Cheap Heat: Woe Be To ECW

I was a bit surprised last week at the lack of reaction to the new PPVWIP feature and then I remembered it’s really been three or four years since I wrote a wrestling column. Check it out if you’re looking for something else to read today.

Moving on.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the other guy who tries to keep InsidePulse running on a daily basis. I wrote a good part of the site’s software. I moved here for the brand separation back in 2004 and have written here since. By writing here, I more mean “programming the site” as I haven’t done normal writing since we got here. About six weeks ago I started up a Monday sports column, and the itch got deep enough that I decided to start writing a wrestling column, too. It says something for the state of wrestling since I quit writing for wrestling after WCW went under. There wasn’t enough to write about on a weekly basis, especially considering the number of writers for the amount of remaining material.

For the summer, the Thursday spot opened up and I decided to take it. I want to see if I can get back into the groove here.

Last year, I wrote a column before the first One Night Stand. It was entitled, quite simply, Please Don’t Let One Night Stand Suck. I didn’t want to see a version of ECW that was bastardized and watered down. I was afraid, rightfully so, that the version of ECW the WWE presented would be a grossly underwhelming show, polluted with the glitz and glamour of a WWE event.

In fairness to them, I printed a Thank You column following the event. The event was everything I wanted. I was there live. The set was ECW, the security at the event was ECW-lax (stay out of the way, enjoy the show, don’t interfere with the cameras, wrestlers, or other fans and you can pretty much stand wherever you like), and watching the show back later the old ECW (lack of) production values were there. They hit all the spots a tribute show should hit (the flaming table, the Balls chant, Tazz’s entrance, Sandman’s entrance) and just did everything right. Granted, the DVD left a bit to be desired, but that’s OK, too. As Flea said it in his review of the show way back when: ECW is something that needs to be experienced live. If you didn’t buy the show or go to the show, you weren’t going to get the live experience. That’s fine.

As we’re creeping ever closer to One Night Stand 2, I don’t fear the PPV itself; much less, it will be a good show. It won’t be the first One Night Stand, but I don’t expect it to be. This show is kicking off a promotion, not delivering a one-off, one night only event. As such, it will be booked entirely different. It will be attempting to kick off storylines, work in hanging stories from the end of ECW, hooking the crowd with a line to get them to watch the first show, and even setting up the first show. It won’t be a “blow your wad on one event” show like the first One Night Stand. Instead, it’ll be the slow-burn we’ve come to expect from ongoing storylines. I’m fine with this.

What really concerns me at this point about the ECW television show is the fact it’s going to be airing on the Sci-Fi Network. I’m not going to make any jokes about Spock Dudley or the Van-Terminator because they’ve already been done and, well, they’re really not that funny. What I am going to do is express concern over putting a wrestling program on a station that really has no business airing a wrestling program. Now, again, don’t get me wrong, I love the Sci-Fi network. I am a born and bred Star Trek geek. I felt the same horror everyone else did when they had bony-head Klingons in Enterprise. I liked that SciFi ran reruns of Dark Shadows and Passions so I could get my fill of Sci-Fi Soaps. Twilight Zone, X-Files, Quantum Leap, Knight Rider; all great shows that absolutely should have a network dedicated to them. Looking at the website now, they have an upcoming movie about Charisma Carpenter hunting a demon. You know what I’ll sign up for every time? Cordelia hunting demons.

The problem is, we all know what doesn’t fit in with all those shows. An ECW wrestling program. Oddly enough, of all the people in the WWE who should know this, Paul Heyman should have been the first. One of the reasons ECW went under the first time was due to being stranded on a network that gave it no support. What kind of support is SciFi going to give ECW? Commercial spots during Kolchak The Night Stalker? Bumpers during Dark Shadows? These spots will be met with resounding silence. The SciFi fan is not necessarily the wrestling fan and they’re not being placed on a network that gives them the most chance of success. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Bravo Network would have been the better option, but at least you could almost set up a night of television revolving around Poker and Wrestling. It’s not the best, but it’s better than the possible upcoming combinations on SciFi.

I try not to be cynical about wrestling anymore. It takes too much energy. Besides, there are plenty of cynical columnists out there already, but this deal is another one of those that gives the IWC member a little tingle. The same type of tingle I got during the Invasion. The tingle that says: Vince is giving the fans some rope, but not enough rope to succeed. You get just enough shoelace to lace up your boots, but not quite enough to tie them. The best opportunity for ECW’s success is for it to be on USA in an 11pm timeslot. Do you know what’s on your USA affiliate every night at 11pm? I would be willing to bet it’s some flavor of Law and Order. Removing one of the 12 episodes of Law and Order USA airs per day would probably not affect their bottom line.

I really don’t want to create the “Vince Doesn’t Want ECW To Succeed” bandwagon (or hop on it if there already is one) but the decision terrifies me, just like the decision to have RVD cash in Money in the Bank at One Night Stand. The winner of this Money in the Bank match is going to be very telling. Will Vince allow his world champion to walk into an ECW Ring and be beaten by who has become the default “face” of ECW in lieu of Tazz taking a powder and Tommy being sent backstage? Or, more likely, will John Cena eek out a victory and take the title back to Raw, leaving RVD to go to ECW with his tail between his legs? As much as I don’t want to, I’m voting for the latter. Vince can’t let his “SuperStars” look bad at the hands of stars from other promotions, ever… even when both wrestlers’ paychecks have his signature. RVD beating Cena would be ECW beating WWE. This can’t happen. ECW ratings can’t beat WWE ratings. It would be unacceptable. The first stage of this destruction from within is being placed on a station where they won’t get supported.

If they get through the first year, you’ll start seeing more. Can you have a talent raid if you own both companies? I think you can.

Spoiler Warning: Smackdown Irritation

After Nunzio suffered a loss to Matt Hardy, Vito came down in drag to comfort him. Could we let the Sopranos’ Season end before we get Vitocakes? Please?

A world championship match was announced for Smackdown. Rey vs Sabu. Please see above.

Around the Pulse

Iain and Steve check out the Good, Bad, and Ugly of sports entertainment.

Paul Sebert memorializes Alex Toth. If you don’t know who he is, you should.

Patrick hooks up the news translator which is possibly my favorite thing ever. Maybe Big Ben will be a Knick next year. Ooops, forgot about Isiah’s salary cap prison.

Steve Price tries to make something of playoffs that are airing on OLN.

See you next Thursday and be sure to check out East Coast Bias, Mondays on IP Sports.