PHILADELPHIA – By now, anyone who has wanted to find out the results of this past weekend’s Extreme Reunion show has probably done so. There are a few reports out there online on other wrestling news sites, and fan feedback is well-documented on the company’s own Facebook page. While the reaction has been overwhelmingly negative, the show wasn’t all bad, and in this writer’s view, not as bad as has been made out through the reports. So, for what it’s worth, here are my thoughts on the event.
By way of context, I should point out that while I am “media,” I paid full price for this show – $100 for a front-row seat package that included a souvenir event chair. I drove down with a couple of friends, one of whom had placed the order when the tickets originally went on sale, maybe three months ago or so. So I received no special privileges, other than being allowed entry into the building a few minutes before the rest of the crowd.
Overall, I thought the show was good, I’d say about a 6 out of 10. Most of the matches were, in my view, good to great – though there were a couple of major stinkers. And the booking was often times questionable at best, though that’s more a personal view than factual statement.
CW Anderson and Al Snow put on a good match that saw very crisp technical, old-school wrestling mixed with some comic relief. The crowd seemed to dump on this one a bit unfairly, not necessarily appreciating the psychology as much as I did – evidenced by the “we want tables” chants within the first minute.
Balls Mahoney vs Axl Rotten was the hardcore affair of the night, with both guys bleeding profusely from chair shots, and assaults with other pointy-ended objects – like a cheese grater, a thumbtack covered bat and the like. It ended fairly quickly and with a disappointingly low number of chairshots for what one might expect from a match between these two. But both gave it their all, that’s for sure.
Shane Douglas vs 2 Cold Scorpio. By this time, as all accounts will note, the crowd had turned heavily against Douglas, the main spokesman of the show. I never thought I’d hear Shane get such “real-life” vitriol thrown at him personally – especially in Philadelphia, and especially after seeing the number of fans who paid him tribute at the fan fest earlier that morning – but they were brutal. Kudos to him for having the guts to go deep into the crowd who, at several times during his promo and match, threatened to throw chairs into the ring at him, and sometimes threw other objects like cans and water bottles. He and Scorpio put on a very good match, marred by some over-booking though the surprise appearances by Kevin Sullivan and Tod Gordon. Still, in absence of Sabu, as was the original main event plan, it was a good alternative.
The match between the FBI and the Blue World Order was a fun affair, for what it was. These two teams always go out and put on a fun one for the fans, and this was no exception. The impromptu thumb wrestling battle was a nice twist, in lieu of the standard dance-off. And all four guys looked great – Stevie Richards is probably in the best shape of his life right now, while Guido, Tony Mamaluke and Blue Meanie seem to have gotten younger-looking than back in the ECW prime days.
But it was Jerry Lynn and “Crowbar” Devon Storm who deserve the most accolades for what was definitely the match of the night. These two put on a classic, original ECW style match. Hard-hitting, technical, weapons, blood, passion – this one had it all. Lynn, at 49, is probably one of the best wrestlers anywhere in North America, and is probably incapable of having a bad match. And Storm is highly under-rated, and a guy whose great work never seemed to get the proper due. He stepped up on this night, for sure.
On the other hand, the efforts of Raven and the Sandman were minimal at best. For whatever reason, Raven didn’t do anything in the ring, choosing to let his new Flock compete against Pitbull Gary Wolfe, and give him an extended beat-down that seemed to last forever – and that was before Sandman’s music even hit! After the full “Enter Sandman” song was complete, Sandman caned the Flock, including a handicapped guy repeatedly, and Raven simply left, denying the fans the awaited showdown. Wolfe won by pinning one of the Flock, leaving people scratching their heads. That mess may have been the nadir of the show.
But that one followed another awful booking decision in the altercation between Angel of the Baldies and the Gangstas. Angel cut a promo, which brought Mustafa and New Jack who, earlier in the day, had promised that he was going to carve someone up. Before they could get medieval on Angel, they were attacked by CZW’s team BLK Out. Those two guys demolished the Gangstas for what seemed to be forever, not letting the Gangstas get any offense. This should have been the time when New Jack went violent to the extreme, which is what every fan wanted to see. The reverse booking seemed only to offend and inflame everyone in the crowd, and the show never rebounded from that.
The appearances by several CZW wrestlers were not appreciated in general – and actually had people mad at the show. This show was not billed as an ECW reunion, but rather as a launching of a new brand that would include ECW alumni and other stars. From that standpoint, some of these angles – including the Gangsta beat-down – seemed to make sense – it planted seeds for new feuds, it introduced new characters. But, despite not being billed as a straight reunion, that’s what the fans wanted. They wanted to see the ECW stars in their familiar roles, and in doing that, recreating the experience that the fans remember from the original ECW days. And when something deviated from that plan, they didn’t like it – and that only grew into resentment, and in some cases, out and out hatred.
Whether or not that feeling lingers on and affects the next show remains to be seen. I’m not sure I’ll be attending, but that’s more because of timing than anything. The next show is June 30, and that’s a long weekend in Canada, one that traditionally comes with other, family plans. But for others, especially those closer to Philly, it remains to be seen.
– The elephant in the room is obviously Justin Credible and his condition. I saw him during the fan fest, and while he didn’t seem to be 100% (slurred speech, primarily), I didn’t see him afterwards. Hopefully he is in top condition when he comes up to Toronto where he’s scheduled for a couple of shows in the next few weeks.
– Some major screw-ups in the handling of the front-row ticket holders. During the show, we wondered what would be done with the commemorative chairs, since we were sitting on the same chairs as everyone else. During the show, it was announced that the chairs would be wrapped and would be available for pick-up after the show. After the show, it was clear the chairs weren’t there. The promoters apologized and offered various options – including refunds – to make amends. It left a bad taste in the mouth, but they should be commended for at least not ducking the issue.
– Raven had the best merchandise at the fan fest – including some of his most famous t-shirts that he wore to the ring back in the ECW days.
– Joel Gertner has still got it – the master of the dirty rhyme didn’t disappoint. He’s lost a ton of weight since those days, which is a good thing.
– Stevie Richards is on DDP’s yoga plan,, and recommended it to this writer (“You’ve got to take care of yourself, Bob”). Will think about it, Big Daddy.
– A definite fan fest highlight was the near confrontation between New Jack and Balls Mahoney. It looked like they were going to come to blows at one point, until Atlas Security stepped in. Legitimate heat between those two.
– A definite highlight of the show was the flashing by a girl in the ringside seats. Gotta love the queens of extreme.
– As the crowd got nastier, the chants got funnier. One I never thought I’d hear: “We want Russo.”