Returning vets revel in ECCW anniversary
FRED JOHNS - SLAM! Wrestling
|Oly Olsen on his way to the ring.
- photos by Fred Johns
VANCOUVER -- Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling held its much-anticipated 10th Anniversary Show Friday in front of a nearly-sold out audience comprised of long-time fans and new ones curious to check out the newly-televised promotion. But the real allure of the show was its celebration of ten years in a turbulent industry where wrestling promotions come and go, and where fans -- like wrestlers -- shift allegiances.
But the loyalty to ECCW was never more apparent during the special ECCW Alumni Battle Royal, where many of the stars of yesteryear put their wrestling boots back on for return performances in front of fans who hadn't seen them in years. And some of the older wrestlers were surprised those same fans still remembered them.
Moondog Chopps, who started wrestling for ECCW back in 1997, was one of them. "When I came out, I noticed there were a lot of fans from the old Eagles Hall days," he said, referring to the first building ECCW held shows in. "It was really cool." His five-year absence from wrestling meant he was unsure what to expect for his return, but the experience is not one he would take back. "It was amazing to see all these guys that I haven't talked to for five years or longer."
Ladies Choice, who also started with ECCW nearly ten years ago, felt the same way. "It was absolute déjà vu tonight," he said. "It was thrilling to see all the stars that started what's going on today. Those guys that, ten years ago, built the foundation of what we call pro wrestling in the Pacific Northwest today."
Dropkick Murphy, left, hams for the camera as ref Verne Seibert and Terry Joe Silverspoon try to control him.
For many of the wrestlers, it was a reunion. "Loverboy" Johnny Canuck, who announced his retirement last year after wrestling for nearly ten years with ECCW, said the return was the opportunity to see some old faces. "It was great," he said of the experience. "It was like old times, seeing all the old boys in the back. It's really good to see them and the old fans who are still here after ten years. And I hope there are ten more."
It was certainly a special night, but perhaps even more so for the man that won the Alumni Battle Royal, the well-known and greatly respected Oly Olsen, who made his return to Canada after an eight-year absence. "It was really great to be back," he said after the show. "It's been a long time since I was here in Canada and to be in the ring again. You don't really know if anyone is going to remember you or anything but it seemed to go really well. I'm really happy with it."
Many fans stayed after the show was over to get autographs from some of the wrestlers -- those they had seen wrestle on the first ECCW shows and the ones they had just met. One of the men signing those autographs was Olsen himself, standing right beside one of the main stars of ECCW for the past few years, Scotty Mac. It was an ironic juxtaposition that the current face of the promotion understood well.
"I am thrilled to be part of this 10th Anniversary show," Scotty said. "I love ECCW and respect and admire everyone who has come before me." The Anniversary show was the first time Scotty had met the legendary Oly Olsen, who he said was "really cool. They are the ones who have paved the way for me and all the rest of us."
Another of the veteran wrestlers, Moondog Manson, was pretty jacked about how the show went. "I wish there could be a tenth anniversary show every month," he said after its conclusion. "It totally rejuvenated me." Moondog has been taking some time off to recover from some injuries, but seeing some of the men he used to wrestle with a decade ago still sticking to their original playbooks pleased him. "It just shows that what worked ten years ago can still work today."
Some of the fans that came did come after seeing ECCW on television, and would thusly have recognized the face of Mauro Ranallo, the veteran broadcaster who has become the voice of the promotion. Ranallo himself was pretty jazzed about the show, commenting afterwards on the loyalty of those fans who attended.
A (surprise, surprise) bloody Johnny Canuck.
"I thought for an independent show that was celebrating their tenth anniversary, it was incredible to see how generous the crowd was with their support. They were so vocal, and for an independent crowd, that's fantastic."
One of these fans, an extremely loyal fan named Bill, said the show was an experience unlike any other. "It was great to see some of the old guys in the ring again," he said. "It's been a very long time but they can still wrestle and put on a good show. Wrestlers are pretty unique that way, aren't they?"
And so they are. And perhaps the most unique of which is the 7-foot tall Wraithchild, who has only been with ECCW for six years, but in that time has wrestled -- or met -- all the men that have comprised a roster that is now ten years old. He was one of the last wrestlers to leave the building after the show, perhaps not wanting the night to end just yet.
"It was fun to see all the same guys I had trained with and some of the vets," he shared. "It was like bringing the whole gang together again. There was lots of energy in the locker room. Everyone was in a good mood, laughing, telling old stories, what happened to this guy and that guy." He paused, perhaps lost in a memory nearly a decade old. "It felt good to be home, you know?"
Results from the ECCW 10th Anniversary:
Jan. 26, 2006: ECCW poised for 10th anniversary celebration
- Sweet Daddy Devastation beat Juggernaut by choking him out to win the NWA/ECCW Championship, with a little help from "Rocket" Randy Tyler
- Randy Tyler pinned junior heavyweight double champion Aaron Idol thanks to help from Sweet Daddy Devastation
- SuperGirls champion Rebecca Knox pinned El Phantasmo in a non-title intergender match
Black Dragon defeated Disco Fury
- Oly Olson won the Alumni Battle Royal, last eliminating Ladies Choice. Other competitors included MR2, Machette Brown, DK Roc, Moondog Chopps, Prince Aladdin, Burgermeister, White Tiger & R.A.G.E.
- ECCW Hardcore champion Moondog Manson went to a no contest with Killswitch due to interference from Killswitch's partner Wrathchild
- TJ Wilson pinned Scotty Mac
- Fast Freddy FUnk, Kurt Sterling & Kyle O'Reilly defeated "Gorgeous" Michelle Starr, Johnny Canuck & "Mr. Beefy Goodness" Vance Nevada when Funk pinned Starr
Fred Johns is the editor of SCNW -- an online wrestling news magazine covering events and promotions in the Pacific Northwest. Check it out at SomethingCool.ca. He lives in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia and can be reached by emailing email@example.com.