I’ll admit it. I didn’t really become a ‘proper’ wrestling fan until much later than my contemporaries. While others had the enviable position of growing up spellbound by the Monday Night Wars, stunnering friends in the playground and raising their eyebrows and demanding to know whether we were aware of the Rock’s culinary activities; I was blissfully unaware of this world, aside from a few stolen minutes watching Heat or Velocity on a Sunday afternoon.
In many ways it then seems fraudulent to try and claim I am a fan of the Attitude era or criticizing Bischoff, Russo & Nash for scuppering WCW as I wasn’t around at the time, and hindsight is 20/20. Yet this is one of the core problems surrounding wrestling in general. Most fans are so committed to attacking Uncle Vincent or the nebulous powers that be in TNA, that they’ll invoke the ‘good ol’ days’ of the mid to late nineties as some kind of Halycon era in which all was good and every episode was like taking a shit on heroin. The fact of the matter is, is that there was as much dreck and shite floating about in that time as there is now. For every awesome stand off between Austin & McMahon or The Rock, there was Mae Young (not a young woman by any means) giving birth to a rubber hand that Mark Henry believed to be his child. No, this really happened.
Unfortunately, fans are so blinkered by this view that this period was the best, that TNA, which would have a segment in which a sackful of puppies were minced slowly by a grinning Jay Lethal if it meant people paid attention, have once again capitulated and allowed a few vocal segments of the Internet Wrestling Community decide their booking policy.
Most people are aware of the successes of the original ECW. A lo-fi visceral near bloodbath of a federation; it focused on intense feuds, revolutionary booking and introducing some of the greatest cruiserweights into the wider fold. Unfortunately through mismanagement it folded at its peak, and left a significant void in the Wrestling community’s heart. ‘EE CEE DUB’ chants would ring out whenever any of its alumni would appear in larger federations or whenever anything approaching hardcore was presented. Clearly people still had a soft spot for this style. The WWE then, having bought the rights to the name, brought back ECW for one night under the banner of One Night Stand in 2005. Following the success of this, One Night Stand came back the year later and the momentum started to build. Various ex ECW stars came back, and RVD won the championship from John Cena in front of the most partisan crowd I have ever seen. Seriously, check out the PPV, Cena gets his shirt thrown back at him about 7 times and is booed with an intensity that would power a city if it could be harnessed. Following on from the success of this ECW came back for a lackluster run, and subsequently folded earlier this year. Most people understood that ECW had long gone past its sell-by-date and should be lain to rest, and with Tommy Dreamer leaving in an emotional send off many people thought it would be.
That is until the shit-for-brains in Orlando decided that the best booking strategy would be to bring these 50 year old broken down hasbeens back for yet another parade of inadequacy. Despite it being completely at odds with many of their current storylines, TNA genuinely thought it would be a good idea to try and emulate a lightning in a bottle era that even WWE couldn’t do successfully. Let’s be honest here, while I’ve no doubt that Jerry Lynn & RVD can still go, Sandman, Sabu & Mick Foley should have hung up their boots about 10 years ago. So, rather than being the glorious resurrection that the IWC are hoping for it’s more likely to be like watching one of those programs about animal shelters for ex-zoo animals. Full of ancient crocks trying to entertain, but should be kept retired for humane reasons.