Prologue: Those three little letters (“E” “C” W!”) mean more to me than any others in wrestling. More than WWF, more than WWE, more than the NWA or TNA and a hell of a lot more than WCW.
I was first introduced to this outlaw style of wrestling during a tour that took one of my former bands to New York City towards the mid/latter part of the ’90s. I remember staying up late (2 a.m., I believe) at a friend’s house to catch my first glimpse of Taz, who was beating the crap out of his cousin, Chris Chetti, for no real reason I can remember, on ECW’s indie cable show. I had only heard about Taz, and ECW, for that matter, on the Internet, and although he was diminutive, he was unrelentingly brutal and bad- ass, and the stiff style of wrestling combined with the hardcore violence of the rest of the show (the chair-shot Raven took from Tommy Dreamer in ECW’s old opening montage may be the most brutal chair shot ever) was the perfect alternative to the big two’s product, and a near-mythical discovery for a Canadian at the time, at least for me.
It’s safe to say that after initial glimpses and merch buying (I still own my Taz “Survive If I Let You” shirt), I was hooked, regularly travelling to Buffalo (but never to the Mecca of Philadelphia, sadly) to catch ECW live events and load up on tapes (both theirs and RF Videos’). ECW was more real, violent, creative and engaging than any product the big two were putting out at the time (keeping in mind that the WWF’s Attitude phase was them doing ECW), or, in WWE’s case, since.
And by now, four and a half years after its death knell, we all know the history (or should) of the outlaw promotion that started small in a bingo hall, innovated and struggled, took runs at the big two, revolutionized the wrestling industry and eventually folded under gross mismanagement.
So it was with a bit of nostalgia and even more trepidation (Vince McMahon has never met an idea he couldn’t ruin in attempting to put his stamp on it) that my excitement in wrestling was marginally rekindled (unlike, say, my current love affair with the UFC) by the announcement of a one-off ECW event. In fact, my boredom with wrestling can be traced back to the death of ECW, which, coupled with the failure of WCW, left the WWF without challenges and wallowing in its own muck, stagnation and mire for years.
But in thinking back to what made ECW so special to me (and to so many other people) in an attempt to discern if WWE’s resurrection of greatness has any chance in hell of holding a candle to ECW’s legacy, it’s clear that despite all the hoopla, nostalgia and hype that surrounds this “one night stand” — think anyone would care about a WCW one night stand? — it can’t be the ECW of our memories.
Why? Well, because it’s not pure ECW if it’s under the banner of the WWE. Because it’s not the ’90s; it’s 2005 and everything that made the company so innovative, so cutting edge, so engaging has been done and/or stolen and done on larger stages (a creative problem the company faced in its last days). Maybe it wasn’t done as well, but the shock and awe ECW generated back in its formative years cannot be matched currently (I don’t care how many times TNA redesigns a ring). No matter how successful this PPV is, it won’t revolutionize the sport. At best, it’ll be excellent nostalgia, at worst it’ll be the unseen funeral from Clerks.
That doesn’t mean that One Night Stand is going to be an awful event. Despite missing the likes of hardcore icons such as Terry Funk, Raven and New Jack, and the absence of ECW’s first champion and Franchise, Shane Douglas, given the nostalgia factor and the likes of Sabu, Chris Benoit and the Dudleys being allowed, hopefully, to showcase their skills in a true hardcore environment, it could be superior to anything the WWE has done in years.
Of course, typing this a half-hour before its start, and knowing that the WWE invasion angle will play a large part in the show, which is a bad, rushed idea (if the WWE is serious about bringing back ECW in one shape or another to generate a faux sense of competition, which rumours seem to substantiate, it would have been a much better angle down the road), it very well could turn out to be very bad idea, especially since all reports indicate that Douglas’ Hardcore Homecoming got it so right on Friday night in Philadelphia. But enough of the speculation; on to the event.
The show from the “Madhouse of the Extreme,” NYC’s Hammerstein Ballroom, opens with those world-famous “ECW” chants and the ECW music.
Joey Styles (the voice of ECW) is introduced and walks to the ring.
I am currently feeling very nostalgic and may have something in my eye despite my trepidation. I promise you, it’s not a tear.
The fans chant “Joey,” a lot.
Joey lets out a trademarked “Oh my God!” and welcomes us to ECW’s One Night Stand. More “ECW” chants ring out.
Mick Foley is shown some love in an introduction by Joey and comes out to do colour commentary wearing a Cactus Jack shirt. They even share a manly hug. That’s right, manly. Nothing wrong with two guys hugging.
The ECW intro video is shown.
Match 1 – Lance Storm w/Dawn Marie vs. Lion Heart Chris Jericho
Joey hypes up the Impact Players (Justin Credible and Storm) during Lance’s introduction; there are even more “ECW” chants. God, it’s good to hear Joey’s voice again. Mick interjects that this might be Lance’s last match ever. Joey gives some background info on Jericho and Storm.
The match opens with some good wrestling and reversals. The fans give an ovation and more “ECW” chants. Jericho nails Storm with a nice dropkick and baseball slide; “Lion Heart” cheers start. Storm nails Jericho with a great dropkick, gets a two count. Joey thanks WWE. Sigh. Storm hits a nice delayed vertical suplex. “Canadian whip”? Nice, Joey. Lance is thrown into the corner, jumps to and off the turnbuckles and takes a dropkick in the back. Chants of “holy s**t” break out, followed shortly by a “Chris Candido” chant. The action goes back and forth, Storm hits a leg lariat; Jericho reverses a cradle piledriver then takes a super-kick for a two count. Jericho hits a flying elbow off the ropes. Holy nostalgia, Batman, they’re even showing the old split-style, crappy ECW replays. Storm gets Jericho in the Calgary Crab; Jericho reverses, hits a Lionsault but takes the knees then reverses it into the Walls of Jericho. Storm taps but the ref is distracted; Jason and Justin Credible come out. Jericho takes a cane shot and Storm gets the “one, two, three!” It’s an Impact Players reunion. Hey, don’t I own that Justin Credible shirt? Foley and Joey play up the heel angle; Jericho sells the cane shot. More “Lion Heart” chants ring out.
Winner: Lance Storm
Three out of Five chair shots for this short, but solid, Can-con match.
Cut to Foley and Joey in the booth foreshadowing the WWE invasion angle. Remember how the WWE butchered the WCW invasion angle? Yeah, yeah.
Oh my God, it’s Pitbull Gary Wolfe giving a promo that introduces an “ECW Remembers” tribute for its sadly deceased wrestlers: Rocco Rock (Public Enemy), Terry Gordy, Mike Lockwood (Crash Holly), the Original Sheik, Mike Lozansky (guh?), Pitbull Anthony Durante (the bald one), Big Dick Dudley and Chris Candido. No lament for the dead careers of the number of its wrestlers that floundered in WWF/E and WCW though (Brian Pillman, Louie Spicolli, et al).
More “Candido” chants.
Match 2 – Tajiri with the Sinister Minister and Mikey Whipwreck versus Little Guido with most of the past members of the Full Bloodied Italians versus Super Crazy, all by his lonesome
Let the mayhem begin. Seriously, I can’t keep track of the action. Super Crazy nails Little Guido with a nice dropkick to the face after some action, then Tajiri gets one as well. Guido hits the Sicilian slice on Crazy; the match goes to the floor. Guido goes into the guardrail then the crowd. Super Crazy is setting up on the balcony for a moonsault to the floor and hits it on all the members of the FBI. Oh my God! Shockingly, “ECW” chants ring out. Crazy is the first one up and back in the ring. Tajiri gets Crazy in the Tarantula. Guido makes it back to the ring. Crazy gets jumped by the FBI; Tajiri mists Guido in the eyes; mayhem breaks out. Whipwreck hits a Whippersnapper on Guido then Tajiri pins him for the “one, two, three!” Crazy hits a springboard moonsault on Tajiri. Tajiri DDTs Crazy off a reversal; “Super Crazy” chants start. Crazy hits a fireman’s carry and two moonsaults before Mikey interferes. “You F**ked Up!” chants begin but I’m not sure why. Crazy hits another moonsault for the “one, two, three!”
Winner: Super Crazy
Three out of five chair shots.
A good match, with an actual ECW “holy s**t” high-spot, but it was way too short to properly allow the three to demonstrate their skills or build the match correctly.
Joey throws to an “ECW Memories” package. Perry Como springs to mind: “Memories, like the corners of my mind, misty, water-colored, memories of the way we were!” [Editor’s Note: If you knew what kind of music Chris was into, you’d be as shocked by the Perry Como reference as we were.]
We come back to more “ECW” chants. They’d probably chant “ECW” if I walked into the ring. More foreshadowing from Mick on the WWE angle, then he pays some bills.
Match 3 – Psichosis versus Rey Mysterio
Psichosis takes off his mask, which is apparently a great show of respect for ECW’s fans. Joey and Mick discuss amongst themselves and sell the history of the match. Some back and forth reversals culminate with an arm drag on Rey. More “ECW” chants. Rey hits a nice jumping victory roll. Don’t worry, it’ll get (super) crazy soon. Rey hits a springboard splash but it’s reversed into a facebuster by Psichosis, who goes to work on him. Rey goes hard into the turnbuckles; two count. Rey hits a moonsault for another two count; Psichosis hits a sleeper, the crowd boos. Psi gets another two count and throws Rey to the floor. Rey’s on the guardrail and Psi hits an awesome Psicho Guillotine off the top ropes to Rey, who’s still on the guardrail. The crowd chants, wait for it, “ECW” and “holy s**t.” Two count. Psi wipes out while missing a flying lunge in the corner. Rey hits a good facebuster for a two count. Psi goes shoulder first into the steel, flies out and goes into the first row, Mysterio decimates him, leaping off the top rope into the crowd. The crowd chants “ECW.” (Sense a theme?) Rey sets up the 619 and hits it, then hits a springboard huricanrana for the one, two, three!
Winner: Rey Mysterio
Three out of five chair shots tonight but two-and-half when compared to their past wars. Again, a way too short match to properly build an ebb and flow or showcase their skills.
The WWE wrestlers show up, yeah. The crowd boos, swears and gives them the finger(s). Joey sells it old school. A “You Suck D**k” chant starts. God, I miss New York. A “F**k You Smackdown” chant is also is started. JBL plays it up. Another “ECW” chant is started.
A Roadkill and Danny Doring promo starts but is cut off by a tech issue; I guess it really is old school ECW after all. Another “ECW Memories” pack is shown. Man, and to think, I spent thousands of dollars on tapes for nothing. I still have yet to see any real Raven action. He was only the ECW Heavyweight champ, people. Wait, they just showed the Dreamer/Raven chair shot heard around the world. Man, hopefully he’ll show up.
The “Stud Muffin” Joel “I Used to Cut Ten-minute-long Promos” Gertner comes out and starts to cut a promo but gets punked by Kurt Angle and JBL. Damn, now Angle has a mic. Angle talks some smack on ECW, the crowd tells Angle he “Sucks D**k.” Angle talks more trash and threatens to beat up anyone who wrestles in the ring tonight. I smell an Angle/Taz showdown. JBL takes his turn to talk smack. Geez, is it me or is JBL utterly terrible? A “Shut the F**k Up” chant starts. JBL runs down the fans. Man, where’s Faarooq when you need him?
Thankfully RVD and Bill Alphonso come out to interrupt JBL’s horrible promo. An “RVD” chant breaks out; RVD still loves Fonzie, apparently. RVD talks smack to the WWE Smackdowners. More “ECW” chants; RVD “shoots” for real it sounds like, and he disses WWE’s use of him — now isn’t that the sad truth, daddy? More “RVD” chants break out. RVD reminds us that he’s the Whole F**king Show, Mr. PPV, Mr. Monday Night, etc. He puts over his ECW TV Title reign and takes another shot at WWE and the credit for inspiring this ECW PPV. He does a funny Vince impression too; more “ECW” chants. He sells his knee surgery and why he won’t wrestle tonight, saying it’s worse than missing any WWE event.
Rhyno appears and gores the crap out of RVD and goes to work on his knee.
The lights go out to chants of “Sabu” and, lo and behold, Sabu is in the ring, covered in bandages from Friday’s Hardcore Homecoming show.
Match 4 – Sabu vs. Rhyno
The action starts and Sabu takes a belly to belly suplex. Mick puts over Sabu’s injuries; Rhyno takes a sick chair shot. More “ECW” chants; Sabu hits a chair/top rope springboard dive onto Rhyno… on the floor! Rhyno goes into the rail hard, takes a flying chair to the head. A table is set up. Rhyno and Sabu continue to go at it with Sabu on the receiving end. Mick and Joey put over Sabu. Two count for Rhyno. Rhyno gets caught on the turnbuckle and Sabu hits a leaping hurricanrana and a springboard leg lariat. Here comes a chair; Air Sabu on Rhyno, who then falls into the chair. Leg drop of the chair for Sabu; two count. Here comes the triple-jump moonsault but Sabu gets tripped into the chair. Rhyno hits a facebuster on the chair. Two count. Rhyno nails a reverse powerbomb on the turnbuckle and goes for the gore but kills the ref instead of Sabu. Rhyno hits a piledriver. RVD comes in, chairs Rhyno and surfs the chair into Rhyno; in comes a table. “Whole F**king Show” chants start. Rhyno is set up on the table, Sabu hits an Arabian Facebuster on Rhyno through the table for the “one, two, three!”
Three Out of Five chair shots because it’s awesome to see Sabu back in action in a hardcore match, plus Rhyno is also wicked when used correctly. But man, if only RVD was good to go…
Cut to Al Snow and Head in the back. Al blames Head for the WWE showing up; Al calls the Smackdown wrestlers “a**holes.” Al Snow is a wise man. Another “ECW Memories” pack is shown. Another glimpse of Raven appears, this time he canes the Sandman. Yes!
Eric Bischoff and the WWE Raw wrestlers show up. Joey disses Edge for stealing Matt Hardy’s girlfriend, Lita, in real life; but apparently it is okay to play up his pain for an angle. He also plays up the “Bischoff trying to put ECW out of business angle by stealing all their talent,” which, truth be told, Eric did attempt.
Match 5 – Chris Benoit versus Eddie Guerrero
Benoit comes out and stares down the WWE contingent. Guerrero comes out. Joey and Mick sell the history of the two. The two tie-up; Guerrero goes to the ropes. They put over the fact that the two never fought in ECW although it would have been a dream match. An “I F**ked Lita” chant starts. Nice, NYC, nice.
The two circle and tie-up with some reversals; Eddie goes to the floor for some stalling. A “You Screwed Matt” chant starts. Eddie breaks with the science and starts beating on Chris. Benoit chops back, Eddie goes to the eyes. A “Let’s Go Benoit/Let’s Go Eddie” chant breaks out. Eddie is bleeding from the nose and takes a belly to back suplex. Benoit takes some chops; Eddie gets a two count. A “F**k You Bischoff” chant starts while Eddie wears down Benoit, who fights back but misses and goes to the floor. Eddie chairs Benoit on the outside then sets him up on the top rope for a nice bouncy superplex (got to love the ECW ring). Eddie goes for the Frog Splash but misses; both men are down. If only John Powell and John Molinaro were here, it would be just like old times. Benoit beats on Eddie; more chops. Eddie reverses. Chop fest ’05; Northern Lights suplex by Benoit. Benoit hits a superplex on Eddie, gets a two. German suplex, make it two, no three. Benoit signals the end, hits the suicide head butt. Two count only. Eddie rolls him up then gets caught in the Crippler Crossface. Eddie taps after some selling. The Smackdown wrestlers applaud Benoit.
Winner: Chris Benoit
Three and a half out of five chair shots, but given the build-up, this should have been the match of the night.
Joel Gertner is back with a mic and instead of cutting one of his awesome promos he asks Bischoff for a job. Bischoff does a spit-take. Bischoff calls him a scab, talks a lot of smack, throws beer on Gertner and says ECW sucks. He obviously hasn’t watched Smackdown or Raw lately. Talk about a misuse of talent; while I love Mick Foley, Gertner should have been doing commentary with Styles.
Match 6 – Mike Awesome versus Masato Tanaka
Awesome comes out; I guess all is forgiven for his screwing over of ECW to go to the WCW while the ECW champ. Then again, maybe not, as Joey starts laying into him and the particulars of Awesome’s desertion. The Raw stars turn their collective backs on the ring. Chops go back and forth, Masato gets thrown around; Joey runs Awesome down some more; you go Joey. Mike hits a Suicide Dive to the floor on Masato. Masato goes into the rail; Mike gets back-dropped into the first row, Masato hits a nice running, leaping chair shot on Awesome. Awesome is thrown into the rail but rebounds and clotheslines Masato. Joey briefly runs down TNN, who dumped ECW for the WWE and basically killed ECW. (In a twist of irony, it looks as if TNN are now set to dump the WWE for UFC).
Awesome sets up a table on the outside and powerbombs Tanaka off the ring apron through the table to the floor. Chants of “ECW” ring out. A “holy s**t” chant breaks out too. Awesome splash, two count. Man, Masato’s neck looked like it hit hard. Reversals, powerbomb by Awesome on Tanaka. Mike grabs a chair but so does Tanaka for a chair battle, which he loses. Tanaka takes three sick shots but keeps getting up. Masato hits a top rope reverse stunner then Tornado DDTs Awesome on a bunch of chairs. Two count. Masato puts a chair on Awesome then hits him with another, then does it again from the top rope. Two count. Tanaka misses with the elbow, takes a nice release suplex then gets speared by Awesome. Sick chair shot off the top rope by Awesome. Awesome gets another table, has some problems with it then grabs another one. Masato Tornado DDTs him through the table; two count. Awesome Bomb through the table leftovers; two count. Standing O for the wrestlers. Another “ECW” chant breaks out. Awesome goes for another table. “This Match Rules” chant. Awesome powerbombs Tanaka out of the ring through a table then dives over the ropes and on to him for the “one, two, three!” He then powerbombs the ref for good measure.
Winner: Mike Awesome
Four out of five chair shots.
A sloppy match that got insanely good with its violent ending(s). Masato and Tanaka always put on exceptional, stiff hardcore matches, and while they’ve had better, this was the best match of the night.
Paul Heyman comes out to the ECW music. Starts to cry. A “Thank You, Paul” chant rings out. An “ECW” chant soon follows. Paul throws out “thank yous” to the ECW staff and puts over the fans. Another “Paul-E” chant. Heyman runs down Bischoff; Bischoff gives him the finger. More “ECW” chants. “Hide your wives, it’s Edge,” nice, Paul. “You Screwed Matt” chant starts. Heyman runs down Edge some more. A “You F**ked Matt” chant starts; Joel notes wryly that it wasn’t actually Matt but Lita who Edge… never mind. Edge seems good with it though, the scumbag. A man without honour is no man at all. Heyman then runs down JBL, tells him the only reason he was champ was because Triple H didn’t want to work Tuesdays. Nice.
More “ECW” chants. Paul again puts over ECW!!! I tell you, Paul could sell snow to eskimoes when he’s passionate about something.
Someone at Rogers Cable loses it, as it looks like the PPV is over, with the “thank you for ordering page” coming up. WTF!!! A “You F**ked Up” chant starts at my house. Thankfully, it comes back before I light my cable bill on fire and smash my box over it The Dudleys come out.
Match 7 – The Dudley Boys versus Tommy Dreamer and the Sandman
The Dudleys emerge but don’t run down the crowd. Damn! No one cuts a heel promo like the Dudleys. Dreamer comes out and Mick and Joey rightfully put him over as “the heart of ECW”. The Sandman comes out and does the crowd thing and drinks a beer while the fans sing along to Enter Sandman. The Sandman is busted open and already drunk, and I’m getting incredibly nostalgic, as these four men feuded countless times in ECW. He also spits beer at Bubba and drinks beer off a girl’s chest with Dreamer (apparently it’s Elektra, an ex ECWer). Women’s rights have come a long way. Of course, the Sandman’s intro may last longer than this match.
Sandman stares down the WWE contingent then spits beer at them and makes a vulgar gesture not to be recapped here. The Dudleys and Dreamer/Sandman share pounds. Joey puts over that this is Dreamer’s “last hurrah”. All of a sudden the bWo music starts and the bWo (Big Stevie Cool, the Blue Guy and Hollywood Nova) comes out; the fans don’t seem as into it as everything else but a “bWo” chant does ring out. Big Stevie Cool takes the mic, talks some smack and puts over the bWo. Richards Stevie Kicks Sandman out of the blue. The Dudleys beat on Dreamer. Kid Kash runs in and out just as fast. bWo/Dudleys look teamed-up but Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten (“the hardcore, chair-swinging freaks”) come out and beat on the bWo; Hollywood Nova takes a couple of chair shots before the Dudleys come in and it’s an all out brawl. Kash hits a top rope springboard flip on everyone on the floor. “ECW” chants ring out. A “New Jack” chant is also heard but sadly there is no Jack, neither new nor old.
The original match finally starts with weapons in the ring. Bubba belly to back suplexes Dreamer. A ladder and a trashcan are in the ring; sign shot on Dreamer. Cheese grater to Dreamer’s head and he’s busted wide open; Bubba wears his blood as war paint. Bubba misses the Senton splash. Dreamer takes a double team neck breaker, then the Sandman ladders the Dudleys; Dreamer does the spinning ladder thing on the Dudleys, à la Terry Funk. A “He’s Hardcore” chant rings out for Dreamer, who takes the cheese grater to Bubba’s head. Sandman drop-toeholds D-Von into a garbage can; two count. Dreamer hits Bubba with a baking pan. Dreamer gets bagged on the guardrail; Sandman hits a rolling splash on D-Von, who’s under the ladder then takes a sick chair shot. “Holy s**t” chant rings out. Sandman is laid out on the ladder, takes a Frog Splash from Bubba; two count. D-Von canes Bubba by accident, takes a White Russian Leg Sweep; Dreamer is back in. Pair of figure-four leg locks on the Dudleys. Storm and Credible run in with a barbwire orb. Justin delivers That’s Incredible on the Sandman on the barbwire. Oh my God! Francine runs in and kicks Dreamer in the nuts. Beulah runs in. Catfight! Justin breaks it up; Storm misses Beulah and hits Justin. Beulah and Dreamer reunion!
Double kicks and DDTs on the Dudley by Beulah and Dreamer. The Sandman is back in. Dreamer hits a chair with a sign while it’s placed on D-Von’s groin. Bubba comes in and canes everyone. A table is brought in. More cane shots. Sandman gets powerbombed through the table; two count. Dreamer’s in, beating on everyone. Takes a 3D though. More tables. Spike comes in. Fans chant “LSD.” He’s brought lighter fluid, which is being poured on the table. More “ECW” chants. Just add fire and presto, flaming table. Dreamer gets powerbombed through the flaming table. Yikes! Dreamer gives it the hard sell. Bubba gets the “one, two, three!” They grab Beulah but Sandman saves her, calls for beer then canes Spike.
Winners: The Dudley Boys
Three out of Five chair shots. A sloppy, muddled match to start but hell, it had a flaming table, the return of Beulah, Francine and a freaking piledriver on a ball of barbwire, what did your match have?
Stone Cold Steve Austin’s music starts and he comes out. Sandman and Austin are in the ring!!! I wonder if Austin is going to cut him a cheque for gimmick infringement. Austin puts over the Sandman’s alcoholism, invites all of the ECW alum. out for a beer bash. The locker-room empties. No sign of Raven. What about Raven? Where the hell is Funk, for that matter? Austin talks some smack, says he’s here for a fight then runs down Bischoff, JBL and Angle, challenges the WWE contingent to come down and rumble. More chants of “ECW.” Austin runs them down some more. The WWE contingent finally comes down. A “We Want Taz” chant begins and the fans are rewarded with his music.
Bischoff grabs a mic to announce with Foley and Joey. Joey runs down Bischoff for real. The mayhem begins. It’s a pure brawl (i.e., mess). Joey goes crazy running down Bischoff some more. Holy crap, Joey, tell him how you feel. I’ve heard of using real life events/feelings for angles, but tonight they’re not sugar-coating anything. Taz locks Angle in the Tazmission on the outside; Austin laughs. Foley takes his turn and runs down Bischoff as the fight continues. ECW clears the ring. Bischoff runs down ECW in turn; “ECW” chants ring out.
Austin’s in the ring with JBL’s hat on (funny) and tells Foley to bring Bischoff to the ring. He does, eventually. More “ECW” chants. The Dudleys 3D Bischoff, Benoit gives him a flying head-butt; Rey 619s him. Austin “interviews” him, but Bischoff fouly refutes ECW’s greatness; Austin gives him the Stunner. The Dudleys throw Bischoff out of the building. Everyone celebrates with beer. Everyone loves beer.
I must admit, I went into One Night Stand with a fair amount of scepticism, expecting a watered-down version of ECW as constrained by the current poor and boring style of the WWE. At best I thought it could be a badly photocopied version of ECW’s once greatness, but with the all the legitimate “shooting” (damn, Joey, you “Bisch-slapped” Eric with that “I didn’t return any or your eight calls” line), the surprises (Beulah showing up, oh my God!) and the actual ECW hardcore violence (even if the technical matches didn’t live up to their billings), One Night Stand is comparable in quality to ECW’s final PPV offerings, if not the company’s glory days.
Sure, it seems the matches weren’t given enough time to unfold properly and reach four- or five-star status, and a number of important ECW figures weren’t on the bill or allowed to wrestle (what about Raven?) but for the sake of nostalgia and the gutsy efforts by the likes of Tanaka, Dreamer, Super Crazy and Awesome, it overcame the limitations I thought would constrain it to actually tug at the heartstrings without making you cringe. Granted, it was dulled by the WWE invasion angle, but, if as rumoured, ECW is actually going to return from time to time (which Joey and Mick both hinted at), it could be a source of actual interest in the flagging WWE product and might jolt them out of their mire.
However, that’s still the problem and why this ECW revival feels so conflicted: while it is funded by/tied to the WWE, it will never be the “outlaw promotion” it once was, just a reminder of glory days gone by. Maybe some things should be left in the past. We’ll see where they go from here…
Overall Rating: Three out of Five chair shots.