Report by Dot Net reader Gene Novak
The first thing I want to say is that I was a huge fan of the original ECW. I discovered the product right before they changed their name to Extreme Championship Wrestling and I consider them to be underrated for their contributions in modernizing wrestling in the United States in the mid '90s. I watched Hardcore Homecoming 1 and 2, I saw the WWE incarnations of ECW with the One Night Stand events and their reinterpretation of the ECW brand. I saw TNA’s Hardcore Justice and attended Francine’s Legends of the Arena show.
I loved ECW when I was younger and wanted to enjoy wrestling again like I did when I was a teenager. That’s why when Shane Douglas announced he was reintroducing the brand I was very excited. I bought my tickets as soon as they were available (almost four months ago) and was counting the days. I checked out extremereunion.net on a regular basis for updates and the various interviews he’s done on podcasts concerning the event. I’ve routinely defended Shane and Extreme Reunion on Youtube whenever (I felt) people were attacking the concept without understanding what Shane was trying to accomplish with the new brand. With all that being said, what happened yesterday at Extreme Reunion was unexpected to say the least.
We arrived at the National Guard Armory at 10:30 AM for the Fan Fest. The Armory was pretty packed. A lot of guys were signing autographs at their various tables. Interestingly enough, the BWO’s Dennis Rodman had his own table. I seriously doubt he did much business. Stevie Richards was the only guy I saw who was not sitting at a table, instead he was talking to fans and seemed to be looking at their phones constantly. I also noticed Raven was there wearing glasses. I almost didn’t recognize him.
Shane’s table was the busiest. He was talking to a lot of fans, interacting with them for awhile and seemed to be in great spirits. I ended up getting Shane’s autograph but didn’t get to speak to him much, probably because fan fest was coming to an end soon. There was a black guy announcing over the intercom when guys came in and left and all I knew was that he was grading on my nerves. Unfortunately, he comes back into the story later. On the way out, Justin Credible asked my friend for a cigarette, which he gave him. Since, I didn’t live in Philly we explored the town a bit until the show later than night.
We arrived back at the Arena around 6 PM. The doors were supposed to open at 6 but didn’t until 6:30 or so. There was a lot of people there. I talked to some people and they were friendly and very well educated fans. There were a few kids there but mostly younger guys. When the doors opened some fans (from the back of the line) tried to cut the line and were greeted with a**hole and bulls**t chants. Pretty funny stuff, they went to the back of the line and one guy I heard said that sucked!
Once inside we went to our general admission seats. The Armory is quite a bit bigger than the Arena and the layout was pretty nice. We had a great view and were pretty close to the ring. The Armory was a great choice for the event. Above the entrance was a decent sized television which showed the Extreme Reunion logo. The Armory was completely filled with a lot of standing room only. The audience was hot for the show going in and from my opinion if the show was good Extreme Reunion would be a success. However, there’s more to come on this later.
The event was supposed to start at 7 PM but didn’t start until 7:45 PM which irritated the fans. When the event started, there was a video on the screen showing ECW guys who have passed away. Eddie Guerrerro got some Eddie chants going as well as Candito. Well done and very detailed, no Chris Benoit though. After the video, the classic ECW intro to the show was played…the only problem was there was no sound. Immediately following the ECW opening was the Shane Douglas's promo about Extreme Reunion…once again, though, no sound. All together three to five minutes of video playing with no sound at all.
The first match was introduced, and as a "pleasant" surprise the announcer from the Fan Fest was introduced as a new ring announcer. He was dressed in street clothes rather than a typical suit like the other announcers. I wasn’t a fan of his but I can appreciate that they need to try out new talent. The participants for the first match were also unknowns, two black guys vs. two heavy set masked guys.
I couldn’t catch their names and since they weren’t advertised I had no way of finding them out since no one else seemed to recognize them. They were first greeted with some boring chants but eventually they got over with the crowd a bit. The masked guys pulled off a double top rope Chaos Theory which was pretty sweet, but all four guys had some talent. The masked guys won with a rollup. Good talent, but I question starting off a reunion show with unknowns. They might have fit better in a second match.
For the second segment, I had to leave the show for a bit so I missed it. However, my friend informed me there was a bald guy who came out chewed out Shane and was escorted from the floor by Atlas Security. One of the fans told my friend that the guy hates Shane so I’m guessing there’s known heat with him. I just didn’t know about it.
The next match was the BWO (Meanie and Stevie) vs the F.B.I. (Guido and Marmaluke). I expected a comedy match and it’s what you got. At one point Meanie and Guido got into a thumb wrestling match with the ref making counts. I question the logic of the ref getting involved in this stuff for a company which is trying to be credible. Classic ECW chants of dueling "where’s my Pizza" and "Meanie ate it." The fans do help with the show! The bald guy who chewed out Shane ran out and nailed Richards on the apron. The F.B.I. got the win over Meanie.
After the match, Stevie attacked the Worm and scared off Meanie. I completely agree with how this played out. Stevie looks better now than he did in ECW and is very talented. He’s never got his break in WWE or TNA and out of the original ECW guys he’s one they should keep and push and shouldn’t be wasted in comedy matches.
The next match was C.W. Anderson vs. Al Snow. This was booked as a "Purist Dream Match" and in my opinion this match did more damage to the show than any other. The match was very long, or at the least seemed very long. Constant rest holds and cheesy comedy spots. The fans were getting pissed. Imagine a Buff Bagwell/Lex Luger match. I remember thinking that these guys are screwing with us in how bad it was. Chants of "this is awful" and "take it home" throughout the match.
Some guy threw a mannequin torso in the ring (with help me written all over it) which Snow used to hit CW with. People were chanting "torso." They were going to kick the guy out of the building which caused the fans to chant "let him stay," which they did. CW won with a spinebuster. After the match, Snow got pissed at Head and gave it a piledriver, superplex, 10-punch count in corner, etc. It just wouldn’t end. Snow came out, apologized to Head and took it back. By this point in the show, people were getting fed up.
The lights went out. When they came in some new girl was in the ring. She was hot, did a striptease like dance which got chants of "show your tits." When she didn’t comply people booed and I think I heard chants of "she’s a tranny." Some girl in the audience then flashed the crowd which got ECW chants. I don’t know if she was kicked out.
The next match was Balls Mahoney vs. Axl Rotten. The crowd was hot for this match, and it was a traditional ECW hardcore style match. The match ended with two unprotected, stiff chair shots from Axl to Balls. Afterwards, they hugged and they all sang Ball’s song. I personally am not a fan of the overly hardcore stuff but a lot of fans enjoyed this match.
After this match, we had a "short" intermission break, which I think went for about a half-hour. After the intermission, Angel from the Baldies came to the ring and cut a promo which I couldn’t interpret. The Gangstas music it and both came to the ring to beat on Angel. For some reason, the Gangstas music (which usually plays the whole song through) was cut short which got chants of "turn the music on." The two new black guys came in and attacked the Gangstas and left them. The entire segment was pretty short.
After this match the fans were fed up. There was entirely too much down time and the stuff people came to see was very short. There were loud chants of "refund", "this shows awful!", and "F--- you, Shane." People were very pissed! The guy who was cleaning the ring from the debris got chants of "clean it up asshole, clean it up!"
The next match was supposed to be Pitbull 1 vs. Raven. Raven came out with some new flunkies including a guy who couldn’t walk but was carried into the ring. Pitbull came out with some other new hot girl. Raven started doing his comedy schtick mocking the fans and at one point calling the guy who couldn’t walk Criple H which got a Criple H crowd. Funny stuff! He started ripping on Pitbull 2 which got Wolfe to try and attack him. Raven’s flunkies starting attacking him and at one point through "Criple H" at Pitbull 1 like a weapon.
Eventually, Sandman’s music hit which got a huge ovation. Sandman made his entrance and went through my row, smacking shoulders with me at one point. Sandman did his beer spot right by me which I got a photo of and my friend got video of. Beer got on my phone while taking the photo! Highlight of the night so far. Definitely a cool experience if you ever get to. In the ring, Wolfe pinned one of the flunkies and won the match. Raven left and Sandman canned his flunkies. So Raven did nothing but his schtick. Still, a good segment for me. More chants of "this show sucks!"
The next match was Lynn vs. Crowbar. Chants of "save this show" were directed at Lynn. These guys put on a very good match. Both guys worked hard and the fans were giving them "Thank you, Jerry" and "Thank you, Crowbar" chants. There was a spot in the match where the action spilled into the crowd and Lynn dove over the guardrail to land on Crowbar and crashed into a few fans. One fan flew into a rage and tried to jump the rail to get at them. The camera filmed him and during this time Lynn and Crowbar were selling another spot. I got the vibe this guy’s one of Shane’s new talent. He was escorted out. Lynn won with the cradle piledriver and after the match announced this would be his last year wrestling. Fans chanted "please don’t go!" People really appreciated this match, especially after the card so far. I remember Lynn pulling a flying head scissors which got almost a standing ovation.
The last match was supposed to be Sabu vs. Douglas, but ended up being Douglas vs. 2 Cold Scorpio because Sabu was rushed to the hospital that day. Scorpio is still in very good shape and hasn’t lost a step. People hated Douglas by this point. Loud "refund" and "F--- you Shane" chants. A lot of fans walked out almost from the start of this match and people kept leaving throughout this match. The fans who stayed rode Douglas with chants of "We want Bischoff" and "We want Russo" and "just retire!"
Fans also started chanting the names of almost every known enhancement talent out there including "SD Jones" and "Brooklyn Brawler." Constant chants of "take it home" and groans on every kick out. It was truly something to see. Shane and 2 Cold worked hard in this match but the fans were so jaded by this point they couldn’t turn them. Shane’s mouth was busted open bad.
The first mystery guy came out and it ended up being Kevin Sullivan who attacked Douglas. The next guy came out and it ended up being Tod Gordan, who attacked Scorpio. Shane won with a roll up and no one cared.
Notes: It was odd to see a crowd who loved Shane before the show develop an almost hatred of him as the show progressed. In my opinion, a lot of what made it bad was out of his control. A lot of the originals can’t go anymore and most of the guys he got were mid-carders in ECW’s prime. Shane sold this card based on ECW’s legacy and promoted it months ahead of time. Expectations were unrealistically high. Douglas and a few others put some hard work in, but he lost the crowd by this point.
As far as his booking, in some ways it made sense, like breaking Stevie off from the Meanie and how he introduced some of the newer characters. However, some concepts were dated like the hot woman who can get over by doing nothing more than a striptease dance. In the age of Internet porn, it’s not a big seller anymore.
Last night Extreme Reunion turned off a lot of the original fans. Their next show is scheduled for the end of June. I’m not going! I will follow it, though. If Shane wants this promotion to prosper he needs to make some radical changes because a lot of these fans probably won’t be back next time.
4/28 Extreme Reunion: Fans chant "Just retire" and "Refund" among other insults during a mostly disappointing show, Sabu and Justin Credible out of top matches, Jerry Lynn vs. Crowbar win over the crowd
Apr 29, 2012 - 11:40 AM
Apr 29, 2012 - 11:40 AM
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