Thursday 5 August 2010

Hardcore Justice - How I See It By Shaun Nichols

On August 15th TNA will present the ECW themed 'Hardcore Justice' live on PPV and to buy the event our friends in North America will have to pay approx $34.95 (works out to be £23 on current foreign exhange) to buy the show. Fans are split as to whether this may be a fitting finale to the cult promotion of the 1990's or a sad desperate attempt at a cash in by a promotion that as run out of all ideas.
Nostalgia can be a wonderful thing, the Hulkamania tour of Australia in 2009 showed that people will pay decent money to see an act well past its best because they want the opportunity to see it one more time. They were given the opportunity to see Hulk Hogan and friends live in Australia for the first time and thousands chose to do just that. By the same principle TNA claim they are offering a final and suitable closing to company known as ECW.
I like many fans was a massive fan of ECW, the first ECW event I saw on video was UltraClash 1993 which featured among others Eddie Gilbert and the Head Hunters. I remained a fan of the group until it presented its final PPV, Guilty as Charged 2001. By that point in all honesty they were a group which were struggling both financially and artistically, their PPV's were not great successes and were filled by a number of repetitive matches. In 2005 Rob Van Dam convinced Vince McMahon that an ECW PPV would be a viable product and 'One Night Stand' became a reality and not only that was a fine entertaining show and what most saw at the time was a PPV that gave ECW fans a sense of closure. The show featured Lance Storm, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio, Super Crazy, Tajiri, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, The Dudleys, The Sandman, RVD, Sabu, Mike Awesome, Justin Credible, Rhino, The BWO, Mikey Whipwreck, Paul Heyman and Taz among others and to give it that extra level of authenticity Joey Styles provided the commentary. Also playing a prominent part was one Tommy Dreamer who not so surprisingly played a part at the following year's version of the event. To me, ECW had a one night celebration on 12/06/2005 and that was the end of that. The idea of the WWE promoting ECW in the way that I as a fan remember was not realistic and it was not going to happen. Although they promoted a brand of ECW the only thing it had in common with the promotion that I was such a fan of was the name.
What surprises me is that the 'One Night Stand' PPV in 2005 that was seen as such a perfect tribute and gave closure to many ECW wrestlers including Tommy Dreamer who stated so in a number of interviews over the last five years is not now enough. If you have closure, then why do you need any more? Closure means it's closed apart from if you happen to be Tommy Dreamer. While I agree that the ECW that aired on television by the WWE was nothing like original promotion it did give a number of ECW wrestlers employment wrestling matches that while not as entertaining were considerably safer to participate in and let's be honest here were earning salaries they were unlikely to match if they were not employed the WWE. I would imagine that most ECW fans like myself saw the PPV in 2005 as the last chance we would get to see anything close to being an authentic ECW show, the ECW brand which followed simply took up TV time that the WWE needed to fill.
Over the last few months we have had the rumours of Paul Heyman turning up in TNA which is something I have never thought would happen. For Heyman to turn TNA around would require nothing short of a miracle, the chances of failure were always too high. Not just for Heyman but for anyone else who would have the opportunity. During Heyman's conversations with TNA though he made it abundantly clear that he did not see a future in a ECW show, he would be against it and he did not support the idea of promoting it. Paul Heyman did not agree to come to TNA, so TNA went to Plan B and they went with the ECW Invasion. Apart from the obvious point that ECW had always been more of a cult promotion compared to say WCW and also been out of business for nearly ten years. You also have to take into account that a number of wrestlers involved in the ECW angle had been with TNA for extended periods of time such as Raven, Rhino, The Dudleys, Stevie Richards, Mick Foley and of course Rob Van Dam. The point being they were not new to TNA fans so just how special or exciting their arrival would be as to be open to question.
Finally we get to Tommy Dreamer, the man of the crying promo. Here is a man that repeatedly bashed TNA in interview after interview while more often than not praising Vince McMahon for not only agreeing to let the ECW PPV happen in 2005 but also the bring back ECW brand back. Now several years later he's all piss and vinegar and complaining about how badly he and his friends were treated by the WWE. Enough as been said about the irony of his interview on Impact when he tried to attack WWE and did nothing more than TNA look minor league. Also from an ECW fan's point of view if they want to book Raven vs. Dreamer why did they need to have Dreamer face Abyss on Impact? Surely Raven vs. Dreamer is enough of a draw for old ECW fans without dragging Abyss into it. I'm sure that the PPV will do considerably higher numbers than a typical TNA PPV but the fact that have only announced RVD vs. Jerry Lynn and Raven vs. Dreamer with Mick Foley as referee as the only official matches mean it will probably do less buys then it shoud. It will also mean that in ten years time when we think of ECW we will remember 'One Night Stand' and not 'Hardcore Justice'.


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