May 30, 2007
Yawning through ECW, Smackdown in London
By JOHN MILNER - SLAM! Wrestling
LONDON, Ont. -- It has been said that what made the original ECW so great was the atmosphere of their house shows, or "live events" in WWE jargon. If that's the case, then ECW is truly dead, for attending their show at the John Labatt Centre on Tuesday, May 29th was one of the most lackluster wrestling events I have ever been to.
I understand that being there for a TV broadcast, especially a live show, is a lot different than seeing it on TV. Consideration must be made for commercial breaks and backstage segments, but from the time that the CM Punk/Elijah Burke match ended until the Randy Orton/Tommy Dreamer match began, there must have been a good half hour where (save for the ridiculously short Kevin Thorn/Balls Mahoney squash) nothing of any consequence happened inside the ECW ring.
The show started off on the right track, on the heels of the Smackdown taping (more on that elsewhere), with Randy Orton coming to the ring to stop just short of gloating over the injuries sustained by Shawn Michaels and Rob Van Dam at the hands of the "Legend Killer." Orton also announced the signing of a stretcher match between himself and RVD at One Night Stand.
The crowd may have expected Van Dam, but they got Tommy Dreamer, who challenged Orton to a match for later in the show, something the crowd definitely approved of. Orton accepted, promising to kill the legend of ECW.
In the first match of the show, CM Punk took on Elijah Burke in a No DQ match. As the participants are introduced, we see a graphic for a six-man tables match pitting Dreamer, Sandman and Punk against Burke, Marcus Cor Von and Matt Striker at One Night Stand.
(Oh yeah, one thing about attending an ECW broadcast, they only have the Titantron on one side of the arena. Luckily I could see the graphic on the JLC's own screens.)
The crowd was behind Punk from the get-go and although their enthusiasm lagged for a bit after the opening bell, the crowd got more into the match once Burke produced a chair and were right back into things when Punk brought out a table.
They teased Punk sending Burke into the table for several minutes before Marcus Cor Von came out with a chair. In fact, it would be Cor Von with the Pounce on Punk that eventually broke the table. Burke got the pinfall on Punk in short order.
Up next, said the graphic, was ECW Champion Mr. McMahon and Bobby Lashley "face to face." I have to admit, the idea of seeing Vincent K. McMahon live and "in that very ring" was kind of an exciting prospect. Unfortunately, that excitement turned to disappointment when we learned that the McMahon/Lashley debate would come via split-screen and via video. (Again, with the Titantron visible to only part of the audience, it was basically like listening to it on radio.) The crowd was dead for most of this segment, with at least one fan crying out "Boring." Lashley did get a pretty decent pop for saying he would regain the ECW Championship for all ECW fans.
After more commercials, highlights of Orton/RVD from Raw are shown. When we come back, we get Extreme Expose. I am no Snitsky fan but I never wanted to see him more than I did right then.
After more commercials, we finally get a match, and it turns out to be Kevin Thorn vs. Balls Mahoney. At this point the crowd was either going to treat any match like it was Flair-Steamboat (or Austin-Rock) just because it was an actual wrestling match ... or they would just have been so bored that unless it was a classic, they weren't going to bother getting excited. The latter turned out to be true. Thorn defeated Mahoney in short order, and the crowd couldn't have cared less.
Backstage, Matt Striker chats up the Major Brothers, promising them a challenge for next week. And then it's off to more commercials.
A strange thing happened during the ECW Main Event of Randy Orton vs. Tommy Dreamer. By the end of the match the crowd was cheering for Orton (who won, with the RKO). Not only did they cheer Orton's first RKO, which lead to the victory over Dreamer, but they cheered the second RKO delivered after the fact. The crowd, however, did pop a fair bit when Van Dam headed down to the ring, starting an "RVD" chant.
After the show went off the air, the medics and officials attended to RVD, who went down quickly at the hands of Orton, selling the concussion from Raw, but they left poor Tommy Dreamer, who did a much better job selling the beating from Orton.
Cody Rhodes defeated Daivari in your standard opening match with a flying body press off the top rope. Rhodes, decked out in green tights, resembled Tully Blanchard more than Dusty Rhodes. Prior to the match, Daivari said that he blamed Canada and its shoddy security for 9-11 which didn't earn him nearly the hatred I thought it might.
Batista and Chris Benoit defeated MVP and Edge in a very short tag match, when Batista delivered the spinebuster to MVP for the victory.
As for Smackdown, you'll have to scroll down to read about it. Consider this very much a SPOILER ALERT.
Chris Benoit and Matt Hardy defeated MVP and Miz.
Great reaction from one fan with Miz was introduced: "Oh no, not him!" On the opposite end of the spectrum, Matt Hardy is indeed over with the crowd. The chants and cheers for Hardy may even have been louder than those for Benoit.
The crowd really died off when the heels were in control (save for Benoit clapping in support of Hardy, who was in a chinlock by Miz). They did however explode when Benoit tried to get Miz into the sharpshooter and did succeed in slapping on the Crippler Crossface.
In a Divas match, Michelle McCool defeated Jillian.
Crowd couldn't have cared less for this. The only time the crowd stirred at all was to boo Jillian's short-lived attempt to sing, and to chant "We Want Puppies." Ashley came to ringside and the crowd showed more interest in her 10-second walk to ringside than anything else in the match. Michelle used the distraction to scoop up Jillian and give her a spinning slide slam for the victory.
Hornswoggle defeated Little Boogeyman in a Midget Match.
Although the Boogeyman accompanied Little Boogeyman to the ring, Hornswoggle appeared from under the ring, sans Finlay. We soon found out why. While Boogeyman was taking after Hornswoggle, Finlay jumped into the ring and hit Little Boogeyman with the shillelagh. Hornswoggle came flying off the top rope with a flying bodypress for the victory. The crowd was into it for laughs.
Mark Henry defeated Kane via countout.
The crowd was more into this match than they were for the previous two, especially for Kane. Standard back and forth big man match with a lot of "clubbering" and clotheslines. As Kane readied for the chokeslam, Henry bailed out. When Kane came out after him, Henry locked the bearhug on his opponent and by the time the referee got to five, the writing was on the wall. Henry tossed Kane into the ringpost and headed back into the ring, earning the countout victory. Kane saved face by chasing Henry out of the ring. We would learn later that Henry and Kane have been signed to a lumberjack match for One Night Stand.
During what I can only assume was a commercial break, we saw a promo showing all of the Undertaker's Wrestlemania victories. I think we've seen it before, save that at the end came the voice of the Undertaker, declaring "Batista, Rest In Peace." Maybe it's a promo that's been shown before that I've never seen/can't remember (Backlash, perhaps?) or this is a way of foreshadowing a Batista/Undertaker match once 'Taker comes back?
Deuce and Domino retained the Tag Team Titles in a Triple Threat match against Paul London/Brian Kendrick and William/Regal/Dave Taylor
Save for a brief pairing of Deuce and Regal to start the match off, it was Kendrick/London vs. either Deuce and Domino or Regal/Taylor. There were a couple of moments where Regal or Taylor had it out with Deuce and Domino, but only as a sidebar to the actual match.
There was a long stint where Kendrick played Ricky Morton, and eventually it seemed like the heels were simply tagging in and out to work him over. Ironically, while Domino was certainly getting the biggest heel reaction in the match (both in the ring and even just standing on the apron), Regal actually got a face reaction and even a "Regal chant" late in the match.
Although this was already probably the match of the night (for both shows) in terms of fan interest, the crowd went through the roof when London was finally tagged in. Although he took it to both opposing teams, when he went to the top rope, Cherry tripped him up and Domino got the quick pinfall for the win.
Backstage, we saw that it was Vicky Guerrero's idea to sign the Henry/Kane lumberjack match. When Krystal expressed her fear that she might be forced from Teddy Long's side during the upcoming draft, Long says that he'd give up being General Manager for Krystal. (The crowd, perhaps sarcastically, thought that was sweet.) Vicky Guerrero sent Long and Krystal on their way, saying she can handle the rest of the show. Suprisingly, she didn't have an evil glint in her eye after they left.
Not that Vicky had a lot to oversee, as Edge presented the Smackdown premiere of the Cutting Edge, with special guest: Batista. There was a bit of a mixed reaction for Batista, but then Edge was getting a pretty good face reaction, probably due to Smackdown being in Canada.
Edge claimed that Batista does not intimidate him, although his reaction to Batista taking off his jacket said otherwise. Before too long, the two men went nose to nose and after some pushing and poking over pretending to wish each other good luck, Batista floored Edge with a punch.
That's where Smackdown went off the air, with Batista taunting Edge as he heads back up the aisle. Afterwards, Edge acknowledged the response from the crowd.
If WWE didn't deafen me with all that pyro, it wasn't from lack of trying.
Some of the commercials/promo they showed were rather strange. In addition to the aforementioned Undertaker Wrestlemania promo, they showed an ad for Kane's See No Evil (which has been out on video for a while now). Just before ECW went on the air, they showed a rehab video on Triple H, similar to the one they showed just prior to his return from his last quad injury. They also showed the Christmas in Iraq video twice.
John Milner is a longtime contributor to SLAM! Wrestling.