by Liam ORourke
A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine by the name of Tom Campbell launched a new wrestling podcast called “Weird Science”, a look at ECW’s run on the Sci-Fi network that started in 2006. As ill-fated as the revised ECW appears with the benefit of hindsight, the podcast forced me to ask myself whether or not this new and improved ECW was always destined to fail. Clearly, there were a lot of inherent issues, from Vince McMahon’s meddling, constant cross-promotion and a lackluster crop of guys to work with.
So I began a voyage – I was going to try to rebook the first ten weeks of ECW on Sci-Fi, from the first television show through to Summerslam. Consider it an experiment to see if this would have been more palatable than what we got. And if not, then perhaps yes, it was always doomed.
For this, I’ve made a few assumptions, some of which may or may not be completely realistic, but as a backbone:
*I can’t bring in anybody except those assigned to ECW in real life throughout the first 10 weeks.
*Every match will be with old ECW rules – you don’t need to label anything “Extreme Rules” or limit things to one per show. Not every match needs to be a weapons-fest, but leave it open.
*As it’s a one hour show and allowing for an overrun, I’ll book 42 to 48 minutes per show (considering commercial time).
*I am forced to use John Cena on Week 1 as they did in real life, but beyond that, ECW remains its own show, an island unto itself with no crossing over to or from Raw or Smackdown. ECW is its own world if I’m booking. No Edge, Orton, Flair, Kane, Undertaker or whoever else they want to bring in for some cheap short-term ratings.
*This is hoping/assuming nobody gets injured or suspended for the first 10 week run (which in real life they did, but you can’t predict).
*Van Dam will lose the WWE Title on a WWE show somewhere in this 10 weeks – fine, I’m not booking that, and as far as ECW TV goes, it’s not referenced.
*If we can get the first episode of TV in the Hammerstein, that’d be great. If we can get every episode there, better yet. Not essential, but preferable.
Intro Video [30 secs]
Heyman welcomes us in the ring, RVD is brought out. The ECW Championship is presented, and RVD keeps the WWE belt too (just as in real life). At one point, Cena tries to break in through the crowd, but doesn’t make it over the barrier and is thrown out, because this isn’t WWE. Heyman can get a verbal shot in on Cena as he’s being taken out. RVD takes back over as Cena is dragged off, and mostly talks about being the top guy. Suddenly, an unfamiliar voice plays over the speakers, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” CM Punk walks out. Styles and Taz respond immediately like a star is in our midst. Punk cuts a straight edge promo on Van Dam, “Mr. 4:20”, for being a bad example and the wrong man to lead ECW. Punk declares himself at the forefront of the New Breed Unleashed. RVD trash talks back, and a match is made tonight for the ECW Title – RVD Vs. Punk [13 mins]
Sabu clip – Up Next! [10 secs]
Kelly Kelly promo, introducing herself for the first time. As in real life, tonight, she says she’s going to strip for us. [30 secs]
Credible/Francine short promo, introducing her as the Queen of Extreme, and him as “THE Impact Player”. [1 min]
MATCH: Sabu Vs. Justin Credible w/ Francine. Sabu wins. [7 mins]
Short promo to intro Sandman – somebody is getting caned tonight. [30 secs]
Heyman is backstage with Stevie Richards, CW Anderson and Al Snow, all asking Paul what they’re doing tonight. Paul says he had plans for everybody, but Punk showing up has changed that. Sorry, maybe next week. They don’t look impressed. [2 mins]
MATCH: Tommy Dreamer/Balls Mahoney Vs. FBI – Dreamer gets pin [6 mins]
Post-Match, Kelly decides this is the time to get in the ring to do her dance. As she gets going, Trinity objects, catfight spot [2 mins]
Backstage, RVD is on his way [1 min]
MATCH: RVD Vs. Punk – Intros [3 mins]
MATCH: RVD Vs. Punk – No Contest [13 mins total]
Run-ins from Snow, Anderson, Richards, attacking RVD. Sandman runs-in to cane the hell out of them. Sandman does his beer can to the head shtick, and in the process accidentally throws it all over Punk, who freaks out and attacks Sandman. Punk and Sandman brawl to the back.
With Van Dam along in the ring, Kurt Angle appears out of nowhere, attacks RVD and lays him out. Angle rips off his ECW shirt, grabs the mic and says he convinced Heyman to draft him so he could come and bury ECW personally, once and for all, because ECW sucks.
Establish Punk as a top level heel early on, and turn Kurt heel to touch on a reality that people can accept as legit, playing off the past. Build up Dreamer and Sabu as valuable commodities, intro Kelly. A lot of the 30 second intro videos are to refresh or introduce the characters to the casual crowd. Cena being carted off sets the tone, and guarantees a lively atmosphere early.
Paul Heyman opens the show and says Rob Van Dam isn’t in the building yet, but he will be, and he’s vowed to get his hands on Kurt Angle tonight. [1 min]
Intro Video [30 secs]
MATCH: Tommy Dreamer Vs. CW Anderson. Kurt Angle runs in 30 seconds in and destroys both with Angle Slams [2 mins total]
Angle In-Ring Promo after – buries ECW. He hates it. He won an Olympic Gold in 1996, went to ECW one time and was disgusted. When he would tell people he was a great wrestler, people thought he was one of these masochistic losers. At the first One Night Stand he vowed to kill ECW and failed. When he heard it was coming back, he talked Paul into drafting him, but deep down he just wanted a chance to kill it once and for all. He says his goal, his mission, is to win the ECW World Title, and then throw it down, just like Shane Douglas did to the NWA belt. The fitting, full circle end to ECW. He hated ECW, and hates the chant. Angle turns his attention to the fans, when Tommy Dreamer gets back in and brawls with Angle, as refs pull-apart the two. [6 mins]
Recap last segment [30 secs]
Backstage, Dreamer is talking to Heyman. Nobody loves ECW more than him. What Kurt said last week makes him sick. What he said tonight was a disgrace. He has bled, sweat and broken his back for ECW, so if he wants to kill ECW, then he’s going to have to go through me. I want him tonight. Heyman says yes. [2 mins]
MATCH: Sabu Vs. Al Snow – Quick pre-match promo with Al about how he doesn’t want to make mistakes with this second chance, and does the Head shtick. Sabu wins the match decisively. [8 mins]
Kelly promo – I had so much fun last week I want to do it again tonight, but this time, I’ll finish! [30 secs]
Video feature on Dreamer’s ECW past [1 min]
Kelly comes out to dance, but before we get to the good stuff, the video cuts out to…[1.5 mins]
CM Punk video promo from Chicago. Sometimes, you need to have self-control. Explains straight edge and what an insult last week was to him. Loathes that he lives in a world where a failure in life like the Sandman is considered an icon. Footage of Sandman’s career is spliced in over the top. ECW is a cesspool of drugs and depravity, and nobody is a bigger offender than the Sandman. Punk declares war. He’s straight edge, and that means he’s better than you. [6 mins]
MATCH: Balls/Roadkill/Danny Doring Vs. FBI (Little Guido/Big Guido/Tony Mamaluke) [5 mins] – Roadkill gets pin.
Trinity goes after Mahoney post-match, when an unnamed rock chick hits the ring and goes after her. She’s pulled away, but she’s clearly a friend of Mahoney. Styles asks who it is, Taz doesn’t have an answer. [1 min]
It’s announced that next week, it’s CM Punk Vs. Sandman [30 secs]
MATCH: Kurt Angle Vs. Tommy Dreamer – Angle goes over, after Credible/Francine distract Dreamer. [10 mins]
Angle gets the mic, he wants RVD right now to beat up more of ECW’s icons. RVD’s still not here. Kurt turns attention to Styles and Taz. Things get tense as he approaches them, but RVD arrives for a wild brawl (no refs to pull apart this time) to close. [2 mins]
Booking Objectives/Synopsis: Heavy heat on Kurt, between the attack, promo, win and final angle. The Punk promo should shift his focus to Sandman for now. A show of explaining heel motivations. The unnamed rock chick who attacks Trinity is Ariel (who we’ll just call Shelly), who we’ll have as a babyface and pair her with Balls. Credible needs to be built as a midcard player in the absence of Test/Thorn in that position, so this begins a series with Dreamer. Kelly’s pattern of being interrupted starts. Sabu spotlighted again.
We open with RVD pacing with Heyman, RVD wants Angle. Heyman explains not making the match because of RVD’s frame of mind. RVD thinks Paul is fearful that Angle might win. Heyman is honest, and says maybe a little. This is Kurt Angle. RVD says he’s RVD, and he’s the best. Heyman believes in Van Dam, but Angle is out of control and disrespectful, and he doesn’t want to set a precedent and reward that type of behaviour. Tonight, RVD will defend the title, but not against Angle. [3 mins]
Intro Video [30 secs]
MATCH: CM Punk Vs. The Sandman. Wild brawl. An unknown man attacks Sandman, helping Punk win. Post-match, Punk breaks a bottle over Sandman’s head, and pours a beer on his fallen body. [12 mins]
Recap Punk’s post-match antics. [30 secs]
Punk is backstage with the unnamed man (Mike Knox), celebrating. Punk says this is just the beginning. [1 min]
MATCH: The Zombie Vs. Big Show. Zombie comes out, does his promo, and Big Show kills him. After, he gets the mic and says “Sorry, Boss’ Orders” [3 mins]
Kelly goes to dance on her own platform. Kurt Angle comes out, stalks her, insults her, and threatens to break her ankle. He calls out Van Dam. RVD comes out, but Heyman and flock of security are keeping them apart, no contact made. [4-5 mins]
Backstage with Heyman grilling Angle. Orders him to leave, and if he doesn’t, he’s suspended for 30 days. Angle says fine, he’ll go. But what happens next week will be your fault. [2 mins]
Sandman staggers around, he wants to fight Punk, and also he wants a beer. [1 min]
MATCH: Balls Mahoney w/Shelly Vs. CW Anderson – Balls goes over, showcase new act [6 mins]
Credible/Francine talk about attacking Dreamer last week, says he’s been parading around as the ECW icon since it closed, when Credible beat him every time they wrestled. Now ECW is back, he’s going to finish what he started back then. And like back then, he’s going to be ECW Champion tonight. Video clips of original Dreamer feud and Credible as ECW Champion overlay. [2.5 mins]
MATCH: RVD Vs. Justin Credible – ECW Title. Van Dam wins, Dreamer chases off Francine, which distracts Justin for the finish. RVD celebrates to close the show.[13 min]
Booking Objectives/Synopsis: A strong win for Van Dam and feel good moment after 2 weeks of heated endings. Progresses Dreamer/Credible. Balls’ win showcases the new act with Shelly, a platonic friendship (could even be Balls’ sister). Punk gets a win over Sandman, but with the debut of Mike Knox as his running buddy, the beer pour and bottle breaking, it only progresses the story. Big Show’s story begins, and Kelly is cut off once more in the ongoing joke. We do, in fact, do the Zombie deal, which isn’t a bad idea as a quick gag. The issue is the placement – in real life, it was the first match of ECW on Sci-Fi, and the Zombie’s mere existence lowered the tone. After a couple of weeks of seriousness, doing a short, goofy angle like this is more acceptable.
Intro Video [30 secs]
Styles and Taz announce that RVD and Sabu will be teaming up tonight against the FBI, and if you haven’t seen them as a team before, you’re in for something special. [1 min]
MATCH: Kurt Angle Vs. Danny Doring – Angle destroys him [3 mins]
Post-Match, Angle says he wants to tear ECW down brick by brick. And tonight we’ll see just what he thinks of everything ECW stands for. [1 min]
Backstage, Heyman is watching with RVD, who tells Paul to let him at Kurt, because he thinks something bad might happen otherwise. Heyman tells him that last week he only had security because he needed RVD fresh for the title match. This week, it’s the wild west, do what you want. Van Dam leaves. [2 mins]
Backstage with Punk and Knox. Punk is talking to somebody off camera about how they were the most talented, underused and underappreciated talent of the original ECW. “Me and Knox both agree”. Camera pans to Stevie Richards, sitting and listening intently. Punk says there’s one thing that’s always been missing – self-respect. Stevie was a follower for Raven, and a joke. He was a leader of the RTC, and he was a geek. But if he embraced straight edge, he can be the one thing he’s always wanted to be – better. Richards thinks, and holds out his taped fist. Punk draws the X on it, as Knox approves. Punk says tonight you show the Sandman who Stevie Richards is. [3 mins]
Al Snow is in the ring with Head. Again, says he wants to right the wrongs of his first run – stuff like not being focused…but he falls back to doing the Head shtick for the easy pop. Big Show comes out. Grabs the mic, and says “Sorry, Boss’ orders”. Styles points out that’s the same thing Show said last week when he killed the Zombie.[2 mins]
MATCH: Big Show Vs. Al Snow – Show wins [3 mins]
Kelly comes out in the aisle and says she’s finally going to finish her dance. She begins, when Credible and Francine interrupt. Francine tells her to beat it since she’s the Queen of Extreme. Kelly bails. Credible wants Dreamer since he cost him the ECW Title last week. Dreamer comes out, and fights Justin until Francine low blows him. Credible pulls out the barbed wire sphere. That’s Incredible on the barbed wire. Dreamer busted open. [5 mins]
RVD looking for Angle, finds Kelly getting dressed [1 min]
Recap of Credible/Dreamer angle. [1 min]
RVD looking for Angle, finds Balls and Shelly hanging out. They haven’t seen Kurt. [1 min]
FBI go a goofy promo, talk about the match with RVD/Sabu tonight. [1 min]
MATCH: Sandman Vs. Stevie Richards. Sandman wants Punk, but Punk/Knox keep safe distance. Back and forth, Sandman wins. Knox attempts run-in and gets caned too. Punk runs in but dodges shot. Sandman pours a beer on Richards’ fallen body in response to last week. [10 mins]
MATCH: RVD/Sabu Vs. FBI – RVD/Sabu win, total old style showcase. [8 mins]
Post-Match, Big Guido attacks, but Sabu puts him through table on floor. Angle comes from the crowd and gets Van Dam with the Angle Slam, and ties him in the ropes. Teases hitting RVD with a chair, but instead slaps RVD to wake him up. Angle picks up ECW belt, waits for RVD to see him with the title, and spits on it. Styles is disgusted. Taz leaves the booth and starts screaming at Kurt from ringside. Heyman, Sabu, Sandman, Balls, Anderson, Roadkill and Show all hit the ring, and Angle bails. Styles calls it the lowest moment in ECW history as we leave the air. Heyman is furious in the ring. [5 mins]
Booking Objectives/Synopsis: The biggest angle so far, Angle spitting on the belt to be treated as sacrilege. Punk’s crew expands to three, with a heater and a stooge to riff off going forward. Sandman gets a positive show, the beer pour on Stevie a callback to last week. Sabu still spotlighted. Big Show’s story of destroying people on Heyman’s behalf continues, ongoing Kelly joke leads to Credible getting heat on her and Dreamer, to amp him up.
So that’s the first four weeks in the bag. How would ECW respond to Angle’s diabolical act? Check out Part 2 and find out…