Tuesday, August 25, 2015

ECW Guilty As Charged 2001

This is the final PPV event produced by the original Extreme Championship Wrestling promotion before going bankrupt and left in relative obscurity until a DVD set revitalized interest in the brand... but that's not part of this story. The story of ECW's final woes is a sad one - no more television deal, no more PPVs, no more money, very few worthwhile talent remaining, even less exposure - and that's the overall environment that we see ourselves in watching this show.

Now a disclaimer and a disclosure, if you will; the individual featured in the above image is the Zombie, a one-time gimmick featured in the first episode of WWE's rebooted ECW series in 2006. While it might seem ill-fitting to feature an image from WWECW on a musing of an original ECW event, in another way, it's perhaps the more fitting... as I will touch on later.

Let's get on with it.

Opening match; Cyrus and Jerry Lynn defeated Christian York and Joey Matthews in about a couple minutes. This was shortly followed by an intense promo from Jerry Lynn talking about how he's no longer a jobber to the stars and calls himself the "New F'N Show." Despite this intense promo about Lynn upping his game and his position, nothing of note came of this and he continued being a jobber to the stars in the major promotions. So this was a thing that happened.

ECW Tag-Team Champions Danny Doring and Amish Roadkill defeated Hot Commodity (Julio Dinero and EZ Money) to retain the tag-team titles. Lots of little spot bits, nothing too fancy. After the match ends, Dinero, Money, and their manager Chris Hamrick beat on the champs until Nova shows up to make the save... and then we have a match. Okay.

Nova beats Chris Hemrick despite interference from Chris Chetti, Elektra, Spike Dudley, and Lou E. Dangerously (basically the guy who used to be Sign Guy Dudley doing a parody of Paul E. Dangerously, complete with phone). This was another thing that happened... but hey, it wasn't boring. So I'll give them that much.

Tommy Dreamer defeated CW Anderson in an I Quit match. Match came to an end when Dreamer used some razor wiring to choke out Anderson, who promptly said the magic words. The match goes back and forth between trying to be a straight-up wrestling match before settling on the usual hardcore "weapons-based" stuff that ECW is mostly known for... and yes, there is color. I found myself enjoying this match a little more than I probably should, but truthfully, I thought this was alright. Perhaps the best match on the card, methinks.

The Unholy Alliance (Yoshihiro Tajiri and Mikey Whipwreck) (with Sinister Minister) defeated Kid Kash and Super Crazy and The F.B.I. (Little Guido and Tony Mamaluke) (with Sal E. Graziano) in a Tag-Team Three Way Dance. This being elimination style, Kash gets pinned first, leaving us with Tajiri and Mikey versus the Italian guys for the rest of the match.

There was supposed to be a match between the team of Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger (with Dawn Marie, The Blue Boy and Jasmin St. Claire) and the team of Balls Mahoney and Chilly Willy... but then Rhino (Rhyno) shows up and "GORE! GORE! GORE!"'s the shit out of everybody. Well, that was a thing...

Sandman defeated ECW World Champ Steve Corino and Justin Credible in a three-way Ladder match to win the title. And then the Baldies show up and drive away the two losers. And then Rhino shows up and, after ambushing Sandman, challenges him to a World Title match... and sure enough, Rhino gets his match and after a gore, Gore, GORE!, wins the title. The flashbacks to Wrestlemania IX are strong here, except Rhino won't be jobbing that ECW title back to Sandman in a few months, as ECW would falter into bankruptcy soon afterwards...

Oh wait, Rob Van Dam shows up, seemingly to issue a challenge to Rhino, but then Jerry Lynn shows up and they have a match... and, well, that was a thing that happened. From the looks of things, they're planting seeds for the future, such as Corino and Credible forming a new tag-team and RVD's eventual chase for the ECW Title. Mind you, he'd eventually get it, of course... just not any time soon.

Guilty As Charged 2001 is the final ECW show and as far as final shows go, this was a sad note to go out on. I dug the I Quit match, but the rest of the show was far from memorable or recollectable. I suppose it didn't help matters that by the end of ECW's stretch, you only had a handful of memorable Extreme icons and a bunch of spares to fill the void and very little reason to care otherwise. The matches on display here were nothing more than a bunch of spots, a bunch of stuff tossed around, and a bunch of little messes that build to a huge one. It's just... sad. There's that word again.

But when you really think about it... "sad" truly is the appropriate word here. World Championship Wrestling would close its doors a couple months later - having been acquired by WWFE Inc. - but that organization got a proper closure with a final Nitro that not only celebrated its past but also featured its two most iconic wrestlers in Sting and Ric Flair going at it one last time before fading away into the sunset. And while the WCW name would continue on in some form or another, the actual promotion got a proper epilogue that signaled the end of an era.

ECW never got that proper closure in 2001. They just went away... and most of its remaining flock either took jobs in WWF or toughed it out elsewhere. So when WWE held their ECW reunion show in 2005 at the Hammerstein Ballroom - the very site where the final PPV from the original promotion took place - it felt like not just a reunion of old friends, but also felt like the closure on the promotion that ECW didn't get in 2001. Certainly a far better note for the brand to go out on than the sad affair that was 2001's Guilty As Charged... or the run that was WWECW's first couple years... or the sad, almost embarrassing affair that was TNA's own version of an ECW reunion that was Hardcore Justice 2010. ECW was essentially a zombie at that; seemingly wanting for the pain to stop, but people insist on reanimating the dead corpse again and again and again...

All in all, Guilty As Charged 2001 was not a particularly good show - even by ECW standards - and a sad way to close the book on Extreme Championship Wrestling.

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