Whenever I get into something, I really get into something. Even though I’ve been watching wrestling for a while now, it’s still probably the most recent thing I’ve “gotten into” and the first thing I had gotten into for a while. Point being, I’ve been watching a lot of wrestling in the last year. It’s not good enough just seeing what’s out now; I need to see it all. In fact, in 2013 I watched every Raw, SmackDown! and WWE PPV from ’01 – ’04. I’ve now started working through 2005 and with the WWE Network, I can watch PPVs as I get to them instead of a terrible quality version from the internet.
It’s true. He really has spent every moment of his last waking hours split between old WWE episodes and Dark Souls II. And the funny thing is, I’m the one who doesn’t get laid much.
Thanks to some good timing, my first PPV on the Network was ECW One Night Stand 2005, which was essentially a reunion show and in some ways, may have been used to test the waters for an ECW comeback (which started the next year.)
The overall presentation for this show was very nostalgic. The terrible lower-third graphics with the slow fade-in from ECW Hardcore TV was fully in tact here and that – combined with wonderful commentary from ECW’s own Joey Styles and Mick Foley – made the presentation a huge part of the show.
The best part of the commentary is when Eric Bishoff makes his way to the booth and proceeds to get verbally-raped by Joey Styles. It’s obviously incredibly personal to Joey and during his rants, you start to wonder how much of what he said was pre-approved.
The match-ups throughout seemed to be mostly ECW star v. former-ECW-star-that-now-happens-to-be-big-in-the-WWE (although in their ECW persona.) Even Jericho was introduced as “The Lionheart.” In later matches, Tajiri was introduced with his full name and Rey Mysterio had “Jr.” rightfully tacked at the end of his.
Between the first two matches a video showing some of the ECW wrestlers who have passed played, which I believe was put there to not only be respectful, but to assure by the end of the show you would say to yourself,“Wow, they got, like, everyone for this show.” And they damn near did.
The whole PPV doesn’t even seem like a series of matches. It’s more like a constant stream of crazy surprise run-ins from past-stars and more violence than WWE has had in years.
I’ll say it again: the attitude era would totally work in 2014. I’m not sure how we’d do it, but a fully-revamped ECW would thrive. If NXT can become popular, imagine some kind of hardcore minor-league in which we only wrestle a certain group at the Hammerstein Ballroom every week. I mean, we would probably have to take out the porn stars, prostitutes, barbed wire, glass, middle-fingers, vagina references, fake guns…wait, forget I said anything.
WWE felt pretty hands-off of this show. I mean, put anything in the Hammerstein Ballroom with a rowdy, profanity-filled (but amazing) crowd and it doesn’t feel like this is a WWE production. But…and this isn’t as big as I thought it would be…BUT, there was this ongoing subplot during Raw and SmackDown where each show formed an “anti-ECW task force” that appeared every week. Essentially, it was just a group of heels sitting in the stands.
The highlight of this came from JBL, who went nuts on the mic (and eventually on Blue Meanie during the show ending brawl.) I really expected more of a Kurt Angle/Taz thing during the show – especially with all the SmackDown lead-up – but it never happened. Probably the most amusing Angle-thing during the show is him just randomly taking his shirt off during a JBL promo…and then never putting it back on. The Raw crew’s best highlight was Heyman pointing out Edge’s infidelity and Bischoff getting beer spit in his face.
The biggest alumni to show up was Steve Austin, who really started to find his Stone Cold character thanks to Paul Heyman hiring him on just to promo until he recovered from injury. Considering how “over” Austin eventually got (especially compared to other ECW alumni), he kind of feels out of place. But…well, I’m never going to say no to a Stone Cold promo.
One of the unique things about this PPV is how off-script they made it feel. As a “mark”, there is nothing more exciting than getting the feeling that you are peeking behind the great WWE-curtain Vince has built. The Stone Cold promo was incredible at the end, even if he did tell Benoit to “kill this son bitch.”
(Slowly backs away from keyboard…)
Oh, yeah. There was wrestling, as well.
Allow me to summarize…
In future installments, this feature will be more about the matches. But for now, there isn’t a single bad match on this card and – while this goes against the point of what we’re trying to do – I won’t spoil anything. This whole PPV is pretty damn perfect. Great card, great crowd, just the right touch of WWE and honestly, this should easily be the first PPV anybody watches on the Network, if not first thing watched, period.
The Eddie [Guerrero] vs Benoit match is almost uncomfortable to watch. Eddie was doing a dark heel persona at the time and maybe he was just in a bad mood that night, but the match seemed to be a little underwhelming. He also didn’t come out at the end of the PPV to fight off the invaders like Benoit did, which might be telling of how he felt that night. The best matches on this card are definitely Storm vs. Jericho and Tanaka vs Awesome. This kind of PPV, with this level of violence, is really a once-in-a-lifetime scenario and is most likely to never happen again. Vince wouldn’t dare scare the children’s money away with the sight of real blood and headshots. It’s amazing to think the same company that made this PPV only 9 years ago released “Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery” just last week.
Wait, I’m not letting you sign-off on our debut feature like it’s every ending in The Walking Dead! Leave the people with what they came to see!!
John Daigle’s Grade: A+
Michael Edward’s Grade: A
Kevin Bowden’s Grade: A
Average Grade: A
Next Week: WrestleMania 2000