Sunday, 12 June 2005

ECW One Night Stand on Sky Sports - TV Review

This past Sunday I witnessed what could possibly be the best pay-per-view this year, as WWE gave Paul Heyman the reigns for ECW’s One Night Stand reunion show.

The show began with a guy I haven’t seen since the old MLW shows on TWC, Joey Styles. ECW’s premier mic man looked very emotional as the crowd chanted his name, and, for old time’s sake, he gave us a rendition of his most famous catchphrase. Then Joey introduced his colour man for the evening, the hardcore legend himself, Mick Foley.

First up, it was the battle of the Canadians as Lance Storm, accompanied by Dawn Marie, took on Chris Jericho. Jericho was billed as hailing from Canada, and as the Lionheart, so it looks like we really have stepped back in time a few years here. A good solid opener from two great technicians here. Plenty of back and forth action, and both men try for their finishers, before Storm gets the victory, thanks to a little help from his former Impact Player running buddies, Justin Credible and Jason Knight.

Backstage, Pitbull Gary Wolfe introduces a montage of ECW alumni who are no longer with us, guys like Anthony Durante, Terry Gordy, Mike Lockwood, and of course, Chris Candido.

Next up, it’s the three way dance. Tajiri brings with him the Sinister Minister and Mikey Whipwreck. Little Guido brings the entire FBI, not the watered-down WWE version, but the far superior ECW version, while Super Crazy comes out alone. Some fast paced action, as was expected, from all three man here, and tons of interference from the various factions. After a mass brawl, Guido is the first man eliminated after Whipwreck’s whipper-snapper off the second rope. We then see more great action between Tajiri and Crazy, before the insane luchadore gets the pin after a moonsault. The remarkable thing about this match is that it lasted just six minutes. It seemed a hell of a lot longer.

A trip down memory lane next, as we see some great moments from ECW’s past.

Extreme Luchadore time, as Rey Mysterio Junior takes on Psychosis. Psychosis takes his mask off after he enters the ring. Our announcers tell us that these two have wrestled each other over 500 times, which explains the great chemistry they both have, although Rey looks a little hampered by his recent leg injury. A good example of the Mexican style of wrestling here, with Psychosis’ leg drop off the top rope as Rey lay prone over the barrier looking great. Rey gets the pin after the 619/West Coast Pop combination.

The invasion then begins, as the Smackdown crew arrive in the arena and take up their seats. Chants of “Fuck You Smackdown” begin to ring throughout the hall.

More ECW memories next, including the moment that Benoit earned his Crippler nickname, accidentally breaking Sabu’s neck.

The stud muffin himself, Joel Gertner, then tries to interview some of the Smackdown stars, but is quickly sent running for cover. Angle and JBL then begin to remind us just what they think about ECW, and they would have gone on forever, had Rob Van Dam and Bill Alfonso not interrupted when they came down to the ring. Then there’s something we haven’t seen from RVD in years, speaking, unscripted, from the heart. It makes you realise just what’s been missing from RVD these past couple of years or so. After he tells us that not being able to wrestle on this show is worse than missing out on Wrestlemania, who should appear by RVD’s former nemesis Rhyno, goring the hell out of him, before the lights go out, and Sabu appears.

Impromptu match time, as Sabu and Rhyno go at it in a classic ECW-style match. It’s a shame that Rhyno’s out of the ring indiscression caused his WWE downfall, because here he shows just why he was the last ever ECW World and TV Champion. Some great stuff all round here, with Sabu getting the pin after an Arabian Skull Crusher.

Out back, Al Snow has a reunion of sorts with an old friend of his, Head. Man, those were the days.

The invasion continues, as Eric Bischoff leads his Raw crusaders into their seats, next to their Smackdown counterparts. Guess what the crowd chants? Joey and Mick then mock Jonathan Coachman. “Oh no! There’s Coach! I’m scared!” Classic line!

Battle of the technicians time next, as Chris Benoit takes on Eddie Guerrero, and yes, Benoit once again hails from Canada. Guerrero is pretty much in his WWE character here. This is the first time that these two old friends and rivals have ever met under the ECW banner, and the crowd seemed somewhat divided in their loyalties. A good example here, showing that ECW wasn’t just about the hardcore stuff, as these two put on a technical clinic, the only downside being that the match didn’t last longer. Guerrero’s losing streak continues as Benoit makes him tap to the Crippler Cross Face.

Joel Gertner then returns to the balcony, this time to interview Eric Bischoff, before he asks Bischoff for a job. Guess what the reply was? Bischoff then bad mouths all things ECW.

Another old rivalry is renewed as Mike Awesome takes on Masato Tanaka. Joey reminds us of the time when Awesome pissed on ECW, signing a big money deal with WCW while he was still ECW World Champion. Later, he speaks of his run in WCW, of being a “Fat Chick Thriller”. After the last technical match, this bout couldn’t have been more different, with each men using the toys to good advantage, and giving us another example of one of the things that made ECW great. Awesome picks up the win after Awesome-bombing Tanaka from the ring and through a table on the outside, picking up the fall ringside after diving through the ropes on top of Tanaka.

Then the man himself, Paul Heyman, comes to the ring. Like Joey Styles before him, he looks very emotional, although he denies that he’s about to break down, claiming that he was smoking a joint backstage with RVD. We then see one of the promos of the year. Heyman lets rip on Bischoff, Edge, and JBL with some classic lines, showing that he still is one of the best promo men in the business.

Then it’s time for our main event. The Dudley Boys arrive on the scene first, dressed in their tye-dye ECW shirts, beforeTommy Dreamer comes down the aisle. Then, it’s the best damn entrance in wrestling history, as the Sandman makes his way through the crowd, sharing a few beers as he goes along. It’s a hell of a moment, as the crowd sing every word of what is possibly Metallica’s best ever song.

But just before the match is about to start, who should arrive on the scene but the Blue World Order, Stevie Richards, the Blue Meanie, and Nova, thankfully away from the Simon Dean gimmick. A mass brawl soon starts, which also brings out Kid Kash, Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten. As the brawl moves outside of the ring, Kash reminds us of another famous ECW moment with a suicide dive over the top rope onto every man in the aisle.

We eventually get to the match itself, and it’s an all-out brawl, with use of the kendo stick, tables, chairs, and cheese graters. Forget the technical stuff here, this is a fight, and a damn good one at that. After what seems like an age of brawling, we get the run-ins. First come the Impact Players, and then the Queen of Extreme herself, Francine, who kicks Dreamer where it hurts the most. Out comes Beulah, or Mrs. Dreamer, and the cat fight begins. Eventually, Spike Dudley, or rather, Little Spike Dudley, complete with goofy glasses and goofy walk, and a couple of bottles of lighter fluid. Moments later, Bubba power bombs Dreamer through a flaming table for the win.

Then, to the surprise of everyone in the entire world, none other than Steve Austin comes down to the ring, and begins a celebration with the ECW team. He then proceeds to call the WWE invaders cowards, and invites them down from their seats for a fight. But just before the brawl begins, Tazz, or should that be Taz, comes down to the ring to join in the fun. The brawl begins as Bischoff joins Joey and Mick at the commentary table. Joey really rips on Eric. Eventually, the WWE boys are sent running for cover, and Austin asks Foley to bring Bischoff down to the ring. Mrs. Foley’s baby boy duly obliges, and Bischoff soon finds himself on the receiving end of several finishers, before the Dudleys cart him outside and dump him on the back of a truck.

Joey Styles then closes the show with another emotional speech.

In conclusion - although this was a WWE produced show, to compare it to a WWE pay-per-view would be wrong. This was ECW, E-C-f’in-W! A great show for the nostalgia buffs out there, and a great reminder of just what made ECW great all those years ago. A great show made great by those that competed in the ring, and made great by the fans in attendance. You certainly wouldn’t get this kind of atmosphere anywhere else, and that’s what made this show special.

Match of the night - each match was unique, and it’s hard to single out a particular match.