Sunday, 16 September 2007

ECW December to Dismember on Sky Sports - TV Review

So was it really as bad as everyone said it was? And was it really bad enough to cost someone his job? Well, this is what I’m going to find out as I take a look back at Extreme Championship Wrestling’s recent December to Dismember pay-per-view. Our hosts for the show are Joey Styles and Tazz.
We begin the show with tag-team action, and two teams who aren’t on the ECW roster, as the re-formed Hardy Boys take on the re-formed MNM. Watching this match makes you realise just how poor the tag divisions on all three WWE brands are at the moment. You’ve got two teams who for all intents and purposes are just part-time teams putting on a hell of a match with a slow start, a good build-up to the high spots, and some great team work from both combinations. In short, a great match, with the Hardys emerging victorious, stopping MNM’s Super Snapshot attempt with Jeff coming down with the Swanton on both of his opponents.
In a pre-taped segment, Rob Van Dam talks about his chances in the Extreme Elimination Chamber, saying that he’s willing to take the risks to win the gold.
Then it’s on to the unannounced matches, as Matt Striker faces ECW original Balls Mahoney. Before the match begins, Striker gives us his usual speech, as well as giving several instructions to the referee with regards to the rules of the match, or “Striker’s Rules”. As filler material, this wasn’t actually that bad. Striker looked impressive while working over Mahoney’s left arm and shoulder, showing some good wrestling skills, before Mahoney fought back from Striker’s submission attempts to gain the winning pin after a sit-down power bomb. As I said, good as filler material.
Backstage, we see C.M. Punk warming up for the main event, before moving on to see Sabu laying on the ground unconscious and being attended to by several medics as he loaded onto a backboard.
Back in the arena, we return to tag-team action as Elijah Burke and Sylvester Terkay take on the Full Blooded Italians, Little Guido and Tony Marmaluke, who are accompanied to the ring by the ever lovely Trinity. This is the first time I’ve seen Burke and Terkay since their debut on Smack down a few months back, and I have to admit that the big man impressed me, especially as he’s now mixing a few wrestling moves into his MMA arsenal. As for the match itself, as with the previous match, it was good filler material, with Burke getting the win for his team after the Elijah Experience, basically his version of Jeff Jarrett’s Stroke finisher.
Backstage, Sabu, still unconscious, is loaded into an ambulance as Punk and Van Dam look on, with people still asking what happened?
More singles action as we go back to the arena, as Daivari, who’s brought along the world’s biggest goofball in the form of the Giant Khali, takes on the ECW icon that is Tommy Dreamer. Well, you can’t really have an ECW pay-per-view without Dreamer, can you? Of course, when Khali ends up interfering in the match, the referee orders Khali from ringside, and reluctantly, the big idiot leaves as the action returns to the ring. Daivari showed what most of us have known for ages now, that’s he’s definitely no slouch in the ring, as he and Dreamer put on a passable match, as Daivari counters Dreamer’s DDT attempt with a quick roll-up with a handful of tights for the win. Afterwards, Dreamer chases Daivari up the ramp, only for Khali to intercept and choke slam him on the metal stage. Well I guess they’ve got to give the big goofball something to do.
Backstage, Paul Heyman catches up with Hardcore Holly, offering him Sabu’s spot in the Extreme Elimination Chamber match, an offer Holly gratefully accepts.
Mixed tag action follows, as Mike Knox and Kelly Kelly take on Kevin Thorn and Ariel. While the action between Knox and Thorn was passable, once the women tagged into the match, things took a turn for the worse. These two certainly couldn’t compare to Mickie James or Trish Stratus, and it was kind of predictable when Knox refused to tag Kelly and walked out on her, making it easy for Thorn and Ariel to get the win. The vampires continued their attack after the bell, only for the Sandman to make the save. Everyone’s favourite beer drinker soon took Thorn out with his trusty kendo stick, and this part of the proceedings actually got more crowd reaction than the match itself, and rightfully so.
Backstage, Smackdown’s Michael Cole hypes Armageddon. Mr. Cole gets a mixed reaction from the ECW faithful. Then, some bimbo interviews Bobby Lashley, as we see highlights of his early tenure as a member of the tribe of extreme. Young Bob basically tells us that he can overcome the odds to win the title.
Back in the arena, Paul Heyman marches down to the ring, accompanied by his two hooded goons, and makes a speech about the ECW legacy he has created, and how guys like Sabu, Rob Van Dam and the Sandman are yesterday’s news.
Main event time next, as the Big Show defends the ECW title in the first ever Extreme Elimination Chamber, alongside C.M. Punk, Rob Van Dam, Hardcore Holly, Test and Bobby Lashley. Right at the beginning of the show Joey Styles announced that a new ECW champion would be crowned, making it pretty bloody obvious that the Big Show was going to lose his title. Well, this one had it’s good and bad points. Punk, clearly the most popular wrestler in ECW at the moment, getting eliminated first was a bad point. Lashley looked very impressive in a Goldberg-esque way, beating the crap out of Test before dominating the Big Show and pinning him after a spear to become the new ECW champion.
In conclusion - having read all of the reports about how bad this show was and about how bad everything in was, I went into this one thinking it was going to be a stinker of a pay-per-view. But you know what? In my opinion, this show actually wasn’t as bad as everyone else was making out. Sure, it wasn’t the best pay-per-view I’ve ever seen, and if it hadn’t been shown for free here in Britain, I certainly would have had second thoughts about actually paying to see this one, but this really wasn‘t as bad as everyone was making it out to be, and if the powers-that-be at WWE were disappointed with this one, then what were they expecting exactly? After all, they didn’t announce the majority of the matches in advance, hoping that the Extreme Elimination Chamber would be a big enough selling point.
Were there things in this show that should have been better? Certainly. But was it bad enough to cost Paul Heyman his job? Certainly not. Despite what some others may tell you, ECW December to Dismember isn’t the worst show in the history of professional wrestling. For me it’s just another example of how the expectations of the majority of today’s wrestling fans is perhaps far too high, and an example of how many who follow this business never seem