ECW, when it was first decided in 2006 that WWE would re launch ECW as a third brand there was a lot of buzz in the industry. Fans asked would Paul Heyman be given complete reign? We all wondered aloud is there any way, shape or form that Vince McMahon would see the hardcore fanbase that ECW developed in its heyday and attempt to appease them to bring them back into the WWE fold? That was over 3 years ago and by now we all see what ECW has become, a glorified developmental territory with a national T.V deal and don?t get me wrong I will personally attest to the fact that there are times when ECW is the best wrestling show on WWE television all week but it is not what we all wanted or expected when it was initially launched. It has been recently speculated that WWE may in fact rebrand ECW due to pressure from Sy Fy network over sagging ratings. Maybe, just maybe it is time WWE does just that?you?re reading “Wrestling Rumblings.”
I want to give everyone the dictionary definition of rebranding if you will all indulge me for a minute.
Rebranding (verb) – is the process by which a product or service developed with one brand, company or product line affiliation is marketed or distributed with a different identity
I could go into other meanings and explanations of the word but this will suffice for now. The WWE product we have been given is not Extreme Championship Wrestling it’s just ECW. When was the last time you ever watched any WWE show or ECW for that matter and ever heard the words ?Extreme Championship Wrestling? uttered by a commentator or a talent? At this point the letters have been just that letters; they are initials that in many ways stand for nothing. How about we change that?
I thought WWE missed out on a major opportunity with the Bragging Rights PPV that just occurred a few months ago. Unlike many others who complained I didn?t have a problem that ECW was not included in the competition for the ?Bragging Rights? trophy on the show but I did think that ECW needed to make its presence felt on it nonetheless. The original ECW was based on being anti establishment and I thought this show would?ve been a fantastic way to go back to that. Can you imagine if in that main event 10 man tag for the trophy if a army of ECW wrestlers interfered in the match attacking both Smackdown and Raw wrestlers and had a wrestler like maybe say Christian cut a promo in the middle of the ring about how tired ECW is of being overlooked by everyone in the company, how Vince McMahon is scared of ECW and how the whole WWE Universe is trying to hold ECW down. He can reference things like having the ECW champion compete in the royal rumble, ECW being left off PPV’s and the ECW title being disrespected over and over again and in a sense have ECW ?quit? WWE. If this sounds vaguely similar to something we have seen already it’s because in a sense you have. This is exactly how the ECW name first surfaced in WWE in 2001 with the whole invasion angle and at the time while everything that was going on was very rushed and not played out properly the initial thought of ECW feuding with WWE and WCW was exciting, it was different. It never played out because before the show was over we had the formation of the Alliance but what if we can sort of go back to that formula and have ECW feud with Raw and Smackdown and step out from underneath the shadows of its big brother brands?
Of course what would any angle be without it’s twist and turns to it? This of course would be no different; one thing I really enjoyed about the original ECW was its unique ability to make fans forget about what they have seen from a particular performer without totally ignoring those performers past. Take for example wrestlers such as Chris Candido, Justin Credible, Jerry Lynn, Al Snow and Matt Bourne. Paul Heyman didn?t treat those guys like you never saw them before in goofier identities but he made it part of the storyline so to speak. You see WWE and WCW that was cartoon wrestling and those guys were just as good as anyone but because of the politicks they were being held down but in ECW there was none of that and that’s why you were going to like these guys because they put on just as good of a show as anyone. It sounded ridiculous at the time but it worked as some of these wrestlers were able to go onto become legitimate stars in the ECW promotion and headline shows without question. Why can?t you do some of that in WWE? I always thought that as over as Nick Dinsmore was for a time as Eugene that the gimmick would run its course in the end. When WWE first announced they were bringing ECW back I always thought a good way to help establish an identity was to have Nick come out and denounce Eugene as a cartoon, something he had to do to make it into WWE but he could cut a edgy promo denouncing the fans who cheered Eugene and the company that gave it life and proclaim himself to be now and forever Nick Dinsmore, a wrestler who was world class all the way and be booked as such. Can you imagine if that would?ve happened? We could have had Nick ready to possibly main event a Wrestlemania by now instead of floundering still doing Eugene for Hulk Hogan in Australia. There are still wrestlers in WWE that you can do this with right now guys like Goldust or even Fit Finlay. Wrestlers that have been booked soft but can really go. This would do wonders to ?rebrand? ECW as a serious brand, the place where wrestlers go not to create characters or participate in soap opera storylines but to wrestle.
Let’s face it right now no matter what you call it there just isn?t the right amount of talent in ECW to make for a show that you would pay money to see so there has to be some sort of talent swap right? Of course since I am angling for ECW to be somewhat the anti WWE where it doesn?t necessarily fit into pardon the pun WWE’s universe a draft would be somewhat out of the question. How about just random defections? You could have guys like CM Punk, R Truth, Charlie Haas, Carlito and others just defect and jump ship. They can proclaim how they are tired of being ?held back? and want to go where the wrestling is. This could get all of those guys TV time while some of the stars of FCW could gradually make its way onto the roster and have time to build themselves up. At some point you would have to integrate them back into WWE’s TV by maybe having some sort of storyline where ECW was maybe purchased by someone (immediately Vickie Guerrero would spring to mind leading a consortium of sorts) and that even though they are being independently run have time on WWE PPV’s and such. You can even have a three hour Raw where the first hour isn?t Raw but an ECW special. Possibilities are endless but the goal is to get the word out in the biggest way possible that there is a newer, better, and more unique brand out there and that that brand is Extreme Championship Wrestling.
Back to those letters, while I am not in favor of bringing back the hardcore wrestling of ECW because at the end of the day this is still going to be a grooming ground of sorts for the young guys and I don?t want to see guys careers end before it even begins we have to do something otherwise it is just a name. So I say we change the rules just a bit. WCW once upon a time had a ?relaxed? rules thing going when they were running the New Blood angle where there were disqualifications but not for everything, maybe we can bring that back although that would probably be confusing to fans. I was thinking maybe more along the lines of ECW having matches that were maybe falls count anywhere but with DQ’s. Or maybe we can borrow something from Mexico and make all ECW title matches two out of three falls? Regardless of what it is there has to be something different and unique to ECW’s matches to make it stand out from WWE otherwise why is it extreme? I also think ECW should have its own specialty matches, sure it can borrow a page from WWE every now and then but even TNA who rips off TLC and other matches from WWE still has King of the Mountain and Ultimate X. Someone needs to come up with a match that can be used exclusively for ECW and have that be a signature match.
OK so we have in a sense changed ECW’s name (Or in actuality just expanded it a bit), we changed the style of ECW matches, the wrestlers and just the overall theme of the promotion what else is there to change? Well it would be nice to maybe get another title going in there and bring back the ECW TV title. One of the things that drives me crazy about ECW right now is how there is no other title in the promotion and granted that is partly because the roster is slimmed down but it just makes your midcard more meaningful. It is very hard to elevate a guy to a bigger spot in any organization without establishing him as a championship caliber athlete and the easiest way to do that is by creating and giving credibility to a mid card title. I am sure there are some that would argue against that but think about it; in the original ECW one of the big things that gave Taz, RVD, Jerry Lynn Rhyno and others that push to main event for the World Title was holding and competing for the ECW TV Title. If that title wasn?t in the picture there stands a reasonable possibility that it would have taken far longer for any of them to ascend to that spot in a manner that would have been acceptable to fans. Besides not having a mid card title is another subliminal hint to fans that the brand should be seen as inferior to Smackdown and Raw and you don?t wish to have that for the sake of this rebranding. I would still allow for the Unified Tag Team titles to be defended on all shows but ECW would still need a mid card championship.
So there you have it; a reintroduction to the original name which you haven?t heard in so long that it almost feels like new, in a sense you have new wrestlers since the ideas behind them have been somewhat reimagined, new match concepts and rules, new championships and overall just a new attitude. It’s still ECW and well it’s a whole lot better than what we have right now and in my opinion if you are going to rebrand ECW this is how you should do it.
On that note let me wrap up this week’s column by letting you all know you can send your thoughts, questions, etc. to email@example.com as I am always looking forward to reading your emails and even in times of high volume I respond to everything. The emails I get from you all are fantastic and it is still a mind blow to me at times when I see who exactly reads this column. So hit me up even if it’s just to say ?I like it? or ?I didn?t like it this week? of course an explanation would be great but you get the gist of it. I want to hear from you all. Next week I will try to do better, and until then I am out.