Shahid’s Blog: Cracked Glasses of Nostalgia – An Adult’s Walk Down ECW’s Memory Lane

ecw I remembered being depressed after moving from Philadelphia to Atlantic City during my high school years.  Separated from my family, friend and comfortable surroundings for a dump of a coastal city was a jarring experience.  WWF wasn’t helping either – Friar Ferguson and Beverly Bros/Money Inc main event matches would turn any smile upside down.  On a random Thursday evening, I stumbled upon a new wrestling promotion.  Gritty, small, loud and realistic, it instantly drew me in.  Regardless of the fact that I was watching a plodding match featuring Tully Blanchard, I was enchanted by the promos, violence and music of what was known as Eastern Championship Wrestling.  I can vividly recall talking to like minded individuals about how ECW was actually real, instead of that scripted crap of the WWF.  Seeing Sandman, a fat drunkard with a cigarette with Woman or Missy Hyatt on his arm just seemed authentic on some visceral level.  Hearing adult promos from Cactus Jack, Steve Austin and Shane Douglas made WCW and WWF seem quaint and childish.  State of the art matches from Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho,  Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit…..violent brawls from the Public Enemy, the Pitbulls, Terry Funk….Sabu vs Taz…Raven terrorizing Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman…..sexy females with scant clothing and even less decorum.  ECW was a teenager’s dream.  Hearing the Gangstas come out to Natural Born Killers to engage in a blood bath made a Bret Hart match seem boring as can be.  I can remember waking up at 1 am to watch an ECW episode consisting of a pissed off Steve Austin just spitting venom at Eric Bischoff, Dusty Rhodes and WCW.  In a pre screw job, pipe bomb, real name era, it was as if someone had a peephole behind the magic rasslin curtain.  By the time they invaded Monday Night Raw to promote their first PPV, I was a full-fledged ECW acolyte.

Now, I’m sure there are many individuals in my age group that share similar joyous memories of ECW.  Even with One Night Stand and a brief resurgence led by Paul Heyman, it still felt hollow and empty, missing that rebellious fire of the 90s.  So when the WWE Network arrived, ECW was the first area delved into, due to an adolescent fondness. Even though it lacked the music and didn’t have the weekly shows, I was excited to see how well it held up.  So I watched a few ppvs and weekly shows and then watched a few more.  I tried jumping around during various time periods, hoping to shake this nagging sensation.  After a week of watching, I had to admit to myself that ECW, like many teenage passions, didn’t age well.

I won’t use revisionist history and proclaim ECW an overrated vanity project and minor league system.  It was enjoyable and revolutionary, and I will always cherish those teenage memories.  But watching it now is borderline painful.  Seeing the Sandman no longer brings feelings of awe and admiration. Now, I witness a slovenly bum who was a perfect example of smoke and mirrors.  Instead of rooting for the underdog story of Mikey Whipreck, I scoffed at the notion that he could ever beat Steve Austin in a match (side note – him pinning Austin killed any notion that ECW wasn’t predetermined).  I can understand the reasoning and logic behind pushing individuals like Tommy Dreamer and Justin Credible, instead of superior talent such as Chris Benoit and Rob Van Dam.  But as a fan today, I have little tolerance of watching Eddie Guerrero in the midcard, for fear of being snatched away by WCW and WWF.  For all of the wonderful long term angles pulled off by ECW, there were too many instances of inconsistent referees, match stipulations, and haphazard PPV’s.  If WWE tried to pull the ol “Let’s announce two matches, and we’ll work out the rest of the details later” style of booking, they would get crucified. I almost forget, they did try that…it was called December to Dismember, and it was universally panned.

The biggest issue with ECW is the same factor which added to its popularity – the extreme violence.  Seeing someone kick out from a power bomb through a flaming table with thumbtacks, only to get rolled up due to seeing the 34DD’s of Francine seems asinine today.  The constant one-upping of finishing moves led to many negative habits, not only by ECW, but by WCW and WWF. WCW was rightfully mocked for taking the piss out of ECW concepts, featuring hardcore matches with cotton candy used as a weapon.  But as an adult, I prefer that approach more so than WWF, which raised the bar to an extremely dangerous level i.e. Hell in a Cell with Undertaker-Mankind, and the myriad TLC matches.  Classic events, but considering the mark left on many of the individuals, something that is watched with trepidation.  But nothing makes me cringe more than the chair shots to the head.  When I first saw Tommy Dreamer plaster Raven square in his hipster face, I remember screaming like a girl at a Bobby Brown concert.  But after current knowledge of concussions and long term damage, I can’t help but cringe. I won’t even touch upon the menace known as New Jack (that’s a column for another day.)

As far as the adult content, what seemed risqué as a teenager comes off as misogynistic and trashy today.  Shane Douglas cussing every 3rd word makes him come off as an uncouth doofus. For every great promo from Raven or Cactus jack, there was some nonsense from the Pitbulls, or some foul mouthed diatribe from Rhino. And it wasn’t restricted to the wrestlers – hearing an arena full of angry men chanting crack whore or she has herpes doesn’t seem cool anymore.  I’m definitely not a prude, and I specifically remember the eye candy of ECW very fondly.  Between Beulah, Missy Hyatt, Woman, Francine and Dawn Marie, ECW definitely upped the sex appeal factor from the almost quaint days of Missy Hyatt and Sunny.  Today – well, seeing a skinny broad with some silicone enhancements taking a pile driver just seems unclean.  Any doubts to ECW being a mainstream entertainment vehicle vanished with my wife’s utter look of disgust after hearing a Dudley Boys promo.  My “it was a different era, baby”  didn’t hold much weight.

Regardless of my experience, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to traverse down memory lane with a more mature point of view.  ECW will always have a fond place in my heart, and I am grateful and cognizant of its effect on professional wrestling.  However, next time someone complains about Vince’s asinine booking and longs for the halcyon days of Paul Heyman, gently remind them that Steve Corino and Justin Credible were ECW World Champions, but Rob Van Dam and Stunning Steve Austin weren’t. And then tape their expressions for YouTube. -Shahid

Booker T Tells the Kettle Its’ Black And Calls Out Ronda Rousey

Pot_calling_the_kettle_black_by_CoelasquidSo when I went to Prowrestling.net, I found a link to this story on Yahoo! Sports that interviewed Booker T about his jail time, helping kids learn English in Singapore and MMA. I found the last topic the most interesting. The delicious irony of Booker T saying

I don’t think the lifespan (of MMA fighters) is very long, and you could get hurt really, really bad doing it…Plus, when it’s over with, where do you go from there?

The day after Adam “Edge” Copeland got the opening segment on WWE’s flagship show Raw, Booker tells us MMA fighters don’t have long careers. Why did Triple H make half a dozen “Stack of dimes neck” references then Book? Because Edge had a long career? Oh no, because he had a short career. I’m sure Steve Austin decided to move along during the height of his popularity because of the huge movie roles that he is landing. That’s right, Austin had to move on because of injuries too. He isn’t landing huge roles either. Austin isn’t doing bad for himself but you don’t hear Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson doing a podcast because he needs some extra change in his couch cushions. I’m also going to guess that Booker thinks that Chris Benoit had a nice long, healthy career.

The second part of the statement shouldn’t go unnoticed either. Booker T, again just last night, was telling Big Show to be professional and not do anything stupid because he needed to support his young daughter and family. If WWE wrestlers are more diversified than your average MMA fighter, shouldn’t you advise Big Show to do what is right because he has a back up career? How about you Booker, what’s your back up career to wrestling? That’s right, it’s being a wrestling personality. And running a wrestling school. It certainly seems like you moved on from wrestling Book. Then he moved on to ripping on Ronda Rousey who

…couldn’t find her way in life and found it through going out and beating other girls up.

From Bustedcoverage.com

From Bustedcoverage.com

So the guy that needed jail time to get straightened out is telling a woman who got into the Olympics at the age of 17 that she couldn’t find her way in life? Who is this guy kidding? Has he even taken as much time as yours truly to read Ronda’s Wikipedia page? Maybe Booker did but I doubt it or else I wouldn’t be able to rip on him. If you get into the Olympics before you can drink alcohol legally, you have found something in life to do. I could care less if it’s beating up people of the same gender. You made a living wearing tights and well, I’ll let him hoist his own petard

Wrestling is Shakespeare. Phantom of the Opera. Romeo and Juliet. That’s what it is – men in tights

At least he laughed after that comment. Hopefully he’ll find a lot of public shaming for some really stupid comments funny too. – Kevin

Interview with Nancy Benoit’s sister

300x300

I found this on The2count.com.  I find her to be very well spoken. – Dusty

He did seem to love Nancy very dearly. We know that, unfortunately, their relationship started to get rocky at some point. When did you first get wind that things were turning complicated between them?

I lived in Atlanta and my sister asked me home almost every one of my days off. I want to be clear: Chris was not an abusive husband. But there were, what we call in the industry, though don’t often talk about, “high spots”. She had been there, in that position before, and refused to put up with it at all, especially with Daniel in their home. So I went with her after one of these “incidents” to file an order of protection.

What do you mean by “high spots”?

Yelling, screaming, name calling, shoving, pushing, breaking stuff.

Did Nancy ever mention anything about fearing for her or Daniel’s safety?

Yes, when she first filed for divorce.

In 2003, Nancy filed for divorce citing cruel treatment and an irrevocably broken marriage. She also filed a restraining order against Chris. She later dropped the proceedings as well as the restraining order. Why did she do that?

Because, like with any marriage where there are issues, they made up and wanted to reconcile, especially for Daniel.

It was reported that Daniel suffered from Fragile X syndrome and that he was being given human growth hormones. Was Daniel’s health an issue in Nancy and Chris’ disagreements?

Daniel did not have Fragile X. I have his medical records. He was NOT sick.

Continue reading

56 Days of WrestleMania – WrestleMania XX’s Best Matches: Results

After some serious YouTube and DailyMotion hunting, I think this is as close to the full matches as we’re going to get on both of these winners. Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple just killed it, and Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle was heart-stopping. Here they are, in pieces, for your enjoyment.

56 Days of WrestleMania – WrestleMania XX’s Best Matches

Cough cough.

Stunt Granny Audio #197

Sweet Jesus this has to be a special occasion as Stunt Granny presents Stunt Granny Audio Show #197: The Asshole Edition. Yes, that’s right it is Eric and Jeremy bringing all sorts of opinions that you won’t agree with at all. Well too bad, the boys discuss Eric’s plan to sell his Masters of the Universe figures. Is now a good time or should he wait for the movie? They also discuss WWE firing Abraham, Washington and why it was totally justified. They then take great joy in the comic stylings of Brian Jossie. Wait, did Stunt Granny join Tout? What the hell did Kevin Nash do this week to be discussed and how does he tie in to CM Punk and Kurt Angle. Not to be left out Ring of honor takes a beating as does their champion Kevin Steen. Why? Why would we do this? Well, all you have to do is listen.

Stunt Granny Audio Show #197

Insane Clown Posse names a song “Chris Benoit” and, quite frankly…

… it’s about god damn time. The ice needed to be broken. The statute of limitations within general pop culture and pro wrestling discourse had to end eventually. Even if WWE never utters the name “Chris Benoit” again, I’m glad two fat guys who paint their faces, spray people with orange soda and rap about the supernatural are the ones to do it. According to Prowrestling.net, ICP is currently filming a video for “Chris Benoit,” a song off ICP’s upcoming “The Mighty Death Pop!” album that Violent J claims is “about the loss of sanity” but I believe is about the science behind a diving headbutt.

Now, don’t take my above thoughts as an endorsement for taking lots and lots of steroids, bumping every night in a way that jars your spine, smashing your head until your brain turns into corn and mashed potatoes, and then killing your wife and kid on steroid rage. What I’m saying is, even the “He Who Shall Not Be Named” joke is going to get old soon, and someone had to put the words “Chris Benoit” back into our vocabulary. Might as well be two rascally rappin’ rasslin’ fans whose Juggalo followers, in their 48-inch-waist Jncos and stupid hairdos, have been labeled by the FBI as a “loosely organized gang.” On second thought, Chris Benoit would be rolling over in his grave. -Eric

Extreme Reunion 2012 Was A Rousing Success

Raven and Sandman going at it.

As I start this post, this was the only results post on you-know-what page:

Hey Dave.  I’m sure you’ve probably gotten match results from others (and lord knows I don’t remember them), so I’ll just give a few notes from the show:

–Place was PACKED.  I’d say at least 3/4 of the people there were standing.  Made it impossible to see what was happening when they fought outside the ring (which they did in every match).

–It was definitely a bit of an older crowd compared to old ECW shows back in the day.  It basically looked like everyone from the old days had grown up; not a lot of kids or teens there.  I was actually quite surprised how many guys had attractive girls there with them.  Not something I saw a lot of back in the day at ECW shows.  Hey good for them!

–The show did start late.  They aired a video package in tribute for all the wrestlers who have died in the last decade and then a taped promo by Douglas but the sound wasn’t working.  Nice touch but not a good omen.

–The show started with a tag team match with 4 guys whose name I couldn’t hear.  Crowd hated it.

–They then did a “match” with 2 more indy guys.  One of them was this little tiny Asian guy who took the mic before the match and started talking to the audience in a high-pitched voice that made him sound like William Hung.  Then this guy comes from the crowd and told both of the wrestlers in the ring to scram.  Nobody had any idea who this guy was.  He then called out Shane Douglas, who didn’t show up.  Funny thing was that Shane was literally standing right behind us in the crowd.

–Then the “ECW” part of the show started with the FBI vs BWO.  Richards, Marmaluke, and Guido were probably the only 3 guys on the entire show in good shape.  Match was total comedy.  Highlight was Guido and Meanie doing a thumb wrestling war on the mat with the ref giving a 2 count when Meanie had Guido’s thumb down.  The same unknown dude from the last segment distracted Richards for the finish.  It was never explained who this guy was.

–CW Anderson and Al Snow were next.  Anderson looks like he’s about 60 now.  Snow was grossly overweight.  He was winded just from doing his entrance.  Match was a disaster.  Anderson put an armbar on Snow no less than 5 times.  There were several chants of “Armmmmmmmmmbar” as a homage to the old Chris Jericho “Man of 1004 Holds” promo.  Snow beat up Head after the match and then went running back begging for forgiveness, which was actually pretty entertaining.

–The segment with The Gangstas vs Angel was also pretty bizarre.  Angel came out asking for someone to be his partner (did Devito no show?) but nobody came.  Gangstas then came out (Mustafa looking absolutely huge and not in a good way) and beat him up for 3 minutes before the indy guys from the 1st match came in, beat them up for like a minute, and then left.  One of them looked to have gotten into a legit fight with a fan on the way out that was broken up by security, but it was hard to tell.  Complete waste of time.

–Somewhere in here they did a planned spot where the ring announcer was making some general announcements, the lights went out, and they brought out a stripper to try and recreate the Kimona Wannalaya strip tease from that time they lost power at the ECW Arena.  The stripper basically just writhed around on the mat like a sizzling piece of bacon in a skillet.  It was a little weird.

Continue reading

Stunt Granny Poll: What wrestler are you most embarrassed to admit you once cheered for?

We sometimes pull out old VHS tapes or DVDs of past wrestling cards, and as we all know, pulling out never works. We’re often embarrassed watching the colorful characters of yesteryear uncharismatically shuffle around our 19-inch TV sets, our thumbs on the “stop” button in case someone comes into the room. Who are you most embarrassed to admit you cheered like a wildman for back in the day? We have a list above, but of course pro wrestling has brought us some of the most poorly thought-out ideas in entertainment, so the list could go on and on like Chris Jericho’s 1,004 holds. Let us know what you think!

Eric’s Blog: For CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, Benoit and Guerrero comparisons a little too apropos

CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, in happier times. Like, last night.

Last night at the WWE TLC pay-per-view, long-time indy favorite and beloved smallish pro wrestler Daniel Bryan did the unthinkable: He pinned a 500-pound wrestling giant to win the World Heavyweight Championship. When the above picture of fellow champion CM Punk and Bryan surfaced, comparisons to the late, regaled and internationally celebrated Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero were instant: Two scruffy, 200-pound darlings of the hardcore type of fan had finally made it in the land of storybook monsters and mythological heroes. Think this is going to last very long? History tells you not to bet on it.

What seems like a million years ago but was really only in 1992, the WWF was staving off the symptoms of internal sex, drugs and rock-and-roll scandals. A handful of then-current and then-past WWF employees were being accused of sexual exploits with under-aged, starry-eyed, same-sex nubiles. Vince McMahon was being implicated in stories from women painting him an insatiable sexual monster. Multi-time champion, world-renown hero and No. 1 merchandise peddler Hulk Hogan needed a break after eight years, not because Hulkamania no longer went wild but because the gravy train took a stop at “The Arsenio Hall Show,” where the 800-pound orange gorilla lied about his steroid use (“One time, brother,” and the needle had been stuck there ever since, dude), an issue that would put McMahon on trial for the better part of the next 18 months.

Without the Hulkster to weigh down the company, the WWF went in a few different directions with its headliners and championships. This experimentation was largely unheard of for the billion-dollar company; it had sold out arenas with the same guy on top since Bruno Sammartino’s inaugural eight-year reign. (Sure, Bob Backlund, in the ‘70s and ‘80s, was a pale, smallish guy, but a lot of other, bigger wrestlers headlined those cards.) Tinkering with success was simply not in the WWF formula, until fate (and the company’s own misgivings) forced its hand. Thankfully, in 1991, McMahon had brought in Ric Flair, largely considered the greatest professional wrestler ever, to be the chief antagonist, first for Hogan, then for famed star Roddy Piper, and later for Macho Man Randy Savage. It was with Savage that Flair battled for the WWF Championship, a prize normally held by someone who either weighed or looked like he could bench-press 300 pounds.

With the steroid issue bringing the WWF’s roster of physiques into question, McMahon began putting the belt on smaller, yet very accomplished wrestlers: first Flair, then Savage, then Flair again. But the writing was on the wall; one Wembley Stadium 80,000-plus sellout aside, box offices were dwindling as the WWF moved away from Goliath-versus-goliath main events. If there’s one other thing the McMahon family has always had a penchant for besides Herculean physiques, it’s Samoans.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: