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  Apr 10, 2000



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SLAM! Wrestling Editorial: ECW will survive Awesome's departure
By JOHN POWELL -- SLAM! Wrestling

If you are in the news business long enough, you learn one truth. History repeats itself.

On August 27th, 1994, Shane Douglas beat 2 Cold Scorpio in the finals of a tournament to determine the undisputed NWA World Heavyweight Champion. In a move that shocked the wrestling community, Douglas vacated the title declaring himself ECW's first World Heavyweight Champion. Renaming itself Extreme Championship Wrestling, ECW followed WCW's lead and opted out of the NWA alliance to strike out on its own.

The rest is history.

Six years later, it may be pay back time for Paul Heyman and the boys. What goes around, comes around. Universal karma, if you will. ECW embarrassed the NWA and now it looks like their competitor for the Number Two spot is about to shame them on national television. If Mike Awesome does appear on Monday Night Nitro tonight, whether he symbolically dumps the ECW World Heavyweight Title belt in the trash is insignificant. The damage is done. The fact that WCW has snatched away ECW's World Champion right from under their noses is a powerful statement in itself.

Their Number Two status in question of as late due to their dwindling profits and fan disinterest in their product, WCW is sending a strong message to ECW, pro wrestling journalists and the fans. WCW still has the power. WCW still has the stroke. WCW is the Big Leagues while ECW can't even hold onto their own talent. There is a reason why WCW has gone after certain wrestlers like Raven, The Sandman, Sabu and Awesome. They are out to cripple ECW, impede their rise to the top, destroy locker room morale and get the perception out there that ECW can't compete on their level.

Some of these things are true. WCW is owned by the network it is broadcast on. There are no worries of cancellation in spite of sagging ratings if the head honchos throw their support behind the product regardless of its financial success. Like the WWF, ECW doesn't own their own network which complicates the daily business of running a wrestling promotion. ECW doesn't have a bazillionare at the helm either. If WCW has a shortfall, other companies in the portfolio can make up the difference keeping the wrestling side of things afloat. Paul Heyman doesn't have that luxury. Though it is very unlikely that WCW is ever go off the air, Heyman could be facing that reality this fall if the WWF-TNN deal goes through and ECW can't sign a contract with the USA Network.

Just as that nasty Canuck Cyrus threatens in their current storyline, the Network(s) could pull the plug on ECW's national broadcast which would then put them back to Square One, relying on local stations to air their product as they did a few years ago. In some cases they would even have to pay for the air time.

Reports of ECW demise are a bit premature. If I had a dollar for every time somebody predicted that ECW was about to tank, I very well could quit my job, pack up my wife and son so we could retire in sunny Florida. ECW has survived without a national TV show before and could do so again. ECW became a success even without airing a single pay-per-view broadcast in its leaner years. ECW has muddled through even after main-eventers such as The Sandman, Raven, Taz, Cactus Jack and Public Enemy chose to pursue their options elsewhere. Mike Awesome appearing on Nitro is a slap in the face for ECW but it certainly isn't a debilitating kick in the crotch. Paul Heyman has proved that even with the kitchen walls burning down around him, he can still pull that frying pan out of the fire. How long he will want to before throwing up his hands, walking out of the house and letting it burn to the ground is anyone's guess.

Mike Awesome WCW bound

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