Alternate Reality by Vin Tastic

Although many professional wrestling fans would love to see it again, the “real” ECW is dead and buried. Whether Vince McMahon resurrected the husk of the deceased promotion to decimate the extreme legacy, to squeeze one more drop of blood from a stone, or to prove he could do “hardcore” better than Paul Heyman is a moot point. It seems he’s now personally invested in the success of ECW, at least for the moment, but what does that actually mean?

TODAY’S ISSUE: ECW is

When Vince thinks something is broken, he proceeds to fix it by remaking it in his very own “sportz entertainment” image. His remedy inevitably calls for more evil authority figures, more champion-versus-the-system angles, more overbooked fiasco matches, and more McMahons on television.

Now that the Bald Billionaire wants ECW to succeed, he’s removed everything the rabid South Philly fans used to love about the original incarnation of the “little promotion that could”. The ECW Originals are not being featured prominently, and without Paul Heyman’s influence, guys like Sandman, Dreamer and Sabu have been reduced to mere window dressing. There are no dramatic, cutting-edge storylines, no intense, hard-hitting extreme matches in the ring, no compelling characters (Striker is nothing more than Dean Douglas v 2.0, for example) and no controversial promos to help the audience discover and understand a wrestler’s motivation. Why do Burke and his band of merry men hate the Originals, and what’s fueling their feud? Why should a guy like the Sandman care if Marcus Cor Von wants to wrestle in the same promotion with him?

Why aren’t hardcore warriors like Balls Mahoney, Little Guido, and Stevie Richards on the ECW Originals’ team? Don’t they share their former brothers-in-arms’ hatred for the New Breed? They were as much a part of the foundation of the original extreme revolution as the four designated veterans who represent the old ECW. Like most other sportz entertainment nonsense, it doesn’t add up.

So here it is. Loath as I am to say it (as if denying it to myself means it won’t be so) the “new” ECW has devolved into nothing more than the third hour of RAW. Bobby Lashley, Extreme Expose, Snitsky, Kevin Thorn, Hardcore Holly, and Matt Striker are Monday Night characters in every way; nothing about them speaks to the legacy of the original ECW.

The New Breed are dripping with sportz entertainment, from their gimmicks to their style in the ring. The ‘Nitro Girls-lite’ would have been laughed out of every bingo hall by the hardcore crowds of yesteryear.

Snitsky is a watered down Kane-type scary, ugly monster, which is ironic when you recall Snitsky’s beginnings in WWE. Thorn and Ariel are ridiculous, and as hard as Lashley might work, as nice of a guy as he might be, as physically impressive and accomplished as he is, he’s about as far away from extreme as one can get on the hardcore scale.

While he’s not extreme, I really like Elijah Burke; he makes a very good sportz entertainer. I was a fan of Monty Brown’s in TNA, but I hate his neutered Beta Male character. Why would Cor Von allow himself to be subservient to a rookie, a teacher, and a vampire wannabe? He should challenge for leadership of the pack after the Originals/New Breed storyline ends. I guarantee he’d be able to turn Burke face in the process, and add some real fire to the New Breed. After all, what else will Burke and his troops have to do after they finally vanquish RVD and company?

Vincent Kennedy McMahon, the character, hates Bobby Lashley for siding with Donald Trump in the Battle of the Billionaires, so he’ll be around on Tuesday nights for a while, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the ECW champ like he did with Austin in 1998. That means more sportz entertainment on Sci Fi.

McMahon the promoter, boss and chairman loves Lashley, so he’s personally invested in Lashley’s success. As I stated earlier, when Vince wants something done right, he does it himself, so this also leads me to the same conclusions: more of Vince McMahon on ECW programming. And more Vince, means less traditional professional wrestling, so ECW doesn’t have a chance in Hell, one might say, of recapturing it’s previous glory.

The one chance to rebuild a semblance of the original ECW lay in a newcomer by the name of CM Punk. Punk combines a unique in-ring style, an identifiable gimmick, an independent spirit and a noticeable respect for the past, making him the perfect choice to properly carry the banner for the old ECW in this new age, and take the extreme ensign to the next level. So of course, Vince jobbed him out to perennial also-ran Hardcore Holly and eliminated all his momentum via the Extreme Elimination Chamber match, which could have elevated Punk’s value in the company by a factor of ten.

The kid might still have a solid fan base and sell some t-shirts, but I’m not sure if that initial velocity he built upon his arrival in July can ever be replicated. There’s something about the freshness of an undefeated streak and a hot initial run in the company that, like a first true love, is often impossible to recreate. There will be other pushes for Punk, but none that could have been as magical and important as the one he was on until his six-month perfect streak was wasted.

So, to those holding out hope that Heyman will be reinstated to lead this new ECW to its former heights, I say “good luck”. I’ve just about abandoned hope and given up, but if it were to happen, I’d certainly be one happy little wrestling fan.

That being said, I figure it this way. There are many elements of RAW that I enjoy, so if I accept ECW as another hour of Monday Night programming and stop expecting it to be something it clearly will never be, then I suppose I can enjoy this new ECW for what it is. I think I actually feel a little better now; a more realistic expectation might actually make Tuesday night wrestling fun again. I think I’ll give that a try. Last week’s Originals versus New Breed hardcore match was certainly a step in the right direction.

Eric Szulczewski’s ECW Short Form is the place to read about WWECW, along with Blatt vs. ECW.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

p.s. – “Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.” – Ann Landers

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