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SLAM! Speaks: A return to Extreme
By SLAM! Wrestling Staff




With just a few weeks left until the official return of ECW, SLAM! Wrestling's writers gathered around the flaming table to discuss the new venture by WWE.

After Bob brought out the thumbtacks and barbed wire (hey, what can we say, his nickname is "Bloodthirsty" for a reason), however, we quickly departed from our metal chairs. Before we ran off, however, we were able to get our thoughts down on paper on whether or not the new ECW would be a success or not. Here's what we had to say.

Marty Goldstein
An artistic success? Probably. A commercial success, as in make more money than it costs? Probably. A critical success to the fans? Probably. A critical success to the critics? Probably not. If they detect too much McMahonland influence over the push the performers get. If anyone named McMahon appears and gets anything but humiliated, the critics will bury the product as being unworthy of the anti-establishment legacy built by Paul E and Tod Gordon in the first incarnation.

Greg Oliver
The magic of ECW's first run will not be re-captured by this latest go-round. In fact, it's disappointing that it is happening at all. Mr. McMahon will not let the ECW product outshine his baby, Raw, the same way that Smackdown is a poor cousin to the live show. Will it be fun? Undoubtedly; but it won't be the same. What made ECW great in the first place was its middle finger to the established big two of the WWF and WCW. As the rabid fans used to chant, "You sold out."

Corey David Lacroix
Did you know that wolves will urinate to "mark" their territory? Just like a wolf, Vince McMahon is a creature of habit and that means it's only a matter of time before he'll piss on ECW. Just read the press release on the re-launch of ECW and you'll see what I mean via McMahon's reference to "sports entertainment." ECW was not sports entertainment, it was something far beyond that. Rest assured, when the creative decision making process is compromised from Stamford, the ECW faithful will smell that McMahon and company have left their "mark" and will turn away en masse.

Ryan Nation
The Oxford Dictionary defines success as the "accomplishment of an aim." In this sense, ECW 2006 could already be deemed a success since it has people talking. The true test is whether or not it will be accepted by the masses to continue for years to come.

For instance, take a movie franchise that has a sequel coming out this summer, Clerks. The first movie was very low budget, but it developed a cult following in the mid-'90s because it was counterculture. ECW did the exact same thing.

Now, you have a sequel, Clerks II, coming out with a much bigger budget. Similarly, ECW 2006 now has the purse strings of WWE.

Right away, you'll have some people that will say "it can't be the same as the original," and they're right. You can't recreate the magic of the past, but you can add to it if done correctly.

With both Paul Heyman and Vince McMahon (among others) both wanting this venture to be triumphant, ECW now has something it never had before: major support both internally and externally.

Only time will tell how much success and acceptance this project will garner. Regardless of the outcome, it will be interesting to watch the events play out.

More importantly, will the ECW roster abide by WWE's dress code? Sabu and The Sandman in polo shirts and khakis -- now that's truly extreme!

Bob Kapur
The answer depends on how people will judge what is successful. If you mean by ratings, merchandise sales, and PPV views, then yes it will probably be slightly successful, probably at or near TNA levels.

But if you mean by how the revived ECW will be received by hardcore ECW fans, I'm not optimistic. ECW was special because it was everything the then-WWF and WCW were not -- it was a true alternative. But it doesn't seem that the new company will be anything different from one of the existing brands. The fact that the only announced matches for One Night Stand both feature WWE stars -- including their champion! -- seems to indicate that it won't be the ECW that fans are hoping for.

That said, I'm hopeful that Vince/WWE will use One Night Stand not as a model for future ECW events, but rather as a springboard. That means no more entrenched WWE stars on the show, no McMahons on ECW programming, touring separately from the Raw and Smackdown rosters, and most importantly give Paul Heyman and Tommy Dreamer complete freedom in the writing and hiring of all things ECW.

If they do that, then we could actually be seeing a true revival of ECW; otherwise, it'll be just a pale imitation.

Jon Waldman
As much as I would like to see ECW be a success, I know it won't be.

The feeling I get is that Vince is doing this only to cater to hardcore fans who want to see guys like Rob Van Dam and Matt Hardy with top-tier title belts. McMahon knows that anything RVD does on WWE TV will seem like the token title run, so this is an outlet for him to give the "Whole F'n Show" the belt he richly deserves, while giving developmental wrestlers, as well as those sitting at home like the Bashams, TV time.

That's not to say that such a format wouldn't work; but honestly, if you're doing that, call it WCW, because that was the style in Hotlanta -- great workers in the mid-card with only the top names on the scene getting the big gold belt.

ECW was a cult-status league, and the definition of cult is not that a cult is made by the originator -- rather, it is the followers that make the cult; and as much Kool-Aid as ECW's followers drank the first time around, I don't think they'll be coming back for seconds after they've had five years to work off their buzz.

Now it's your turn. Do you think ECW will be a boom or a bust? E-mail Jon with your thoughts. Reader responses will be posted next week.


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