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

Eric’s Blog: One of my top 5 favorite matches, Ric Flair vs. Vader, 20 years ago today

Once upon a time, World Championship Wrestling, and Jim Crockett Promotions before it, promoted Starrcade as its most prominent and preeminent event of the year. Originally held Thanksgiving night, pressure from the WWF in 1988 forced WCW to move its flagship event to the week of Christmas, which means if the event were being held today, well, it might be held today.

In fact, 20 years ago today, the 11th Starrcade was held in Charlotte, N.C., with the original plans pitting WCW Champion Big Van Vader against Sid Vicious in a bitter battle of former tag team partners who were, well, thrown together about six months earlier, um, because they were both big and, uh, they both used a power bomb as their finisher.

In December 1993, Vader was 18 months into a spectacular run as a monster heel champion, and Sid was, you know, Sid, the underachieving heel whose babyface turn was predicated on a fumbled, accidental double-cross by his comedic manager, Col. Rob Parker, and who could never connect with a crowd at-large beyond the pop he received on his entrance. (Never mind the fact that Dusty and I think he’s, as Sid himself used to say, “the man.”)

And then came the little issue of the night Sid stabbed Arn Anderson with a pair of scissors 20 times in a hotel in England that October, effectively removing himself from the main event of WCW’s biggest show of the year. This put Eric Bischoff’s team of bookers in quite a pinch, and what did WCW pretty much always do when they were in a pinch?

Paging Ric Flair.

Flair was programmed with Vader beginning at Battlebowl, a half-crocked concept launched by Dusty Rhodes at Starrcade 1991 that, somehow, got its own pay-per-view in November 1993. During the ceremonious final battle royal, Vader attacked Flair outside of the ring, eliminating Flair from the match.

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Dan’s Blog: I Swiped Dusty’s Mailbag

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While catching up on my reading of all things on the Stunt Granny site I realized that Dusty has been jumping into the mailbag with both feet answering questions that the wrestling intelligentsia needs to read up about. Not being all that creative myself I visited the Stunt Granny World Headquarters (Don’t ever show up unannounced again. -Jeremy) and managed to grab a bag full of mail for myself. Then I stopped off in New York and took a few things off Matt Brock’s desk also (it was interesting that no one seemed to care about taking that stuff but I digress). I tried to figure out how to break into Wade Keller’s email so I could steal some of his “Ask the Editor” questions but he’s got that account triple protected.  I suppose it’s because “Ask the Editor” seem to make up the majority of the Daily Keller Hotlines!

Anyway, I digress.  Speaking of the Torch, let’s jump into Question One.

Question #1: What’s this I hear about super internet phenomenon “zourah” going on a rant about the way the Torch deals with Bill Watts?  Doesn’t this guy know that Watts was the most racist, sexist, homophobic, all around bad person that ever existed in wrestling?  (M.M.—Pittsburgh, PA)

Answer #1:  Yes, unfortunately my rant is still somewhere stuck in Eric Nelson’s phone because he could not figure out how to get a one hour audio from his phone onto the web. I should mention that I have had a very polite discussion with Mr. Keller about my feelings on this particular subject and I now do respect his view on the entire situation when Watts was fired. I still don’t see things the same way myself but that’s fine.

As for the meat of the question, let’s just compare Watts to everyone’s current God of Wrestling Vince McMahon.

McMahon wins the “PC” game for sure in his public statements. Both he and Watts worked with well known figures in the wrestling business who happen (ed) to be gay.  Again, McMahon has worked more closely with Pat Patterson but Watts did work frequently with Jim Barnett and with a few exceptions he worked fairly well with him.

As for acceptance of gays, Watts said some very un PC things to be polite in an interview. McMahon had his baby face tag team leading children in chants of F***** for at least six months in the early ‘90s.  Advantage Watts

If you were/are an African American wrestler who would you want to work for?  Well unless you really hated distasteful language I’m thinking you would be better off working for Watts. I know The Rock is arguably the biggest deal ever in wrestling but Watts promoted JYD as a hero in Mid South while Vince promoted him as someone who could barely speak complete sentences. No promoter has ever given so many African American wrestlers chances to be at the very top of the card than Watts.

In closing, I’d argue that the premise of your question is ridiculous. I can go into great detail about my thoughts on sending that interview to higher ups at TBS eighteen months after the interview was conducted but that’s a topic for another day.

Question #2: That brilliant “zourah” guy hasn’t chimed in much on Prime Wrestling lately.  What’s up with that?  (A.MG – Cleveland, OH)

Answer #2: I think my contributions to the audio side of things lately have not been of sufficient quality to impress the premier reviewer of Prime on the ‘net Kevin DiFrango I suppose. (It’d really help if I stayed current with the product. They’re even going every other week and I’m still slacking off. – Kevin) If you haven’t been reading his reports go ahead and do so before you read this. I’ll wait for you to finish!

I’m pleased to see that they are going to have “Wrestlelution 6” this year as I was starting to wonder. It wouldn’t work so great if WWE said they were having WrestleMania “sometime between April 1 and May 30” but I know Prime Wrestling is not WWE. (Their next taping is this weekend being billed as a “Wrestlelution Prelude” in Parma OH. -Kevin)

There are things I like about the “Evil Vic” storyline. He does have good timing in his segments but man the evil GM thing just seems too derivative for this promotion. I expect better. I do not agree with Kevin on Ricky Shane Page. I’ve warmed up to him and like his promos (although hitting the announcer has no place on TV. Joe should hold himself to a higher standard than that.  What would Gordon Solie do?) quite a bit.  He’s not at Krimson level on the promos but he is quite good. Nicki Valentino is hilarious and adds quite a bit to the show. I really liked his interaction with Bryan Castle a couple weeks ago. We will see what the big event is for WL 6 and I’m sure we will have a good discussion about it.  Aaron Maguire continues to be the highlight of the show on a week in and week out basis. (More on some of these subjects in my Prime Review after I edit that column. -Kevin)

Question #3:  So what else is out there under the radar that I’m missing? I hear that super smart “zourah” guy always watched USWA, SMW, ECW and other indy feds back in the day.  (S.S. – Rockville Centre, NY)

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Bull Nakano is a burger

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Well she is.

And for those unfortunate enough not to understand the reference:

Happy Christmas. – Dusty

Stunt Granny Audio #199

Dynamite drop in there, Monty.

Kevin and Dusty are back with an extensive look at bad announcing, including the Mount Rushmore of Horrible Announcing. Listen and learn who they think are the worst announcers of all time. What current day announcers are bad enough to earn a spot on the list? Hint: One guy who currently does every WWE show, some of which completely by himself, much to the petrification of Dusty. Find out which guy….. annoys Dusty…. because of the ridiculously long…. pauses…. he used to take between words. Find out which guy makes Kevin cherish his childhood memories of watching wrestling so much. Find out which guy wears Hawaiian flowery shirts and gets into internet pissing contests because he has a small penis and a need for attention. And so much more, and it’s only going to cost you about an hour of your time, so you need to listen or you’ll catch something incurable.

Stunt Granny Audio Show #199

Stunt Granny Audio #195

Serious business goes on at Kevin’s workplace.

Kevin and Dusty didn’t start the fire! But they sure did talk about it on this audio! Join Kevin and Dusty on a fantastic voyage through the wacky world of professional wrestling, as they give you a healthy dosage of News You Can Use. They also talk about just how crazy Kharma is, how useless Velvet Sky is, how ridiculous TNA is, how big of a superstar Chavo Guerrero is, how cashing it in Jerry Lawler, and a veritable host of other things. Dusty makes gay jokes, Kevin regales us with tales of idiot co-workers, and a special surprise guest pops in to add to the festivities. All this and a whole lot more, and it’s only going to take you about an hour of your precious measley time, so get to it, losers.

Stunt Granny Audio Show #195

Stunt Granny Audio #192

This an excruciatingly special edition of Stunt Granny Audio because it features the reuniting of Jeremy, Eric and Dusty for the first time in a long, long time. And not only that, but it also features the debut of several different new features of Stunt Granny Audio, including the Top Five At Five, Match Game and the Mount Rushmore game. Can you barely contain your excitement!? They talk about the nine hour long AJ-Daniel Bryan-CM Punk segment that opened Raw, they talk about the heart warming ascent of Austin Aries, they talk about Iowa’s own Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame and who will all be there, and they talk about a whole lot more things that you can only know about if you listen to the audio. So why don’t you do that? NOW.

Stunt Granny Audio Show #192

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