Having a Ball
Hey, Scott: Get well soon, bud.
UNFORGIVEN NOTES: 6 for 8. I'm on a nice run... And yes, I DID call the finish to the Hardcore match... X-Pac jobs! I wonder if Sharon's got her voice back yet... Although, I should add that Jericho still hasn't PINNED him... Raven! With Tazz? I'll buy it... Elapsed time of Chris Benoit's two alleged WWF title reigns: About 2:09. That's minutes and seconds, by the way...
LINE OF THE WEEK: Kane (to Trish Stratus): "Trish... your mammary glands don't impress me." (SmackDown!, Sept. 28) There's something WRONG with him.
Oh, and did you catch Trish feeling around for her...
This has been a particularly strange year for ECW. It lost its top draw to a broken leg suffered while doing a baseball slide, saw its champion jump ship over a weekend in April, tapped the WWF to help get its belt back, lost arguably its best in-ring performer, and nearly saw its network TV deal get pulled out from under it.
Yet the company still has a chance to salvage the year 2000, and if it does, the turning point will be easy to spot - a two-night trip in August to New York City and the Hammerstein Ballroom.
A couple of weeks before those shows, ECW announced that they would be holding a one-night tournament to crown new tag team champions. When the brackets were released, Steve Corino was not a happy man. He thought that he and Scotty Anton should have represented the Network in the tournament instead of Justin Credible and Rhino, who were World and TV champs, respectively, at the time. Feeling snubbed, Corino angrily turned on the Network and challenged Credible for the world title at the second show.
I wasn't exactly sold on the idea of Corino going face, but it's worked. He's convincing, and the fans have taken to him. Even before this, he was getting a chance to show what he could do in the ring, and he's responded with some strong efforts. (Hardcore Heaven against Tajiri is probably his best of these) Sure, Justin won, but Corino became a player in that short stretch of time.
Helped even more was Jerry Lynn, who signed to face Credible for the title at Anarchy Rulz. Lynn was paired with Tommy Dreamer in the tag tournament, and Lynn got pinfalls on both Credible and Rob Van Dam to get his team to the finals. Although Dreamer and Lynn eventually lost, their run showed that Lynn was capable of putting both the world champion and his biggest personal rival down for the count. When pushing new guys, it's important to establish that they can beat the top talent, otherwise the marks won't buy them as legitimate contenders.
The makeshift team of Mikey Whipwreck and Tajiri ended up winning the tag belts after beating Dreamer/Lynn and Simon Diamond/Johnny Swinger in the three-way final. The next night, in the only booking decision I haven't yet figured out, they lost the titles to the new Full Blooded Italians team of Little Guido and Tony Mamaluke. Tajiri went back to Japan soon after and, if Heyman knew he was leaving, why'd he make him a tag champ in the first place? Why not just put the FBI over in the tourney? Feh.
Kid Kash won a clusterfuck of a match to take the TV Title from Rhino. See what happens when you get the rub from RVD?
In another fairly significant development that went under the radar because of everything else that went down, there's also one less team to contend for those belts - Chris Chetti and Nova split. During the tournament night, Chetti "accidentally" kicked Nova in a move that eventually led to their elimination. On the next night, Chetti and Nova were in a tag match when Chetti punked Nova again, but on purpose this time.
A lot happened that weekend, and because of it, a lot could happen on Sunday, which could lead to a lot happening in ECW over the next several months. Looking back, I was amazed at how much impact the shows at the Hammerstein Ballroom had on this card - and how much impact it could have on this company. Proof positive that Paul E. can still put it together when he has to.
PREDICTIONS FOR THE PAY-PER-VIEW THAT LENT ITS NAME TO A VIDEO GAME
First: the PPV will be better than the video game.
Stud Biscuit Joel Gertner vs. Cyrus Colton
No, you're not seeing things, folks.
Actually, this will probably be that standard ECW PPV opening segment where Cyrus kicks Gertner off the commentary table and takes over. But Gertner's had enough of Cyrus (and missing PPVs), and he wants to make a match out of it. So it shall be done.
What I'd Do: Make it a hot dog eating contest.
What They'll Do: Hopefully this will at least be funny. But tradition will hold in the end, and Cyrus will prevail.
Tag Team Title Match: FBI2K (w/THE MONSTROUSLY OBESE Sal E. Graziano) vs. Mikey Whipwreck and (yoshihiro) Tajiri
Tajiri's back! Tajiri's back!
That's the report, anyway - after a brief sabbatical, he'll be coming back to team with Mikey and get the tag straps back. If he doesn't make it back, Psychosis may get this spot.
What I'd Do: Put the FBI over, since Mikey and Tajiri are probably more valuable as singles wrestlers. Then I find a way to get these belts onto Danny Doring and Roadkill as soon as it is feasible.
What They'll Do: Tajiri or not, I still think the FBI retains.
Chris Chetti vs. Nova
This one hasn't officially been announced yet, but I'll be shocked if it doesn't happen.
We touched on the split earlier. Chetti's gone heel now and is doing the usual spiel about how the company's held him back by teaming him with Nova. Nova has... done little of note.
What I'd Do: It's early in this apparent feud, and Heyman's notorious for dragging these things out over years. Round 1 to Chetti.
What They'll Do: What I just said.
TV Title Match: The Whole Show vs. Rhino
You should know the story by now, but I'll refresh your memories.
In February, RVD broke his leg, putting him out for three months. Cyrus and The Network force him to hand the TV title over. Super Crazy beats Rhino in a tournament final at Living Dangerously to win the belt. Tajiri, who was a heel working for The Network back then, beat Crazy a few weeks later for it.
Fast forward to Cyberslam 2000 in April. Cyrus wants Rhino as TV champ, and tries to get Tajiri to hand the belt over. Tajiri refuses, tells Cyrus to fuck off, and we get a match which Rhino wins after copious Network interference. Tajiri comes out of this a face, then RVD shows up and demands a shot at Rhino, but Cyrus has already booked RVD/Jerry Lynn and Rhino/Sandman for Hardcore Heaven.
Rhino retains at HH, while RVD loses to Lynn when pal Scotty Anton turns heel, costs him the match, and joins the Network. Rhino successfully defends against Sandman again at Heat Wave, where RVD beats Anton.
Fast forward to the Hammerstein Ballroom. By this point, RVD's taken Kid Kash under his wing - they were partners in the Tag Title tourney - and he helps Kash beat Rhino for the TV title in a big-league schmozz. Rhino got revenge later, however, winning the belt back in another big-league schmozz.
I can see the viewpoint of those who don't want RVD "stuck" with the TV Title again: he never lost it in a match, so it's an ideal way to push him towards the World title without jobbing him out of the TV belt. (Like it'd matter in Rob's case; he's Rock/Austin-level over anyhow.) But with the Network angle pretty much dead, it's time to settle this issue.
What I'd Do: Ideally, we'd have a Kid Kash, or maybe even a Masato Tanaka, in here as a third man who would pin RVD for the belt after RVD eliminates Rhino. This would end the RVD-Rhino feud, get the belt off Rhino, and free RVD up to start a program for the World title. But what'll actually happen isn't bad...
What They'll Do: ...they'll give the belt back to Van Dam; not that he needs it to get over or anything, but just because it's the simple thing to do. Like I said last week; sometimes the simple feuds are the best ones.
No. 1 Contender's Match: Steve Corino (w/His Personal Bitch, Jack Victory, and maybe Sweet, Sweet Dawn Marie) vs. C.W. Anderson
We've already talked about how Corino was helped by the events at the Ballroom. He's had his shot at the big prize, and now he wants another one.
In his way is C.W., who's made big strides this year from tagging with Bill Wiles in the New Dangerous Alliance and helping Simon Diamond break up his traveling freak show. This should be good... even better if DM shows up.
What I'd Do: Corino's face run continues.
What They'll Do: Corino wins and gets another shot at the big time.
ECW World Title Match: The New Show vs. Just Credible (w/That Slut Francine)
Lynn is coming off of two straight PPV victories (over RVD and Corino) as well as his showing in the tag tournament. He's earned this shot.
Credible is playing his role as the vulnerable champion well, escaping many encounters by the skin of his teeth. He needs to hope he can do it again if he has to.
What I'd Do: Lynn goes over clean to become the new champ and make Butch happy. Putting him over works because of his past history with Corino (remember the "Is Lynn going Network?" angle and the Heat Wave match), and the stakes in his long-standing rivalry with Van Dam get that much bigger.
What They'll Do: This is a tough one. Credible's been almost unbeatable on PPV, but would ECW job Lynn in a World title match in his hometown? I think not. We're gonna have ourselves a new champion.