SLAM! Wrestling Guest Column
ECW - A healthy alternative
If ECW's national debut was any indication, there is no doubt that the wrestling world may be in for a revolution. ECW could very well be the organization to put the 'sport' back in 'sports entertainment', if given the proper exposure.
To start with, the highly impressive 30-minute opening match between Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn was a true sample of something that has been missing from mainstream wrestling for a long time. It was a breath of fresh air and a break from the usual soap-opera consumption of the WWF and WCW.
You can always count on 30 minute interviews from the "big two" federations but 30 minute matches (with two excessively talented, hardworking machines busting their rears every step of the way) ? Those kinds of matches instantly raise your personal standards for work-rate in the big two organizations which will naturally leave you disappointed beyond belief if you expect such standards from the "big two".
That is not to take anything away from the strong efforts made by the many hardworking performers of the WWF and WCW. However, it seems as though many of ECW's performers take those efforts to new levels. There are some who say that the extreme style is an example of how the wrestling industry has crossed a certain line. Be that as it may, there is no denying the hardworking efforts displayed by these athletes, in this high risk style.
Nonetheless, don't allow the non-stop hard-hitting action fool you into believing entertainment value and theatrics are non-existent in Extreme Championship Wrestling. Several glimpses were given of ECW's creative side, which has been quite impressive thus far. For instance, the promo by the Impact Players (consisting of Calgary's own Lance Storm, Justin Credible, Dawn Marie, Jason, and Cyrus) was enough to leave you hyper in anticipation of the next week's program when they gave us a gist of what they have planned for Rob Van Dam.
Being a former resident of Calgary myself, I always anticipated the day when Lance Storm (who was trained by the Hart family, several years ago) would jump to one of the major promotions and become a star. Now, that may no longer be necessary. Depending on your perspective, Lance Storm may already be in a "major promotion".
And the same is true for so many other current stars in ECW, even former misused talents from the WWF and WCW, like Cyrus (Jackyl), Justin Credible (Aldo Montoya) and Jerry Lynn (Mr. JL). Since the big two federations failed with those prospects, and ECW turned their careers around. I always thought that the WWF or WCW would re-acquire them and use them properly but now that ECW is breaking into the mainstream, maybe they are better off staying where they are.
In a matter of minutes, ECW drew our attention and interest to their fairly impressive roster featuring such talented prospects like Taz, Rob Van Dam, Sabu, Jerry Lynn, Steve Corino, and many other new faces. Perhaps Shane Douglas would have been better off staying in ECW than jumping to WCW like he did. Considering Shane's legacy in ECW this wasn't exactly the best time to jump ship and become a midcarder in the WCW (or the WWF either, for that matter).
Despite a few good runs in the WWF with the Hardcore Title, I'm not so sure if Al Snow's career may have been better off in the long run, staying in ECW too (considering how his highest moments in the WWF pale in comparison to his former stardom in ECW, with the same "Head" gimmick). Of course, this all depends on how good ECW does on a national level in the long run. Then again, being the big fish in a small pond is always better than drowning in mediocrity at least from a career standpoint.
Fans of the "big two" federations will complain about ECW using WWF and WCW stars who used to be in ECW like Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Shane Douglas, Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko, Raven and others to put their own company over but I see no problem with it.
Obviously, the company has to start a national (and international) pitch somewhere and considering how ECW really turned many of those wrestlers' careers around prior to their arrivals into the "big two" organizations, that is a brilliant way to draw fan interest to their organization if they see how well ECW marketed those aforementioned individuals.
If nothing else, ECW will hopefully provide us with that much needed healthy alternative from the usual soap opera nature of the WWF and WCW, and give us that wrestling fix we need, as the push the limits for our entertainment value.
Raj Varghese is from London, Ontario. He can be emailed at email@example.com.