Sunday, 16 September 2007

ECW One Night Stand 2006 on Sky Sports - TV Review

It’s back. After last year’s WWE-sponsored reunion show, Extreme Championship Wrestling returned to the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York for the second One Night Stand, and although the atmosphere may have been the same as last year, the agenda laid down by the show was certainly different.

We began with the battle of the announcers, with Jerry Lawler facing Tazz. Lawler slaps Joey Styles on his way to the ring. Styles then proceeds to jump Lawler in the ring, and the best announcer in the business is about to get pile driven when Tazz locks in the Tazzmission, and Lawler slumps to the canvas, with the Human Suplex Machine getting the win in under a minute.

With Tazz joining Styles at the commentary table, Randy Orton invades ECW next, answering Kurt Angle’s open challenge. This is an entirely different Kurt Angle here. Angle seems renewed by his change of surroundings, and puts in his most impressive showing in months in a bout which resembles a shoot fight at first, with Orton holding up his end of things to provide a great encounter, with Angle applying the ankle lock, and Orton having to tap moments later. Whereas last year Angle was against ECW, now he seems to fit in perfectly.

On to tag-team action, with the F.B.I., Tony Mamaluke and Little Guido, who are accompanied by Big Guido, take on the returning Yoshihiro Tajiri and the Insane Luchadore, Super Crazy. It’s an entertaining bout here, with Guido pinning Tajiri just after the twelve minute mark. A part of me was hoping that the pin would come about as a disagreement between Crazy and Tajiri, and that perhaps we’d get an impromptu match between the two, but sadly, this didn’t happen, as moments after the pin, the Big Show hit the ring, took out Big Guido, and then took out both the teams as well.

As Styles and Tazz are about to address the home audience, they’re interrupted by none other than John Bradshaw Layfield. This promo seems to have nothing to do with the show, as JBL basically announces that he’s replacing Tazz as Michael Cole’s announce partner on Smackdown. Surely this is something they could have saved for Smackdown itself?

Then it’s time for our first title match of the evening, as Rey Mysterio defends the World title against Sabu in the show’s one true dream match. Plenty of action in this one, and it’s a shame that it may be some time before we see these two in action against each other. As with Angle before him, this is probably Rey’s best performance in ages, and the end comes somewhat prematurely. After Sabu DDT’s Rey through a table that is perching between ring and ringside barrier, a doctor comes racing out to the ring, and after checking out both men, announces that neither man can continue, ruling the bout a no contest.

Back to tag action, this time of an extreme nature, as Terry Funk and Tommy Dreamer face Mick Foley and Edge. This bout actually turns into a six person intergender match with the inclusion of Beulah McGillicutty and Lita. It’s a hard-hitting, blood strewn and incredibly intense battle between the two teams, just the way ECW fans like it. We see everything, and even though he’s approaching his 62nd birthday, Funk put in a hell of a showing, and even brought back memories of his infamous empty arena match with Jerry Lawler as he gets taken to the back screaming “my eye, my eye!”. Thankfully, Funk returns moments later to help out his partner, but it isn’t enough, as the inclusion of the ladies leads to the downfall of Dreamer and Funk as it’s Beulah who gets pinned after a spear from Edge. The Hammerstein looks like a war zone afterwards, especially when Funk had to be cut out of the barbed wire board at ringside.

A short match next, as Balls Mahoney takes on Masato Tanaka, which, although good in it’s own way, probably suffered because of it’s place on the card. Mahoney got the win in this one after five minutes, having smashed Tanaka over the head with a chair.

We then get an unexpected visitor in the shape of everyone’s favourite simpleton, Eugene. Never has anyone looked more out of place than Eugene at an ECW show. Thankfully, the Sandman soon appears on the show and beats the crap out of him with the kendo stick. Hey, I’m a Eugene fan, but he just doesn’t belong on an ECW show!

On to the main event, as John Cena defends the WWE title against Rob Van Dam. Sadly, no Bill Alfonso to back RVD up here, and to say that Mr. Money in the Bank was over would be an understatement. We get a perfect example of just how the ECW faithful feel about Cena before the bell rings, as the crowd throw his hat and shirt back into the ring, something which just doesn’t happen on a Raw show. It’s a bout certainly worthy of it’s main event status, and, as with Angle and Mysterio before them, both men put on their best match this year. Cena plays the heel to perfection here, even clothes lining the ECW ref. Replacement ref Nick Patrick takes a hit as well, before a stranger in a crash helmet comes out and spears Cena through a table. The stranger takes off the helmet, and it’s none other than the number one contender, Edge! As the fans thank Edge for his assistance, RVD connects with a frog splash from the top, but doesn’t get the pin, because there is no referee - until Paul Heyman comes to the ring and makes the count. RVD begins to celebrate as he is announced as the new champion, going through the audience to the second tier to celebrate with his wife Sonya, as Heyman wears a massive smile in the ring.

In conclusion - last year’s show had the feeling of a one-off sort of thing, a class reunion if you will. This year was totally different. One Night Stand certainly succeeded in what it set out to do, re-launching Extreme Championship Wrestling with the style and intensity that made it some memorable all those years ago. With a couple of exceptions, the show was great from top to bottom. If this is the Kool Aid that Paul Heyman is offering us now, them I’m certainly going to start drinking from his cup.