September 3, 2006
Heyman's got Extreme vision for wrestling
By TIM BAINES - Ottawa Sun
Paul Heyman's future vision of ECW doesn't so much include thumbtacks, folding chairs and burning tables.
That would be way too simplified for a guy who has proven he's somewhat of a visionary. And on this day over the phone, he's bursting with enthusiasm.
"Look at the hottest stars of MMA. The hottest college wrestling stars. Muay Thai. Jui jitsu. That's what I'd like to see as part of ECW. Wrestling is not just bodybuilders and ex-football stars anymore," says Heyman.
Oh, and about the whole current perception of ECW ... it may be a bit off, too.
"We very rarely use thumbtacks," says Heyman. "The Dudleys use them in Detroit, with flaming tables. Then it was The Big Show and Ric Flair .
"When we used barbed wire, there was a six-month storyline behind it."
Heyman is on board with the new ECW product, shown in Canada on Global each Friday at midnight ... and on the X-Treme digital channel, Saturdays at 1 and 9 p.m. and Sundays at 4 a.m. And he's excited about it.
"It's not just like I'm a proud papa," he says. "I'm Dr. Frankenstein with his monster. Before the show goes on, I'm like a cliff diver the moment before he plunges. It's like riding a rollercoaster ride with a blindfold on.
"With the enormous success of The Rise and Fall of ECW and the blowaway success of One Night Stand, I thought this may have happened a year ago. But my reaction this year (when I found out ECW was returning) was two-fold. First, it was oh s--t ... here we go, back into the ECW business ... it's life changing. You have to live it, breathe it and crave it. One the other hand, it was okay ... we're in this for the long haul. It's not just going to be a couple of months. My children's children will be entertained by a product named ECW."
The ECW phenomenon was just that -- a phenomenon, a balls-to-the-wall ride right into the storm of two cash-cow competitors -- WWE and WCW.
"We shouldn't have made it out of 1994," says Heyman. "I like to use the comparison WWE and WCW were money, muscle and mouthpiece and ECW was balls, bulls--t and bravado.
"We lasted seven years, about 61/2 years longer than we had the right to last. We had no financial support, no big-name advertisers. We never had an infrastructure. Ted Turner (who owned WCW) was a billionaire. He could afford to lose $80 million in a year.
"The WWE was Vince's product.
"We came out of an editor's basement and a bingo hall."
Heyman says the current ECW is a work in progress.
"At times we cross over the line and become too WWE-ified and you've got to reign it back in. But you can't do it so it's like 1999 again. We live in a different world.
"I understand the criticism: 'You're too WWE.' But this is different. We're only 12 weeks into our resurrection.
"We like to keep you guessing. The real lore of the ECW crowd is they're never quite sure what they're seeing."
It's that unpredictability that makes it compelling TV. Largely, it's thanks to the "mad scientist," the guy who makes it all come together. The guy who wasn't afraid to be different. Thanks, Paul.
- Thanks to some "dirt" from tongue-wagging Lita, wwe.com revealed that Trish would be leaving WWE after Unforgiven. Oh, it's true. In real life, Toronto's blonde bombshell will get married on Sept. 30. Still waiting for my invite.
- Now set for the Sept. 17 Unforgiven pay-per-view in Toronto is Edge vs. John Cena in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match -- if Cena loses, he moves to Smackdown! Also set is The Big Show and The McMahons vs. D-Generation X. The Unforgiven press conference, scheduled for Sept. 12 at the ACC, has been cancelled.
- Last week, I took Hulk Hogan to task, saying the golden oldie had to stop using his "creative stroke" to win matches he has no business winning ... ie. vs. Randy Orton. Most responses I got agreed, but some noted that in his 2002-03 run, he put over many wrestlers -- including The Rock, Triple H, Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle. Okay, I'll lay off The Hulkster ... there's no question he did more for wrestling than I ever did for wrestling journalism. And I've never jobbed for anyone.