Encouraged by the brisk ticket sales for the 2nd of 2 annual Extreme Championship Wrestling revival shows at NYC’s Hammerstein Ballroom, WWE is said to be reviving the brand name as part of a worked promotion vs. promotion war, then as an developmental circuit with it’s own TV programming later in the year.
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer reports that ECW fixtures such as Sabu (above), Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, Axl Rotten, Balls Mahoney and C.W. Anderson are amongst those thought to be taking part, with Paul Heyman booking the matches.
The role for most those names, but not all, will be to put over the developmental talent and make them the next generation ECW stars. This can’t work if its’ only goal is for older fans to relive Sandman’s ring enterance, because that is the kind of nostalgia that will die quickly. Many, if not most of the names, will likely only be there short-term, until stars in the current WWE system take their spots.
No word on whether or not Joel Gertner has been recruited, but something tells me he’d be available.
Inside Wrestling Weekly’s Zip Whittle has some misgivings about the scheme.
The ECW atmosphere “ violent, bloody matches, original but unorthodox production values, minimal sets and maximum attitude “ seems like it would clash with the elaborate pyro, giant stages and carefully scripted nature of RAW and Smackdown shows. When WWE revived ECW for their ONE NIGHT STAND PPV last year, they had the luxury of performing in a separate venue (Hammerstein Ballroom) re-using a small location that had been established back when ECW first lived. An important part of the ECW appeal lies in the intimate settings and interactions with the personal crowd.
Some people have suggested storylines like RVD winning the WWE title from John Cena at the ECW One Night Stand 2006 and throwing it down ala Shane Douglas/NWA/ECW 1994 incident. Others have joked about ECW becoming ENTERTAINMENT CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING. The real question remains: can you bring back this environment and this atmosphere?
I’ve long admired Heyman’s ability to pick widely disliked figures from the world of pop culture (Divine Brown, Leon Spinks, Billy Corgan) and use them in angles. In other words, chin up, Delmon Young, Michael Brown and anyone that’s been booted from “American Idol” in the past year. Your phones might be ringing, soon.