Paul Heyman has been ousted from ECW. Believe it or not.
Reportedly, WWE chairman Vince McMahon sent Heyman packing yesterday upon Heyman’s arrival at the North Charleston (S.C.) Coliseum for an ECW house show. McMahon cited slumping television ratings and a disgruntled talent roster as causes for Heyman’s dismissal, according to WWE.com.
Pro Wrestling Torch reported McMahon himself practically re-wrote much of the script for Sunday’s ECW December To Dismember pay-per-view.
According to the Torch, several wrestlers were aware of Heyman’s original plans for the Extreme Elimination Chamber match, but by match time, they were given different plans from McMahon. These included Sabu being bumped from the match and CM Punk and Rob Van Dam getting eliminated early, so that fans would be obligated to root for eventual winner Bobby Lashley.
While McMahon was satisfied with the results of the event at the end of the night, by Monday he was said to have realized how bad it was and that’s when he apparently had a backstage meeting with Heyman and Stephanie McMahon. Heyman left the arena without saying goodbye to anyone or announcing what happened. He immediately went to the airport and flew home.
Several ECW wrestlers commented on the move on WWE.com.
"I'm shocked," said Tommy Dreamer. "I don't know what's going on right now."
“I think that without Paul fighting for a better direction to take ECW, I fear that it's in for some horrible changes," Van Dam said.
New ECW "Extremists" also had their say on the situation.
"During a hurricane, some trees fall, others remain standing," explained Matt Striker. "During a hurricane, some houses fall, others remain standing. But you can always go fishing again after the hurricane."
“To quote a famous man, Hulkamania dies when Hogan dies, 'Woo' dies when Ric Flair dies, but when that man [Heyman] is gone and while he's gone, ECW will live on," said Elijah Burke.
Whether or not this is a storyline remains to be seen, but one veteran wrestling reporter, Bill Apter, recalled a recent meeting with Heyman just hours after the Survivor Series on Nov. 26.
"After exchanging pleasantries, I started a dialog with my negative feelings toward the ECW product," Apter wrote on 1wrestling.com. "But (Heyman) didn't let me get too far, cutting my words off quickly and said, 'Bill, don't go any further. I know where you're going with this. Everyone says the same thing to me -- how they think ECW is being ruined. Nobody cares about ECW like I do and like some of the boys who are busting their nuts to keep it going! It's just too frustrating to talk about this so let's not!'"
WHAT YOU THINK
Is Paul Heyman really gone from ECW / WWE?
He's history - 27%
It's a storyline - 25%
I'm undecided - 10%
Does it really even matter? - 38%
The "new breed unleashed" of ECW has been poorly received since the brand was restarted back in June. It is simply a shell of the original ECW, with many former ECW wrestlers not a part of the new version. Several -– including Rhino, Raven, the Dudley Boyz and Shane Douglas -– are currently with TNA under long-term contracts. Dreamer, The Sandman, RVD, Sabu, Balls Mahoney and Stevie Richards signed or re-upped with WWE when ECW was made a third brand alongside the RAW and SmackDown! shows.
Still, ratings for ECW’s one-hour show on the SciFi channel on Tuesday nights have sagged and storylines seem to come and go with no real feuds and only one title -– the ECW World title.
Heyman’s departure isn’t that surprising for those involved, but some say it’s never easy for change in the pro wrestling industry.
"Well it just goes to show you, nothing ever surprises you in the world of sports-entertainment," added Little Guido on WWE.com.
Paul Heyman biography and story archive
Visit the SLAM! Wrestling store!
The Rise and Fall of ECW DVD
Order ECW One Night Stand 2006 DVD
ECW One Night Stand 2005 DVD
WWE Bloodsport - ECWs Most Violent Matches DVD
Matt Mackinder wonders how much longer ECW can survive, even if Heyman and his bald head/pony tail were still employed. Email Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.