In a previous post I talked about how I had the highest of expectations for the new WWE-branded ECW. It seemed like Vince McMahon was going to let Paul E. do his thing and just watch to see what the show evolves into. Recent weeks had been about as forgettable as ever for me. Largely because every headline match featured WWE guys. Why would you start ECW and then feel the need to bring in WWE guys? You have two WWE-branded shows already — Smackdown and Raw. Let ECW be ECW. Anyhow, I had just about lost hope on this thing. And then I turned the TV on last night and was reminded of why I love ECW.
There’s one thing that sets ECW apart from all other wrestling shows: the intimate relationship that the wrestlers have with the crowd. ECW fans respect two things: history and real talent. If a hero from wrestling days past show up, no doubt they’ll get a rousing cheer from the crowd. And ironically, even though the crowd is considerably smaller, the applause always feels much more heartfelt. (Both on TV and in the arena — I was there when Dusty Rhodes showed up to feud with Steve Corino.) Yes, WWE fans recognize those who paved the way as well. But ECW brings out the more hardcore fan (on a whole.) WWE fans will buy DVDs and may tune in to other wrestling shows. ECW fans buy tapes of Japanese federation shows and are knowledgeable of other promotions. (I’m sure I’ll get a debate on that, but those who watch and listen to chants know the deal.)
But more than their respect of history, the thing I love about the real ECW crowds (like the one in the Hammerstein last night) is that they go completely away from the standard wrestling script. CM Punk and Justin Credible had a four-star match. Probably one of the best matches I’ve seen all year (and that’s not saying much since I barely watch like I used to.) I had never had the opportunity to see CM Punk wrestle. I was kinda turned off by the vignettes where he talked about how “streetwise” he was. Well, he surely proved his worth in the ring. Incredible innovative style, good grappling, great high spots, and finished the match with a submission move I’d never seen (almost like a sitting front-face lock and cobra clutch, combined.) I was very impressed and I will be tuning in to watch him again. But what made the match so enjoyable was the crowd appreciation of these guys putting on a great show. You heard applause throughout the entire match — something you’ll never see on USA or whatever channel they have Smackdown on these days. WWE crowds sit and drool into their popcorn until, 1) the finish of the match 2) someone breaks a table/falls through the ring, or 3) someone does a run-in. Perhaps it’s not fair to compare? Maybe if Raw had a house of only a couple of hundred people we’d see a more intimate reaction. Nonetheless, you can totally appreciate the crowd reaction at a real ECW show. Continue reading ‘ECW Show on August 1: Back to True ECW Roots’