Wednesday, May 8, 2019

ECW One Night Stand 2006

A year ago, WWE brought back Extreme Championship Wrestling from the dead for one night only and produced a show worthy of the old Philly-based promotion. And people raved... and then there were rumors of an ECW revival; first as an internet-only show and then eventually a weekly television show on the Sci-Fi Channel... eventually, we'd know what happen, but that's not for the here and now

ECW One Night Stand 2006 was partly a sequel to the first ONS, but it also served as a prelude to the new weekly ECW television show that would debut the following Tuesday.

The show cold opens with Paul Heyman cutting one of his usual cult promos. And then we have the opening video, and then Jerry Lawler shows up to push Joey around. And then Taz shows up and chokes Lawler out with his Tazmission. Short and inoffensive cold open that got that piece of business out of the way. This leads us to a video montage from the WWE vs. ECW battle royal from a couple days prior where Big Show... oh, wait, excuse me... where FUCKING BIG SHOW apparently "jumps ship" to ECW... and then flipped between face and heel about five hundred times.

Tazz is doing color commentary with Joey Styles because Joey Numbers wasn't available. Hey, I ain't going to complaint. Tazz is fine on the mic and is a considerable improvement over Mick Foley from last year's show.

Kurt Angle defeated Randy Orton in the opening contest. If you wanted a sign that this wasn't going to be your old ECW promotion, here's exhibit #1; Randy has pyro. Joey complains about it... and then both guys proceed to have a pretty straightforward match. Randy tries to do the WWE formula match while Angle tries to be focus one of his I's (intensity) and show samplers of the persona he'd display in TNA later that year... sorry if I spoiled the ending for anybody. The match was enhanced entirely by the crowd reactions, who shat all over Randy while praising Angle.

Little Guido & Tony Mamaluke defeated Tajiri & Super Crazy in a fun little tag-team match that reminded me of the fun little tag-team matches they'd have back in the old ECW days before the company died.... and then FUCKING BIG SHOW shows up to chokeslam the shit out of everyone.

The match between World champion Rey Mysterio and Sabu ended in a no-contest due to a bunch of suits stopping the match after both guys fell through a table... yep, an ECW match for the BIG GOLD BELT ends in a no-contest because the suits - probably the New York State Sports Entertainment Commission doctors or whoever - decide that these two fellas who fell through a table can no longer compete and ordered this match stopped. This took place months after Wrestlemania 22 where Edge and Mick Foley fell through a FLAMING FUCKING TABLE and finished the match without outside interference. What?!

Edge & Mick Foley defeated Tommy Dreamer & Terry Funk where Edge pinned Beulah in lewd fashion. Oh yeah, Foley longs for the Alliance days (which may or may not be a shoot promo) and then Beulah shows up and they make it a trios match. There's tables, there's violence, there's gigs, there's color, there was lots of crazy shit, and then at the end of it all was Edge coming out battered, bruised, but ultimately looking like the biggest thing in that whole match. Clearly, if you wanted a guy to be hated this badly, you have him beat the two hardcore icons and pin one of the icon's wife in the lewdest pin possible... and you do it in a pro-ECW arena with a pro-ECW audience. Mission accomplished.

Ballz Mahoney defeated Masato Tanaka by smashing him in the face with a chair... and if there is any takeaway that I got from this match, it's that Ballz Mahoney is no Mike Awesome. But hey, at least Ballz got a job out of it for a short term, so that's something.

And now we got Eugene - the handicapped fellow with the mind of a child. And the ECW crowd wants NOTHING to do with this poor bastard, telling him to shut the fuck up as he continued with his out-of-place circus act. And then out comes Sandman with new WWE-produced stock music that sounds very stock. He canes Eugene mercilessly and the ECW crowd loves it because fuck lame WWE gimmicks... or something. Oh, you dumb fuckers! Just you wait!

Rob Van Dam defeated WWE Champion JOHN CENA in a HARDCORE match to win the title... this was the perfect main event for a show such as this. It wasn't the greatest match, it wasn't even the greatest fight, but in terms of the story being told, it was perfect for this show. For all those crowds shitting on Roman Reigns in recent years, they have nothing - NOTHING - on the Hammerstein Ballroom full of ECW faithful absolutely tearing Cena a new one. He tosses the shirt to the audience, they toss it back, they do this a couple times, culminating in one shot where one of the security guys catches the shirt, wipes his ass with it, and tosses it back at Cena before flipping him off.

And then there are the chants. "Fuck You, Cena" this and "You Can't Wrestle" that... it's not the ironic "it's cool to boo John Cena" bullshit people would write it off as. No, this was pure, unadulterated HATRED for the WWE's franchise player, which only fed into the admiration of RVD and the audience's desire to see him win the title. This is a wrestling crowd so visceral, so PASSIONATE about the main event that they came off as the kind of crowd where... you know that cute sign that says "If [insert name here] wins, We Riot?" This crowd would've actually done it. That's how into it they were. You will NEVER see a crowd like this in modern-day WWE... possibly even in any semblance of the modern wrestling landscape.

The match itself was fine, accentuated by the passionate crowd. RVD was the never-say-die good guy fighting with his every fiber to win his first World title... and John Cena played the villain in this story. And he played his role well enough... not enough to fully commit to the role he was thrust in (remember: WWE assumes RVD and ECW, by extention, are the bad guys). For all of the "You Can't Wrestle" chants that he got, he did the Wrestling thing just fine. Some toys were used eventually. A table was set-up by Cena, only for a masked man to spear him through said table. Masked Man is revealed to be Edge, prompting the crowd to chant "Thank You, Edge" despite his pinning Beulah an hour or so earlier.

And then RVD hits the frog splash, Paul Heyman comes in to count the pinfall - because it's ECW and he's an ECW official - and that's it. RVD is your new WWE champion and everyone rejoices. All the ECW guys come out to celebrate with Rob, the crowd is cheering their new champion, the long road to the World Title is over for RVD. After all these years, he's finally on top.

And then he got busted for weed one night and was suspended for 30 days.

ECW One Night Stand 2006 was a fun show. It was a really fun show. If this were the template for the third brand in its early days, then I don't think people would've bitched about it. It provided enough extreme nostalgia for the hardcore fans who remember the good ol' days while planting enough seeds for this new version to build upon. And who knows? Maybe if RVD didn't get busted for weed, maybe this would've been the direction they stuck with... but I digress. If you haven't had the chance to watch this, give it a go. It's actually pretty fun stuff.

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