained.

Be honest, the fact that the most interesting thing that happened on WWE Raw lately was that Brock Lesnar was slapped by John Cena and then forgot how to throw a “fake” punch and it landed for real… is sad. I like them bringing back Lesnar and I like that he is feuding with Cena but I am just sick of watching John Cena wrestle. I am happy that he’s from Massachusetts because so am I and like watching him cut a promo but he wrestles like Hulk Hogan trained him and it’s annoying. WWE has some good things with CM Punk, Miz, Daniel Bryan and Zack Ryder… hey maybe there are others but I do not know really, I only watch certain segments and skip the rest.

Bottomline is if this does end up being a new promotion it can work out but it might have to alter ECW’s blueprints in order to achieve the goal that ECW could not and that is long term operation. What needs to change in this plan? Well, you have to draw in a network and create a television show that is true to who you are but so extreme that nothing you tape can be on TV. What helps you in this? UFC being on Fox, because well nothing can be as bad as UFC because it’s real but you have some control of your product. You can entertain, be true to the “blueprints” and also draw in some good ratings. Yes, you might have to bend a little but in the end you will get a lot back if you’re willing to be patient and the product will still be miles ahead of the tragedy that was the WWE’s version of ECW.

If you want to check out what the event is all about go here: Extreme Reunion

TNA: Impact Wrestling. How does it improve and grow?

TNA Wrestling HD logo 2008-2010

Image via Wikipedia

When TNA surfaced back in 2002, created by Jeff and Jerry Jarrett, I was excited because it gave wrestling fans an alternative to what the WWE was putting out for a product. When WCW and ECW shut down some of the things that made them great were forgotten about and even WWE just let them go. To this day some of the things that brought excitement to those companies are still not used to the fullest capacity and still a vital part of wrestling that goes unused and could, if used correctly, spring up some real competition for WWE.

I understand that the wrestling world of today is not like it was yesterday. It is more about entertainment and fan involvement and even about storylines than “real” wrestling but you can’t forget about that part either. It’s what separates wrestling from soap operas. What WCW brought to the table was the cruiserweight division and the mid-card work horses whose matches were often more talked about than the headliners. What WCW lacked was direction, ability of aging talent to let of the spotlight for the good of the company and at the end bad writing but some of the things that made it great could still be great today. World War 3 cage match with 2 rings used was one that I always enjoyed, not shy to try out a dark gimmick or angle like they did with the Dungeon of Doom and later on with Raven what could a short-lived gimmick called Seven. They could have been something and could still be around today if some important people who were in the company opened there eyes sooner.

What ECW brought to the table was an edge, alternative up-in-your-face wrestling. It was counterculture, it was pretty much everything that WWE and WCW weren’t and to a degree maybe wanted to be. They had a hardcore following and an idea of trying to promote the “sport” of wrestling and doing things that were never done before and in some cases haven’t since. The lack of mats around the ring, ties to Japan wrestling, no DQ or count out, focus on not just hardcore style wrestling but high-flying wrestling and “real” technical wrestling. You knew that wrestling was fake but ECW sometimes had you question whether something that was said or done was an actual shoot, for those who do not know a shoot is something that is real and not planned. That in itself was a huge accomplishment for the wrestling industry. ECW had prime talent who were mostly homegrown talent brought up in that system, like Taz, Tommy Dreamer, Lance Storm, Raven, The Sandman, Rob Van Dam, the Dudleys and so many others were top names in the company at some point. The promos were emotional and better sometimes than the Big 2. ECW could have been big if it just could somehow have kept going and could be a huge part of the industry still. In the end it was a combination of Paul Heyman and no TV deal that brought it down, however I do believe that the no TV deal was the nail in the coffin and not Heyman. Bottomline the guy was a genius and should have trusted more people to come in and help him, someone with “deep pockets”.

So when you look at TNA wrestling you see some of the things that made those other two companies so great but you also see however that they are trying to be like WWE too much. Maybe they think that former WCW and ECW fans have all but given up on wrestling and moved on but maybe, just maybe they are waiting for another alternative to rise up. TNA can’t be a WWE Jr. in order to succeed because if people want to watch WWE product they would just tune into them and not TNA. I get the idea and it’s not a bad one but you also have to look at what made those other two fail and grow from it. TNA once had some real good homegrown talent they could move forward with, just like ECW did and a hardcore fan base  but now they seem to pick up any scraps thrown to them by WWE. However with that said you cannot forget about the AJ Styles, James Storm, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, the X-Division, and unique never seen matches like Monsters Ball, Clockwork Orange House of Fun, King of the Mountain and others that made you who you are today. Do you want to grow? Absolutely, but do you want to shadow the path of the company you are trying to become? No, in my opinion.

So how does TNA: Impact Wrestling, improve the product and grow? You must have attention put on the X-Division more and tag team wrestling because that is something that the WWE does not have. Slowly weed out the old WWE wrestlers and make it more homegrown, having a nice balance between the two is key, not too many ex-WWE and not too many TNA originals. If Eric Bischoff is actually a contributor to the product that gets put out then I love that, a chance for him to learn from mistakes made and take TNA to another level. Continue with the unique array of gimmicks and characters because the WWE just has one real type it seems and some of the characters aren’t really 3D like almost. They have made some strides in the right direction recently and I really want to see where TNA goes in 2012. I love the tag tournament that is going on and Bobby Roode as the World Champion. So where does TNA go from here? Who will they resemble? WCW? WWE? ECW? Well I hope that honestly they take a little from each but most of all I hope that they just be them and be entertaining. I will also add that I favor the move to call it Impact Wrestling, an add on to the name of TNA or maybe even trying to get away from TNA because when you are channel surfing and the description of what is on that channel reads TNA the first thought is NOT wrestling. From what I have read it seems to me that they are still very dedicated to the X-Division and Bischoff is a believer in that style of wrestling, after all he did bring it to WCW and gave it some important air time when WWE wouldn’t. I also miss the unique matches that they had and even the six-sided ring was just so different and a bit creative. That is one thing that you must do to grow, you must be innovative, take chances with different styles or lost styles in the world of wrestling. Of course I am just a spectator, a fan in the crowd who just has an opinion about something he has watched since he was a kid. All I know is that WWE is hard to watch and I haven’t really watched wrestling regularly since ECW shut down back in 2001 or so but would love for a real alternative to catch my attention. Best of luck to Impact Wrestling in 2012 and those who have not watched this product yet I think it’s worth a look. Lastly, I still think that if Paul Heyman ever got another chance in wrestling he just might surprise someone.

Best gimmicks, wrestlers of all time: 1. Brian Pillman, you never really knew if he was really insane or it was all a work. WWE DVD of his life claims most of it was a work… that’s why it’s number 1. 2. Raven, gifted with promos and a real, dark gimmick. 3. Degeneration X, it was funny and just so different and very enjoyable. 4. Taz, has there ever been one of his kind before or after? Not really. The Human Suplex Machine was so different cause it was like MMA before MMA was on TV. The arsenal of suplexes he had was amazing. 5. Stone Cold Steve Austin, he brought an attitude towards WWE and changed it forever. 6. Cruiserweights/X-Division, wrestlers like RVD, Pillman, Guerrero, Mysterio, Jerry Lynn, AJ Styles and others for bringing some crazy entertainment to wrestling. 7. ECW, yeah it was a company but I liked most of what they had to offer both in characters and stories. I do not count the WWE version of it either. 8. Kurt Angle. Kind of the same thing here as Taz but I have always enjoyed the work horses in the business like him and Malenko, Jericho, Saturn and the like. 9. The Outsiders When Kevin Nash and Scott Hall first appeared on WCW TV I was shocked, I thought they were still under contract with WWE and it was just so surprising and cause of that most contracts now have a 90-Day no compete clause in the contract. the nWo was also different but it just went on too long and became boring. 10. The Undertaker.   One of the my favorites and it should be higher than 10 but I am not rewriting this. I am always a sucker for a nice dark angle or gimmick but The Undertaker was awesome. I hope it paves the way for other dark characters to be thought up, since him there has only been Kane, Mankind and Abyss that come to mind. I just remember watching Wrestlemania 7 and seeing him come out and was just in awe. So many others could have gone on this list but these were the first to hit me. CM Punk is an honorable mention, how did TNA let this guy go?