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ECW on TNN


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I downloaded the complete set of the series and I find myself staying up late to watch them. Sometimes it's out of wanting to see what happens next in a positive way, but sometimes it's a "wait that made no sense, maybe they explain it later" way.

 

General thoughts:

-This is clearly what Russo wants shows to feel like, only done exponentially better than he ever managed to. It's predictable at times, but Heyman does a better job of making you gloss over the mistakes and there's less embarassingly awful crap.

 

-Oh, and there are plenty of mistakes. For instance, the angle where someone 'put a hit out' on Dreamer, and it turns out to be... Judge Jeff Jones? And the guy who collects is... the wrestler he manages, Mike Awesome? What a terrible payoff. Or the way they had Sandman's wife be attacked by Rhino, then it gets dropped, then she gets re-attacked for the start of the actual feud. I mean, after the first attack Sandman would come out to help Dreamer vs Da Baldies (who did nothing to him) and he'd ignore Rhino who was out there for like half the segments.

 

-Way too many people. I understand that ECW on TNN was just 1 hour and they couldn't cram in all the undercard acts, but said undercard acts had too many valets and managers. Simon Diamond had three or four people at one point, and he was maybe the least important person on the roster. I'm sure they weren't paid a ton but it was still something. How many big-breasted bimbos and hangers-on do you need? What the heck is "The Innovator of Silence" Lou E. Dangerously actually doing between his random five-second appearances?

 

-The Sinister Minister makes for interesting TV because of his great look and personality, but after a while you're left wondering why he got so much TV time. People would come to him asking for favors despite his not having done anything, he wouldn't accompany Whipwreck to the ring for the first couple months, and the promos didn't always make sense. He'd recap a random angle, make a religious pun, and cackle for a minute. Really? There are guys who were on every PPV that struggled to get more than a couple minutes a month on TNN. Better time management!

 

-Maybe it's because I don't remember every injury and every rumor, but it sure seemed like they didn't expain much of any comings-and-goings. For instance the Impact Players seemed to have left the company at one point, then they returned, then they were de-pushed, then they were back and have the tag titles, then Credible drops the belts and starts his crappy reign. Guys like New Jack and Balls Mahoney would go from every-week players to gone for a while. Certainly there were injuries but it would be nice to know why Wrestler X fell off the face of the earth.

 

-There's a lot they did right. For instance, Rhino's semi-feral gimmick worked immediately. The shot of him going nuts wanting to take on the return of Sandman was so good that they added it into the intro the next week. Mike Awesome came out of nowhere (ie. he wasn't a regular) to become a focal point, and was very effective in his role. Maybe my favorite thing is when people would cross paths who weren't in the same milieu, for instance Awesome having a title shot against an unnamed opponent and having it be New Jack, leading to great reactions from everyone involved. And last but not least, how can anyone not love Gertner, with the dirty middle name thing and the little happy/mark-out dance.

 

-The shoot comments are a mixed bag. Sometimes they work, like Cyrus telling Tajiri that if he doesn't behave he'll be back in Big Japan against Abby. Or, Joey pimping ECW Magazine and saying something along the lines of "the odds aren't good, like the odds of ever seeing Sabu in ECW again, but he's on the cover of the magazine anyway". But there are also times where they break kayfabe in an annoying, "look at us we're breaking the 4th wall we're so edgy" way.

 

-What's the deal with them ragging on TNN? Was TNN management really overbearing, or was it just easy fodder for their mostly east coast urbanite fanbase? Definitely some good lines by Cyrus ("the ayatollah of rock-and-bollah", "I'll cancel this show and replace it with extreme sssssssshuffleboard!") but at a certain point you wonder why they're complaining so much about being given a show.

 

-It's a shame they couldn't pay off so many things, like Awesome vs RVD, whatever the Dreamer vs Awesome endgame might have been, etc. Injuries and people jumping did not help.

 

-The average match quality went downhill as 2000 went along. Too much of Fat Old Dusty, Credible, Raven, Da Baldies, matches with Jack Victory spending a significant amount of time in the ring, etc, and fewer notably good outings from the 'workrate' guys. Rhino was an effective character but not much as a worker (then again that was true of Taz).

 

Overall it's very watchable, yet I can see why they were out of business soon.

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And last but not least, how can anyone not love Gertner, with the dirty middle name thing and the little happy/mark-out dance.

Hated it. I watched the entire ECW on TNN last year, and quite frankly, after a while, I just ff through the introductions because Gertner was unbearable to me. I love him as the Dudley managers, but in this role, and as a color guy, he was putrid.

ECW on TNN was so much worse than Hardcore TV, but I guess it's not fair because the best days of Hardcore TV go along the peak of the promotion. Cyrus and the evil Network was retarded and boring, and although Cyrus got a few good promos out of it, it was mainly very bad. I was surprised to enjoy Rhino as much as I did, as back in the days I used to see nothing in him. I enjoyed the hell out of Justin Credible the douchebag champion, he's getting so much shit for nothing. I enjoyed fat Raven, but I'm a Raven fan. Face Francine dressed as a whore really didn't work at all. The obligatory catfights in every Impact Players matches were annoying as hell, and Dawn Marie really served no purpose at all. Lance Storm really wasn't very good at all, which surprised me. What else, yeah, Mike Awesome ECW champ worked so much more than I thought it had. I liked 2000 more than 1999. By the end, I couldn't bare to watch another RVD match. Hot Commodity was the last bright spot of ECW.

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I hated Cyrus and The Network because it felt so derivative of what WWE and WCW had done with Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff and "The Powers That Be". ECW at it's best was a cutting edge trendsetter, that angle was a pale imitation.

 

My suspicion is by this point Heyman wasn't as hands on with the booking because he was so busy with all the business dealings that had come about....PPV, TV, shows in new markets, the CD, the video game, the magazine. When wrestling got hot in 98/99 he pretty much threw everything at trying to expand ECW's business. I'm thinking Tommy Dreamer was doing a lot of the booking at this time?

 

The biggest problem with the show besides not having a real genius spark to it was the roster was just getting decimated at that point. The Dudleys left within weeks of the show's debut, Taz who has pushed as the top star was gone after like 3 months, WCW took Lance Storm and Mike Awesome in mid-2000, Rob Van Dam was injured for much of the show's run....there just wasn't much must see talent in the company.

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Masato Tanaka stopped being brought back (IIRC he had a falling-out with FMW) after the matches with Mahoney, there's the Sabu mess, and Jerry Lynn missed a few months in early 2000. So yeah, talent was a big part of it, but you'd think maybe they could have used the extra revenues to bump up contract offers and keep a couple of the ones they lost.

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By 1998, ECW wasn't a trendsetter anymore, it was was following the product of the big two. And yes ECW on TNN was copying Raw and Nitro's format instead of doing what ECW was doing before, doing stuff that wasn't done before.

I was so sick of the Dudleys that them leaving wasn't a big deal for me, but it did hurt the company since they were their biggest stars arguably. Taz's character as a face champion was so lame most of the time, that I didn't miss him either, although Taz reverting back to the 96 character would have been cool. Mike Awesome was a big blow though, he was on a rampage and looked mre credible than any champion they ever had, he had a major league appeal. Storm was a non factor, he wasn't particulary over nor particulary good. And like I said RVD being injured was a blessing to the shows to me, because I couldn't watch another RVD match at this point. But yeah, there weren't any new stars to make except for Rhino. And the pool from the last territories was dryed uop at this point. Add to that Heyman being burn out. The difference between the heyday of the promotion from 94 to 97 and the TNN days is huge.

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Loved ECW on TNN, maybe in my top 10 fav runs from any promotion and always the show I looked forward to the most each week between them and what WWF & WCW were putting on at the time.

 

I know it doesn't compare to earlier ECW but being a west coast guy I never got to see any of that anyways aside from when they finally got on PPV.

 

Masato Tanaka stopped being brought back (IIRC he had a falling-out with FMW)

Dunno what led to the ECW/FMW relationship disolving but Tanaka was still with the company until 2001 well after the TNN run ended. By that point FMW had an on & off relationship with XPW which led to horrible results.

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I watched all of the shows recently and I actually loved the Network stuff more often than not. I thought Cyrus was a great promo and to me the whole thing felt like an extension of the WWF v. ECW feud 97/98. I agree that some of it was ridiculous, but I thought the characters were so strong and the crowd so responsive that I didn't mind at all. The show also had some of the best matches in the companies history as it was around for a big portion of Tajiri's run which was EASILY the best stretch anyone had in ECW.

 

Really disagree with Jerome on Raven and Credible. Raven I think was pretty awful during the TNN period aside from his return of course which launched the show. Credible I thought was at his best in 97/98. I can't even begin to describe how shitty I a choice I thought he was for the belt at the time and nothing has changed. I also don't think he was nearly as good in the ring at that point and he was never really lighting the World on fire.

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By 1998, ECW wasn't a trendsetter anymore, it was was following the product of the big two. And yes ECW on TNN was copying Raw and Nitro's format instead of doing what ECW was doing before, doing stuff that wasn't done before.

I was so sick of the Dudleys that them leaving wasn't a big deal for me, but it did hurt the company since they were their biggest stars arguably. Taz's character as a face champion was so lame most of the time, that I didn't miss him either, although Taz reverting back to the 96 character would have been cool. Mike Awesome was a big blow though, he was on a rampage and looked mre credible than any champion they ever had, he had a major league appeal. Storm was a non factor, he wasn't particulary over nor particulary good. And like I said RVD being injured was a blessing to the shows to me, because I couldn't watch another RVD match at this point. But yeah, there weren't any new stars to make except for Rhino. And the pool from the last territories was dryed uop at this point. Add to that Heyman being burn out. The difference between the heyday of the promotion from 94 to 97 and the TNN days is huge.

See, I disagree completely on The Dudleys, Taz and RVD because this show was being broadcast to a whole lot of new fans who'd maybe only heard about ECW, not the people who'd been watching during ECW's prime. Dudleys might have run their course, Taz might have been better before the FTW stuff, but to new fans they were the coolest part of the company, who had the aura of being stars. TNN was the first time some of my friends who only watched WWF got to see ECW, and those guys along with Sabu were the ones they popped the biggest for...and then when The Dudleys and Taz left for WWF, Sabu was gone and RVD was hurt they pretty much stopped caring about the company aside from Awesome, Tanaka, Tajiri, Crazy and the T&A.

 

Agreed that Awesome leaving was a huge loss that they never recovered from.

 

Disagree on Storm because I thought the Impact Players were a really strong act who carried the tag division after the Dudleys left. Credible was much better as a tag team wrestler than a single.

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I agree with Dylan that the Network angle was kinda like the continuation of the ECW vs WWF feud of 97/98. Which is another reason why it was abysmal and stupid.

Really, when Credible got the belt, there was no one else at the time. I don't think he would have gotten it if Mike Awesome had stayed. I agree he was better in 97/98, but he also had better opponents back then.

I only agree with Dylan about the greatness of Tajiri, and the suckiness of Storm. For the rest, I agree to disagree, but it's nothing new, we have pretty much polar opposite tastes most of the time.

 

And yeah cm funk, I see what you mean, but I'm speaking from my own ECW viewing experience from last year and a half or so, which was pretty much watching everything from 1992 to 2001. I understand that to new fans, losing both the Duds and Taz at this exact moment was really bad timing.

 

Oh, I forgot to mentionned I loved the Sinister Minister little promos with Mickey.

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Masato Tanaka stopped being brought back (IIRC he had a falling-out with FMW) after the matches with Mahoney, there's the Sabu mess, and Jerry Lynn missed a few months in early 2000. So yeah, talent was a big part of it, but you'd think maybe they could have used the extra revenues to bump up contract offers and keep a couple of the ones they lost.

What extra revenue? I think the cost of producing TV for a cable network was a drain on resources that they didn't make up through increased revenue elsewhere. I get the sense that Paul Heyman saw Rob Van Dam as his Austin/Goldberg and that he was the only guy he couldn't afford to have leave the company.

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Yeah, I remember that the Tajiri-Psicosis match was shown in clips on TNN and then aired in full on Hardcore TV that weekend. I know there were a few other matches and moments that pissed me off because I didn't feel like staying up until 2AM to see them, but I can't remember any now. Once they got on TNN, they shouldn't have even bothered producing a syndicated show. National prime-time exposure should negate the need to pay thousands of dollars every week to have your show air in shitty late-night timeslots on local stations.

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I watched a lot of the TNN footage when it first aired and loved it. I really liked late 1999, as they were really blowing the WWF and WCW away at that point, in per entertainment value. I mean, the Awesome versus Tanaka feud was incredible.

 

I watched the Rise and Fall of ECW last night. I never knew how badly TNN fucked ECW over. It seems as though TNN was the final pebble in the basket that finally drowned ECW.

 

Vince seemed very humble and genuinely pleasant in the DVD. How far do you think his wanting to help ECW went? He seemed disappointed that ECW failed.

 

Once the writing was on the wall they startedd withholding the best stuff from TNN. Which I never got, that only hurts the fans.

I think they did this because of TNN. Heyman and the director (can't remember his name) said that TNN wouldn't allow many things that were classic ECW. You're right though, it did hurt the fans, but I think it hurt the promotion the most.
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I really liked ECW on TNN. Almost all of it. In fact, it might be my favorite wrestling television show ever. Granted I was a huge ECW mark. I remember really disliking Da Baldies. One episode was like "Will New Jack find the Baldies!?" or maybe it was the other way around, hell it might have carried on for a couple of shows, but it could not have been anymore boring. I also never liked Tommy Dreamer.

 

I could go either way with the whole Network angle. I really liked Cyrus, but that was about the end of it. Dude definitely had a ton of charisma. Is he actually doing anything wrestling related anymore? Same with Jim Mitchell.

 

One of the things that I always enjoyed about ECW was that they used real songs, not songs they created for their wrestlers. I remember Mike Awesome coming out to The Zoo which was a Scorpions song but not sure if that was the same version he used or not. Mike Awesome (and Tanaka) were both great. I remember setting my VCR to record the show because it was on Friday nights and I was never home but I don't think that I missed a single episode. I liked both Tajiri and Super Crazy quite a bit. Little Guido too. Those guys were always wrestling one another with a Jerry Lynn or Mikey Whipwreck thrown in. I was a huge Steve Corino fan for a long time too because of that era of ECW. I remember really liking a few of the Justin Credible TV title matches against Tajiri and I think Kid Kash.

 

Who was the dude that did the Confederate Crunch super Alabama Jam as a finish? That finish was awesome. Oh, I liked C.W. Anderson as well.

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Just wrapped up. Those last ten or so episodes are not so good. Mediocre undercard acts everywhere, Hardcore TV plugs, boatloads of screwjobs, lots of things that went nowhere, and a very repetitive build to Gertner vs Cyrus (which actually went for like 6 months). Even the one standout match (Mikey/Tajiri vs FBI) ended with interference. By the end it was obvious the promotion was a shell of where it was at the start of the TNN run.

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