The product may be as hit-or-miss as ever for many fans, but it’s quite an interesting time indeed to be a member of the WWE Universe. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen John Cena and Roman Reigns break the fourth wall in a series of worked shoots, Kevin Owens make Vince McMahon’s forehead bleed in a vicious in-ring attack, and Jinder Mahal let rip not just one, but two racially-charged promos against Shinsuke Nakamura. Those are just a few signs that WWE is no longer willing to play it so safe anymore, and the latest such sign comes by way of a recent survey asking fans what they’d want to see on a possible WWE Network premium tier.
According to a report from Wrestling News, one of the more interesting things WWE asked is whether Network viewers want to see yet another rebooted version of ECW, this time in a weekly TV-14 format, or any similarly “edgy” new promotion with the same TV rating. If enough viewers show interest in such a program, it will be part of a planned new tier of content for subscribers willing to pay more than the standard $9.99 a month. It’s not yet sure, however, how much the premium version of the WWE Network will cost, should such a plan become a reality.
The TV-14 ECW reboot/“edgy” new promotion idea is one of several options included in the survey sent out to select WWE mailing list subscribers. The company also included local tournaments, not unlike the recent WWE United Kingdom Championship, new scripted comedies, new reality shows, content from international promotions such as NJPW and Progress, and even TNA/Impact/GFW programming among the potential offerings for premium members.
Of course, any talk of WWE rebooting ECW should include their last attempt to introduce it as a third brand alongside Raw and SmackDown. Although several mainstays of the original ECW (Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer, Sandman, etc.) would appear on WWE’s version, ECW the brand was ECW in name only. There was hardly anything truly “extreme” in this mid-card-heavy brand. It did, for what it’s worth, play a key role in establishing young talents such as CM Punk, prior to their rise to the main event scene.
Despite WWE seemingly doubling down on controversial, edgier content in recent weeks, their second stab at reviving ECW might be almost as watered-down as the first. That could mean a hearty helping of mature-ish storylines, but nothing Attitude Era-risqué. That could also mean little to none of the hardcore wrestling that defined OG ECW a couple decades ago—WWE, after all, takes head injuries far more seriously these days.
At the end of the day, maybe WWE should stop beating a dead horse. The idea of introducing an "edgy" promotion or brand as premium WWE Network content is promising, and it might happen. But they might as well stop calling it ECW out of respect to a company whose impact and influence on the wrestling industry cannot be replicated.