Wrestling fans complain a lot, and we've got long memories, so it goes without saying that many of us are still holding a grudge about WWE's arguably cynical, opportunistic attempt to reboot ECW in 2006. The original ECW - extolled by a small but vocal contingency of cultish fans - closed in 2001. For some, WWE buying and then bastardizing ECW was the equivalent of dragging a razor blade across a wound, then pouring salt upon the newly rebleeding gash.
When ECW first came about in the mid '90s, WWE and WCW might as well have been cartoon shows with a reduced emphasis on athleticism or physicality, but a lot more Dungeon of Doom monsters and circus clown characters running around, in the interest of getting over with small children. As much as ECW has been mythologized as a wild 'n crazy show for wild 'n crazy people - justifiably, what with all the blood and boobs and F-bombs and so forth - it was actually a far more traditional professional wrestling program than what the big two were producing at the time.
After acquiring ECW - along with all its trademarks, content, and debt - WWE had some success with a pair of One Night Stand ECW PPV's at the historic Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. To capitalize on their audience's apparent interest in more ECW, WWE relaunched the brand as a weekly show on the SyFy Network. Much to the dismay of anyone hoping for anything resembling the old Hardcore TV syndicated ECW show, ECW on SyFy morphed into a standard hour of second-tier WWE. Somewhat alarmingly, ECW on SyFy lasted about four years, meaning WWE's version of ECW technically had about as much longevity as the first version of Extreme Championship Wrestling (although, not so much if we include its pre-extreme, "Eastern Championship Wrestling" period).
Where did WWE go wrong? All over the place, but we've picked out 15 specific faults with WWE's ECW, forever remembered as the Fake ECW.
12 15. Trying to Fit in With The SyFy Network For About 10 Minutes
Understandably, SyFy pushed to add a few not-exactly-realistic elements to ECW, in order for the product to appear as though it had any business on a network ostensibly devoted to science fiction. Hence, at the inaugural edition of WWE's ECW, The Sandman faced The Zombie. Tim Arson Roberts - who portrayed The Zombie, and sadly died this summer - did his best Frankenstein’s monster impression on the way to the ring, grunting and hollerin’ like a remnant from an Ed Wood movie. Then Sandman whacked his brains in and pinned him immediately.
11 14. The Return of The Brood Got Scrapped
Rumor has it that Kevin Thorn, Shelly “Ariel” Martinez, and Gangrel were tentatively slated to join forces as a new incarnation of The Brood - the vampire stable that launched the WWE careers of Edge and Christian. Gangrel - who many forget to credit as an ECW original - wielded in-ring prowess that was sometimes overlooked by his shoot weirdness. Martinez was loaded with potential and Thorn was, um, uh, he was okay too! The new Brood would’ve kicked ass.
10 13. Big Daddy V’s Man Boobs
9 11. Toning Down the Violence
8 10. No More 'Pulp Fiction' Promos
7 9. Al Snow Stopped Using Head
6 8. Too Much Brand Crossover
5 7. Better Production Values Aren’t Always a Good Thing
4 4. Bobby Lashley
3 3. Speaking of Lashley, He Once Beat Sandman, Dreamer, and Balls Mahoney, All At The Same Time. For Real. That happened.
2 2. Nostalgia Only Works In Small Doses
Some people will tell you the ‘90s was a golden age for rock music. This is not so. Those people look back fondly on Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins, as they should, but the ‘90s only seem great overall if we ignore Blues Traveler and Hootie and the Blowfish.
1 1. Attempted It At All
Rebooting ECW was like WWE’s answer to making a Spider-Man origin story movie not even 10 years after Sam Raimi had been successful doing the same. By pulling the corpse of ECW out of its grave, dusting it off, and parading it around like the guy from Weekend and Bernie’s, WWE succeeded in capturing the attention of old ECW fans for about a week, alienating and infuriating them almost immediately, and adding nothing of note or interest to their already existing product. The first two One Night Stand Pay Per Views were fine and good, but in the long-run, WWE would’ve been better off hyping up the return of Sunday Night Heat.
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