Having attended both “Hardcore Homecoming” and “ECW: One Night Stand” this weekend, I find it extremely difficult (pun intended) to come up with an answer as to which one was the better show.
Match-wise, I’d say it was a tie. Hardcore Homecoming (HH) delivered huge, particularly Jerry Lynn vs. Justin Credible and the brilliant main event between Shane Douglas, Sabu, and Terry Funk. But One Night Stand (ONS) offered up some gems as well, notably Chris Jericho vs. Lance Storm, and possibly the match of the year so far in Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka. Of course, not having heard the commentary, both shows will be worth a second look on DVD. But, for now, it’s just too close to call.
Both shows were filled with emotional moments. HH’s in-ring tribute to recently-fallen ECW stars was a classy touch, and having Tammy Sytch there to pay respects publicly to Chris Candido was especially moving. ONS countered with a tribute of its own, but somehow, after seeing the one just days earlier, the cynic in me thinks it may have been added in as an afterthought. What did move me, though, was seeing Paul Heyman get all choked up from the reception the crowd gave him, and Tommy Dreamer shed tears at the end of the show. Maybe more than anyone else, those two lived for ECW, and to see them openly and unashamedly show us what they were feeling in their hearts made me proud to be a fan.
How about those extreme moments that ECW is known for? Again, I’d say it was a draw. ONS was full of them, from Super Crazy’s balcony moonsault, to the various weaponry used in the main event (a cheese grater AND a flaming table? Talk about hardcore heaven!), to the entire Awesome-Tanaka match. But HH wasn’t anything to sneeze at either. The three-way barbed wire dance was a complete gorefest. And, hey, you want hardcore? Two words: New Jack.
“But what about the fans?” you might ask. “Surely they made the difference.” I might have thought so, too, especially after being part of the Philadelphia crowd. After all, those are some of the most passionate fans in the world. Heck, they’re the ones that invented such creative chants as “Where’s my pizza? Meanie ate it!” or “F*** ’em up, Sandman, f*** ’em up”. And I’m not being sarcastic, either — compared to the completely tired “You suck” and “What?”, ECW fans are almost Shakespearean in their eloquence. But, on Sunday night, those of us in the Hammerstein were on our game as well, filling the rafters almost non-stop with respect applause and cheers for those who deserved it, and drowning out the others with curses so blue that they could have made the devil himself blush. No, the fans wouldn’t be the deciding factor here.
Nor would it be the list of stars who were at either event. Sure, one could make the argument that ONS had the greater marquee power, being that they had exclusive access to many of the former ECW stars. That without some of those guys like Rob Van Dam, the Dudley Boys, Dreamer, and Tazz, it could never be an authentic ECW show. But, on the other hand, you could argue the same point about guys like Douglas, and Raven, and Funk, who were HH exclusives. Even a comparison of how the other (ie: not necessarily top-tier) stars were used doesn’t give either show the duke. Yes, HH arguably used guys like Danny Doring and Roadkill, and CW Anderson, and Mikey Whipwreck better by putting them in matches. But at ONS, all of them, in fact, every former ECW star, was allowed to shine, even embarrassing the invading stars from Raw and Smackdown in the big face-off at the end of the show. Again, it’s too close a call to give either show a hands-down victory.
But, you know what? Maybe that doesn’t even matter. Maybe the whole point of the weekend wasn’t to choose a side and pick a winner. Rather, maybe it was just a chance to look back fondly on the company that changed the face of wrestling. An opportunity for fans to reminisce about all of the good times and the magical moments that made ECW one of the best things about the industry. To honour the legacy of the little company that could. To remember why you became an ECW fan in the first place… and why you always will be.
ECW ONE NIGHT STAND & HARDCORE HOMECOMING LINKS
- June 11, 2005: Hardcore Homecoming a memorable night
- June 8, 2005: Hardcore Homecoming worries Funk
- June 6, 2005: Jerry Lynn ready for return
- June 4, 2005: Francine pumped for Hardcore Homecoming
- PPV review June 13, 2005: One great Night of hardcore hostalgia
- Devine column: Jealous over ECW nostalgia
“Bloodthirsty” Bob Kapur is a die-hard ECW fan from Mississauga. He publicly wants to thank the following people for helping make his extreme weekend a truly memorable experience: Steve Kaufman, Dave Blezard, Erin Landis, Johnny Grunge, Annihilation, “Shutterbug” Kemp, and the lady at the Hilton hotel in Philadelphia whose name he didn’t get.