requiem for a dreamer

Some of you may remember, back in the dark and mysterious days before NXT, that I used to write recaps on here about ECW. Back then, as now, I wasn’t the most reliable recapper. A real life involving a full time job, 4 year old twins and a crippling Dandelion & Burdock addiction would often conspire to leave me without enough time to do the show justice. Also, with ECW being a shorter show than Raw or Smackdown, there was a higher wrestling to messing about ratio – and let’s face it, this blog is more concerned with the messing about part on the whole.

Towards the end of ECW’s run back in February, I did briefly address this in a blog about the announcement that ECW was being replaced with NXT. At the time, Taz was very dismissive and outspoken about the treatment that ECW had been given by Vince McMahon and the WWE. I was quite taken aback by Taz’s comments, especially since he was quite happy to admit that he defected from ECW to join WWE for the money, yet he was happy to criticise Vince McMahon for making money from the ECW initials.

Fast forward to this week, and Tommy Dreamer’s recent promo on TNA iMPACT! If you haven’t seen it (and quite frankly I hope most of you haven’t, as giving TNA viewing figures is only encouraging them) then you can view it via YouTube here:

Powerful and emotional stuff I’m sure you’ll agree. The incredibly masculine holding back of the tears… the supportive hands of Mick Foley… Dixie Carter offering full control of the PPV to Dreamer and the others… Except of course it isn’t. It’s bloody awful and Dreamer, Rhyno, Raven, Richards and Foley should be ashamed. For all the bluff posturing of the “ECW Originals” decrying Vince McMahon’s bastardisation of ECW – nothing he did once the weekly show started was anywhere near as disheartening and insulting as TNA’s constant toadying to wrestlers who may have been a big name “in the other company”.

It’s been a long list so far: ex-WWE guys who have been dragged out of retirement (or unemployment) by TNA and given top pushes or, even more disturbingly, positions of actual power. Jeff Hardy (twice! the second despite his highly publicised drugs arrest), Shannon Moore, Kevin Nash, Mick Foley, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Randy Savage, Brian Kendrick, Elijah Burke, Kurt Angle, Ken Anderson and more.

And now, TNA have moved on to pastures new – picking up ex-ECW wrestlers to put on HardCORE Justice (their annoying capitalisation, not mine) “a one-night-only celebration of hardcore wrestling featuring a never before seen reunion of legendary wrestling superstars” that is being billed as “The Last Stand”. OK, so – assuming that none of us have ever seen, or even heard of, the excellent original ECW One Night Stand PPV that the WWE put on, TNA are organising a “never before seen” reunion of ECW guys in a PPV environment, while coincidentally using the words “ONE NIGHT only” and “last STAND” on the official website.

Although of course, ECW One Night Stand wasn’t even the first reunion show for ECW guys. Two days before that there was the first show in a short series known as Hardcore Homecoming, featuring ECW talent in a series of hardcore, no holds barred matches. Still there’s no way TNA could have heard of these relatively obscure shows, not unless they happened to include current TNA talents like Mick Foley, Raven, Rhino and Team 3D. Oh, and of course, they would also need to have been booked and promoted by somebody heavily entrenched in TNA management such as… oh I don’t know… Jeremy Borash say. And while we’re stretching the bounds of possibility, lets be really outlandish and say that Borash would have had to also hypothetically film, edit and produce a documentary about the shows called Hardcore Forever…

Anyway, making fun of TNA and their unfathomable booking decisions is as easy as shooting Hardys in a barrel. The issue I have at the moment is the Tommy Dreamer promo. This is a guy that was first employed by the WWE back during the Invasion angle, was given 14 Hardcore Championship reigns, then a number of office jobs within the company, and eventually was given an ECW Championship run by the WWE that left him in the record books as the only person ever to hold the ECW Title in both “Original” ECW and “WWE” ECW. All this despite, lets be honest, him not being the best wrestler in the world. During the old ECW days that may not have been so important, but once he made the transition to the WWE style his shortcomings really began to show, and it became more and more apparent as a fan that he has was taking up roster space and TV time that could have been better utilised by other wrestlers.

It’s worth noting before we go on, Tommy’s first ECW Championship reign under Paul Heyman lasted a whole 30 minutes; whereas the terrible company that “punished” him and his friends gave him a 7 week Championship run. Oh yeah, the “punished” thing? That comes from TNA’s hardcorejustice.com site, where a quote attributed to Tommy states:

Dixie has allowed us to have a chance to finally thank the fans that have supported us for all of these years [...] In the past, we’ve been lied to and we’ve been punished for being who we were and building what we did. Now we have a chance to get everyone back together for one last night.”

Now I like Tommy Dreamer as a person, he seems like a nice guy for the most part. His twitter feed has been consistently entertaining, and his appearance for independent companies such as Wrestlegasm favourites CHIKARA are good publicity. But I can’t figure out how I’m offended by this. I know I am offended, just not in which way. You see, I can look at the promo in one of two ways:

1. It’s a shoot.

Tommy genuinely believes that he, and all the other ex-ECW wrestlers, were treated badly by Vince. A statement that seem deluded at best, and genuinely ungrateful and petty at worst. As I’ve mentioned, Tommy wasn’t the best wrestler in the world, yet WWE kept him on far longer than they perhaps should, giving him a title reign and constantly referring to him as the “Heart and Soul of ECW” – a title which I am sure he took great delight in hearing each week.

2. It’s a work

Tommy doesn’t believe any of this, he realises how lucky he was to be a part of such a huge entity as the WWE. He knows that the exposure and publicity he received mean he can pick and choose appearances and independent bookings for as long as he wants, and that the WWE actually made more of a success of the ECW brand that people give them credit for. However, despite knowing all this, he is prepared to stand in the ring of the main competitor and run down WWE, and Vince in particular.

Either way, Tommy doesn’t exactly come out of this situation smelling of roses. But, it’s only fair that we look into this a little deeper. Tommy’s main complaint seems to be the way that some of the other guys were used and tossed aside by the WWE for being the same people they were in ECW. I’ve no doubt that there is some truth in this; however, you have to look at the kind of people we are talking about here. Let’s take a couple of the main ECW wrestlers who made the leap to WWE.

Rob Van Dam – Became the first ECW Champion in the new promotion, beat John Cena in a PPV main event match, becoming the first wrestler in history to hold both the WWE Championship and the ECW World Heavyweight Championship, and the only one ever to hold them at the same time. Managed to get himself suspended for a marijuana offence, but then came back to be given numerous title shots and a Wrestlemania payday. Even after leaving the company due to his wife’s illness, Van Dam came back to make a surprise appearance on both the Raw 15th Anniversary show and the 2009 Royal Rumble.

Sabu – Was released by TNA, and was given a World Heavyweight Title shot in his debut match for WWE shortly afterwards, against Rey Mysterio at One Night Stand. Two months later he won a Battle Royal and was given a PPV match against John Cena. Despite then being arrested for possession of drugs, Sabu was still given a title match against Big Show at Summerslam and a Wrestlemania payday.

Hardly being treated terribly, and the same goes for other ECW Originals such as Balls Mahoney and The Sandman – both of whom were given pushes and storylines far outweighing any actual wrestling ability.

On the flip side, WWE’s incarnation of ECW was arguably responsible for bringing up a new crop of Superstars and giving them space to learn to react to much larger crowds than they may have been used to previously; as well as reinvigorating the careers of established wrestlers such as William Regal and Christian.

People like CM Punk and Evan Bourne, both of whom had worked with great success on the independent scene, were given space and time to learn how to adapt their style to fit in with the WWE and it’s larger arenas – most notably with Punk fazing out the use of the Anaconda Vise as a finisher and focussing more on the Go To Sleep (a move which can be appreciated from a greater distance in the crowd.)

Less experienced wrestlers had the opportunity to use ECW as a training facility of sorts – people such as Seamus, Jack Swagger, Yoshi Tatsu and Zack Ryder all came into their own on ECW. After Joey Mercury had his face destroyed by the Hardy Curse, Johnny Nitro was floundering in singles competition until a transfer to ECW and “THE INCIDENT” gave him an unexpected title shot. Cue the transformation to John Morrison and a greater deal of success that anyone could have foreseen.

The trouble seems to be one of perception with ECW. People such as Tommy Dreamer, perhaps understandably, will only focus on the elements of ECW that they were involved in and that made them famous – the hardcore matches, the brawls throughout the ECW arena, the use of weapons… I would argue however, that the thing that made both forms of ECW great was instead the opportunity it gave wrestlers who didn’t necessarily fit the WWF/WCW mould. I’ve mentioned some of the people that the new ECW gave new life to, but the same happened with Heyman’s show.

Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Steve Austin, Lance Storm, Eddie Guerrero, Tajiri – all people that were overlooked or dismissed from the WWE or WCW and were given breaks on ECW. I said it last time and I stand by it now : both forms of ECW were great.

The original ECW wasn’t great because of any perceived anarchic outsider status (after all, they were bankrolled by Vince McMahon for some time)

It wasn’t great because of the weapons and bloodshed (after all, if there was such a demand for that style, CZW would be challenging TNA for viewers)

It was great because, in between the brawls, they showcased some amazing wrestling from some amazing wrestlers. This is what made the original ECW so enjoyable to watch – the variety, and it’s the true legacy of Paul Heyman’s work that was carried on through to the WWE version. Building a show around the hardcore elements of ECW was always a bad move, even when the wrestlers involved where in their heyday.

The original ECW themselves didn’t do this; their PPVs always offered a combination of brawling, weapon based matches and high-flying technical wrestling. WWE didn’t do this; go and look at the line-up for the first One Night Stand. As well as the incredible Masato Tanaka vs Mike Awesome match, and the main event fight between the Dudleys and Dreamer/Sandman – the PPV featured some great wrestling matches with Lance Storm vs Jericho and Mysterio vs Psychosis being the stand outs for me personally.

It remains to be seen just how much of the HardCORE Justice PPV is given over to the hardcore style matches – but it seems a pretty safe bet given TNAs over reliance on older names to push their shows that Dreamer will be in the main event, and that it will be weapon-based. It will also be interesting to see just who they manage to get involved. They’ve already exhausted the “top tier” of ECW wrestlers available to them, and have delved down to the levels of Simon Diamond.

I’m not going to deny Tommy Dreamer has contributed a great deal to the wrestling industry through his passion and commitment, and I would never deny anyone the right to pursue a pay day – but at some point the nostalgic rose-tinted view that some people have of certain elements of a company that once employed them, whether they had a right to be in a wrestling ring or not, had to stop. And the over reliance on washed-up, used-up and burnt out names to sell PPVs in 2010 is starting to verge on the pathetically hilarious.

I’ll leave you with another Dreamer quote from the TNA site. “TNA is the only place that this event could happen , […] There are no politics to worry about and no restrictions in place. The fans know that I have a lot of extremely close friends, so they can expect anything and everything to happen. I have some surprises for everyone. ”

Let’s hope he’s right, and we’re all pleasantly surprised…

andrew’s ecw(lite): what’s NXT?

Every week I sit down to write an ECW recap, and every week real life gets in the way and I let Ray down. It’s getting to the point where I am seriously considering just channelling Jeffrey Bernard and posting “Andrew Southern is unwell” each week.

Part of the issue is that as ECW is such a short show there is rarely chance for more than two or so concurrent storylines to actually get any airtime. And as this blog is never going to be a play-by-play account of the matches (despite the undoubted quality of some of the ECW wrestlers) this doesn’t leave much to write about.  However, this week on ECW something different happened that, despite not quite matching up to the hype leading to the announcement, has apparently annoyed certain members of the wrestling community beyond all reason.

For those of you who may not have seen the episode, throughout the show Vince McMahon’s address on the future of ECW was trailed between almost every match or segment, leading to an announcement that in three weeks time ECW will be off the air, to be replace by a brand new WWE show (later revealed to be titled NXT – as in Next Generation.) At the time of writing, nobody outside of the WWE actually knows what NXT will consist of. There have been rumours that it will be incorporating more Sci-Fi (or SyFy) elements – remember the ECW Yeti? Or that it be more reality TV-like, featuring audience interactivity (a bit like the failed Taboo Tuesday/Cyber Sunday PPVs.) The general consensus seems to be that NXT will feature new wrestlers, and perhaps not even have anybody on the show that is already a member of the WWE roster. What this would mean for WWE’s current developmental company FCW is unknown, but it could hopefully involve people like Bryan Danielson, Kaval (formerly Low Ki) and possibly some random Welsh bloke called Barri might get a call up to national television.

All pretty good yeah? Well, apparently not, if some are to be believed. The most outspoken complainant this week has been ex-ECW star and WWE commentator Taz(z) – who posted a blog on his Facebook account complaining that, while Vince took the time the thank the backstage staff in his address, there was no mention of Paul Heyman or the wrestlers of the “original” ECW. Taz went on to complain that Vince had made “a lot of $$$” from the letters ECW over the years, and therefore should be more respectful of the “original” ECW history and be prepared to give it a proper send off.

Bearing in mind that ECW is still on the air for the next two weeks, and we don’t have any idea what will be happening in those last shows, it does seem slightly premature of Taz to complain about the way ECW will end.  The almost cultlike way in which people talk about the “original” ECW is frustrating in many ways, not least of which being the fact that Extreme Championship Wrestling was hardly the “original” ECW, being an evolution of the older Eastern Championship Wrestling (where the initials originally came from.) Hence the mildly annoying inverted commas around the word “original” throughout this paragraph, a conceit which I shall stop now.

Taz complaining that Vince McMahon and the WWE made money from ECW also seems quite hypocritical, especially when you read a later paragraph from that blog. ‘Can some say that, “hey Taz… you sold out and left ECW to go to the WWE”…..well yes. Unfortunately, this is a business and I did what I needed to do (at the time) for my family and have ZERO regrets!’ The reason Taz needed to “sell out” was because, visionary as Paul Heyman may be, it is widely acknowledged by even his staunchest supporters that he was a terrible business man, so paying wrestlers wasn’t always top of his priorities. Taz therefore moved to the WWE, where he had a pretty successful showing as a wrestler, taking the Hardcore Title and Tag Team Titles before he moved to a commentary position (mainly due to injuries from his pre-WWE career.) While working commentary, Taz had a “shoot” blog on WWE.com, in which he said that “WWE deserves credit for what it’s done for ECW,” something which it’s apparently easy to disagree with when you now work for the competition.

ECW had it’s good elements, I wouldn’t try and deny that. But in today’s business there are only two major companies in the US, and once you move to one it seems that you can’t say anything nice about the other. The wrestlers that were actually talented and successful in ECW went on to make much more money working for the WWE, in a much safer style. Think of the biggest names in ECW; Taz, Raven, Tommy Dreamer, Terry Funk, Rhino, Cactus Jack, Steve Austin, The Dudleys, Sabu, Sandman, even Joey Styles and Paul Heyman himself – they all went on to work for the WWE (and most had pretty successful runs with the company.) Other guys like Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guererro, Chris Jericho etc. all worked for a while in ECW before moving over to WCW – but there is a reason that they made that move, and as Taz said earlier “this is a business.”  Vince McMahon and the WWE gave Paul Heyman’s Extreme Championship Wrestling an amazing send-off with the original ECW: One Night Stand PPV, before creating a new brand: Vince McMahon’s Extreme Championship Wrestling. The problems arose from people assuming that the two companies would be the same, when it should have been obvious that this would never be the case.

Over the last couple of years this new ECW has proven itself to be a very successful show, especially when it comes to bringing in developmental wrestlers via the New Superstar Initiative. Admittedly, for every Sheamus or Yoshi Tatsu we’ve had to put up with a Tyler Reks or DJ Gabriel, but ECW has given valuable TV and development time to people like CM Punk, Zack Ryder, Sheamus, Evan Bourne, William Regal, Christian, Shelton Benjamin, Jack Swagger and current break-out stars Trent Baretta and Caylen Croft. In my opinion this shows the true succession of the old ECW brand – bringing new wrestlers to the attention of fans bored with the domination of the top stars like Triple H and John Cena. And for that I will always be happy to watch ECW, regardless of what it is called; and it’s why I’m really excited for NXT (even if it is a stupid name.)

I’ll leave you with a quote from my favourite new twitter account (@THETOMMYDREAMER) from last Tuesday: “Many people have asked me why I left WWE. If you watched ECW tonight, a piece of the puzzle was revealed for my actions. Stay tuned.”

ecw(lite): don’t worry my child, i have not forsaken you…

I’m back. yes I realise that most of you won’t have even noticed the lack of ECW recaps, but real life got in the way for a while over Xmas. So, what’s happened over the last few weeks?

1. General Manager (and, quite possibly, the “Insatiable One” Brett Anderson sang about) Tiffany introduced the ECW Homecoming tournament to crown a Number 1 Contender to face Christian at the Royal Rumble. This tournament featured current ECW stars and previous ECW Champions fighting for a place in next week’s Battle Royal (well, tomorrow actually due to laziness on my part.)

“Tiffany is 110% fit. Brett & Tiffany 4 Ever…”

Previously Kane, Vance Archer, Evan Bourne, Matt Hardy, Yoshi Tatsu and Ezekiel Jackson have all qualified, so tonight sees the last two places being filled.

2. The Ruthless Roundtable continued to fall apart, leaving us at the point (after more double-crosses than Terry Funk has on his ranch) where Ezekiel Jackson and William Regal are together, and Kozlov has been dismissed as the weak link.

3. Tommy Dreamer was retired by Zack Ryder. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Tommy Dreamer, but he obviously loves the business (and his new @THETOMMYDREAMER twitter account is pretty amazing)

Anyway, on with the show – and who do we have opening the show? ECW Champion Christian – and everyone loves Captain Charisma don’t they? Nobody would consider interrupting him while he’s giving one of his little promos would they?

Oh, of course...

Everyone’s favourite crotch (and by everyone I mean one particular Welsh girl) and hairy preacher CM Punk is on ECW this week (along with reformed retard Luke Gallows) to fight The World’s Soggiest Man Mark Henry for the last slot in the Homecoming Battle Royal. For those of you who care about these things, we’ll get to the colour of his trunks later on. For now, I would just like to point out that CM Punk seemed slightly on the “tired and emotional” side for his promo, blurting out lines like:

Looks like all Punks, this one's actually partial to cheap cider

Match one, and it’s the penultimate Homecoming qualifier between Shelton “Support Breast Feeding” Benjamin and Chavo Guerrero. But first, it’s time for one of the empty boasts that the WWE seems to be so fond of.

No! Really? WORLD Wrestling Entertainment ran more shows in Europe than the US NATIONAL Basketball, Hockey, Baseball & Football organisations?

To introduce the match is the new(ish) ECW ring announcer, Savannah. She’s still pretty green, but she makes the effort at least – when the last time you saw Tony Chimel or Justin Roberts dress up to co-ordinate with the competitors?

Shelton’s always worth watching, and Chavo’s probably just happy not to be stuck with Hornswoggle, so this match was pretty enjoyable, if quite short. Predictably, Shelton won to join the Homecoming Battle Royal tomorrow. But Chavo got to wrestle Brian Danielson before Raw last week so he can’t complain too much. Now there is only one spot left in the Homecoming, to be filled by either CM Punk or Mark Henry.

Who is that mystery man? Sarge? Rosemary the Telephone Operator? Mark Henry?

After a brief video recap of Tommy Dreamer’s retirement last week, Zack Ryder came out with Rosa Mendes and literally wasted a few minutes talking some nonsense about how he “stopped the heart” and “destroyed the soul” of ECW. I wonder what Tommy Dreamer thinks about Zack Ryder now?

Really… you should be following @THETOMMYDREAMER

Time for yet another chapter in the ongoing love triangle that is the Ruthless Roundtable. Ezekiel Jackson (accompanied by the ever-dapper William Regal) going up against Vladimir Kozlov. I’m beginning to think that the real reason Jackson hates Kozlov is because Kozlov’s dressing gown says “Sambo” on the sleeve. He might as well have a Robinson’s Marmalade Gollywog pinned to his shorts…

Now, perhaps unsurprisingly, this wasn’t the best match of the night. But justice prevailed and the Guyanese Goliath defeated the Racist Russian, following which Regal took the opportunity to let Kozlov know he’s a disgrace, and that they were finished with him. Hopefully they are finished with him, and Regal and Jackson can move on to someone slightly more talented to feud with.

Finally it’s time to watch a Raw Superstar take on a Smackdown Superstar in an ECW  main event (because obviously nobody would tune into ECW just to watch ECW guys wrestling.)  Let’s get the whole “What colour trunks was Punk wearing” issue out of the way straight away.

Yellow

Interestingly, I’m surprised that Luke Gallows doesn’t have a CM Punk beanie hat; because I do, and I’ve never even met the bloke…

Another fun match, playing off the strength of Henry compared to the speed and kicks of Punk, and ended with a well done interference from Gallows that wasn’t as much of an insult as these things so often are. Despite Mark Henry “hulking up” towards the end, Punk managed to get the win and the last slot in the Battle Royal (come on, did you really think Mark Henry was going to fit in that little silhouette?)

Don’t they make a lovely couple?

Favourite Fan this week? Well, much as I enjoyed the mildly dated “Jelly Belly Layfield” sign somebody had inexplicably brought along, it was nothing compared to the DX-loving Marvin the Martian.

crotch watch: brand new decade edition

I’ve been getting  a steady stream of requests for a new edition of Crotch Watch for some time. I, in turn, have promised to write it and have (predictably) failed. Nothing to do with the subject matter, you understand. Although, being a first class pervert requires far more effort than one might imagine. I have just been rather busy. I spent  a few weeks in USAville, then I had a spot of jetlag over Christmas week, then I was overcome by the spirit of a Victorian lady, then I had lounging in my PJs til lunch time to do, and sale shopping, then I had a new Xbox 360 Elite to play, then I had to travel to West Wales to spend NYE with family and friends, then I got back into town on the coldest train ever on Friday and…… you get the idea.

By the way, Happy New Decade! I spent New Year’s Eve on a pub crawl in Tenby and spent New Year’s Day filling my lungs with clean, fresh, ocean air on a very chilly beach, where I collected shells and pebbles and wrote topical, thought-provoking messages in the wet sand.

Being this clever is such a curse.

The air was so pure out West that my body didn’t know what to do with itself. Even though the whole of South Wales was covered in ice and snow, and even though it was very late by the time I got back to the city, I strapped myself to a skateboard, grabbed on to the back bumper of my neighbours’ car and sucked on their exhaust pipe while they drove around the block to replenish all the toxins pushed out by the healthy seaside air. Return to city life complete. Anyway, you don’t care about any of this, do you? I mean, I could tell you about my New Year’s Resolutions, but as Mercury is retrograde I’m delaying finalising my resolutions until it begins moving forward again and until the second lunar eclipse has passed. Look to the skies, people.

Now, let’s start the year as we mean to go on and objectify men who run around in their under-crackers. There hasn’t been an official Crotch Watch in ages but my Hell in a Cell recap was an interim edition so it hasn’t been that long. We should probably start with my Crotch Watching muse, CM Punk, who inspires perversion without even trying that hard. I mean, he even wore seasonal trunks for Halloween.

Subtle but effective. He's almost as clever as I am.

I was getting worried about our CM. That semi-religious tip he’s been on lately has been killing my buzz. But just as I was losing hope, that hairy horn-beast whipped out his infamous lavender trunks and dragged me back in. And before anyone tries to argue with me, yes, I know they look a bit grey and washed out but they definitely ARE the lavender trunks.

As I mentioned, I am now the proud owner of this plastic chest of magic known as the Xbox and I was thrilled see that the virtual CM Punk wears said lavender trunks in his Smackdown vs Raw 2010 matches. Or at least the ones I’ve played so far. Game on!  And before leaving Mr. Punk alone….. to start the year off with a bang, Punk wore his black and white tanga briefs on the New Year’s Day episode of Smackdown.

Is Punk growing his chest hair but still waxing his stomach? Weird.

Staying with Smackdown, either John Morrison’s narcissism has reached such heights that he’s taken to plastering his face over his junk, or, he’s trying to cover up something he doesn’t want us to look at. To be honest, most faces are prettier than junk, so if you’re going to cover it up with someone’s face you might as well make it a beautiful one. If that happens to be your own face? Lucky (genetically blessed) you.

Let’s shift brands and head to ECW. Now that this blog covers ECW activities I should touch base with those ‘extreme’ boys. Oh and if you’re wondering what’s happened to Andrew’s ECW recaps, have no fear, as soon as Christmas is over and he’s finished assembling all the toys Father Christmas left for his kiddies, he’ll be back in the WG office. I’ve given him a few weeks off to enjoy his kids. I know I’m a bit grumpy at times but I’m not Ebenezer Scrooge to Andrew’s Bob Cratchit, ya know. Anyway, Andrew seems rather taken with Shelton Benjamin’s package. He mentions it often and appears to have developed an inferiority complex. Not being in any way familiar with Andrew’s family jewels, I couldn’t possibly give an opinion, so we’ll just take his word for it and let Shelton take the floor.

Oi! William Regal! Stop crushing Shelton's bits with your beer gut. Andrew obviously switched the original picture I chose for this one. Hometown boys sticking together. Pffft!

And while we’re with ECW…..

The boy just needs to make a decision. He should resolve to go one way or the other in 2010. There’s no sitting on the fence when it comes to lower-body lycra. Choose your level of exposure and run with it. Although, if you go with high exposure, run with care.

Lots has changed in the WWE since the last Crotch Watch. I mean, who would have thought Sheamus would be a main eventer on the flagship show so soon? Even more shocking is his appearance in Crotch Watch. Don’t misunderstand. My interest in his groinal area lies purely in the fact that a man of Celtic heritage has the WWE Championship belt wrapped around it. I have no interest in exploring below the belt, so to speak; but I take note of wrestle trunks with any form of wording on them. Now that he’s ascended to the top of the food chain, Sheamus has sewn himself some home-style trunks with ‘LAOCH’ written across the crotch.

Apparently, it’s Gaelic for ‘Warrior’. I’d honour my Welsh heritage by having ‘RHYFELWRAIG’ stitched across my wrestling outfit, but I don’t think it would fit across my wrestle-knickers. It’s kind of a long word, as is the norm in the Welsh language. We have the longest place-name in the world, you know.

Yes, I can actually pronounce it correctly. If you don't believe me I'll prove it in the next voicemail or podcast. (IMG via VirtualTourist.com)

Sticking with the flagship, The Miz’s transfer from puffy pedal-pushers to trunks is now complete, and to celebrate he now wraps his stuff in a delightful shade of mauve for special occasions.

Also take note of Drew McIntyre's side-sparkles.

And just in case you haven’t been keeping up with your ‘wrestlers on Twitter’ during the holiday season, you might like to know that Ted DiBiase Jr is now spamming plugs for his new movie on Twitter at regular intervals. There are but a few professions where walking around in such little clothing is totally natural, nay, expected. But even wrestlers wish they could pull on a pair of thermals to keep the frost from biting their bits from time-to-time.

Don’t worry, Teddy. Just make that layer of baby oil extra thick and that greasy film will keep your skin warm and supple while walking around outside in your knickers. So I hear. Unless Ted was less worried about feeling the cold and more concerned with showing the cold. Understandable stood next to Randy Orton.

Think warm thoughts, sweets.

At this point I would normally do a little Divas fashion bit, but I can’t be bothered. So, here’s a nostalgic video sent to me by one of the Wrestlegasm faithful. You know that theory that news anchors don’t wear trousers under the news-desk? I like to think Matt Striker does the same behind the announce table. Until I prove that theory, I’ll just watch old videos of when Striker was a wrestler. Watch and enjoy, you bunch of disgusting crotch watchers.  You really should be ashamed of yourselves.

All my love for 2010,

Ray – Your trusty enabler  xx

andrew’s ecw(lite): i want fight sex man!

I watched this week’s ECW at approximately 37,000ft on a 52” HD TV, sat in the plush leather seats of my private jet, while chowing down on the finest cuisine imaginable and sipping on the most expensive champagne on earth.

Sorry, I’ll start again. I watched this week’s ECW at approximately 2ft on a 32” crappy hand-me-down TV, sat in the torn leather seat of my cheap couch from Argos, while chowing down on Roast Beef Monster Munch and sipping slightly too warm cans of Carling lager. Somehow my life doesn’t seem quite so jet-set as Ray’s, but then she is the boss so it’s only right I suppose.

First of all, good news! No Abraham Washington show this week. The show starts instead with Josh Mathews in the ring, with the ECW title hanging above the ring (and Mathews managing to use the word “literally” correctly for once). Josh was interrupted by proud US citizen Kozlov calling out Jackson after last weeks events.

I love Double-Double-E and I love little flag.

Jackson came out to fight, quickly followed by voice of reason, Ruthless Roundtable ruler Regal. Regal split the two up, falling to his knees in supplication and almost shedding tears in his attempt to get Kozlov & Jackson to kiss and make up.

True, boys may not cry; but Regal's a man's man

At this point Shelton came out, imploring the crowd to chant “Let Them Fight”. This was actually quite notable as one of the few things that Shelton managed to avoid messing up tonight. After Regal pointed out that this confrontation was 3 on 1, Shelton was joined by Christian and Yoshi Tatsu. Yep, Yoshi Tatsu’s back on telly! After Christian called Regal “Bill” for a bit, Shelton botched a few lines, and Regal called Benjamin “sunshine” – Shelton suggested a 6 man tag for that night…

One of these women has the authority to make UK citizens fight, the other is the Queen

GM Tiffany came out, and revelling in the undeniable air of authority that her “I’m Insatiable” entrance theme creates, offered each member of the Ruthless Roundtable the choice of either the six man tag, or letting Kozlov and Jackson fight one on one.

Regal voted to fight in the 6 man tag match, and Jackson voted to fight Kozlov. Kozlov, left in the Len Goodman role, cast his deciding vote with the immortal words “I WANT FIGHT SEX MAN!”

On to the first match, and unfortunately it was Vance Archer being all “intense” again. Strangely though, this week the ring was empty before Archer got there. Could this be the end of Archer’s push? Could this be the first time he fights (and loses to) a non-jobber?

Oh... never mind

So, this one was pretty much a given, and Archer got the win, although not before Tommy managed to get some (pretty dire) offence in.

Backstage, in Tiffany’s office, the GM was talking to the Hurricane’s masked assailant and his companion; aka. The Ripper and The Beautiful Nightmare…

Gregory Helms interrupted the meeting, allowing Tiffany to channel Matt Striker momentarily and make a “Justice League” reference. Tiffany then agreed that if “The Ripper” can beat “The Hurricane” next Tuesday he can have an ECW contract. I’m a big Burchill fan (although I wish he’d get to bring back the pirate gimmick) so I’m glad they haven’t just shifted him onto Raw where I wouldn’t get to see him much.

We now move to another part of the backstage area, where Zack Ryder was feeding Rosa Mendes cakes. They were interrupted by a sweaty Dreamer; whereupon Ryder confessed that he used to be a huge Dreamer fan, but now he just wants to end Tommy’s career. This presumably means we’re moving into a Dreamer-Ryder feud (yawn), although with ECW supposedly changing tack (and name) soon, maybe this means that Dreamer will actually retire this time.

Next up is Barreta and Croft, facing a couple of jobbers again. I’ve got high hopes for these two; their match last week was pretty fun, and this week was as well. Commentators Byron Saxton and Josh Mathews spent the whole match talking about video games rather than the match, which is another indicator that maybe Striker is writing the ECW scripts.

See, it's easy

Main Event time – and the aforementioned six man tag pitting Christian, Benjamin & Yoshi against Regal, Kozlov & Jackson. Incidentally, I’ve just decided to download Regal’s entrance theme as the ringtone for my mobile – yes, I am *that* cool… Unlike the last couple of weeks, this main event wasn’t a disappointment, slowly teasing whether Kozlov and Jackson would work together. The contrasting styles of the two teams worked as well; the more acrobatic face team against the brawlers in the heel team.

One thing I did happen to notice for the first time is that Shelton has gold charity-type ribbons printed on his boots. Now we all know that red ones are for HIV/AIDS, and pink ones are for Breast Cancer – but I had no idea what gold ones are for.

According to this enlightening website, Gold is for Breast Feeding; unfortunately for any immature comments I may have wanted to make, this WWE.com article says it’s actually yellow and in support of US troops, which isn’t quite as ripe for jokes.
Eventually, it was Kozlov’s turn to walk out of the match, Jackson chasing him up the ramp and attacking him. Regal again tried to smooth things over, but this led to his team being counted out, which led Shelton to do this:

For some reason, they had left Christian’s belt hanging from the top of the arena all night after Josh’s opening promo. After Christian pulled out a ladder and climbed to retrieve his belt, Shelton did this:

That’s right, less than a week before what is arguably Shelton’s most important match ever, he nearly killed himself three times in the space of a couple of minutes. In case you can’t make it out in that second one, he managed to narrowly avoid slipping off the top rope, before the ladder nearly snapped in half when he landed on it. It’s things like this that make me like Shelton so much, and I’m desperately hoping that their ladder match at TLC will manage to keep me awake until 4am (when I have to take the kids to nursery at 8 and then work at 9). The things I do for professional wrestling…

Favourite Crowd Member of the Week? That’s an easy one this week, Rick Achberger…

Why was he the best fan this week? Well, do you  have your own action figure? You do? Really? Well OK, have you ever been on Deal or No Deal? You have? Hmm… not sure I believe you but fine. Did Edge, Randy Orton, John Cena and Bobby Lashley turn up to heckle/support you? No, I didn’t think so: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3q9YHWKDK6Q

Face it, he's a bigger fan than we are...

andrew’s ecw(lite): the revenge!

Well, first of all I wanted to say thanks for all the nice comments from people regarding last week’s blog (although I’m sure they were more from fear of Ray than any admiration for my “talent”).  Here’s a second look at ECW, hopefully I won’t channel the Stone Roses and this won’t be my Second Coming…

ECW started this week with The Abraham Washington Show, with special guests Zack Ryder and Rosa Mendes. I’m pretty sure I made myself clear last week about my feelings for Messrs Washington and Ryder so I wasn’t expecting much from this segment.  I just find it hard to take someone in a see-through cardigan seriously:

Washington, after his usual “run down the town you’re in” schtick, introduced Ryder & Mendes and asked about their relationship as “ECW’s It-Couple”, which gave Ryder the excuse to read a poem he’d penned especially for Rosa…

Simon Armitage must be fearing for his career

After this particularly prosaic piece of passionate poetry, Rosa Mendes read a poem she had written (the second half of which seemed to consist of lyrics from La Isla Bonita). What was Ryder’s response to her poem?

Now, I know that people sometimes criticise Vince McMahon for being slightly out of date when it comes to popular culture references, but the Tom Cruise thing was in May 2005, 4½ years ago… Surely there should be some kind of moratorium on parodies? On the bright side, as Zack Ryder has just attempted to humiliate the increasingly litigious man described as Scientology’s “second in command in all but name,” maybe he won’t be around much longer.

Backstage, and we find Ezekiel Jackson and William Regal apologising to each other about last week’s “misunderstanding” before being interrupted by Kozlov who refused to apologise and instead decided to stay mardy, despite Jackson and Kozlov having a tag match that night against Christian and Shelton Benjamin.

As an aside, I really like Regal’s posh dressing gown

Regal was in action straight away following this, in a match against Goldust. Regardless of whether or not you buy into his flamboyant gimmick, Goldust is a big guy who’s always been a pretty good brawler – so I was expecting a good match from these two, and I got one. It was a very physical match, with Regal dominating until Ezekiel and Kozlov starting being silly and tried to see who could shout the loudest, most incomprehensible nonsense at each other. This distracted Regal, giving Goldust the opportunity to score with a schoolboy (if you’ll pardon the expression).

Backstage again, and now Paul Burchill and Katie Lea were pleading their case to Tiffany after Burchill lost to Hurricane last week. Tiffany was having none of it and Burchill was still out of a job. If only there was some way to get revenge on Hurricane with nobody knowing who you were:

But that’s not until Superstars

After the sacked siblings left the office, two new guys appeared : Trent Beretta and Gaylen Croft.

After telling Tiffany she should get a wheelchair as they would make her look as smart as Stephen Hawking for signing them. They then went to the ring for a tag match with Bobby Shields and Tyler Hilton. Wrestling is often, unfortunately, quite predictable; so why not play along at home?

A tag match, featuring two teams of unknowns (unless you’re an avid fan of FCW). Beretta and Croft get a promo segment in the General Manager’s office, and a theme tune and entrance with introduction. Shields and Hilton are already in the ring. Who’s going to win?

Although it was quite a good match to be fair

Backstage again now for a couple of segments. First up is Vance Archer being interviewed by Savannah. God, this guy’s dull. He’s even trying to curry favour with my boss by growing a short beard. I don’t want to speak for Ray, but I’m guessing that CM Punk’s place in her heart is under greater threat from Dolph Ziggler than you…

“This is all for you baby”

After this, we cut to Shelton Benjamin backstage playing Smackdown vs Raw 2009 on his Xbox 360. Christian came in and after a bit of chat about their match at TLC (Which I’m really looking forward to. Join me at www.twitter.com/apsouthern for random live-tweeting rubbish during the show – unless I fall asleep) Christian leaned over and switched off the console. I love my 360 as much as is legally possible, but even I will happily admit that they have a famously erratic hardware failure rate; so you don’t mess with another man’s console Christian.  Also of note; Shelton Benjamin is apparently a fan of hair mousse, and could possibly star in a future episode of Crotch Watch:

Unless it’s just me feeling insecure…

Main Event time, and this was the promised match between Ezekiel/Jackson and Shelton/Christian. Unfortunately this wasn’t as good as it could have been, although I may have just been a bit annoyed as Regal had his t-shirt tucked into his trunks again. Eventually, after a blind tag by Kozlov, Jackson left the ring and walked off in a huff – leaving Benjamin to pin Kozlov for the win. Despite that rather disappointing match, I can at least offer you a Favourite Crowd Member of the Week again. This time we have a Jeff Hardy fan that has, presumably, travelled through time from a period where Hardy was still employed.

This isn’t the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance…

andrew’s ecw(lite): the inaugural post

[As you will have seen from this post earlier today, wrestlegasm.com has a new family member. Andrew is now on board and will be bringing you a weekly ECW recap. I’m very excited to be able to add an ECW recap. I’ve wanted to do it for ages. And I’m chuffed to have a team member who isn’t (fake) Matt Striker. Be sure to make him feel welcome, Wrestlegasm posse. I’ll be very annoyed with you if you don’t! Not kidding! Handing over now……]

Hello internet. Before I start I feel it only fair to warn you that I am not your usual correspondent. In fact, Little Miss Wrestlegasm has graciously (foolishly?) offered me the opportunity to recap this weeks episode of ECW for you. I can’t promise to be as entertaining as the usual recaps on this site, but I would like to think it won’t be quite as serious and worthy as certain recent “Mickie James related” blogs…

Anyway, ECW started this week by announcing that Matt Hardy is tonight’s guest on the Abraham Washington show. Personally I can’t stand Matt Hardy (he always makes me think of Moonface from the Faraway Tree books by Enid Blyton. See Ray, I can do contemporary popular culture references.) Also, if you’re not familiar with the Abraham Washington show – it’s a poor chat show parody that has produced only 2 items of merit. The first is Tony Atlas’ laugh, and the second is Sheamus in civvies…

That's how I should have dressed for that christening last week...

First match of the night was Zack Ryder (accompanied by Rosa Mendes) vs Shelton Benjamin. It was announced (after the match had started) that this was a number one contender’s match for the ECW Championship. Before I talk about the match, or (perhaps more interestingly) the aftermath, I feel I have to digress slightly to raise a few issues.

  1. Zack Ryder – This may get me barred from the Wrestlehut forums but I just don’t “get” Zack Ryder. I understand that his entire gimmick is that he’s not likeable, and therefore he’s presumably doing a really good job; but he just annoys me. I hate his tan, his mildly retarded-looking eyes, his stupid tights, his even more stupid entrance theme – I can’t even make myself appreciate his (undoubted) wrestling ability because he annoys me so much.
  2. Shelton Benjamin – Again, not the opinion of a certain forum that I’m a member of, but I like Shelton. I keep hearing how he has no personality or charisma – but the guy’s an amazing wrestler who’s not afraid of taking really stupid risks now and then. As long as he doesn’t sing, or talk, or shout “Ain’t no stoppin’ me now!” at the end of promos he should be fine.
  3. Sexual Inequality – Regular readers of the more established and talented contributor to this site will probably have noticed a segment called “Crotch Watch”, in which Little Miss Wrestlegasm expresses her delight and fixation regarding various male Superstars genital regions. Now, I dare say that if I were to try something similar it would be quite creepy; after all, I do spend a not insubstantial amount of time explaining to my wife that I don’t watch wrestling for the women – and this is mostly true.  Having said that, in the interests of fairness, I would like to introduce a new (and probably never to be repeated) feature entitled “Best Breasts” – the inaugural winner of which is Rosa Mendes. Although, being the only Diva left on the roster, it was a toss-up between her and Regal.  Hopefully I haven’t offended anybody with this award – especially Zack Ryder:

"No it's cool bro, they are pretty awesome..."

So, to get to the match – it was as good as you would expect from these two, and included an interesting aside on commentary from Josh Mathews. Apparently the fact that “Zack Ryder has not been tweeting much this week” should be taken as a sign of how seriously he is taking this match. Not, as all of us canny internet-going fans would have thought, because the WWE have decided that Wrestlers=Mogwai and Twitter=Food and have therefore banned them from tweeting after midnight. Shelton won the match, after which Christian came out and announced as that the ECW title had been overlooked on PPV recently (true) he wanted to steal the show by having a Ladder Match at the new TLC PPV against Shelton. Now this made me quite excited; as Christian rightly pointed out, he and Shelton would feature heavily in any Ladder Match highlight reel. Add this to the fact that Sheamus (yay!) is in the main event against Cena in a Tables Match, and DX face Jerishow in a TLC Match; and this is looking like a promising show. That is, apart from the spectre at the feast that is the “Chair Match” – what the hell is that supposed to be? I’m hoping it’s two men sat in chairs punching each other like Necro Butcher. See here.

We now go backstage where we find (deep breath): Regal’s Ruthless Roundtable of reprehensible and remorseless ruffians relentlessly ruminating ’round the rear of the arena, reassuring William regarding repercussions of recent revelations. I heard someone is a fan of alliteration so figured it was worth a try.

Regardless of what you may have read, that's not how we "do it up Blackpool way"

Next match was Vance Archer in his weekly “destroy a jobber” match. If you’ve not been watching ECW recently, Vance Archer is TNA’s Lance Hoyt (yes, he of the tramp stamp and Guitar Hero controller). He’s “intense” now by the way, which apparently means he has cut his hair. Archer won of course, but take note of his opponent Alex Reynolds. This man is obviously a wrestling genius as he managed to make Lance, sorry Vance, look good.

Wrestling God (with apologies to JBL)

After the aforementioned Abraham Washington show (Moonface Hardy shilling his appearance on something called Scare Tactics, which appeared to be a low-rent Beadle’s About), it was Main Event time. William Regal vs Yoshi Tatsu. So I may unabashedly biased when it comes to Regal, and I am a big fan of Yoshi – so I was really looking forward to this match, although something was bothering me. How will we know what to call Yoshi Tatsu now that Matt Striker is no longer doing commentary on ECW? So far, Wrestlegasm favourite, Striker has given us; Ninja Gaiden, Burning Hammer, Neon Genesis, Falcon Arrow and more. What can Josh Mathews offer us?

Never mind...

What could (and should) have been a great match finished quickly after Vladimir Kozlov pushed Yoshi back into the ring, Yoshi using the momentum to kick Regal in the head and get the pin. After this (lame) finish everything fell apart for Regal when Kozlov blamed Ezekiel Jackson for the loss (somehow managing to hilariously botch pointing at Jackson).

Come on, even HBK can point at someone, and he admits he's cross-eyed

Jackson then attacked both Kozlov and Regal, putting an end to the United Nations of Domination. A sad day indeed…
On the bright side though, I can offer you a Favourite Crowd Member of the Week. This guy was more visible in Smackdown, but he did pop up during the main event of ECW.

In case you're struggling, he's the guy in the red circle

Trust me, if you get chance to watch again – this is the man to watch. I have a sneaking suspicion that he may be slightly “mentally challenged” but he is incredibly entertaining, and unsurprisingly nobody asks the giant man in the cheap plastic Mysterio mask to sit down…

announcement: no longer an island

I’m sure you’ve all read John Donne’s 1624 blockbuster publication Devotions upon emergent occasions and seuerall steps in my sicknes – Meditation XVII. So I’m certain you’re all familiar with his much quoted musing “No man is an island.” This sentiment is also true for women. It gets awfully lonely in my Wrestlegasm office and The Dean isn’t here as much as I hoped he’d be.  In fact, he’s had a ‘Back in 10 minutes’ sign on his office door for a week. I think he’s avoiding me.

With this in mind I have inducted Andrew into the Wrestlegasm family. The details of the induction ceremony have to remain a secret though. Andrew will be your ECW guru from this point onwards. I always felt bad that I largely ignored ECW, because it’s a great, old-fashioned wrestling show. I considered offering him the Raw recap so that I could take ECW, but I don’t think that offer would have been taken up. Just an advanced warning, if Matt Striker goes back to ECW after Wrestlemania 26, I may have to make Andrew disappear.

Also, even though he’s a happily married and very heterosexual family man, Andrew’s totally gay for William Regal. But that’s largely because they both hail from the same part of the North West of England. Totally understandable. If Mickie James suddenly announced that she was really from Barry and started talking like an extra from Gavin & Stacey, I’d switch teams for her too.  Being from up Blackpool way also means he talks funny. And yes, ladies, he’s married. Therefore, off-limits. You can send all the lusty emails to the Wrestlegasm email account you like, but it’s no use. He’s taken. Ain’t it always the way?

It feels a bit odd inviting someone else to join me on this Wrestlegasm journey. This is, after all, my baby. But he’s a top bloke and we’re a good blogging match. We share the same slightly ridiculous and perverted sense of humour, we both spend far too much time thinking about any food covered in pastry and both love wrestling (and wrestlers) a very silly amount.

Andrew’s first offering, a recap of this week’s ECW, will be posted later tonight after my Raw recap. I expect you to show him the same love, affection and  respect you show me. Leave comments and send emails as you do for me. Any friend of mine should be considered a fabulous person and worthy of your adoration.

The family is growing. I think I’m gonna cry! *SOB*

 

 

Longest daily commute ever.