Saturday, August 1, 2015

ECW December To Dismember 2006... Aw, poop.

For anyone who cares, the original predictions archive post can be found here. This is more of a proper musing than that was, especially after a more recent viewing of the show on DVD. This is going to be a daily thing for the month.

Extreme Championship Wrestling was a regional promotion that ran out of Philidelphia from 1993 to 2001. It was known primarily for its hardcore wrestling product, mature content, and for being the launching point for many of the greatest names in professional wrestling, such as Mick Foley, Steve Austin, Taz, the Dudley Boyz, and a few others. But ECW was its own unique beast with its own unique cast of characters; presenting a product in sharp contrast to the two bigger promotions and there was something about that promotion that appealed to wrestling fans. Whether it was the hardcore wrestling, the realistic characters, the overall grit and feel, or... something. The brand was very much a draw as the superstars that competed within and it is a testament to how much of an impact that promotion made when, even to this day, there will be a smattering, if not moreso, of people chanting "E-C-DUB! E-C-DUB!" whenever something "hardcore" is taking place.


In 2004, a DVD documentary and set called The Rise And Fall Of ECW was released by WWE Home Video and subsequently became the highest-selling DVD at the time, thus re-igniting interest in ECW. So the decision was made to revive ECW for one night only. Hence, June xx, 2005 saw ECW One Night Stand eminate from the Hammerstein Ballroom arena and for those who got to witness, it was WWE's best attempt at recreating the atmosphere of an old-school ECW event, right down to the little details; bringing back Joey Styles to do play-by-play is one thing, but to bring back ECW referee Jim Molineaux and ring announcer Stephen DeAngelis to the fold? Bringing in ECW alumni not under WWE contract to work matches? Sandman coming out to Enter Sandman (which was dubbed over in official releases)? The Dudley Boyz breaking out the tye-dye for old times sake?

ECW One Night Stand was very much a loving tribute of the old promotion, whether it was in the form of alumni wrestling each other in their signature matches or in the form of video montages. And despite the WWE trappings of a self-proclaimed "invasion" angle and the ill-fitting color commentary of Mick Foley, it was a welcome change of pace and a show worthy of being the last hurrah of Extreme Championship Wrestling. And if they left it at that... it would have been fine.

The event was a success... and that added fuel to the idea of reviving ECW as a third brand. The concept was to do it as an internet-only show, but eventually became a weekly one-hour television show that would air on the SciFi Channel, back when it was the SciFi Channel and not SyFy. For some, the revival of ECW was to have signaled the return of the Extreme Revolution, but for others, it would be an experiment to see how long it would take before it all fell apart.

The kickoff of this new ECW revival would be the 2006 iteration of ECW One Night Stand. While it featured some of the old ECW alumni, the main focal point was to establish this new brand, which had a conflict of identity in its formulative year. Despite being presented as a different entity of the main WWE properties of Raw and Smackdown - right down to ECW talent being given different monikers such as Rebels and Extremists - this new ECW (sometimes referred to as WWECW) was produced as any other WWE property would be; filmed in large arenas (usually before a Smackdown taping), action toned down to suit a TV-14 (later PG) rating, and boasting cartoonish (and somewhat embarrassing) gimmicks and segments such as the Zombie, Macho Libre, and Extreme Strip Poker (that was anything but). All while attempting to hammer in the point that this is supposed to be a continuation of the original ECW... and it felt anything but that.

However, this is not supposed to be a history lesson or vague recollection of that show. This is supposed to be a vague recollection of ECW December To Dismember 2006.

The name December To Dismember had been previously featured on a 1995 ECW event that featured ECW World Heavyweight Champion Mikey Whipwreck defending his title in a three-way dance against perennial ECW icon, the Sandman, and some other guy... Steve Boston or something... I think he went on to be some jobber in WWF or something. I don't know... but that's discussing a show that's far more interesting (and better) than this.

There were a couple points going against this PPV showing in 2006; first off, it was taking place a week after Survivor Series and outside of the weakly *ahem* weekly ECW show, there was very little promotion. In fact, there was so little promotion in regards to this PPV that only a grand total of TWO matches were announced for this PPV event; The Hardys vs. MNM and the Extreme Elimination Chamber match for the ECW Championship. That's it; that's all. So what we got here is a WWE-produced PPV event with the ECW initials and the booking mentality of latter-day WCW. Not exactly a cocktail for success.

So the PPV takes place in some city in Georgia. Being that we're a few months into the lifespan of the WWECW revival, this takes place not in a small arena like the Hammerstein Ballroom or the old ECW Arena, but a moderately-sized one typical of a WWE taping location. Right off the bat, this feels like a WWE PPV and not a pretense of an ECW one. Again, bare in mind that at the time, ECW was being pushed as different from WWE, right down to having a little ECW logo on the corner and having the ECW wrestlers be referred to as Extremists rather than Superstars. This pretense wouldn't last long before ECW became just another tertiary brand for WWE, but again, that's jumping ahead.

So we start off with a Hardyz vs. MNM match. And you know what? This is a good match. So good of a match that this one-time-only encounter would be followed with subsequent encounters. But in all seriousness, this is probably the best match on the show, with the relatively young-and-hungry Johnny Nitro (later John Morrison, now Johnny Mundo in Lucha Underground) and Joey Mercury holding their own and bringing it to the veteran Hardy brothers (who just got back together in TNA as of this writing - early-2015). The Hardyz, of course, get the win, but it was such an entertaining match that it could have gone either way.

Unfortunately, the show itself would take a downward spiral from this point... one it would never recover from.

Balls Maloney defeat Matt Strkyer in a Stryker's Rules match... which meant what, exactly? The same as a regular match. Yes, kids. Matt Stryker used to wrestle at one point before going behind the mic... not saying much, however. I didn't care for this.

Elijah Burke and Sylvester Turkay defeated Little Guido and Tony Mamaluke in a throwaway tag team match... who cares?

Daivari defeated Tommy Dreamer... I don't care.

Kevin Thorne and Ariel (the duo with the vampire gothic gimmick) defeated Mike Knox and Kelly Kelly... who gives a shit?

Now, that might not seem like "in-depth" reviewing and that's because this isn't supposed to be a review; just random thoughts on the show. But the reason for such blase and non-caring commentary on these matches were because... well, I didn't care. The matches presented here were so bland, underwhelming, and otherwise uninteresting that I pretty much fast-forwarded through the whole thing. It was pretty obvious that, even watching this show years after the fact, these were matches thrown in at the last minute with only the barest of backstories applied. Even a nothing match on a throwaway or outright terrible PPV event had something to give the fans a reason to care. Here, not so much. It's just wrestling matches for the sake of filling time and not only that, but it's a bunch of matches that would barely be suitable for an episode of WWE Superstars, let alone a Pay-Per-View event that people paid money to see.

Besides, if WWE didn't care enough to book a worthwhile card, then why should I care?

And then we get to the "Extreme" Elimination Chamber... which is basically a regular Elimination Chamber, but now each pod has a weapon. Yippee. Your participants for this match are Rob Van Dam, Test, CM Punk, Bobby Lashley, Hardcore Holly, and YOUR ECW heavyweight champion, Big Show. Fun fact; Sabu was supposed to be in this match, but someone at WWE figured that would make this match somewhat watchable. So he was "injured" and Holly took his place. No dissing Holly here, but the crowd would've gotten into the main event more if Sabu was in it. And after sitting through an hour's worth of pure dullness, they needed something to go home on a high note.

But this chamber match... when I did a quick update to the reposting of my old predictions a couple years ago, I called this match an atrocious piece of shit. Watching this years later, that statement holds true. This match was dull, boring, unfathomably souless... it was probably the least EXTREME thing on the show. Kelly Kelly is more extreme than this match... and given how long her stint in WWE lasted despite her "lack of experience" or something to that extent, that's saying quite a bit. But then again, at least Kelly Kelly is easy on the eyes... more than what can be said for this match.

So the first guy that gets eliminated from the match? CM Punk, the young up-and-comer who was getting quite the fan following and you knew, even back then, this guy was poised for bigger and better things. So when Rob Van Dam pinned Punk, the crowd was pissed... the only comparison I could give here is when Daniel Bryan Danielson was outed from the 2015 Royal Rumble in the lamest way possible. Soonafter, Holly was gone. Wasn't sure why, but he was just gone. And then Test eliminates RVD, leaving only Lashley as the sole babyface in this match... gee, I wonder who's going to win this match.

The idea here was for Lashley to overcome insurmountable odds and defeat Test and Big Show to win the title and be the big hero. Except Lashley did very little here; he was the fifth man in, made short work of Test and when Big Show finally got involved, Lashley speared him to a temporary sabbatical and won the match. Nobody bought into it because this was still during a time when ECW "allegedly" still meant something and Bobby Lashley simply didn't fit that extreme bill. But even setting aside, this match didn't make Lashley look strong (hello, early-2015 Roman Reigns). It made him lucky because he was in the right place at the right time. God forbid he'd actually have to put up a struggle and earn his win.

And that's how the show ends. Only a little over two hours in... I'd imagine if I paid the forty to fifty bucks to watch this PPV, I'd be piss. Even the five bucks I paid for the DVD felt like a waste.

There's no other way to put it; December to Dismember isn't just a horrible WWE PPV. It ranks up there as one of the absolute worst wrestling shows up there. It's almost comparable to the often-trashed Heroes Of Wrestling PPV. It's bad enough that you've got a show with two matches announced, taking place a week after another major PPV event, and filled with horrible matches that wouldn't have been good enough for a TNA House Show. But when the best match of the night is the opener and the rest of it not only fails to live up, but craters to indescribable depths, is it any wonder why Paul Heyman left WWE afterwards and wouldn't return until 2012 to serve as the mouthpiece for Brock Lesnar, who also left WWE in 2004 on somewhat acrimonious terms?

The ECW brand never got its own PPV again, as the decision was made in mid-2007 to have all the PPVs be tri-branded affairs from that point forward. Eventually, ECW would stop pretending to be a lesser version of its namesake and became more of a tertiary brand for up-and-comers to hone their craft and for mid-level talents to shine where they couldn't on the main shows. The end result was a wrestling show that, looking back on the few episodes I had recorded on DVD-R, turned out some quality stuff and made for entertaining television at times if one were to look past the initials... something that many people at the time (myself included) failed to do.

ECW, of course, would come to a close in 2010 to make way for the original NXT show that is a far cry from the version that people enjoy on the WWE Network today. And then, later that year, TNA and Tommy Dreamer would attempt their own bastardization of ECW with their Hardcore Justice PPV... but that's another story for another time.

For those who care, the old predictions page can be found here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Keep it real and keep it clean.