ECW: Hello Old Friend
I don’t remember the calendar date, but I remember some vague chronological details.
I was a sophomore in high school, so this must have been between the autumn of 1994 and the summer of 1995. It was a Sunday evening around suppertime, between 6 and 8. After watching some football I decided to get some homework done or play some Nintendo, I don’t remember. While in deep concentration (Algebra II or trying to beat Super Mario Bros. II without warping), I heard my father’s booming voice.
“Doug! Put it on 14!”
I turned the knobs on my television. That’s right; I didn’t have a magnificent high-definition flat-screen television back then. I had a 13″ RCA CRT-tube television with dials for channel changing, no coaxial input or remote control. After adjusting the UHF dial to the very back and fiddling with the antenna, the picture became clear; it was wrestling.
I had caught the tail end of an hour-long program of Smokey Mountain Wrestling. I have no idea who was in action or what the angles were, it was on. It didn’t really grab my attention but I kept it on for background noise. I would grab my trusty sketchbook/notebook and begin doodling or writing random thoughts that would come to mind.
Suddenly… White Zombie filtered into the background. I look up. A clip of chairs being thrown into a wrestling ring played for 5 seconds through the music. “ECW: Extreme Championship Wrestling” would engulf my screen. “This is extreme!” the announcer would say (yes, I know it is Joey Styles but for the sake of romanticism and reminiscing, let’s remain naïve).
For that full hour, I was no longer a naïve and docile wrestling fan.
I heard crowds chanting curse words without a censor to shield my juvenile ears. I saw bodies leaping from chairs, spring-boarding off of ring ropes, and launching themselves without regard into hoards of fans where their opponent might be lurking. I saw men assault women without repercussion.
I could have been easily lured into the impromptu inhumanity and scripted barbarism, I was only 14. I knew only of the WWF when I lived in Ohio before moving to North Carolina in 1990 and learning about the NWA and WCW soon to follow. Any open-minded teenager would be attracted to an alternative from the norm; this is how grunge and alternative music became so popular during that time.
I was no different but to a lesser degree. I became intrigued by the ECW product, but not so much as to detract me from the mainstream WWF and WCW products I had been so loyal to for so long. I enjoyed watching WWF’s Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, WCW’s Ric Flair and Sting, and now ECW’s Taz and Sabu. Especially Taz, I was immediately hooked onto his no-nonsense mat wrestling, tough-as-nails microphone segments, and just the moniker of ‘Human Suplex Machine’ grabbed me.
I never played favorites; I believe that is one of the biggest differences between my sentiments as a professional wrestling fan and many others’. Just because I watched ECW when I was young does not mean that I was so vehemently against all other federations. I still enjoyed the WWF and WCW.
You cannot have this same philosophy 15 years later.
You must have a concrete side of loyalty: WWE, TNA, or the Independents. There is no such thing as being a fan of all professional wrestling; that is like saying you enjoy watching a particular sport just for the sake of watching it and not picking a team or athlete to root for… which I happen to do on many occasions.
Yes, this is a broad generalization but it is what I have been accustomed to seeing.
During the ‘Attitude Era’ in the heart of Flair Country, you were either WWF or WCW. You could not be both.
When I attended the Ring of Honor supershow here in Charlotte last March, I was chastised for even granting any other federation a minute of my life.
Even now I am lectured from readers about how I sound less like an unbiased columnist and more like Michael Cole; eating, drinking, pooping, and urinating anything WWE.
For the past 7 months, TNA has become professional wrestling’s Pit of Lazarus; resurrecting anything from years passed in order to grab the eyes and ears of those who happen to remember when and where they were when all of that happened. With the recent appearances of Tommy Dreamer, Raven, and Stevie Richards, a resurrection of ECW is evident.
Whether this means a new angle or brand new television program entirely is not the point of this week’s ‘Reality’. ECW’s resurrection within TNA led to me looking at myself in the mirror. I turn 31 in July. Am I really the audience that TNA has been trying to grab all along? Is TNA trying to grab a different kind of ECW viewer/sympathizer?
I attended an ECW house show in 1998 in Concord, North Carolina. I was 19 and entering my second year of college. I occasionally pop the ‘Fan-Cam’ DVD of the show to reminisce. Taz vs. Sabu for the unification of the ECW World Title and FTW Title, Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn for the ECW TV Title main evented the show. I can still hear myself bellowing through the silence of the crowd, a trait I still love that my father bestowed upon me.
How many professional wrestling fans are there wishing for the resurrection of ECW?
How many of them have actually seen the program air on syndicated TV?
How many of them have actually attended a live ECW event?
Please don’t take my questions out of context, I am in no way saying I know more than anyone in regards to experience or viewership. Think about this though… I’m 31 now. Am I the demographic that TNA is hoping to grab?
Am I the segment of the wrestling fan kingdom that has been begging for this return to ECW’s inhumanity?
Is TNA trying to grab the segment of the wrestling fan kingdom that has been watching stock footage of ECW on the internet or by other means?
Is TNA trying to grab the fans that didn’t even have cognitive powers to know what they saw back then?
I sincerely believe that TNA has never tried to grab a wrestling fan like me: One who has matured as professional wrestling has matured.
Am I saying that TNA is for the immature? OK, that comment you can take out of context as much you would like. I have no problem defending such a ridiculous and biased statement like that.
Until next time, mouth-breathers!
Annoy me with your assumptions and affronts… adore me with your adulations and acknowledgements: firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t forget to check out “Reality from Ringside Radio: 3R” this Tuesday on Wrestleview! It’s only available to Wrestleview VIPs though… so sacrifice a Big Mac value meal! Become a VIP!