In last week’s column I stood in support of Evan Bourne’s comments in an interview with The Sun which claimed that the new WWE branded ECW blows the original ECW on TNN ?out of the water?. I took Bourne’s comments one step further last week by claiming that WWE’s ECW blows not only the original TNN product out of the water, but also blows the original ECW, as a whole, out of the water. Since last week’s column I?ve been accosted and harangued by some of my friends, shunned and scorned by family members; I?ve gained some enemies but have also received thought provoking emails from readers who either agree or disagree with my assertion. In this week’s installment of The Sharp Shooter, I?ll take a close look at Evan Bourne’s interview with The Sun while also breaking down a couple of emails I received last week in an effort to prove my hypothesis that the WWE rebranded version of ECW blows the original ECW, as Evan Bourne says, out of the water.
Again, here is a link to the interview itself if you?d like to take a look: click here.
Firstly, Simon Rothstein, the interviewer, maintains a subtle but steady negativity towards Bourne and WWE throughout the retelling of his interview. This is not new to journalism, obviously, but it’s something that the average reader may not pick up on and it’s also something that happens A LOT when supposed journalists cover wrestling. A phrase like ?Company man Evan?? subtle in its unconscious persuasion, presents Bourne as someone who isn?t speaking of free will, but rather acting as a robotic, company ?yes-man? who blindly repeats his company’s opinion instead of formulating his own. Furthermore, the phrase ?astonishing defense of the new ECW?, which appears as part of the interview’s subtitle, affirmatively, albeit subtly sets up an environment where Evan Bourne’s claims are somehow ?astonishing? in nature and therefore the readers of said interview are far less inclined to believe Evan Bourne’s claims. Why would it take an ?astonishing defense? to claim that WWE’s ECW is better than the original? An ?astonishing defense? was needed to prove that O.J. Simpson was not guilty; Socrates could?ve used an ?astonishing defense?, Jesus definitely could?ve used an ?astonishing defense?; Bourne, on the other hand? I think not. It’s this sort of slight, crafty language and verbiage that unconsciously and subliminally guides our opinions before we even have a chance to read the piece.
The truth is, Bourne doesn?t need an ?astonishing defense? to back up his claim the WWE’s ECW blows the original TNN ECW program out of the water. Nor is Bourne simply a ?company man? who will tout any opinion held by his employer in order to stay in the company’s good graces and to make nice with the PR department, but this doesn?t stop Rothstein from throwing in his anti-WWECW bias whenever he sees fit.
Just look at this subtle dig from Rothstein, ?Even falling ratings in recent months don?t bother Bourne.? The phrase ?even the falling ratings? sets the reader up to believe that there are a mountain of problems that WWECW faces, mounting problems that have to be ?bothering? Evan Bourne, but somehow, someway, all the supposed problems PLUS the ?falling ratings? do not bother Bourne, as if they should. Does anyone else see the subliminal, unconscious, subtle persuasive language and word choice in the news?
What does he mean in ?falling ratings? anyhow? ECW on Sci Fi has not only been on the air longer than the original ECW on TNN, but it, on average, has markedly higher ratings as well. (http://gerweck.net/ratings06.htm) ? Source
If ECW on Sci Fi has falling ratings that should be bothering Evan Bourne, ECW on TNN couldn?t fall any further.
Moving on though, looking at some of Bourne’s actual claims, Bourne states that:
“Me and Tyson Kid can easily be the Super Crazy/Tajiri or RVD/Jerry Lynn of the new ECW??
Ha! Not only can he and Tyson easily be the Super Crazy/Tajiri or the RVD/Jerry Lynn of the new ECW, they can easily top them. Look folks, I wrote last week about how our perception of legends, myths and events of the past is horribly skewed while the truth lies somewhere in a dark alley, covered in vomit, wearing someone else’s clothes, shivering and dying of rabies, and the truth is, the Jerry Lynn, RVD matches of old, and the Super Crazy, Tajiri matches of old are not as good as you remember them. Not only that, but they certainly can and have been topped. Want proof? Go back and watch a match from each feud, watch how sloppy the wrestling is at times, watch for all the errors and awkward moments. Watch for the lack of proper storytelling, bad selling and an overall lack of continuity.
Want more proof? About a year ago, thanks to my best friend and independent wrestler, Logan Shulo, I was able to speak to Jerry Lynn about 45 minutes after a wrestling show in Elizabeth Pa. Right away I shook his hand and told him I had a whole hell of a lot of respect for his work with RVD in the original ECW. He looked me in the eyes with my hand still held in his and told me ?We got away with a lot of stuff in ECW that we could?ve never gotten away with in WWE.? I immediately said, ?Well yeah, you guys were doing top rope hurricanranas through tables and using chairs at will.? And he said ?No I mean, we fucked up a lot of spots, it was sloppy. A lot of that stuff wouldn?t make it on TV today. Thanks though.? And that’s when it hit me that maybe the precious memories I held of ECW; the violence, the athleticism, the wrestling, were really just bloated, embellished versions of a truth far less glamorous. Point being, Evan Bourne and Tyson Kidd could easily be the next RVD/Lynn, Super Crazy/Tajiri, however, that would be setting their sights decisively low.
Bourne continues ?Also ECW had no rules; you could use any language you want. I loved the promo Tazz cut on Steve Corino, where he cursed for 10 minute straight, but we can’t do that.?
This Bourne quote alone shows you that he was a true fan of the original ECW and not just a WWE drone (whatever the hell that is) who blindly touts company opinion. Upon reading the above quote, did anyone actually remember the promo Bourne mentions? Be honest with yourself. I sure didn?t and I consider myself a big fan of the original ECW. Furthermore, the fact that ECW had no rules and could harbor promos that featured ten minutes of cursing was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it made ECW the company that featured edgy, no nonsense characters who were generally uncensored and spoke their mind at will, as well as were able to use whatever sort of weapon they wanted to get their point across. It made wrestling cool again for those who outgrew the then childish WWF and WCW. However, like Steve O from Jackass or Marilyn Manson, ECW was a gimmick image, a one trick pony whose fame would be shortly lived and, unless they changed drastically or adapted to the times, would fade into obscurity like an old band playing the same tunes over and over again; familiar chords can be played effortlessly, blindly, with little thought, but offer nothing more to be desired, no tricks, no improvising, no growth. ECW was the definition of this. ECW was the bad ass kid in 6th grade who swore all the time and knew about sex before any of his classmates did. By high school his routine wore thin and he was either in and out of trouble with the law, failing school, taking Ritalin or making low-brow jokes in the back of Biology class while everyone chuckles nervously, in quiet acceptance of his abysmal fate.
Ten minute, curse-filled promos look good on paper, or sound good in theory, but do they actually contain any substance? I remember a promo Shane Douglas did where he basically tore down Ric Flair, using every curse word in the book, verbally lashing the 16 time world champion in the middle of the ring while the crowd sat back and acted as if Jesus was preaching to them. Where is Shane Douglas now? No-showing ECW reunion events? Trying to hold on to any ounce of fame he may have attained in the original ECW? Pretending he matters because his gimmick was The Franchise? Give me a break. Being the Franchise of ECW is like being the franchise player on the Oakland Raiders. Medium sized fish, horribly small pond. Douglas couldn?t lace Flair’s boots and the only way to get around that and to present the image of Douglas as someone who actually matters in the wrestling world is to cloud reality with lots and lots of swearing. Taz was another who filled the gap in promo skills with curse words. These types of promos are effective only in the immediate, effective for their shock value, but looking at these promos in the same light as one would view a Foley, Chris Jericho or Shawn Michaels promo is simply ludicrous, as these curse-filled ?hardcore? ECW promos were nothing but juvenile garbage. It’s as if each ECW wrestler who gave these promos were using their venom to vent their own frustration and self hatred for being trapped in the misguided black hole of ECW.
Next week I will be going a few reader emails pertaining to my column(s). I want to split this argument into three columns because I?m already hovering around 1,700 words and I haven?t even begun going into said emails. However, as a small preface for next week, the main argument in the emails I?ve received so far claim one of three things: 1. The original ECW had ‘star power? that the current ECW lacks. 2. The original ECW’s atmosphere and feel cannot be topped. 3. The original ECW added innovation, passion and feeling into a stale wrestling climate. 3. Vince’s ECW is a watered down version of the original purposely created to kill the original ECW and to make the ECW originals look weak.
I will take a look at these claims next week as well as offer my two cents, hopefully closing the argument once and for all and strolling off in confident victory as Evan Bourne and I pop a bottle of champagne and drink to the success of the new ECW. In closing, instead of putting the original ECW out of its misery this week I merely took it behind the woodshed and shot it a few times in the legs.
For now, if there’s anything readers should be taking from this series of columns, it’s to critically examine and question what you read; whether you like Evan Bourne and the new ECW or not, you should be able to recognize Rothstein’s subtle bias and form your opinion accordingly. Wrestling journalism is just as shifty; if not more so than every other type of journalism and if you?re going to criticize one type, criticize them all.