ECW One Night Stand:
I just got back from watching One Night Stand at a Sports Bar up the street, and once again, I’m going to give some quick thoughts on the show completely unaffected. I haven’t looked at any internet sites or read any reviews of the show yet, so my thoughts are going to be completely unbiased and impartial.
I’m exhausted and feeling the effects of a few adult beverages, so pardon any minor errors. I just really want to get this in tonight.
I know there was a lot of discourse and debate going into the show about whether or not the involvement of WWE wrestlers would enhance or cheapen the show, and whether or not Vince would truly do honor to what ECW was all about.
For the record, even when ECW still had Taz and the Dudleys, and even when they got their “major break” with the TNN deal, the product was still only a partial shell of its former self. The ECW we all loved and waxed nostalgic about died around late 1998.
In its last two years, even though ECW was raided and pillaged by rival promotions, the shows were still getting somewhat difficult to watch. People like to pretend like ECW was still going full steam when it shut down, but the truth of the matter is this: aside from a few thousand die-hard fans, there really wasn’t much interest in Justin Credible as champ, or Rhyno as a top draw, or much else going on in ECW when it folded. The company had definitely seen better days.
So much of the talk on the internet has been about whether or not the One Night Stand PPV could continue ECW’s legacy where it left off. In reality though, that’s probably the absolute last thing that Vince McMahon, or anyone else for that matter, wanted for this PPV.
Above all else, I think the WWE wanted to give ECW fans, new and old alike, a sampling of what ECW was about at its absolute finest.
Did they succeed?
In a single sentence:
For what it was trying to accomplish, this PPV was absolutely PERFECT.
Let’s quickly go segment-by-segment.
- Joey Styles:
Up until a week ago, most of us were going on the assumption that Joey Styles would not be providing the play-by-play for this show. It’s hard to argue that Styles had as much to do with ECW’s success and image as any single wrestler or promoter involved with the company and because of this, I think everyone was genuinely happy to see him involved tonight. When he came out to the ring at the beginning of the show and basked in the “ECW” chants, he looked genuinely touched, and definitely as emotional as we’ve ever seen him in ECW.
I questioned the choice of putting Cactus Jack alongside Styles, but from what I could make out during the show, he certainly did a respectable enough job. It was a pretty rowdy scene tonight at the Sports Bar, but even though I had a tough time understanding a lot of what Joey was saying, the show just wouldn’t have been as authentic and entertaining without him.
- Chris Jericho vs. Lance Storm
Anyone who makes a habit of reading Lance Storm’s website knows what a genuinely nice, cool guy he seems to be. After all his commentaries on his good times in ECW with Jericho and Dawn Marie, I was really happy to see him back out at the Hammerstein Ballroom wrestling Jericho tonight. It wasn’t a ***** match by any stretch of the imagination, and contrary to popular belief, very few (if any) ECW matches really were, but it definitely served its purpose.
Lance Storm and Chris Jericho both appeared more motivated tonight than they’ve looked in a long, long time, and even though I’m sure the net is going to criticize the match, I think it served its function absolutely flawlessy. It got the night off to a good start start, it was a vintage ECW style match, and it left the crowd with plenty of steam for the rest of the night. It was great to hear the “Lionheart” chants, and overall, this was just a great way to kick off the show.
- Tribute Video:
It was really classy of the WWE to put together this tribute video, even though the cynical grapplin’ fan in us all has to wonder whether or not they would have done it had the goofy Shane Douglas show not put on a tribute of sorts themselves. Regardless, one thing is for absolute certain: you can’t blame the wrestling business for a wrestler’s personal choices, but it is just downright depressing to see some of those wrestler’s years of birth. It seemed like the majority of them should be 33-45 years old today, not lying in a cemetary.
A couple of notable omissions that definitely belonged in the video:
Road Warrior Hawk: Definitely one of the pioneers of ECW. He was there close to the very beginning and he popped in from time to time over the years. Definitely should have been included.
Brian Pillman: He really, really perfected his “Loose Cannon” gimmick in ECW. His promos with Shane Douglas (and the Arena crowd) were some of the best of his life.
Rick Rude: By far the most glaring omission from the tribute. I loved the Rick Rude of the 1980’s WWF wrestling and I thoroughly enjoyed watching him as a member of the Dangerous Alliance in WCW, but as far as I’m concerned, his greatest years (from an entertainment standpoint) were in ECW. Even though I don’t think he ever actually wrestled for the company, his involvement was always absolutely electric. I’m disappointed that he wasn’t included in the video tonight.
- Tajiri vs. Guido vs. Super Crazy:
I’m going to avoid going into much detail on this match, but it was definitely a winner. All three of these guys were prominent in ECW when the company was on a downslide creatively, but I remember them stealing a PPV or two that otherwise wouldn’t have been that great. Super Crazy’s backflip from the balcony was awesome. Aside from that, this was definitely a solid match that any ECW fan from this era would appreciate.
- Rey Mysterio vs. Psicosis:
Once again, a great representation of Rey and Psicosis’s matches in ECW. I’ve seen a few of them, and honestly I think they had much better matches in WCW, but for what it was, this match was a definite winner. Rey’s dive into the crowd was awesome, and anyone who dug their former ECW stuff had to have walked away from this match a happy camper.
- Smackdown Arrives:
I know in the weeks prior to this event, quite a few people (myself included) questioned the idea of involving non-ECW wrestlers from the WWE with the PPV. I can now say, without a shadow of a doubt, that the integration of the WWE wrestlers into the ECW enviornment absolutely made the show.
Guys like Kurt Angle and JBL really stepped up to the plate tonight, almost stealing the show in the process. Kurt Angle’s response to the crowd’s chanting of “You Suck Dick” was just vintage Kurt Angle: “Yeah, well your Mothers taught me how.” I mean, that is just Kurt Angle at his absolute best.
I know people tend to either love JBL or hate him, but I happen to be a huge fan. All arguments about his matches aside, you can’t deny the fact that his character is among the strongest in the WWE. He was just great tonight too.
All of the Smackdown wrestlers were great. Their facial expressions during the “high spots” were hilarious, and they served their purpose perfectly. It’s not a knock on ECW, but when you put ECW and WWE guys together, you really can tell just how amazing some of the WWE’s talent is.
- RVD Shoot:
RVD was one of the biggest names in ECW history, and it was really interesting to hear him “shooting” on everyone tonight. He shot on the WWE guys for stealing ECW’s thunder, even though again, I question just how memorable this show would have been without their involvement. He also complained about his lack of dialogue, and the fact that no one in the WWE seems to believe in him. He’s definitely got a point there. The man should have been made the champ four years ago. This segment was really strong, but I was honestly expecting a little more.
- Sabu vs. Rhyno:
Vintage ECW was on display in this impromptu match. Despite all of his recent health issues, Sabu was looking spot-on tonight. The crowd showered Sabu with praise, and as much as anything else on the card, this match just felt like true ECW action. I loved every second of it.
- Raw Arrives:
I don’t really know what the net consensus is on Eric Bischoff, but to me he is far and away one of the most entertaining characters on WWE television today. I absolutely love his cocky smugness. It’s hard to not like the guy because he is seriously one of the coolest heels in all of wrestling. I was enjoying every second of it as the RAW guys were strolling towards their seats and Eric was sticking his finger in the fans faces. Seriously, he’s never been this great before.
- Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero: It was great to see the fans showing both wrestlers so much respect, but I wouldn’t have minded seeing this match go a little longer. It was good for what it was (an 11:00 minute, fast-paced match), but it definitely wasn’t a “classic” by any means. I would have loved to have seen Malenko/Guerrero in its place, but I guess there’s always next PPV to look forward to.
- Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka:
Match of the Night.
These two always tore down the house in ECW’s final months, and tonight was no exception. Mike Awesome looked as good as he’s ever looked out there tonight, and Joey Styles constant burial of the man (“Judas”) made things even more interesting. The crowd loved this match from start to finish and the spots were just vintage Awesome/Tanaka. I’m really glad they decided to include this match because (just like Sabu/Rhyno) it just felt incredibly ECW.
Plus, JBL’s antics during this match were just awesome to watch.
- Paul Heyman’s Promo:
Although Heyman’s Promo was brief, it was probably the highlight of the night. You couldn’t help but feel good for the guy this evening. The PPV tonight was as authentic to the ECW brand, if not more, than some of the company’s final PPV’s.
A few of Heyman’s absolutely golden lines:
“Hide your wives… it’s Edge!”
“Since you want to shoot Cowboy (to JBL), the only reason you were WWE Champion for a year is because Triple H didn’t wanna work Tuesdays.”
Eric Bischoff giving Heyman the (very serious looking) middle finger, and the RAW crew laughing hysterically and holding up 3 fingers after the Matt Hardy comment were just awesome moments. The ECW/WWE interaction was just brilliant in this segment.
- Main Event:
You can read the recap of this match just about anywhere on the net, but I’ve gotta say, my expectations were far exceeded here. It was great to the Sandman back, and I enjoyed every minute of his ridiculously long entrance. No joke, aside from his beer gut, he’s actually looking to be in pretty decent ring shape. I think we all tire of Tommy Dreamer’s whining, but it was great to see him go all-out with that blade-job tonight too.
The Dudleys were on, Beulah was on, the BWO was on, Kid Kash was on, the Sandman was on, Dreamer was on.
Everyone was on.
I think Steve Austin’s involvement at the end of the PPV is going to be one of the most polarizing aspects of the entire PPV. I think a lot of fans are going to love it, and I think a lot of ECW purists are going to hate it. I can definitely understand both sides of the argument.
Personally, I think Steve Austin’s involvement was absolutely brilliant.
It gave ECW the long-term rub it might not have necessarily gotten with the casual WWE fans had Austin not been involved.
The chaotic ending brawl was seriously just a thing of absolute beauty.
After all these years of being subjected to nothing but WWE television, it was just so nice to see a show like this come along and really mix things up.
Taz and Kurt Angle were just awesome together, a long-term feud between these two could potentially make a lot of money.
And the closing shot of Steve Austin standing side-by-side with the Sandman was just amazing.
I don’t know how any hardcore ECW fan could not have been near tears by this single scene.
Some might say that it wasn’t true to ECW, but in my opinion, putting the Sandman on Austin’s level is the single greatest sign of respect that Vince McMahon could have shown ECW.
ECW: One Night Stand was without a doubt one of the most interesting, memorable PPV’s in WWE history. It didn’t have any match of the year candidates, but it was overflowing with heart.
One Night Stand was as authentic to ECW as is possible in today’s wrestling climate. I firmly believe that the involvement of the WWE wrestlers was the X-Factor that really made this show a success. I don’t think it necessarily affected the buyrate that much, but their involvement tonight will definitely solidify the ECW brand revival as something that’s not going to be going away any time soon.
I don’t think it would be a good idea at all to try to bring ECW back full-time, but if Vince was smart (which he obviously is), I think running an authentic ECW-style show every month or two would really be a great idea. It might give the WWE the shot in the arm that it’s been looking for.
In conclusion, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m feeling really optimistic about the WWE these days. Smackdown’s last PPV was amazing, new guys like Cena and Christian are really starting to step up, and overall, the excitement is starting to slowly come back.
If you watched the show tonight, congratulations.
Despite all the technicalities, you saw one of the most influential companies in wrestling history rise from the ashes tonight.
If you missed it.
Order the replay.
Buy the DVD.
You won’t be disappointed.
While Shane Douglas was bitching and crying yet again about the evils of Vince McMahon, the WWE was putting on a show that truly honored ECW, and a show that every former fan of the company should truly appreciate.
All the way.