With the recent decision to cancel ECW house shows, panic is said to have begun to set in backstage over the future of the brand. The house shows over the past seven months averaged around $25,000 per event with 1,000 paid attendance, making them big money losers. However, producing the ECW shows still turns a weekly profit of $166,000 due to the Sci-Fi contract and international distribution. Although this offset the losses suffered with the house shows, the low attendances brought down the overall attendance numbers in quarterly reports. With Kurt Angle gone and The Big Show off of most house shows, the talent pool was deemed to low to continue a house show schedule. Things got to the point recently where Paul Heyman was sent on the road to work main events against Rob Van Dam.
Moving the ECW roster to the Smackdown shows means that top guys like RVD and Sabu will likely earn more money from performing on higher-grossing events, although the mid and low level guys won’t see any increases and will receive less bookings. ECW PPVs will still go ahead, although it remains to be seen whether “ECW” will stick around as anything more than about a dozen guys, supplemented with Raw and Smackdown ‘guests’ for these events.
In general, ECW has rather quickly gone from being a pet project of a determined Vince McMahon to something he is not particularly interested in. It was originally scheduled to be live every week, now it is hardly ever live. Kurt Angle left and little was done to replace him. Elements of the original ECW have been scaled back or deleted, since they felt the original fanbase was not large enough to sustain the brand, yet new fans have still not arrived en masse. The talent level is lower than Raw or Smackdown and they are not permitted to work as many weapon-laden matches to conceal their weaknesses. McMahon was adamant about RVD never being the champion again, now it may have to happen simply because there is nobody else. Of late the show has been described as a ‘penal colony’ for people that Michael Hayes had no interest in using on Smackdown, which was the main reason behind recently sending Khali, Daivari, Burke and Terkay over.
Now December to Dismember is scheduled to air just seven days after Survivor Series. It will be in Augusta, GA, due to Kevin Dunn’s insistence that they try and host an ECW PPV in a different atmosphere from the previous One Night Stand shows. There was a lot of resistance to this idea backstage, yet Dunn refused to change his mind and McMahon backed him up.
In other news:
– The 10/27 edition of Smackdown did a 2.7 rating with 4.44 million viewers. The two hours were 2.3 and 3.1, so clearly the main event was a major factor. The show has rebounded very well since the launch of CW, which covers more of the country and has a stronger line-up than UPN. Using John Cena so often in recent weeks has also increased the viewership to the point were it is generally equal to, and sometimes more than, what Raw can achieve.
– Bryan Danielson is still in a lot of pain, yet he refuses to take anything for it, even Aspirin. His shoulder is hurt bad and he will have to take a lengthy break to get rehab or surgery sooner or later. ROH are still planning on holding out on the title switch till he faces Homicide in New York on 12/23, but there is a lot of concern over needing to do the switch before then if Danielson’s condition gets any worse. His upcoming two-week tour of NOAH is not likely to help matters.
Credit: Wrestling Observer newsletter (click here for subscription information)