He fits the microphone loosely in his hand. His body -- the body of a warrior, athlete, wrestler -- is young, bronze, and glistening with the sweat of his accomplishment.
"I stand here before God, and my father in Heaven tonight, as I said I would be world's heavyweight champion. In the tradition of Lou Thesz, in the tradition of Jack Brisco, The Brisco Brothers, of Dory Funk Jr., of Terry Funk the man who'll never die, as the real Nature Boy Buddy Rogers upstairs tonight, from the Harley Race's to the Barry Windham's, to the...Ric Flair's, I accept this heavyweight title," *pauses* "Wait a second, wait a second, of Kerry Von Erich, of the fat man himself Dusty Rhodes," *looks up to heaven* "this is it tonight, dad." *looks at the belt* "God, that's beautiful. And Rick Steamboat, and they can all kiss my ass." *throws the belt down*
Joey Styles: "What in the hell is he doing?"
Shane Douglas continues: (and mark these words forever, reader), "Because I am not the man who accepts a torch to be handed down to me from an organization that died, RIP, seven years ago. The Franchise Shane Douglas is the man who ignites the new flame of the sport of Professional Wrestling." *walks over an grabs the belt that is then christened the ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) Championship*
They say history is written by the winners; Vince McMahon has proven that. Vince was in the right place at the right time when he came into possession of both ECW and WCW, and the rest is history. But let the words above, on the day the Original ECW was born, remind us why ECW came to be in the first place.
ECW was not an organization; it was a response. It was a response to the PG-rated WWF product of 1994. It was a response to a promotion headed by Bret Hart, Vince McMahon, and the New Generation. It was a response to the over-scripted overkill that aired on USA.
Vince McMahon did not understand ECW. When Michaels and Nash came to McMahon in 1996 (two years after ECW was born) wanting to do a hardcore world title match, Vince did not want that stuff in his ring. Vince didn't understand ECW then, and he does not understand it now.
Let the irony trickle onto the page with each word that follows: the WWF environment that created the need for the original ECW is the same environment Vince McMahon has re-created in 2010. The same characters (Bret and Vince, for instance), a return to a PG product, and a new generation of lifeless overkill mass-produced by the WWE machine.
This week Vince McMahon retired the letters E-C-W, but he never owned its spirit. The spirit of ECW lives in the memories and in the hearts of wrestling fans who are only satisfied with wrestling in its realest form.
Can you hear the clamoring? It is coming; it is happening.
The spirit of the wrestling fan is spread out around the world. We wait for the alternative. I am glad Vince retired ECW. It is far more honest to do away with it than to pretend like he ever understood it. ECW fed stars to WCW, and WWE bit ECW's style with the attitude era. Without ECW, it is arguable there would never have been a Monday Night War.
Who will capture the spirit of 2010? Will it be TNA, or should we look for another? Only time will tell, but tonight I do not look forward, but back. Not to the letters E-C-W that Vince McMahon had his way with, but to the spirit -- lawless, unafraid, and riveting.
I wonder if they know that the wrestling fans who have gone away are willing to come back. We are not looking for a replica, however, or another promotion like ECW. ECW, in the words of its franchise, "died, RIP" before Vince McMahon even purchased it. We are now looking for someone to put their finger on the pulse of wrestling in 2010, and breathe life into what is now dead. We are not looking for another organization; we are looking for a response.