For Your Consideration…Hopefully Not Extremely Crappy Wrestling

For Your Consideration…Hopefully Not Extremely Crappy Wrestling

Hey, what the hell? I’ve never done an ECW recap, and after seeing the (normally) spot-on Bones Barkley put over Abraham Washington as being entertaining, I figured maybe I was wrong about the guy. Maybe Abraham Washington doesn’t suck like the giant, morphing spaceship in “Spaceballs”. Maybe he isn’t the worst guy on the microphone since Mark Madden. Chances are I was right all along and this guy is what the phrase “best of luck in your future endeavors” was crafted for.

Real quick, Twitter is twitter.com/awheeler316, e-mail is awheeler316@yahoo.com or you can post in the comment section below. Alright, on with the show.

Don’t question my heart…

We open with a nice recap of last week’s ECW Title match. I love ECW because it’s like its own private island. It really is the most complete WWE show because they have their own characters, their own title and their own storylines. Even better, unlike a lot of the stuff on the two flagship programs (no…not WCW Saturday Night), ECW tends to pay off their storylines.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to proclaim that ECW is the best brand in the WWE. No matter how bad it dips (and some of the recent episodes have dipped quite low), Monday Night RAW is still THE show in the WWE. The live element combined with the star power ensures that RAW is “the place to be” for the pro wrestling universe. Smackdown is arguably the better show in terms of overall quality (and thanks to the lengthy absence of the Undertaker and the draft ridding us of Triple H, it’s barely an argument anymore that they aren’t the best), but the taped element always damaged the product. Take last week’s World Title Match with CM Punk and Jeff Hardy. Sure, the drama was there, but the inevitability was also there. If Punk did in fact beat Hardy, the Net would have been abuzz with spoilers. Hell, I remember back when Edge won the World Title on Smackdown and the WWE for some reason revealed it on ECW and Dot Com before the show even aired.

In the end, I like ECW because it’s the closest we’ll come to a simple wrestling promotion. There’s a small roster of dedicated superstars and up-and-coming talent. There’s a fixed amount of match combinations but it rarely feels recycled. Is ECW the top place for quality wrestling? Not really, especially since they lost the Hart Dynasty, Jack Swagger and Evan Bourne. But on the plus side, you’ll get an hour of borderline old school programming, with young guys trying to prove themselves, squash matches and main events that in the real world could probably sell out an ROH-sized venue.

So, we get a recap of last week’s ECW Title Match. This really felt like a solid payoff for the Christian/Dreamer feud. While I know others despise him, I enjoy seeing Tommy Dreamer still on television. Besides being the flag-waiving ECW Original, he’s also a hard working and selfless talent who has spent the better part of this decade as an enhancement talent. But unlike some of the other JTTS out there, Dreamer was convincing as a main event threat and as ECW Champion. His matches are not going to steal the show, but they aren’t going to stink up the joint either.

The one downside here is that Christian completely lost his identity. Since returning to the WWE, he’s been directionless and, surprisingly enough, boring. Where is the entertaining Christian of the late Attitude Era? The audience hasn’t really been given a reason to cheer him, since his feud with Swagger also included Dreamer. Now that he’s rid himself of Tommy, hopefully Christian can establish himself as the face of the brand. His challengers can’t really overshadow him, especially Vladimir Kozlov, who really doesn’t run the risk of being embraced by the audience (though I find his style oddly fascinating despite being not all that good). In the end, Christian is the ECW Champ and now hopefully ECW becomes his show.

Well, the first match features the incredibly entertaining Zach Ryder. Here’s a guy who took the mantra of “take your personality and crank up the volume” and ran with it. His douche bag character feels very authentic, even down to the forced catch phrases. Also, I love that he comes out with the L.I. As a man born on the fabled Long Island, it’s good to see a local boy do well. Plus, how can you not love the sheer stupidity of his wrestling attire?

We get a replay from the Abraham Washington Debacle, and here’s yet another reason why Zach Ryder is better than AW. Zach was in complete control of that segment last week, and rather than enhance the interview, Washington was like an anchor weighing it down. Bare in mind, when Shelton Benjamin is in a promo segment and HE isn’t the anchor, something’s wrong.

Speaking of Shelton, here comes the guy who…uh…well, he’s talented. Sadly, the WWE has no idea what to do with him. He’s had more starts and stops than Edge, but unlike Edge, Shelton hasn’t broken through. Shelton starts off the match hammering away on Zach Ryder, but Ryder hits a nice second rope dropkick for two.

This match is a clear example of the beauty of ECW. They started this storyline a few weeks ago with Shelton wanting to be on the Abraham Washington Show, he comes on last week and Zach Ryder is there, they feud and now they fight. Simple, linear storytelling that should hopefully get Benjamin over. And from the sound of the crowd, it might have worked. I like heel Benjamin, but on a show with minimal faces, it makes sense to turn the guy. His flashy offense, including the Stinger Splash he just nailed, makes him a natural to garner pops.

Zach Ryder is a guy who is benefitting from Matt Stryker on commentary. Stryker is subtly establishing Zach as a young, cocky guy who is obsessed with online social networks. Zach goes for the Zach Attack but it gets reversed into a powerbomb into the corner(!) and ultimately Pay Dirt. The match was very short but not ineffective. They conveyed a nice little story and Shelton got his revenge for being assaulted last week.

In the back we’ve got Gregory Helms with Paul Burchill. Paul is a great enhancement talent because he’s got a nice set of moves and can continue to lose but keep his heat. Helms, meanwhile, has never really recaptured the lightning in a bottle that was The Hurricane when he debuted. I know they’re moving back towards him donning the mask again, but he might want to consider staying behind the scenes and sticking to promos. At least this way he won’t get hurt…again.

Burchill tries to shut him up and plays the fool as he tries to point out that Helms is The Hurricane. This leads to a pretty sweet beatdown. Again, simple, direct storytelling. Burchill doesn’t like The Hurricane upstaging him week after week, so he jumps Helms. Now, when Hurricane does return, he has a built-in feud. Is it flashy? No. Is it going to garner Net love? Probably not. But it is effective and simple booking, something the WWE desperately needs.

Commercial.

And we’re back and the WWE is “King of Content”, as they will create more television this year than Showtime or HBO. That’s great and all but quantity and quality are two separate words. Give me “Curb” or “Entourage” over last week’s “Superstars” any day of the week.

We’re back with Vladimir Kozlov. I love the little rivalry the company is running with Kozlov and Jackson. Kevin Brooks is tonight’s victim. Kozlov and Jackson will make a great little team, an old school monster heel team that would have been perfect foils for Hooliganz.

The crowd starts a “You Can’t Wrestle” chant, but against jobbers Kozlov just looks like a pure killer. In fact, the throw he just executed killed the chant in its tracks, so much so that the crowd counted along for the pin. Here’s another example of how ECW has unique opportunities. Ezekiel Jackson is out now. If this were on RAW, Jackson would be wrestling a midget and Kozlov would be in comedy skits with Santino making fun of each other’s accents. Now? We actually have an anticipated match between these two…or the inevitable partnership. Either way, there’s actual intrigue between Kozlov and Jackson, something you couldn’t say about them before.

It isn’t that hard to heap faint praise on ECW because the bar is so low, but they continue to leap over it.

In fact, tonight we get William Regal and Tommy Dreamer next. Not a flashy match, but two veterans who know what they’re doing. I like the fact that Stryker framed this as Dreamer beginning his quest to regain the title. Is he going to? Probably not. But now there’s at least motivation behind the match, rather than just a random pairing of superstars.

Ugh…but first, we’ll get a recap of the DX nonsense.

Commercial.

Thankfully the DX “comedy” has been condensed into a package so we get the few highlights and cut out the filler.

Speaking of filler, here come the Bella Twins as ring announcers. Josh Matthews, showing that he went to the Michael Cole school of commentary, calls these gals smart, sexy and powerful. And, because they’re wearing red, red hot. Also, for some reason, they’re wearing Texas Tornado leggings.

On the plus side, this is a great way to use the Divas as an enhancement. They are the ring announcers for an otherwise innocuous Paul Burchill/Yoshi Tatsu match. Little touches like that aren’t terrible, and they tend to pop a crowd that might otherwise be silent.

Burchill and the deceptively hot Katie Lea are in the ring and here comes Yoshi Tatsu. I said in my Superstars recap that I find this guy sloppy and reckless, and until I see otherwise, I’m just worried. I watched Tatsu and Burcill compete when I went to an ECW taping, and was surprised at how green he looked (including two or three big blown spots that were covered nicely on the edit).

Burchill is hammering away on Tatsu as Stryker again proves to be the best man on commentary as he compares Burchill to Greg Valentine. Hell, Stryker even references the “I Broke Wahoo’s Leg” t-shirt. Even more surprising, the audience is chanting for Tatsu. It doesn’t take a lot for an Asian superstar to get over with the fans. People forget how insanely over Tajiri was. And Kaientai for a while.

Tatsu was rolling but Katie Lea hits Tatsu with a belt to end the match before it really gets started. Then, after the bell, Burchill beats him down. Sure enough, here comes The Hurricane. Helms is on the top rope and he’s taking down Burchill. Yet another accomplishing segment. We got Diva representation, we got over Burchill as a threat, we got Yoshi Tatsu exposure and we got the return of The Hurricane.

Sadly, still to come is The Abraham Washington Show.

Commercial.

We are back with a few replays from the last segment.

In the back, Paul and Katie Lea are threatening Tiffany because she isn’t keeping them safe. She is not so much great, but she sure is purty.

Ugh, here comes Tyler Reks. I still don’t buy this guy. He looks like a GWF cast-off. Reks is facing generic Tom James. If he’s gonna impress, it has to be here. The one positive about Reks is that he’s been jobbing since he started, so the WWE isn’t going the standard “push him to the moon and drop him”. Matt Stryker, again proving his awesomeness, points out that Tom James is a longshoremen and they historically hate surfers. Bam, insta-feud brought to you by Discovery Channel.

Reks throws him into the turnbuckle as he continues to work the arm. The only thing I’ve seen Reks do is rest holds and dull “high flying” moves that aren’t high flying moves. The audience can’t decide how they want to bury this guy, so they turn it into boos. Reks leaps off the top rope with a springboard missile dropkick and it’s over very quickly. So he did like five moves, three of which worked the arm, only for him to hit a dropkick. I don’t want a ton of psychology, but a little would be nice. So far, this guy has yet to impress (which is sad because he’s FCW Champion so he must have some talent).

Sadly, Abraham Washington is in the back shaking hands with crew members who are paid to look impressed.

Commercial.

Here comes Abraham Washington to SILENCE. He’s been on television enough for the fans to at least want to boo him. After the music hits, we get mild boos, but not the kind of jeers he should be getting.

On the plus side, Abraham isn’t talking as fast as he used to. Also, the “Applause” sign on the tron is classic…which makes me think he had nothing to do with adding it. Washington then gets a cheap pop mentioning Canada. Washington then rips off a tired joke about hockey. I get that he’s supposed to be lame and all, but rather than make HIM look stupid, it makes the WWE look stupid. He’s not a heat seeker here. He’s worse because he’s making people hate the product. Hell, I’m sure the WWE would settle for X-Pac heat.

Abraham points out that it’s Hogan’s birthday, which gets a pop from the crowd. Washington then says happy birthday from a brotha to a brother. Ok, he did a halfway decent Hogan impersonation, but then again who doesn’t?

Christian is out, and my only hope is that Washington doesn’t step on every line Christian has. Thankfully, the Canadian fans give him a true welcome, something he hasn’t really gotten since his return.

Christian points out that this isn’t the Peep Show, but then, as Pulse Glazer correctly pointed out, he has to drop to Washington’s level. We get another replay of the ECW Title match. Man, I miss Tuesday Night Titans. Why don’t they bring that back one week? Washington is back and then buries the match as the worst. Oh, then he says Christian’s face is the worst. Snap! The audience is booing out of frustration.

Apparently Tommy and Christian are still friends, something the fans don’t care about. This leads to the repetitive jokes about Tommy being fat, so Christian buries him. Ah, finally let him cut loose. Christian threatens to knock Washington’s teeth out. Abraham tries to cut him off so Christian shuts him up. Washington is like a one man “What” chant. Christian gets out his message that he is the face of the brand, which is exactly what I said he needed to be.

Oh good, Washington is bringing out the #1 Contender. The new top contender is…William Regal? That’s pretty fantastic. Not only does Christian get an opponent he can actually work with, he has an opponent so hated that Christian is guaranteed to look like a major babyface. Regal promises to go extreme and promises to do the same to Dreamer in the main event. Notice how the best parts of this segment didn’t involve Abraham Washington? The guy added NOTHING to the segment. He wasn’t even entertaining. He’s a drag on the show. If anything, the company should just use Stryker to host a segment to advance angles, because that’s all this was. The point of this segment was for Christian to establish himself as the top guy in ECW and to bring out Regal as the #1 contender. All the company needed was someone to facilitate this, and clearly Washington isn’t the man for the job. When he isn’t trying to get his lame shtick over, he’s stepping on the moments that we’re supposed

Commercial.

DX is taking over RAW this Monday.

Regal is still in the ring with a sneer. What a solid #1 Contender. No one can complain that he can’t work and he can job without ruffling feathers. And here comes Dreamer. Tommy’s arm is taped up as Stryker brands him the “working class hero”. Nothing like a John Lennon reference to stir the kids, but hey, it’s effective.

Regal immediately goes after the arm which was apparently punctured by a screw sticking out of the crutch he was hit with. Regal now whipped to the outside and rammed into the announce table. Stryker does a nice job of telling the story of the match naturally, pointing out that the move Regal is executing is to send a message, and then reminds us what that message is. He uses scalpel precision, as opposed to Cole who tends to brandish a sledgehammer.

William Regal does a great job making himself a true heel by trying to rip the tape off of Dreamer’s arm. Look, nobody is going to claim that Regal is the top guy in the WWE, but if ECW is a place for hard working veterans to show off their main event skills, then I’m all for it. Hardcore Holly, Finlay, Viscera, Test and Mark Henry all sat at the top of the card on ECW rather than languish in the midcard on RAW or Smackdown.

Dreamer hits the Sky High for two and these guys are having a decent and effective match. Tommy then hits the ECW corner dropkick and a slam but that gets two. Stryker, rather than let the call stand, points out that Dreamer could have hooked both legs but for the injured arm. Regal then hits the running knee for the win.

Hey, ECW isn’t the flashiest program on television, but it sets out goals and then reaches them. In one hour of programming, ECW established a lot. First, they settled the feud between Shelton Benjamin and Zach Ryder. Next, they furthered the tension and intrigue between Kozlov and Jackson. Then they paid off the Hurricane return AND got Burchill and Tatsu screen time. Finally, they established Christian as the face of the company and Regal as the top heel, all while trying to avoid being sunk by Abraham Washington.

Not the best wrestling matches, but simple and effective storytelling is hard to hate on in this day and age.

This has been for your consideration.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,