ECW, Take Two and Call Me in the Morning
I think most WWE fans, and wrestling fans in general will agree that ECW is the ugly child of WWE's offspring of TV shows.
Now I was unaware of ECW during the "good 'ol days" when things were apparently much better. But even if I wasn't aware of the old ECW fans crying sacrilege about the format of the new show I would still manage to figure out that this was not what the Philadelphians were raving about.
I don't think it should become everything that the original ECW was, but if it is to become it's own show WWE might want to try running it like it could be profitable.
There are many, many things wrong with ECW right now, some of which have been a problem from the start, others have only emerged just recently. Here is a diagnosis of some of the major problems hampering this show from being something better.
Now ECW is not all bad, despite what I stated above, but many of it's good qualities also hamper it; notably the young talents. Now if you want to see new stars emerge and develop, look no further than ECW. We have seen popular stars emerge from this show including CM Punk and Kofi Kingston, and rising stars in Jack Swagger and Evan Bourne.
However this negatively effects the show in that the average wrestling fan would rather watch established stars like Edge, Triple H, Batista, and John Cena on the other shows. They aren't interested in someone they have never heard of who might turn out to be the next CM Punk or Evan Bourne. It's alot easier to get onto a train than build one yourself, such is the situation with following the crowd when it comes to fan favorites.
Now you might say, "but wait, I've seen guys like Mark Henry and Matt Hardy on ECW, they aren't new stars."
Well yes, Mark Henry, Matt Hardy, and Finlay are veterans that are on the ECW roster. However looking at their history on prior shows, they were never World Title material before, and as far as I can see they still wouldn't make it as a World Champion still.
These are guys who are good mid-card athletes, who despite their skills, never got as over as they needed to be to achieve higher status. WWE has sent these stars to ECW to help coach and groom these up and comers both in the ring and outside it. Finlay is a guy who has been doing this for years prior to debuting, it only makes sense to use him on the show where he can be the most useful.
Now to take a step away from roster quality, let's look at roster quantity. Not counting announcers, commentators, interviewers, and its GM, ECW has 18 wrestlers on the show. RAW and Smackdown on the other hand have 33 superstars each that would fit in that category. So we are looking at nearly two times as many athletes on the other shows compared to ECW.
Switching back to the quality of the roster you may notice I did not mention the likes of John Morrison or Chavo Guerrero before. That is because they feel like they are not even apart of this roster. Many superstars seem to spend more time on other brand shows than on ECW, taking away from an already starving show. And some wrestlers don't even seem to be apart of any show anymore, as is the case with Gavin Spears and Bam Neely.
Sure they sometimes throw a bone and get Kane or someone on his level to drop in once in a while, but the fact is the need to start to treat the ECW roster more like the other shows rosters. It can still maintain it's rookie feel with newcomers, but how about adding some more meat to this taco?
If WWE is too afraid to put one of their big name stars on the roster add some mid level brawlers who are not over, like Khali, Kozlov, or D'lo Brown. Personally I think Val Venis would be a good guy to throw on that show as he is a veteran with good in ring skill, but hasn't gone anywhere since like 1998.
It seems that since Bobby Lashley the WWE will not risk sending a big name star over to ECW. Prior to that we had RVD, Big Show, Kurt Angle, and almost Chris Benoit on the show. Nearly all of the wrestlers I just listed would also become ECW champion while on the show.
Aside from this, WWE loots ECW whenever gold is found in it's midst, as was the case with CM Punk, Kofi Kingston, and Kelly Kelly. It seems to also be the case with Evan Bourne and will probably be the case with Jack Swagger. Leaving some of these stars on the show may help bolster the rankings in the show. I think Jack Swagger would be the best ECW Champion since John Morrison if he manages to stay on the show long enough (sorry, I am not a CM Punk fan).
Another weak point of ECW is the fact that the "E" doesn't seem to stand for anything. Matches that could be considered extreme or hardcore are done maybe once every two months, once a month at best but that may be pushing it.
Remember the ECW Extreme Rules Matches that were originally introduced when the brand re-emerged? Those were cool, and even on my WWE video games are my favorite matches to play. However they do not seem to be managements favorite matches to put on.
I think that if ECW was guaranteed to have a weapons match on the card every show it would see improved ratings. If that is going to far, then a simpler solution would be to have a stipulation added to the belt that it can only change hands in an Extreme Rules Match. This would add to the title as well as most fans see it as another US or Intercontinental Championship level belt. People would care about it more if they new it brought blood, chairs and tables to the show when it was defended.
One final flaw ECW has, in spades, is bad writing. I know I have written about how the WWE in general has been somewhat lacking in the storyline department lately, but ECW is worse, I mean much worse!
The only thing I am interested in now is Jack Swagger and his rise through the ranks. He has a cool, cocky demeanor and has come out on top with a good feud with Tommy Dreamer. Usually I don't much care for Tommy Dreamer, but Swagger made it interesting for me.
Aside from that we have Ricky Ortiz, who prior to a week or two ago was on an undefeated streak. But who did he beat? Mostly nobodies in squash matches. Not too impressive, or interesting for that matter.
We also have Mark Henry looking to make his way to the top once again. Now I do think ECW is a good fit for Henry, but quite honestly I have never seen anything about this guy that has interested me or anyone else I know, so what's the point?
Matt Hardy is coasting right now after his feud with Henry and is going show to show fighting different stars. It seems like he will be squaring off against Swagger soon, which should be good.
Then there's Finlay, what is he doing? I think the best description would be causing shenanigans with Hornswoggle. It is something, but it's pointless really. Again, what is the point?
Vince needs to take ECW as serious as he does his other two brain children and get some good writers on this show. If they want to promote ECW they have to start treating it like it is a show worth watching.
I don't want to leave ECW off on a sour note, like I mentioned in the beginning, there are some good points to the show. It can be fixed and improved from what it is. And even if it never gets to RAW or Smackdown level in terms of quality and popularity it can still get better than this.
To leave it off on a good note I add one suggestion that I think may help heal ECW's wounds, a second belt. RAW has four titles, as does Smackdown. ECW with half the roster size should have at least two I figure.
A tag team title is out, because with the roster as small as it is good tag teams would take up too much competitors to form a good division. Seeing as there is only one female wrestler on the show a female title is out as well. That leaves me with two foreseeable options.
The most obvious choice, the Hardcore Title. Long since shelved by the WWE it would seem that ECW is the show to bring it back to. A title that can be defended anywhere and under any circumstances seems like the perfect fit for a show that has extreme in it's title.
My second choice is the Cruiserweight Championship. Like the Hardcore title it was shelved by WWE executives, but ECW may be the place to bring it back. Right now the show is a bit dry with cruiserweights, but just remember that CM Punk and Kofi were both at one time on ECW, both of which would probably qualify as cruiserweights.
Not only that but ECW seems to have alot of wrestlers debut that could also qualify for the cruiserweight division. Let's not forget interbrand competition as well, I mean Miz and Morrison are RAW's tag champs, why can't Jamie Noble be ECW's Cruiserweight Champion?
Like I said the Hardcore title would be the obvious choice, as I feel the cruiserweight title should really make it's comeback on Smackdown, if it comes back at all.
But those are the biggest problems for ECW from where I stand, or at least problems that are exclusive to this show only. Please leave a comment if there is any you think I overlooked or left out.
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