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

Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies has finally happened

Far be it from me to disparage people making a living but god damn I wish wrestlers would save their god damn money. How else do you explain “Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies”? The movie comes to us from writer and director Cody Knotts. He of such other low budget fare “Breeding Farm” and “Lucifer’s Unholy Desire.”   I just don’t understand when you take a meeting for a low budget movie what pitch these guys heard.

“Alright we have this cool premise guys. We mix the world of zombies and pro wrestling. It is going to be just as good as Zombie Strippers I promise. We have a budget of about $370.00 and a boatload of unfulfilled favors to cash in. The shoot will be magic. We have a shooting schedule of about three days so scheduling will be over a holiday weekend. Believe in me when I Say this will get you in to Hollywood that much faster. Well in your case Mr. Piper I should say back in Hollywood. I mean god damn “They Live” was fucking beautiful.  Now just imagine they alley fight scene but with zombies in a prison with all natural lighting and heavy metal music. How awesome right?  Sure it is an exact rip off of The Walking Dead season but the genre is ripe for some creative borrowing. Hell, The Walking Dead is a mashup of a bunch of other zombie movies. So ya with me? You ready to be a star? ”

So it may not have gone just like that but really could it be that much far off? Who needs the work this badly? Judging the entire movie from the trailer, which is the purpose of a trailer so you know, this looks terrible. Shane Douglas actually is kind of funny because he essentially is playing “The Franchise.” Other than that one item this really looks terrible. Kurt Angle continues his stellar acting gigs but there is no chance of improving over “Buffo The Scary Clown“. No really, this clip is genius.  But the acting is not going to be the worst part of this movie.

Was this flick shot with a flashlight and ketchup bottles? Sure the atmosphere appears to be the inside of a prison and if this isn’t a Kubrick experiment using only natural light then boy is this going to be hard to watch. Literally, this is going to be impossible to tell what the hell is happening.  If you can’t see the action then nothing else matters. Wait I get it now this movie is supposed to be some French Existential film on the absurdity of the zombie genre?

It has occurred to me that maybe I am just being a total dick right now. After watching the trailer for the tenth time this could be a fun movie. So let’s cut the jokes and do some actual commentary.

There are some legitimate issues with the trailer. The music is terrible and far too loud. It covers up too much of the dialogue and doesn’t enhance the action. It isn’t a matter of personal music tastes at all but the screeching 80’s metal god voice is not good for the small amount of time given. Just straight music with no lyrics would have been a better choice.  The lighting of the film, from what was presented, is a big problem. Scenes are just too dark. The shadowing makes it difficult to see the action. I am not sure how this can or even will be addressed in post production but it needs some attention. The acting is about what you should expect from a low budget horror flick starring professional wrestlers not named Dwayne Johnson so that gets a pass.

Guess there is not much else to be said until the final product is released. Make sure and stop back on Stunt Granny as it will be reviewed. (Take that as a request  for a screener copy) -Jeremy

Stunt Granny Audio #187

Oh snap mother truckers, it’s Stunt Granny Audio #187 with mah d*ck in ya mouf, foooooo! Anyway, Dusty and Eric discuss the news of the day, including Big Show, and that’s about it for the news of the day. They also talk about the booming metropolis of St. Cloud, Minn., where Eric was that night and Dusty was a few years back; Bill Cosby, Gene Wilder and “Fat Albert” characters; Mustafa, New Jack and old ECW shows; and whatever else in the world comes to mind. Check it out!

Stunt Granny Audio Show #187

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

Guest Blog: Dan reminisces about ECW in light of recent Extreme Reunion fiasco

"I'm gonna hang a flyer right here and FRANCHISE this light pole's ASS HA HA HAAA!"

Well, the ECW reunion show took place over the weekend and the reports I have read have not been very complementary of the show.  I read the fairly detailed report over at prowrestling.net (http://www.prowrestling.net/artman/publish/miscliveevents/article10024865.shtml) and one or two other reports and it sounds like the fans who made up an impressive crowd for an indy show turned on this show in a big way.  I do think it sounds like the crowd did not have very realistic expectations for the show.  The things I would have hoped that this show would have tried to accomplish they at least attempted.  I feel like for this show to have any chance of repeat success they would have to use some of the established names to get the fans interested in new talent.  With the interference in the Gangstas match and the use of new Raven’s followers it sounds like they tried to set up some things for the next show.

The obvious problem with this show is that the ECW style takes a serious physical toll on the wrestlers and to expect most of these guys to be able to work the types of matches they did well over eleven years ago just isn’t very realistic.  When one starts thinking about the alleged health problems or scares that Sabu and Justin Credible had that prevented them from performing at the show it makes the event a bit more depressing.  Many will write about and talk about how the extreme style has possibly ruined people’s lives and certainly contributed to many premature deaths.  As a fan who discovered ECW on a grainy UHF TV station (yes I had to disconnect my cable to watch ECW, this station was so small it wasn’t on any cable systems but was part of the “America One Network”) and loved watching ECW programming it’s not pleasant to think about the price many of these wrestlers I enjoyed watching so much have paid.

I went to several later day ECW shows in St. Louis but I only made it to the ECW Arena once for “Cyberslam ’98”.  When I first started taking the Torch I was rather frustrated to read about Cyberslam ’96 and ’97 AFTER it had occurred or I might have made one of those shows as well.  I had a great time at this event and met some very interesting folks (maybe that goes without saying).  I was then in grad school so while I did not have a tremendous amount in common with many of these performers I certainly appreciated what they did and enjoyed the question and answer sessions and thought seeing a card at the ECW Arena was one of those things I was able to take off my bucket list.

Because I have great memories about those experiences watching and enjoying ECW I wanted to reflect on those people who were most benefited from working in ECW.  I’m sure it’s not a complete list and this is not to say that these performers would not have done well if ECW did not exist but since many have been focusing on the cost ECW incurred on many of its workers I thought I would reflect on who benefited the most from their ECW experience.  Please feel free to add suggestions to this list.

1.  Taz — Make no mistake about it.  The ECW Taz was as bad as they come (in a good way).  At the show I went to he physically manhandled one of many body builders the WWF wanted to get behind in Brakkus and the fans loved every minute of it.  However, he parlayed his ECW success into a frustrating WWE run followed by many years making what I am guessing is pretty good money as a TV announcer.  As great as Taz was when I saw him wrestle….  well let’s say I don’t think he will be entering the real (Observer) hall of fame or even the WWE version anytime soon.  As far as making a great living based off of what he contributed to ECW I’d say Taz is the #1 choice.  God bless him for making money as far as I am concerned also.

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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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Sabu’s Gonna Die

Read, weep:

Sabu — a hardcore wrestling icon  — was rushed to the hospital before a scheduled event tonight in Pennsylvania … TMZ has learned. Cops in Travose, PA tell TMZ they were dispatched to a hotel for a medical emergency, but wouldn’t elaborate. The manager at the hotel where Sabu was staying tells TMZ the staff there felt the wrestler was intoxicated when paramedics were called. A source close to Sabu tells TMZ he had been MIA all day and promoters for an ECW reunion event he was scheduled to appear at could not get in touch with him. According to our source, Sabu had an allergic reaction to a medication he had been taking. Sabu is one of the top-billed wrestlers at the Extreme Reunion tonight, but we’re told he’ll be a no-show.A rep for the event tells TMZ, “Sabu was found unresponsive in his hotel room earlier today when event staff went to his room to pick him up for tonight’s show. Management is currently awaiting results from his doctors to find out what actually happened.”The rep continues, “All we know is that he had prior health issues that might have been a contributing factor. We’re pulling for him and are very concerned for his health. We wish him the best of luck in his recovery.”

So yeah, not good. – Dusty

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