The People’s Column: The Sad Legacy of ECW

It’s Thursday and we all know what that means: The People’s Column is new and fresh. And although the topic of my column this week may not be fresh (and might end up having me killed in the comments section) I am happy to bring it to you. As always I would love to have all of you check out for more thoughts on wrestling. At this moment I am discussing whether the time is right to pull the trigger on Randy Orton and how to reconfigure Team Cena at Summerslam.

Since now seems to be the time to once again resurrect ECW, this time TNA has chosen to do so in Florida instead of the traditional ECW Arena or Hammerstein Ballroom locales. This has led many to take a look at the positive impacts that ECW has had on the wrestling business. I do not wish to be excessively negative today, but I feel that ECW has been romanticized by many.

Today I decided to take a look at WWE’s Rise and Fall of ECW documentary. This was their best selling DVD of all time the last time I checked and is a very fair look at ECW. I believe that it highlights the positives and many of the negatives of the original ECW. It is interesting to hear many wrestlers talk about how those days were the best of their lives and how the ECW locker room lived a rockstar lifestyle. As I was watching this DVD and thinking about TNA’s Hardcore Justice PPV I formulated many of these thoughts.

First and foremost the most negative impact that ECW has had on the business has been the mass marketing of the “hardcore” wrestling style and the subsequent wrestling lives that have been shortened by it. One of the many arguments for ECW has been that it brought some amazing wrestling into the country in the form of Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko. I completely agree that this was positive. Then I turn around and look at the other end of the spectrum. There is New Jack taking shocking risks just to get a pop. There are wrestlers like Axl Rotten and Balls Mahoney who have made their entire careers out of chair shots to the head and flaming tables.

The health of wrestlers needs to be a primary concern in this business. I worry when I see that another ECW reunion is about to occur because it would shock me not to see wrestlers drastically injuring themselves in the name of “hardcore.” With everything that we know about concussions and head injuries today (as opposed to ten years ago), is there any reason for wrestlers to be taking these risks with their lives? An entire generation of wrestlers seems to be dying and the response from the number two company in the United States is to run a pay per view to glorify a style of wrestling that has contributed to the deaths of many.

Beyond the health of the wrestlers, I believe that the “hardcore” style has led to the desensitization of many wrestling fans. In order to explain this easily, I will use the slippery slope theory (although I know there are logical fallacies with it). If fans see chairs, they will want tables. When they get tables, they’ll want ladders. Once their need for ladders has been satisfied, they’ll want to see barbed wire. When they see barbed wire, they’ll want fire. Once fire has been brought out, where can you go?

Of course, fire has already been promised for this show by Team 3D. If all of these “hardcore” wrestlers take huge bumps throughout the entire show, what will TNA do next month? Who will believe that AJ Styles was taken out by a simple chair shot when last month Balls Mahoney took fourteen to the head without falling over? Do we suspend the rules of logic on this night and then restart it the following night at Impact tapings?

I do believe that we will see one quality wrestling match on this show. I’m looking forward to seeing RVD and Jerry Lynn match up again. I do not believe that they will have to rely on cheap gimmicks like the rest of the card for this show. I am not looking forward to seeing the cookie sheet to the head assault that will come from Tommy Dreamer and Raven.

On the whole, I am happy for the talent that will be celebrated on this night. Anytime wrestlers can get a job, fans should be happy. However, I must question the continued support of this “hardcore” wrestling style. On Sunday we will see a roster of wrestlers who have been beaten and broken down by wrestling this painful style for too many years. Since this show is being considered an opportunity for “closure” for many of these men, I hope it is also closure for the “hardcore” style.

That’s all from me this week. I am fully expecting to be torn apart in the comments on this one, and I encourage you to not hold back. Also, check out if you’re in the mood to disagree with me some more. I’ll be blogging all through the weekend and will be back on Monday with 10 Thoughts on WWE Raw.

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