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

Stunt Granny Audio #183

Eric, Kevin and Dusty in action, recording this here audio.

Oh my god, it’s time for another audio! This time it’s a very very special edition of Stunt Granny Audio as Eric, Kevin and Dusty all join forces to navigate through an eventful weekend of wrestling festivities. The trio sets their sights on the Extreme Reunion show and just how sad it was and what an absolute clusterfuck it was. Is Sabu going to die? Is Axl Rotten going to beat him to the punch? Was anybody on the card in actual wrestling shape? Then our heroes turn their attention to WWE’s Extreme Rules PPV. Did the internet spontaneously combust after teh finish to the main event? What in the halibar hell was Ryback doing on that show? Was the show really called Extreme Rules or Over The Legal Blood Alcohol Limit or something else entirely? Then they talk about Raw, which mostly consists of them stalling while Kevin scrolls down the show review in desperate attempt to find something to talk about. Did he find something? You’ll need to listen to find out!

Stunt Granny Audio Show #183

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.

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Stunt Granny Audio Show #180

Reunited and it feels so good, Dusty and Jeremy join forces to combat the biggest stories of the week in the wide wide world of professional wrestling. Shane Douglas made a triumphant appearance on Raw that resounded across the nation. Or maybe it lulled everyone to sleep like a “good” Triple H promo. A-Train’s on again, off again relationship with the fact that he’s definitely coming back to WWE is apparently back on again, under the guise of Lord Tensai. If you have alcohol or substance abuse problems, you need to know right now that Chris Jericho absolutely HATES you. All that and a whole lot more so give the poor chaps about an hour of your time and an ear, why the fuck don’t ya?!

Stunt Granny Audio Show #180

Stunt Granny Audio #136

Oh yeah, after a week off from audio Jeremy and Kevin are back. They boys cover a bunch of different stories this time around. They start with the Scott Hall debacle. Who is to blame? Should there even be any surprise? They then talk about Matt Cross being dismissed from Tough Enough already. Was it justified or was it done just for the sake of TV? They also discuss the passing of show favorite Larry Sweeney. They round out the show discussing Edge. Yeah not a lot of detail there but you can listen to see what it is all about. It is only 80 minutes of your life.

Stunt Granny Audio Show #136

Scott Hall is a God Damn Mess

This is being reported all over the place so no need to give a site comment. Scott Hall is a mess. There is no way around this. He has substance abuse problems and it has never been clearer than his appearance at Top Rope Promotions 30th Anniversary Show. Hall showed up for the event in the classic ” no condition to perform” but wanted to perform anyway. Well, he got his wish and was carried to the ring, he got knocked down like someone was removing his hat and then got in a punch. The whole situation plays out in the videos above. Disregard the ” disturbing video” tag for the longer video. It isn’t disturbing  but it is painfully sad. This guy supposedly has one of the brighter minds in wrestling but he is wasting his talent on shit he can’t control and continues to indulge in them. He has been given WWE rehab and even took pills so that the smell of alcohol made him sick. Apparently nothing will work. So what is next. It has been a while since there has been a wrestler death. Is this the first shot in the long cannonball ride to the end for Scott Hall? Will his friends step in or have they all gotten to their wits end with him or are we going to get another “Last Call With Scott Hall” where they laugh this off?  What does it take for an addict to finally come to grips with their addiction?  Sorry, for once there are no jokes here.-Jeremy

Stunt Granny Audio #107: The Asshole Edition

ECW Arena

The new Madhouse of EXTREME!

Jeremy and Eric return for the Asshole Edition of Stunt Granny Audio. The guys talk in detail about each of the rookies on WWE NXT and whether or not this week’s NXT allowed them to shine. Did the obstacle course do anyone any favors? Which of Eric’s favorites does Jeremy see nothing whatsoever in? The duo turns to TNA, and specifically the ECW invasion angle that’s bound for failure. Eric feels bad for the TNA regulars who need to carry the old-timers, and Jeremy can’t stand a supposed national No. 2 booking an angle this outdated and pathetic; click to listen to them bitch and complain!

Stunt Granny Audio #107

TNA reaches out to more old ECW talent, offers them hot lunch

Justin Credible

Please order TNA Hard Justice so this guy can afford a decent meal.

According to Prowrestling.net, TNA officials and Tommy Dreamer have reached out to other old/former/original/whatever ECW talent for possible inclusion in the oh-so-extreme invasion angle leading up to TNA Hard Justice. In a move that has stunned Jeremy (a stunning that in turn stunned Dusty on the PWTorch.com VIP Forum), Rob Van Dam will defend his TNA World (*cough*) Title against Jerry Lynn. RVD is being portrayed as a non-TNA extremist, whereas Jerry Lynn is a Ring of Honor regular who hasn’t wrestled for TNA in three years. Some invasion, huh? Also:

Johnny Swinger is expected to appear on the show, presumably in a tag match with longtime partner Simon Diamond (a/k/a Pat Kenney), who works as an agent for TNA.

So the fuck what? Yeah, Simon has a problem: a hanger-on named Johnny Swinger. Maybe they’ll wrestle Chilly Willy and Bilvis Wesley.

Justin Credible‘s name came up internally, but we have not confirmed that he will appear on the show.

Oh, he’ll be there… backstage, grating parmesan on Tommy Dreamer’s never-ending pasta bowl.

The word amongst former ECW wrestlers is that TNA officials reached out to Roadkill, but the story goes that he turned them down.

Good for him. I would literally rather fuck chickens than be at this show.

The rumored pay for the non-contracted wrestlers is said to range of $500 and $1,000 for in-ring performers.

Balls Mahoney better start picking up his phone, then; false teeth can cost upwards of $2,500 per arch! -Eric

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