Wednesday, May 1, 2019

ECW One Night Stand 2005

The era of extreme is revived for one night only... well, two if you count the Hardcore Homecoming show that took place the night before, but that's not the focus of today's post.

No, we're focusing on the show that became a thing because WWE had put out a Rise And Fall Of ECW DVD documentary that was highly regarded by fans and apparently, that prompted them to do their own little ECW reunion show. Even going so far as to book it at the Hammerstein Ballroom arena and giving it ECW-like graphics.

The first guy to come out to that iconic ECW theme music was none other than Joey Styles... and it makes perfect sense. This is supposed to be an ECW show and an ECW show without the man who gave ECW its voice is not only wrong, but makes the whole experience feel inauthentic - a lesson that TNA would fail to learn in later years when attempting their own ECW reunion show in 2010.

After soaking in the adoration and letting out a trademark "OH MY GOD!" to a large pop, Joey welcomes us to the show and introduces his partner in commentary, Mick Foley. Because I guess Cyrus had better things to do like getting an MBA and waiting for a call from New Japan to become an announcer of gold or something. Mind you, even a bronze announcer Don Callis would've been a substantial upgrade over Mick Foley, who may be a good promo in his best years, but not so much behind the commentary booth... and yet that earned him a job on Smackdown for a short while.

Lance Storm defeated Chris Jericho with an assist from former Impact Player cohort Justin Credible whacking poor ol' Jericho (in lionheart tights, no less) in a rather short but serviceable opening contest.

Pitbull Gary Wolfe intros a montage of ECW names that have passed on over the years. There's a bunch of these little moments where former ECW names will pop up and introduce a video montage of classic ECW moments. It's a nice revisit down memory lane or a selling piece for those who missed out the first time around.

Super Crazy defeated Tajiri and Mikey Whipwreck in a Three-Way Dance that went by way too fast. So fast that I noticed it was fast. That's how fast it went by. I don't know if it's because everyone is older and can't do the style as well as they used to or whatever the case may be, but this seems more like a greatest hits compilation of SPOTS and MOVES than a proper match.

Rey Mysterio defeated Pscicosis in a very slow, very plodding match that felt more like the usual WWE style of match than the "extreme lucha-libre" spectacle that was promised. Rey Mysterio doing his 619 spin kick and West Coast pop moves - moves that he did in WWE and NOT in ECW - gets a rather nasty reaction. Eh...

And now we got the WWE guys coming to sit in the balcony. Joel Gertner (still sporting a neckbrace for about as long as Cowboy Bob had his arm in a cast) tried to talk to the JBL-Kurt Angle led group, but gets rebuffed. This leads to a RVD promo where he talks about wanting to bring back ECW and bitches about being injured so he can't compete on the show (don't worry, Rob; there's always next year)... and then Rhino shows up and gores RVD. Then the light goes out, and when light comes on, Sabu is there.

And then, we have a match. Again, it's short, but people were into it, there's some good action, and Sabu eventually wins with an Arabian Facebuster through a table. This was short but fun.

Chris Benoit defeated Eddie Guerrero in a pretty decent match. I've read that this wasn't a good match due to some backstage issues or whatever the case may be, but I don't know. I thought it was alright for what it was and while there have been better matches, I've certainly seen worse.

Mike Awesome defeated Masato Tanaka in a hardcore match that serves as nothing more than a greatest hits compilation of their old feud from 1999. This was fun; Awesome was the giant that he was depicted as in the old ECW, Tanaka was the perfect foil, mayhem is ensured, and we got a powerbomb through a table which looked brutal. I especially liked the bit of continuity where Joey shits all over Awesome over the way he left ECW for WCW while champion; it makes no sense for someone you're on bad terms with (in storyline, at least) to show up and then you treat him like nothing happened. I'm glad this was brought up, because otherwise it would reek of WWE incompetence.

Then Paul Heyman comes out for a promo; delivering his thanks to the audience for keeping the spirit alive and then shot at the WWE guys. There's a couple of zingers here and there;.

So we have the main event. The Dudleyz come out in their old tye-dye gear, Tommy Dreamer comes out, and then out comes Sandman, doing the whole entrance from the crowd, drinking beer, busting himself open with the kendo stick, and slowly making his way through to the crowd while "Enter Sandman" blares through the sound system... and then Mick Foley chimes in the obvious about the crowd singing along with the music. Gee, thanks, Mick, for that brilliant observation that I couldn't have possibly figured out myself by watching and listening to what's going on. The sad part is that this line sounds even more stupid when you watch the DVD and Network versions of the show, which replaced the song with some generic medley that sounds lame.

Did I mention Mick Foley is not a good color guy?

After all the run-ins, we get our match between the Dudleyz and Dreamer & Sandman; a hardcore battle of ECW Originals. There's a lot of chairs used, a table teased, blood spilled, and a whole bunch of stuff. For those not used to this sort of thing, it comes across as garbage from the days when wrestling was in the wilderness of morality. But for the ECW faithful, this is essentially a time-capsule and a revisit of those days with the four men who probably associate more with those letters than anyone... except they're older and perhaps even a bit slower.

But even with that in mind, they're not completely wasted individuals. They still manage their best, none of them look tired, the fifty billion run-ins from the bWo and all the other folks take place, and then the Dudleyz powerbomb Dreamer through a flaming table and win the match. Hey, you know what? This was fun. It's not a technical masterpiece, but it's a fine little closure to the ECW story if it was intended as such.

So Dreamer is apparently dead and the Sandman is calling for beer. And then glass shatters. Out comes Steve Austin.

The WWE contingent is shocked; whether it's because Austin even bothered to show up at all or because he showed up wearing a really old XFL jersey, something that Joey noted. Austin then goaded the WWE guys to come down and we have a brawl between the ECW guys and the WWE guys that also includes Bischoff on commentary. Eventually, the WWE guys are driven away, Foley drags Bischoff to the ring where he is subsequently 3D by the future Team 3D, headbutted by Benoit, 619'ed by Mysterio (who gets booed), and then Kick! Wham! Stunner for the finish. And then the show ends.

ECW One Night Stand 2005 is a pretty solid wrestling experience. Not so much a show as the matches are passable at best from the technical aspect, but as a full-on revival of a much-beloved regional outfit whose time has come and gone, it works about as well as expected. The TV-14 rating killed the edge somewhat - with some naughty words getting bleeped - and the looming presence of the WWE contingent (as well as the inept commentary skills of Mick Foley and some of the WWE guys using their WWE music) only serve to remind the audience that this is still very much a WWE Pay-Per-View event, but in terms of trying to create an authentic ECW experience - from the venue to the graphics to the atmosphere... I think they did a fine job with One Night Stand.

It won't replace or even supercede vintage ECW - nothing will, no matter how hard they try... but as a nice reunion special, it was fine.

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