Monday, April 16, 2018

WWE's ECW Brand #Raw

Perhaps this will be the first in a series of posts with regards to pro-wrestling. Perhaps every Monday I might write on a subject of interest with regards to what could be called a sport or more accurately a performance art. With this said wrestling has been an occasional subject on this blog over the years.


Today I want to talk about ECW - Extreme Championship Wrestling. ECW lasted from about 1994 to 2001 when they went bankrupt. WWE bought the brand in the early 2000s and former ECW talent were utilized for that unfortunate invasion angle in 2001 essentially lumped in with former WCW talent. It was a disaster and both brands were shelved after 2002.

The video below is the intro to a TV show from the original ECW [VIDEO]
 

Then in 2005 WWE produced an ECW reunion PPV called "One Night Stand". Production values when ECW was an independent wasn't that good however with WWE producing the show it was much better. The show was like the promotion I had the chance to get to know for a brief time although it was essentially a WWE production. Regardless even with the appearance of WWE superstars who were there for heat purposes (well theatrical heat, yes my term more than anything) I could literally forget that WWE was involved with this. This show as just like the old ECW and almost as if after a four year hiatus the show itself never skipped a beat!

Then in 2006 another "One Night Stand" and ECW returns as a WWE brand. While I never saw the first episode of the new ECW there seemed to have been some excitement at first. It was almost is if the spirit of ECW is back, though let's not forget WWE owns the brand and produces the show. Eventually ECW became less ECW and more WWE of course early on there were some noticeable changes to the product. One of those changes is that every match won't be a hardcore match with no DQ as happened in the original promotion. It was somewhat sanitized for WWE's tastes.

Here's a full episode of WWE's ECW [VIDEO]
 

Which is funny because as time went on the original ECW was a promotion that essentially became a reaction to what was going on with the then World Wrestling Federation and WCW. ECW was a hardcore wrestling promotion known for some serious brawling and blood. There basically just about anything goes and when I first starting watching by 1998 this is what caught my eye the most. They were a national promotion though without the reach and relationships that WWF and WCW had, however, they had a good product worth watching and following. By relationships I should add that their syndicated product rarely had advertisers not only that I don't know how they got advertisers when ECW had their cable TV show on the old TNN (then later Spike and now Paramount Network). See the action isn't exactly family or advertiser friendly!

Finally they had PPVs to compete with WWF and WCW. While I never had the opportunity to watch any at the time - thought with a subscription to the WWE Network I can watch most of them now - I could surmise that these events had better quality than what was mainstream at that time. Surely the action was a lot more out there than would be seen on a regular TV episode.

Though as happens in the wrestling business especially an independent company ECW ultimately ran out of money. Even now a wrestling company will need a boatload of cash to operate with a number of obligations. Of course you have to pay your personnel, then of course you have to pay a venue, if you want to be serious you have to pay for the production and broadcast of the product, and perhaps some other expenses. Paul Heyman was the owner of ECW when it closed and many have described him as a pro-wrestling genius, he may well have not done very well with the business aspects. And also early one with the start of WWE's ECW brand he was the creative force until he decided to leave the wrestling business for a while.

With this said when WWE ended the ECW series in 2010, it was replaced by NXT. ECW for most of it's later existence aired on the SyFy network and NXT later replaced it. Eventually if you want to see NXT action it would be thrown onto the WWE Network were you can see the action every week. Essentially NXT is the developmental territory for WWE where in the past this was done in conjunction with other indepedent promotions with whom there was relationship. Perhaps that'll be the next subject next Monday.

To sum up with other wrestling action on the WWE Network with NXT and 205 Live (for WWE's cruiserweights) perhaps the vision for both of those brands are what ECW could've been. Yeah, WWE can make ECW what they want it to be however with the right vision or perhaps the right people running the brand it could've been something great. Here's hoping in the future that perhaps if WWE decides to create future brands for their online streaming network that they can hold to what was created for NXT and 205 Live!

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