It was back to the land of extreme TV for this one, only the dice decided to point me in a decidedly non-extreme direction. It’s the 16th December 2006 (filmed on the 12th) and we’re in Boston’s FleetCenter for an edition of ECW on Sci Fi! Your main event tonight: newly crowned ECW Champion Bobby Lashley in a handicap match against “Paul Heyman’s Personal Enforcers”!
WWE’s ECW is a strange beast. There were times when it was a disaster and times when it was a hidden gem, and to a certain extent it paved the way for NXT. But it was never able to get away from the perception that it trampling on the legacy and ethos of the original ECW, if such things were important to you. And December 2006 is an especially not great time. We’re two weeks removed from the disastrous December To Dismember PPV where, among a number of other failings, Lashley won the strap in an “Extreme Elimination Chamber”, the match whose booking was allegedly the last straw for a frustrated Paul Heyman. He wanted to put the belt on CM Punk, but Punk wasn’t the latest in a long line of Vince McMahon chosen ones like Lashley. After an argument post-PPV Heyman was removed, so I assume it’s the usual McMahon brain-trust running ECW here. The same ones who would soon put the ECW Championship on Vince himself. Anyway, it’s fair to say that the show we are about to see comes at a time of flux in the creative department, with a somewhat unhappy roster (a few tried to quit after the aforementioned PPV).
We open with a recap of December To Dismember’s main event, and the usual WWE production department job makes it look like an epic event. Trotsky was never in that picture, you hear!?. We see a snippet of a dewy eyed Paul Heyman interview where he talks about how he is covered in the blood of “the greatest ECW Champion”, that being the Big Show. You can’t fault Heyman for effort, that’s for sure. Heyman says Show will be invoking his rematch clause, and then says “I’m done”, and he was, even though they are still saying he is kayfabe in charge. Show’s re-match was last week, and Lashley retained. That was Big Show’s last match for a couple of years, as he went off to look after himself after a lengthy period of burnout and not being in the best shape.
Let the bodies hit the FLOOOOOOOOOR, and I had forgotten that this violence/boobs-heavy main titles used to be this version of ECW’s, though when we cut to the arena the old ECW theme is playing. Joey Styles and Tazz on commentary. They outline the main event, where Lashley will face two shadows going by the graphic. First match is up.
Rob Van Dam vs Test
Big reception for RVD, coming out of a special ECW titantron. Test getting pretty much no response at all. Test eliminated Van Dam at the Extreme Elimination Chamber after a sick elbow drop from one of the pods, a spot the match did not deserve, hence this match. “Test is intense” says Styles.
Lock-up, and jawing at each other. Test as an angry heel never really worked, but he’s trying here with some vicious kicks and abuse aimed at the crowd. Van Dam floors Test with his patented spinning heel kick, then a leg-drop, but only one. Test flees to the outside, then eats a somersault senton over the top that the camera’s don’t pick up properly. Back in, RVD with a springboard leg drop, but again just one. Thumb to the eye from Test see’s him take over.
Van Dam sent into a steel post, then Test pressing his foot on Van Dam’s head repeatedly. Clothesline for two. Tazz says Test is targeting the throat “which I wouldn’t mind doing to you for a while so then you couldn’t talk”. Styles doesn’t bite. Those two have frighteningly little chemistry. Van Dam to the top but pushed off to ringside, and the crowd is stunned by that.
Back from break and we have a resthold. Van Dam rallying back with strikes, but then eats a body slam. Test to the top – Styles says this is unlike Test, but we just saw that elbow drop at the PPV before the match – but only has a top-rope nothing that eats a boot. Van Dam with a high kick to the head that gets a pop and floors Test. Springboard side-kick, running spinning heel kick, then a super-kick, but only two. Kickamania is running wild with another spinning heel kick to the corner, Van Dam rolling the dice every time seeing how many people he has hurt with it. RVD takes too much time to do the titular chant, and Test hits a big clothesline. Test going for a pumphandle, Van Dam out of it, crotches Test, then another springboard side-kick. Rolling Thunder for two. Windmill Kick, going for the Five Star but nobody home. Test has Van Dam up for the powerbomb, Van Dam out of it with the sunset flip attempt but Test sits down, grabs the ropes and that’s enough in just over ten.
Winner: Test, and he wouldn’t have many more wins, leaving the company for the last time around a month after this.
Verdict: Pretty standard match for these two, Test mostly reacting to RVD. The crowd was only there for Van Dam.
CM Punk vs Hardcore Holly in another “these two grappled in the Extreme Elimination Chamber” match is coming up shortly, and the AEPodcast has ruined Bob Holly for me. “WHOCARES”?
After a break Matt Striker is in the ring, yay! Huge heat on him, that turns to cheers when he says “Here I am in historic Massachusetts”, so the stereotype of stupid Bostonians appear to be true. He calls Boston “a child of the revolution”, but then says “it should have been aborted”. E-C-DUB, E-C-DUB, E-C-DUB. They don’t like that, but when Striker accuses the crowd of “smoking the pot”, it’s back to huge cheers. Striker runs down the crowd and their sporting/political icons, and man this is dated. Anyway, to the point at hand, Striker invites his December To Dismember opponent, Balls Mahoney, to the ring. Matt says he’s here to talk, not fight. Says Balls is “all heart and soul” and a hero to Boston. Commences the negging, then transitions to outright fat jokes. Mahoney has had enough and starts laying in the strikes, before Striker just kicks him in the “blue….Balls!?”. Yeesh. I do think this gimmick was pretty good from Striker, he was a heel you loved to hate, but it never had a long-term future. Balls, well, was Balls.
Sylvester Terkay and Elijah Burke are backstage, describing themselves as “the Tap-Out/Knock-Out connection”. Yeah, tag-teams in this ECW were not going to get on so well, and I think Terkay was gone pretty quickly.
CM Punk vs Hardcore Holly
Huge reception for Punk, even here you can see the megastar he was capable of being with this reaction. I have often wondered if the only reason Holly was in ECW at this time is because he had “Hardcore” in his name. Lock-up, shoulder charge from Holly, but then Punk lays in a great series of crisp arm drags, a shoulder charge and a round kick for two. Suplex for two, then Punk flapjacked onto the ropes. Holly laying in the shots and chops now.
The period of basic offence commences and, after a minute or two of strikes and boots, Punk counters with a sweet swinging neckbreaker. Chick Magnet laying in the kicks and forearms now, starts slapping his knee but it isn’t the call for the G2S which Punk isn’t using here yet. Instead it’s just knee strikes, then a bulldog for two. Into the corner, and both guys trade unloading of strikes and chops, and this is a bit dull for both. Then Holly starts laying in closed-fist shots to the back of the head, ignoring the ref, and eventually the official calls it.
Winner (by DQ): CM Punk
Verdict: A not very exceptional match, with a finish I think I’ve seen only a handful of times. But Holly looks not bothered, missing even his usual stiffness here.
Holly going back for more, but Punk dodges a charge and Holly goes into the post. Punk locks on the Anaconda Vice and Holly taps. I guess these two will be going at it again then, but considering they were happy for Holly to be seen tapping at I don’t see why we had to have the non-finish tonight.
After a break, Tommy Dreamer is here. At December To Dismember Khali gave Dreamer his two-handed chokeslam thing into the stage. Last week a very banged-up Dreamer got the win over Davari, but then got slammed again by Khali. On the mike now, Dreamer says he has more heart and guts then brains, hence why he is challenging the Great Khali to a match. OK then. Davari and Khali out, with Davari speaking Arabic, to boos, because this is America. Davari is from Minnesota by the way. Eventually goes to English, says Dreamer’s win last week was a fluke, and he’s the one accepting the challenge.
Tommy Driver vs Davari w/The Great Khali
Weird way to set-up a match, but OK. Davari blindsides Dreamer before the bell, and we only have twelve minutes left, with a main event, so this is going to be short. Davari laying corner strikes but gets pushed off, Dreamer catches him off the springboard, transitions nicely into a reverse DDT. Dreamer pumped up, looking for the DDT, but takes a sneaky shot from Khali at ringside. Hits the DDT almost immediately anyway, and that’s it in less than a minute.
Winner: Tommy Dreamer
Khali attacks Dreamer at ringside again, hits his finisher again, Tazz is aghast again, and I am not interested again. Khali was always a bit mortifying to watch, Davari is stuck with a racist gimmick, and Dreamer, man, that guy will try and make this work but he should be above this crap.
Another plug for the main event, and we go to break. Back, and we get a recap of the amazingly bad Mike Knox/Kelly Kelly relationship story. Knox recently dumped Kelly, threw flowers at her and then physically assaulted her. Styles and Tazz say Kelly deserved the break-up, and as an afterthought suggests that Knox should not have attacked her. E-C-DUB, E-C-DUB, E-C-DUB.
Bobby Lashley vs “Paul Heyman’s Personal Enforcers” (non-title)
The crowd goes mild for Lashley, who would get this push, a Wrestlemania programme with McMahon and Trump, and then slowly vanish from the scene bit by bit. The “Enforcers”, who are guys in full riot gear and helmets, out next. They are actually Doug Basham and a very little-known guy called Derrick Neikirk. They at least take the helmets off pre-match, but hide their identities with balaclavas. The very first Lashley match I covered on this series was a two-on-one handicap match, and this one is going to go exactly the same.
Lashley dominating the two guys, including a double clothesline in the offence. Big stall suplex to…one of the Enforcers, for two when the other one breaks it up. Press slam of one Enforcer into another. Toss to one of them, but then another gets a sneaky hit from a baton, and some offence for the heels can start. Tazz unhappy but Styles says they weren’t going to be subtle, to which Tazz goes “Well, this is ECW, doesn’t have to be subtle” and isn’t that just a bad indictment?
The Enforcers double-team Lashley for a bit, but it’s less than a minute until Lashley starts clotheslining everyone, and back body-dropping people into other people. Slam, then a very awkward looking spear to one guy. The other goes for the baton shot again but Lashley dumps him out. Hits a Dominator to the first guy and that’s it in just under four.
Winner: The provisional Chosen One
Verdict: Man what a waste of everyone’s time.
An Enforcer back in with the baton, but Lashley spears him, this one looked better. Hits the Dominator to this guy too. Nails the first Enforcers a few times with the baton. Celebrates, replays and we’re done.
Best Match: I guess the opener, because it was a fully-formed match with an actual finish.
Best Wrestler: CM Punk looks crisp, has the crowd engaged and is generally just exceptional.
Worst Match: I really didn’t see much value in the main event, Lashley is already well and truly been put over as a power monster.
Worst Wrestler: Can I say Khali? He wasn’t even in the match, but he still just basically did his usual.
Overall Verdict: Very forgettable episode of this show, at a time when it was obviously just treading water between creative teams. No backstage stuff, no genuine story-line progression really. This one can be skipped.
Quick Thoughts On Summerslam 2020
-Thunderdome: It is what it is. If they could get crowd noise done properly, canned or no, it would be a huge help.
-Crews/MVP: Pretty standard kick-off match. Probably should have been a “Raw Underground” thing. Skippable.
-Bayley/Asuka: Told a good story, and was a step-up from some other matches featuring thse two recently. Check it out.
-Street Profits/Andrade & Garza: A bit too short really, given it was the only tag match on the card. One feels they are running out of time to pull the trigger on Andrade/Garza. Not essential.
-Rose/Deville: An underwhelming showing, but these two could have put on a -5 star botchfest and I still would look on it kindly after the BS the two had to deal with this week in real life. They’ll be both be back stronger.
-Dominik/Rollins: Really enjoyed this one, the younger Mysterio looked good without going too far (like, say, Pat McAfee the previous night) and Rollins’ Monday Night Messiah was able to lodge himself firmly as a bastard heel without resort to fake eyeballs. Give it a watch.
-Banks/Asuka: In combination with the earlier match, I liked the story this one told, as we slowly edge towards the inevitable break-up. They could do with a few new faces in the division now though. Watchable.
-McIntyre/Orton: Brilliant showing from the two. McIntyre has what I would consider to be a very under-rated run as champ, with this match telling a great story, firmly swerving me with the ending, and leaving things open for a continuation.
-Strowman/Wyatt: So we’re right back to where we were pre-Wrestlemania. Match itself was what you would expect, with neither guy really setting the world on fire. Reigns’ return saved it a bit, and I am happy to have him back.
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