During ECWâ<80><99>s heyday, I did not get the opportunity to see their product (I was kinda busy from 1998 through 2001 when it came to wrestling). But, after the buyout, I finally found out what was causing all that. A little late to the party I will admit, but I absolutely loved the ECW product even though it had recently been wished well in its future endeavors by the WWE.
When the WCW invasion angle died a quick, week-long death and morphed into the alliance angle, I cringed. I recall being backstage in Atlanta at Phillips Arena when the ECW originals (although they were not yet referred to by that moniker) turned their collective backs on the WWE and joined with Paul Heyman. As I was standing next to Steve Austin, he asked to no one in particular â<80><9c>what do you think about that right there?â<80> motioning toward the monitor. I answered, â<80><9c>Well, its over with the live crowd.â<80> Austinâ<80><99>s retort was perfect. â<80><9c>They went out of business with that bunch one time – theyâ<80><99>ll go out of business again.â<80>
The successful ECW was a three-headed hydra: head one was Paul Heyman, two was the ECW Arena full of the Philly fans, and third was Joey Styles. Take a long, objective look at what Vince McMahon now so adorably calls â<80><9c>ECW.â<80>
Paul Heyman does on-line celebrity gossip for a British media giant. And does a damn good job, I might add. The ECW Arena and its fans are still there and they support the local Philly indy scene. A scene that does not include ECW or any reasonable facsimile thereof. But Joey Styles remained.
Somehow, through all of the gaped-mouthed booking of that â<80><9c>brand,â<80> Joey made it still seem like ECW. Sweet Jesus, do you realize that a walking billboard named Bobby Lashley was ECW World Champion?! But, even at that low point for the â<80><9c>brand,â<80> Joey Styles at least made the television show enjoyable. As the originals one by one were all wished well..ah, you know the rest…Joey stuck it out.
Armando Estrada, Big Daddy V, Boogeyman, Colin Delaney, Kofi Kingston, The Miz and John Morrison. Now think of Raven, Terry Funk, The Sandman, Cactus Jack, The Gangstas, Public Enemy, The Eliminators and The Pit Bulls. One is ECW. The other is the â<80><9c>ECWâ<80> brand.
The argument may be made that the roster of ECW was as fluid as a divaâ<80><99>s boobs during its run of success and that argument is 100% correct. But, the talent was never part of the ECW core. For the most part, they were interchangable (with a couple of exceptions). The core, or â<80><9c>brandâ<80> if you will, is what made and kept ECW hot. That core? Paul E., Philly & Joey.
Why do it? Could it be Joey was tired of the travel and wanted to be home with his wife and son? Maybe but, then again, sounds like heâ<80><99>s going to be on the road at least as much in his new role. Could it be that Vince decided he was paying Mike Adamle way too much money to be just a backstage interviewer? Maybe. Then why not make HIM the head of wwe.com? Could it be that Joey is being primed for the Raw host slot since Jim Ross might be ready to hang up the Resistol? Maybe, but Ross just signed a contract extension. Could it be that Vince has given up on Joey as an announcer and just re-assigned him rather than fire him outright because Joey is a wealth of talent and is so well-liked? We may have a winner.
If the first show is any indication, Mike Adamle may soon join the Mt. Rushmore of wrestling announcers that is thus far populated by Larry Nelson, Ed Whalen and Steve â<80><9c>Mongoâ<80> McMichael. But, even if Adamle becomes the next Lance Russell, Vince has succeeded in one thing: He has finally and officially killed ECW. Paul E. has been gone for a while and Philly has had precious few (two maybe?) ECW shows in the new version. And now Joey.
No offense to Taz, Tommy Dreamer, Stevie Richards, Nunzio and Balls Mahoney – but this â<80><9c>ECWâ<80> is not ECW. At least Ric Flair got to say goodbye.
Thanks Joey. You remain the best out there.