Cheap Heat: ECW Round 2

I spent a little bit of time covering the idea of conspiracy theories in my super special Wednesday edition of East Coast Bias (normally available on Mondays right here on IP Sports). The latest conspiracy theory is that they dogged the first episode of ECW for… whatever reason. I can’t even imagine what the logic behind this is, other than my original conspiracy theory that Vince wanted ECW to tank.

Looking at what they’re doing with the company, I’ve officially changed my theory. They’re don’t want ECW to tank at all. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t mean that everyone is going to be happy.

I think, only two weeks in, it’s becoming fairly obvious what the E is going to use the ECW brand for; getting over the guys who couldn’t quite get over on Raw or Smackdown. It also seems like they’re planning on doing this at the expense of the ECW mainstays. Last week, Justin Credible got fed to Kurt Angle in a squash match. This week, Tommy Dreamer got his shit ruined by the Big Show. All the while, we get matches of “ECW” guys, like Kurt Angle, winning matches.

I digress. First off, what did they get right this week?

1) The Darkened Arena: The arena looked worlds better this week. They darkened the arena to give it a smaller, independent feel consistent with what an ECW arena always looked like. There shouldn’t be an upper deck (for now) at an ECW show and darkening the arena was a good step. They also rotated the camera angle such that the wrestler entered from the wide shot and the announcers were in the frame at all times. This simple touch makes the arena look entirely different.

2) The Dropped in Promos: Thank you. Giving the audience some way to know who the hell these guys are supposed to be and why we’re supposed to like them is a big benefit. Just a quick “who the f*ck am I?” while moving on. Color me a huge fan of this. However, if you could give Sandman a decent entry theme, he’ll be over in two weeks just by being Sandman. You can’t not like the guy.

3) An Opening Match Between ECW Guys: Tony Mamaluke vs Sabu. This is just fine with me. A darker arena with a darker feel and two ECW guys going at it. For a minute, I almost forgot the WWE was running this show. A couple of these quick-ish matches per hour and dropping just a little bit of the ECW/WWE crossovers will be excellent.

4) Joey and Tazz: While I still think Joey would be just fine doing the entire show by himself, listening to Tazz drop some occasional knowledge is growing on me a bit. It’s also nice to hear the two of them joking around with each other, almost like any two old ECW fans would be doing if they were commentating the reborn ECW. Basically, because they are two old ECW fans now recapping the show.

5) Test: I mean seriously… why not?

I don’t want to come off sounding like a complete cheerleader just yet. There were a couple problems still with the show.

1) The announcers always in camera view: I don’t know why this bothers me, exactly, but it does. For some reason, I find myself constantly looking at Tazz (or is it TAZ again, now?) and Joey staring at the monitors. I don’t know if I’m fascinated by watching two guys watch TV or if I’m just trying to see if their mouths sync up with the commentary. Either way, it’s distracting and they need to move the guys off to the side again. I realize that they rotated the angles such that the entry way and the commentators would look different than the Smackdown arena, which is good; but I don’t like anything distracting me from the central product.

2) The Sandman: OK, seriously. I’m not going to be completely on the side of “OMG WE TOTALLY NEED TO BUY THE METALLICA SONG!!!11” but in all seriousness, it would help. Whatever this garbage crap is they decided to saddle Sandman with, it’s awful. On ECW the Music, there is a version of Enter Sandman done by Motorhead. While I’m a huge fan of The Game or King of Kings, I’ll take Lemmy singing Enter Sandman over this crap canned theme. The Sandman’s entrance is supposed to be an event. That’s his thing, man. Watch the first One Night Stand to see the way it’s supposed to look. This crappy theme has no build-up, no cheering cues, nothing to make the fans stand up and take notice. The WWE production department is usually way better than this, and it surprises me they can’t even pull up a faked version of this song. Even Tommy Dreamer has a faked version of Man In The Box. RVD’s One of a Kind is a faked version of Walk. Throw me a frickin bone here.

3) Tell the referees they’re in ECW now: Outside interference is legal. Weapons are legal. The referees can see Lita choking people against the ropes for Edge. The referee can watch two tag partners double team a guy without putting on the five count. Tell them that. Tell them they don’t need to put on the intelligence-insulting show that they do on Raw and Smackdown.

Little things, all of these, but things that will help the overall product. The WWE needs to remember something here. At this site, there are now more people covering ECW than Smackdown. There’s Internet Buzz, most of it positive, desperate to help this thing survive. None of us want it to fail; done correctly, it’s possibly the only thing we could all agree on wanting it to succeed. Why? Because we’ll feel like we succeeded in doing something. We’ll feel like we were able to pull an entire promotion out of the ashes and make it work.

ECW feels like our baby, now. It’s two weeks old and many of us feel like new parents, teaching and coddling the show along. We want to correct its wrongs and praise its successes. We got something back that we love and we don’t want to lose it. We have a chance to have it back, a permanent show. We are even able to accept WWE guys in ECW because we know it will give us a better chance of keeping the show alive.

The WWE is running the television equivalent of a viral video. Granted, the audience is smaller since it’s just wrestling fans, but it’s creating a buzz. A real buzz. A buzz they aren’t killing off within two weeks. The WWE wants this to succeed.

And for once, we’re on the same page.