Well, now that the Midnight Mystery is no more, I’m back in my original Thursday slot.
And now that I’m back on a regular basis, let’s take a look at my Vengeance and Slammiversary picks:
Slammiversary: 4 for 7
Vengeance: 4 for 7
Rob Blatt: A little better than 50/50.
Have I mentioned that Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past is my favorite column here on IP?
This week: Naked Mideon
Anyway, lets talk ECW while it’s still on TV.
Ever watch some old Garden footage? You know the footage, way back when the microphone that Ken Kennedy spoke into wasn’t just part of a gimmick; you addressed the live crowd with that microphone. Take a look at the footage and tell me that the new ECW look isn’t awesome. I dig that old school feel with the newer camera angles thrown in there. The moving of the main overhead camera to the entrance ramp of Smackdown! is a nice touch, but for the love of god, this brand is being severely hurt by being in the same arena as the Smackdown! tapings.
Let’s face it, more than the other brands, Smackdown! is the brand for kids. The violence is toned down; it’s earlier in the night than every other show and its on Friday or Saturday nights depending on your market. Do you know who’s home on Friday nights to watch Smackdown!? I’ll bet it’s mostly kids who will cheer the Undertaker no matter how little effort he puts in or how bad his matches are. I’ll bet it’s mostly kids who still believe that Mark Henry is still a viable contender for a heavyweight title. You get my point, right?
If I’m going to an ECW taping, the Smackdown! taping is tame and boring in comparison. If I’m going to Smackdown!’s taping, ECW is just a bit too violent for the 11 year old Rey Mysterio Jr. fan I brought with me to see the show. Also, it’s a little distracting when I see some kid holding up his Great Khali sign when the camera pans to the crowd during a Sabu match. It’s easy to forget you’re watching ECW at times.
And there’s just too much WWE flavor in our ECW shows and vice-versa. Vengeance, while it featured the DX reunion match, Flair vs. Foley and Umaga vs. Eugene, still felt like the WWE was using ECW to get their RAW main eventers over. (Okay, I was kidding about the Umaga match.) Between the two of them, I feel like Edge and Cena were both lost before ECW cropped up.
Ever since RVD won the Money in the Bank match and declared One Night Stand to be his time to challenge for the title, John Cena has had a purpose and seems driven. Before that, his spinner belt and whole routine just seemed quite… boring. The John Cena who is out to prove a point that he can absorb more punishment than Tommy Dreamer is pretty awesome if you ask me. Limited moveset or not, I think Cena’s got a future with his current gimmick more than the rap-lovin “street” kids cartoon character that rhymes about penises and other guys being gay. DX seems to have that market covered at the moment anyway.
Don’t think that Edge hasn’t benefited from ECW either. It took Foley, Dreamer and Funk to make me believe that Edge is a serious main eventer. Yeah, he might have taken the belt off Cena for a few weeks, but he really didn’t have much of a real spot in the main event. Now, he’s believable thanks to nearly killing Terry Funk, having Tommy Dreamer sacrifice himself for the cause and Mick Foley giving him a rub as well. Terry disappears, Foley goes into his own feud and Dreamer goes on the give the Big Show a rub. Edge goes into the main event picture being featured on RAW and ECW on a regular basis. He’s on his way to headlining Summerslam and Saturday Night’s Main Event. It’s just a shame that this is happening at the expense of ECW guys.
The Big Show? Yeah, I don’t think he’ll ever shake the WWE stigma that surrounds him. He’s too sportz entertainment in my mind. He’s deep into this feud with Dreamer at the moment, but I think his direction should be heading for Sabu or the Sandman, that of course relies on the ability of the WWE to get the Sandman to break out of his predictable but great “squash the freak of the week”. Speaking of, did anyone else think that the stripper in ECW #3 looked like Scott D’Amour?
Kurt Angle is the only WWE guy who currently is accepted by the ECW crowd. And why? Kurt Angle is accepted the by the ECW crowd because is seen as being modern day hardcore. He’s a badass that doesn’t need to remind the crowd of it on a regular basis. The dude exudes intensity and seems to fit in with the other wrestlers, even if he’s a multi-time WWE champ.
The real challenge is going to come as ECW establishes its own new guys. Mike Knox doesn’t impress anyone yet, Test is.. Test, and the treatment of Danny Doring and Justin Credible as jobbers to get these new guys over has to stop. Call up some ROH talent if you want to squash someone. I’m sure if John Walters is willing to let himself get squashed by Chris Masters, he’ll let himself get squashed by Sabu too. My prediction is that we’ll see CW Anderson, Danny Doring, Roadkill and Justin Credible have less than 3 victories combined for this entire 12 week run on Sci-Fi.
However, don’t let all this criticism let you think that I haven’t been enjoying the brand. It works great as a vehicle for all these guys that it seemed like the WWE wanted to sign but couldn’t think of a reason to. ECW is home for guys like the Sandman and Sabu; their styles just don’t work in the constraints of a structured wrestling match. It also would work really well for guys like CM Punk, Kendrick and London, Akio/Jimmy Yang, and all the smaller guys that never would get a chance to develop in the other WWE brands. I know he’s probably all happy and whatnot in TNA, but I could see a real place for guys like Samoa Joe in ECW.
Before I open up the Samoa Joe, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels in TNA vs. WWE can of worms, I bid you farewell.
See you next time, same Blatt time, same Blatt channel.