First off lets look at the return of ECW. I think it is safe to say that the return of ECW has been a total cock up by WWE from start to finish. If anyone actually likes the new ECW and thinks it is better than the old company when it was a separate identity then I will be pleased to hear from you.
The first mistake the WWE made which I touched on in my last column but anyone could have told you is the way they tape the ECW show. Apart from last week they have taped it on the same day and in the same arena as Smackdown. It is totally wrong. Vince McMahon should have factored a separate ECW taping into the cost of bringing it back in the first place and if he couldn’t afford it then he should not have gone ahead with it at all. It is complete greed on his part. I mean what does this combined taping achieve bar cutting costs? NOTHING. ECW is not Smackdown, it is completely different. Most of the fans at these shows are Smackdown fans and bought the tickets expecting to see Smackdown. Also many of these fans are families. ECW is not a family orientated show; it is and was generally for the 18-30-age bracket, an alternative-wrestling brand to WWE or WCW. This explains why the ECW type chants are not heard during ECW shows. It was no coincidence that when ECW had its first go solo taping last week that the crowd seemed genuinely more involved. Do WWE not realise this or are they just intending to screw ECW fans out there by making them watch a pishy Smackdown show first. Give ECW its own taping on its own day with its own fans and watch the crowd get more involved.
Onto the second error that Vinnie Mac has made with ECW and I mention him because it is a mistake that he specifically has made. This relates to the booking. It has been rumoured that Vince has been interfering with the booking of ECW despite the fact that Paul Heyman is writing the majority of the shows. When I heard Heyman would be writing shows again I was excited, we all were, admit it. He has been given unfair treatment in my view by WWE in terms of being on the booking committee but when he finally gets the chance to produce the top quality wrestling shows that we all know he can do Vince McMahon has to stick his nose where it quite clearly is not wanted or needed. Why does the WWE owner need to interfere and give the script a once over before Heyman goes ahead with the show? In my view he should have given Heyman a few months and if he honestly was not happy with the shows then have a word with him. Newsflash, Paul Heyman is the brains of ECW, he knows what he is doing, let him book the shows. To add to this point I would also assume that it was the chairman of the board who decided that ECW should be treated like Raw and Smackdown, a third brand with matches having WWE rules rather than the separate hardcore brand we were all looking forward to. Every ECW match should be extreme rulz no argument about it. What we are seeing is not ECW; it is more like an episode of Velocity or Heat. ECW should have its own brand, its own PPVs and Heyman booking the show. When ECW becomes another XFL and is canned in three months time maybe Vince will realise this.
The third problem with ECW now is one that is partly WWE’s fault as it has developed over the past few years and partly out of their control. The lack of true ECW wrestlers at main event level means that the fans are having difficulty relating to it. It is almost like if a TV show is brought back after several years with an entirely different cast. How are the long time fans of that show supposed to relate to it? Well the same thing has happened here with ECW in my view. Clearly over the past couple of years when the WWE have been firing major ECW players such as The Dudleys, Raven and Rhyno to name a few they were not thinking about bringing back ECW to TV. This mistake is now coming back to haunt them as ECW fans are now left with WWE wrestlers such as Randy Orton, Ric Flair, Edge and Big Show wrestling in their main events something they cannot relate to. Now we find these former major ECW players whom I mentioned above are contracted to other promotions such as TNA and are unable to come back and work for the new brand even if they would want to. Quite frankly I can hardly see The Dudleys wanting to compete in a match in ECW where they cannot go and pull out a table from under the ring but that is another matter.
While this is clearly WWE’s fault for not thinking ahead, the behaviour of Rob Van Dam clearly is not. His recent pull over by police on the motorway for speeding turned out to be the least of his troubles as he was also charged for drugs offences. Let me say that if you did this in a regular day job you would expect the sack so RVD’s 30-day suspension is reasonable to me. RVD’s troubles have now forced the WWE to go without their main star for ECW for a period of time. He was undoubtedly the man that the new brand is being built around and ECW will not be the same without him. Kurt Angle’s need for rest and Sabu’s brush with the law in the same incident as RVD have hardly helped matters but ECW can work without them. They cannot however work without Rob Van Dam.
Random Notes and comments
Smackdown still continues to be treated as second to Raw. You only have to look at SNME card, which features three Raw and one Smackdown match to see what I mean. You would think that with the GAB being only a few weeks away the WWE would want to promote this but NO.
Speaking of Smackdown being the inferior brand why is it that when appearances are made by the likes of Austin, Hogan, The Rock, Foley and to an extent Vince McMahon himself that it always has to be on Raw. Smackdown could easily have had the latest return from Hogan to help it out of the depths of despair but once again the ratings focus is on Raw.
I really hope King Booker gets his long overdue run with the World Heavyweight Title. I am a huge fan of his and as I have said many times he has been treated so badly by WWE it is unbelievable.
What happened to the Kane v Kane angle?
I would like to see Chris Masters on Smackdown when he returns to feud with a returning Chris Benoit.
The DX segments on Raw have been so funny; HHH and HBK were the original DX and always will be.
Good to see Finlay and Regal receiving a decent push, long may it continue.
Anyway that is just about it for this edition of Off The Record apart from to give a quick plug to my local promotion the Scottish Wrestling Alliance’s next show this coming Saturday the 15th of July at the Sir Matt Busby Sports Arena in Bellshill, Glasgow, Scotland. As many of you might know I am a big fan of my local promotion and I encourage you all to go and see yours when you can.
The event is being headlined by the most anticipated NWA Scottish Heavyweight Title match this year when Eric The Fist Canyon defends against Adam Shame. Adam Shame became the Number 1 contender at the last SWA show and has been on Canyon’s trail for quite some time. It will be interesting to see what happens when he finally receives his opportunity at the belt. Also on the card includes White Tiger v Falcon in some high flying action, a tag team battle royal to determine a number 1 contender to the SWA’s packed tag division and Chris Renfrew v Darren Lewis in match number three of their best of 5 series for the T Division trophy. All this plus announcements from the new SWA commissioner and much more makes this a show not to be missed for local fans.
For more information on the card, ticket information, directions to the venue and future SWA shows please go to www.scottishwrestling.co.uk.
Any feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
Over and Out
P.S I am now on myspace at www.myspace.com/euanconway where you can find my column and other blogs.
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