I still remember it like it was yesterday.
The news that “ECW” was “coming back” as a whole separate television show via the World Wrestling Entertainment on the Sci-Fi Channel. I had a wave of emotions, thoughts, and, well, utter bewilderment.
My first reaction to this news was, “YAAAAAAAY!! E-C-Dubya! E-C-Dubya!” But it was soon followed up by another thought, “Wait a minute, Vince McMahon…is going to bring back Extreme Championship Wrestling? And let it thrive on its own without any WWE influences?” Then my third thought was, “Hold on, what’s it doing on the SCI-FI CHANNEL?” Since then BRAVEHEART has been shown on the Sci-Fi Channel, live action movies are shown on Cartoon Network and there isn’t a music video to be seen on MTV so channel formats straying from the channel names doesn’t really surprise me anymore.
Fans of the original ECW such as myself were hopeful about the return yet worried that the WWE influence would creep into what was once an independent, rebellious and gritty alternative to the big two promotion. Now before I get TOO lovey dovey with the original ECW and you write your emails on how biased I am (seriously, get a life, will ya?), I’ll admit it had more than its share of bad stuff. But even Jim Cornette himself would have to admit even the stupid stuff was at least somewhat entertaining to watch. And when ECW was good, it blew away anything else the Big Two were doing at the same time.
But back to the all new ECW on Sci-Fi.
Soon enough, the worries and doubts in the minds of the original ECW fans DID come true over the next few months. Before the violation was complete, the show was actually kinda good for the first few weeks.
Well, if you skipped past Kelly Squared’s basic cable-caliber stripping routines, a vampire and a tarot card reader running around, and the horrific WWE-ized entrance themes which sounded like Jim Johnston had just gotten a 1985 Casio keyboard. Yes, that stuff all sucked but there was one thing that you could count on and was a lot of fun: The Sandman’s ass kicking of the week.
Yep, every week The Sandman would come out, like 911 in the old ECW, and murder a random character with his Singapore Cane. The first week it was The Zombie(“RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGHHHHHHHH”), next week it was Macho Libre (to promote that unfunny nothing of a Jack Black movie is EXTREEEEEEEEEEEME), Big Dick Johnson (“yaaarrr, that’ll replace the whale in me nightmares”) and then…..the Preacher.
I wish I could tie this into Garth Ennis’s awesome and intelligent DC Vertigo-published graphic novel called Preacher but it cannot be done.
So instead, I’ll tell you of the legacy of the guy who preached but wasn’t a preacher.
Ah yes, those early days of ECW on Sci-Fi were something else, as WWE did one of their patented tricks: making you hate people you used to like. In this case, that would be Tazz and Joey.
Taz, back when he just had one Z in his name, was considered one of the original ECW’s best promo guys once he started giving interviews. Then there was Joey Styles doing double duty with play-by-play AND color commentary was a highly praised announcer that was respected even by those who didn’t care for ECW.
Passed through the WWE’s re-conditioning department, Tazz (two Z’s) is now an annoying lump who can’t talk coherently for anything, and Joey Styles became an Oklahoma as Jim Ross imitator, minus the mocking of a physical affliction.
As bad as watching ECW on Sci-Fi could get, watching it on MUTE made it about 30 times better.
In the midst of running down the night’s festivities, some guy we’ve never seen before (actually Tony DeVito from original ECW’s “Da Baldies”, yeah I don’t care either) somehow gets past event security and immediately goes for the mic conveniently placed into plain view on the announce table. Since security doesn’t immediately take him down, he feels the need to announce to the crowd that it’s his first ECW show. You don’t say.
Unfortunately it’s not accompanied by having to do an Rocky Horror Virgin Sacrifice-like ECW routine such as dancing with The Blue Meanie, being spanked by Francine or getting a major artery severed by New Jack.
“I am DISGUSTED! The Sex! The Violence! The Language!”
What? Was he watching an old VHS of Kimona dancing atop the ECW arena before he came out?
“I cannot believe you people would spend your hard-earned money to watch this FILTH!” Hey, Padre, don’t knock the fans like that – the front-row ticket you paid for to watch this show just bought Aurora Rose Levesque a pony!
So anyway, we finally are made aware that he’s wearing a white collar, apparently indicating that he is a man of the cloth.
At least that’s what we are supposed to think, I think. Kinda hard to tell, since he never really explained why he was dressed in such a manner. Apparently ECW on Sci-Fi is so extreme they don’t want to offend religious people, whereas the original ECW did a mock crucifixion angle with Raven that left the fans in the ECW Arena, the same people that regularly cheered scantily-clad women getting their heads piledriven through the mat, in stunned and uncomfortable silence.
He continues to say that this program and form of entertainment should not be allowed to exist. Hey, when was Phil Muchnick hired on as a WWE writer?
Then he says all who enjoy ECW are “SINNERS”!
With his passing resemblance to Mr. Strickland, the principal from Back To the Future, I’m disappointed the preacher does not add, “SLACKERS!”
“By the way, I’m not a man of the cloth!”, he says as he tears the collar away. “I just use this to express my opinion!”
Wait, he uses a white collar to express his opinion? Did the the collar give him the Jedi Mind Trick power to get past event security?
Maybe I should wear a nun’s habit so I get into the Academy Awards and tell the directors in attendance that their movies blow goats and the actors have less personality than my dogs’ wee wee pad.
And I gotta point out Tazz and Joey doing their best “we are acting shocked” faces here instead of telling the guy to shut up, sicking the security guys on him and pointing out the gaping flaws in the guy’s logic.
Well, as long as it’s just them looking stupid and not, say, Michael Cole doing his fake laugh, it’s a win for us.
Then The Sandman’s WWE-ized “not Enter Sandman but we want it to kind of sound like it” entrance theme hits and the crowd goes wild because they know what’s coming.
Sure enough, after Sandman’s 3 year entrance (it sure felt that long), he points to the faux preacher and goes over to stare him down. I’m Not a Preacher decides the best plan for escape is to show him his Best Buy receipt, which for some reason this sends Sandman into a homicidal rage.
I bet he got ripped off on his Reward Zone points. Happens to me all the time, but sadly I don’t have any phony priests to cane at my disposal to vent my frustrations.
After smacking the faux preacher around a little while, he gives him two weak cane shots that a 5 year old wouldn’t sniffle at and then canes his ass as he’s going over the barricade.
By the way, I love the security in plain view keeping the fans from interrupting the CLEARLY UNPLANNED beating of a ticket-holding spectator from taking place.
And it all ends with Sandman in the ring drinking a non-alcoholic beer and everyone is happy.
“I AM THE LAAAWWWWW!!”
And thus the preacher who wasn’t a preacher was never to be seen again.
I bet he’d still be around today if he went with that Strickland gimmick. Hmmm…
On a personal note, I want to extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to the friends and family of Wrestlecrapper “Paul Servo”, who passed away after a brave battle with cancer on January 3rd. I considered Paul to be a good friend of mine who always delighted us all on the Wrestlecrap forum with his vast knowledge, sense of humor and for just being so damn likable. When I came aboard the site full-time last year, he was tremendously supportive and would send me very encouraging, enlightening and uplifting private messages thru the forum. A very dedicated fan of Wrestlecrap, a friend to all of us and a wonderful person. We will never forget him and his invaluable contributions. RIP, my friend.