It all began with the WWE ran and financed ECW pay-per-view One Night Stand in 2005. If RVD is to be believed, it was him who pitched the idea to Vince McMahon, explaining that revisiting the old ECW would be huge among fans. He was absolutely right. ECW fans showed up for it in droves, filling the arena with the same chants that filled the ECW arena back in the day. They would bring the pay-per-view back the next year, much to the same reaction. Vince was sold. ECW was back on live television, but it was never truly ECW. They began to air the new weekly program on the SyFy channel, June 13th, 2006. It had all the trappings of classic ECW. It had Paul Heyman, it had sexy women, it had violent matches, but that would all fade away.
When it began, Paul Heyman was head writer of the brand, controlling everything. He tried his best to make it work, but there wasn’t much he could do with the higher ups making poor decisions such as putting the ECW title on a guy like Bobby Lashley, or featuring a Big Show vs. Batista match as an ECW main event. At least those two could put on something of a show. They’ve both wrestled a few classic matches in their career. The massive push of Bobby Lashley, however, can be summed up as not much more than a gigantic waste of time. Nobody was into it. He’d go out, look imposing, and then fumble through boring match after boring match.
They gave him chance after chance. Not only did he go against Mr. McMahon in a street fight for the ECW Championship, but he also got to go over the Chairman. This was the culmination of the feud. Lashley had wrestled Vince, Shane, and Umaga in multiple 3 on 1-handicapped matches leading up to the street fight. Every time, Lashley would go over them in spectacular fashion, and nobody would give a s—t. I’ve never seen the guy in MMA. I’m sure he destroys people, but he never belonged in a wrestling ring. He was far too clumsy and boring. I can think of no better example to illustrate this to you than the Extreme Elimination Chamber match at ECW’s last ever pay-per-view, December To Dismember. It was a disaster that, as far as I’m concerned, can be chalked up as the death knell of the ECW brand. Paul Heyman would be relieved of his duties not long after the event aired.
[Editor’s Note: “Let’s just say that Bobby Lashley has fought a lot of jobbers and has a loss on his record to a joke-fighter.” – Dane Curley]
The contestants in the Extreme Elimination Chamber were CM Punk, Test, Big Show, RVD, Hardcore Bob Holly, and Bobby Lashley. The “extreme” element added to the Elimination Chamber formula came in the way of a few clichéd weapons, such as a chair, a crowbar, and a barbed wire covered bat. The five veterans did their best to make it interesting, but not much could be done. Hardcore Holly and RVD started off the match, carrying it through the first five minutes until CM Punk’s number came up. He exploded out of his chamber with a steel chair. He immediately started throwing the chair around, until RVD, The Whole F–king Show and master of the steel chair offense, used it against The Straight Edge Superstar.
Not long after, Test’s number came up and he was let out of his chamber. This is where things quickly went downhill. In a flurry of offense, three of the competitors would be eliminated. First to go was CM Punk after a Five-Star Frog Splash from RVD. Next was Hardcore Bob Holly after he caught a vicious boot to the face from Test. Then finally Test eliminated RVD after he dropped a massive elbow off the top of one of the chamber pods, and directly onto Mr. Pay-Per-View.
This left Test alone in the ring with Bobby Lashley and Big Show. Lashley would dominate the rest of the match, taking home the ECW title. It was devoid of all the feeling and intensity that made ECW what it was. It was “extreme” for extreme’s sake, not to tell a story, or add much to the match. Lashley stood in the ring, celebrating, and the crowd could not have cared less. They weren’t there to see Lashley dominate his way to that title. Thank God they put an end to the ECW brand, so we’d never have to see something like that again. What a sinfully boring match.
Gone were the days of the dreamers. There was no more attitude.
There was only a name.