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Saturday, April 4, 2015

ECW December to Dismember 2006 Cynical Review

My long-time friend Ryan suggested I review this one, because he knows I love ECW and the change in wrestling that it stood for. Thanks, Ryan. Hope a wallaby claws your eyes out.

-The ECW December to Dismember Cynical Review

-This was in the midst of one helluva long rendition of "The Aristocrats" as performed by Vince McMahon, only everyone in the family including the dog shits in Paul Heyman's mouth. And boy does the punchline come with a flourish.

-Live from Augusta, GA, air date December 3, 2006. Rumors at the time claimed that the show would be held at the Hammerstein Ballroom once more, but negative crowd reactions to Big Show and Batista in August (it's Bizarro World!) led to Vince moving ECW southward. Because southerners would NEVER be just as snarky as New Yorkers when confronted with a lackluster product! Speaking of which, lemme know if you spot Triple Kelly on camera.

-On the call, Joey Styles and Tazz, about to feel their souls eradicate further.

MNM vs. The Hardy Boyz

This was one of only two announced matches for the show, and spoiler: it's the only good one. Melina makes a bunch of sewn-together doilies look sexy, I'll say that much. Justin "What do you mean corporations use sick kids to leverage synergy?" Roberts is the ring announcer, for those keeping score. Matt and Mercury lead off with a wrestling exchange, and I remind myself that 1) this guy with the Jonathan Davis hair is now a security guard for Tyler Black, and 2) this was a scant two weeks prior to this same guy having his face shorn off by a ladder-pault. Jeff tags in, working the arm. Nitro gets in there and gets double teamed, and Mercury takes a wheelbarrow suplex from the Hardyz, which I think was a Mikey/Tajiri staple in the original ECW. Strange, the Hardyz are top stars in TNA, Nitro's a top guy in Lucha Underground, and Mercury gets to hobnob with the WWE Champion.

Nitro misses a standing shooting star, and Matt takes over with some slow-building offense. You can really sense in hindsight that a long match was building when the Hardyz are keeping it slow. Matt lands a Niagara Driver on Nitro for two, and finds himself imperiled by a Melina distraction. MNM works the heel double-team formula, and Melina even applies a scintillating headscissors on Matt while Scott Armstrong's tied up. Armstrong and Mercury were in cahoots, even then! Matt lands a double neckbreaker on both MNM members, but Jeff gets knocked off the apron as Matt crawls over. Given what's to come, I'm surprised this wasn't one of the old Rockers/Rougeaus marathron matches. MNM lifts Poetry in Motion, and tries the Fate/Swanton combo, but ends up failing miserably. Jeff gets the hot tag, and drops two boots into Mercury's nuts for 2. SICK looking layout suplex on Nitro, and not in the good way. Matt pescados onto Mercury and draws an 'ECW' chant. Nitro adds a suicide dive onto the fray, and Jeff comes off the top with a swan dive.

Hardyz try to finish Mercury, with the Twist of Fate hitting, but Nitro pulls Mercury out pre-Swanton. Springboard dropkick lays out Jeff for 2. I had forgotten Melina's 'primal scream', which was the only non-mechanical utterance of hers. MNM sends Jeff in with a double slingshot, as the energy begins to diminish from the crowd somewhat. Almost feels like an extended house-show match. Of course, I'd wager they were told less than an hour before the match to double its length. MNM lands their take on Demolition Decapitation, complete with Nitro slingshot elbow, for 2. If Ax did that.....I don't know what would happen besides me marking out. Jeff avoids getting pinned on a rolling reverse cradle, and Matt is yanked off the apron just to extend the match. MNM try another double-slingshot, which Jeff counters by landing on the middle rope (awkwardly), and hitting Whisper in the Wind. Tag made to Matt, who Side Effects everyone, getting a close 2 on Nitro. The Hardyz try a super-bomb, but a Mercury assist leads to a Nitro superrana for 2. Stereo superplexes by the Hardyz. Melina tries to distract Jeff, and Nitro accidentally dropkicks her off, leading to a roll-up for 2. Snapshot on Jeff for 2, barely broken up by Matt. MNM try an elevated version, but Matt takes both down with a double-cutter. Swanton on both men finishes with Jeff pinning Nitro at 22:36. Really good stuff for the most part, only dulling in the second heat segment, but there's enough innovation here to make it more than worthwhile.

Rating: ***1/2

-Pre-tape from RVD, an unusually subdued promo. The fact that the camera wasn't zooming in and out, and that Bill Alfonso wasn't there to incessantly blow a whistle, kills the ECW mood.

Striker's Rules: Matt Striker vs. Balls Mahoney

The Lucha Underground invasion continues! I hope Pentagon Jr shows up, maybe to break the arm of whoever put this crummy show together. So Striker's Rules entail no eye-gouging, hair-pulling, top rope moves, or swearing. And they say Verne Gagne's influence isn't felt in latter-day wrestling. Striker's diamond-print tights with his face on the back leads to a face-sitting joke from Styles that makes Tazz legitimately guffaw. I like those human moments on commentary. Mahoney outwrestles Striker early, giving Styles a chance to share the old story of Mahoney's old amateur wrestling days, which ended with Mahoney punching out an official. Mahoney gets the Del Rio armbar. Striker responds by working the arm himself, with a single-arm DDT and a body drop on the outstretched arm. Then he pulls the hair to establish his heelness. Arm-trap neckbreaker gets 2. Crowd gets a bit restless during the arm work. It's weird to say, but this show really needed something fast-paced after a Hardyz-MNM match. Actually, this show needed a LOT of things. Fujiwara armbar countered by Balls, who can't do the Woah-Balls punches with his arm hurting. A side suplex on Striker gets 2. Balls is crotched up top, and Striker rolls through with a nice Fujiwara armbar. Mahoney makes the ropes, and comes back with an array of moves including a backdrop, and a sudden Ball Breaker finishes at 7:12. Oddly paced match with some decent wrestling, and the story only made a promising gimmick (Striker breaks his own rules to win cheaply) moot from the word go. Of course, this whole show was a disjointed mess anyway.

Rating: *

-Punk is warming up in a "DRUG FREE" shirt. No wonder he chooses to be drug free; apparently, Z-Pak's make him sicker.

-Meanwhile, Sabu is unconscious backstage, and Paul Heyman comically feigns ignorance. And you thought the Ambrose/Rollins cancellation at Battleground was bait-and-switchy enough; at least it wasn't the main event. Crowd is so concerned, they chant 'bullshit'.

Full Blooded Italians vs. Elijah Burke/Sylvester Terkay

I'd forgotten Burke's nifty rap-rock theme. He always had the personality, but was apparently enough of a head case that CM Punk and Marty Jannetty have both called him out publicly. You'd think this would be a squash to get over Terkay's size. You'd think. Terkay is what Bull Dempsey would look like if he hit DDP Yoga rigorously. Burke smacks Guido around while still wearing his painter's cap, the ECW equivalent of Mr. Hughes' sunglasses. Then I remember that Hughes *was* in ECW. Guido steals the hat and armdrags Burke before tagging Mamaluke. Double hip-toss and tandem elbow drop gets 2, and suddenly Styles and Tazz have to quit being jovial, suddenly shifting to solemn voices for the injured Sabu. Terkay's in, bullying Mamaluke, and throwing Guido onto him on the floor. Burke tags in and slows down an already slow match with a chinlock. Really, this should've been over by now. Elijah Express hits Guido in the corner and a clothesline gets 2. Another chinlock as we get a "change the channel" chant. Mamaluke tags in to silence, and a Terry Taylor five-arm drops Burke. Terkay blows a double-dropkick spot, and a double-flapjack gets 2 on Burke. Terkay forearms Mamaluke, and the Elijah Experience finishes at 6:41. Terkay lands a Muscle Buster on Guido afterward to get a "TNA" chant. Imagine if fans chanted THAT at Roman Reigns instead of just booing. Way too long for what they were going for, and the crowd didn't care.

Rating: 1/2*

-Sabu takes a stretcher ride, which only incurs the crowd's wrath further.

Tommy Dreamer vs. Daivari

Great Khali seconds Daivari, back before he was 100% overexposed as completely useless. He's much more built and healthier-looking then, too. Crowd officially becomes the Kamp Krusty children for Dreamer, even if Dreamer is wearing velour pants. Tazz gives us the "TV doesn't do him justice" bit for Khali, so we know who's in his ear, as if that were in doubt. Dreamer drops Daivari with a hip-toss and sends the future X-Division champion scampering. I believe Daivari is also part of the future Lucha Underground crew. Was Christopher DeJoseph here somewhere? Dreamer is knocked outside with a baseball slide, but Dreamer sends him into the railing shortly after. Commentators are more focused on Sabu's injury, marking a rare time Styles ignores Dreamer in favor of 'telling stories'. Khali is ejected for pulling the rope down, so you'd THINK Dreamer would be winning unimpeded now. You'd also have had high hopes for this show, you poor misguided bastard. Daivari works a chinlock, recurring theme on this night of extreme boredom. Series of elbows gets 2, and given how this show's gone off the rails, I'm shocked that wasn't the finish. "Fuck em up, Dreamer" chant will not be quenched. Then we get a sleeper-hold, poorly applied, by Daivari. Yeah, fuck you crowd, for having energy. Dreamer fights out and hammers away, finishing the sequence with a scoop-slam DDT for 2. Daivari misses a crossbody, and Dreamer Tree of Woes him for a basement dropkick. Then Daivari counters a DDT into a rollup for the win at 7:22. Yep, really. Crowd audibly groans. Match was just as disjointed as the previous matches, and there's no flow to anything. Even the fans liking Dreamer goes unpaid off when he loses to a shitty pedestrian finish.

Rating: 1/2*

-Afterward, Khali chokebombs Dreamer on the stage, and the announcers play it off as though his career could be over. Sabu and Dreamer have both been maimed and mangled in the real ECW, and this textbook shit gets hushed voices from Styles and Tazz. No wonder Heyman was developing ulcers backstage.

-Heyman puts Bob Holly in Sabu's place in the Chamber, and the crowd is quite unhappy. To be fair, Holly and Van Dam put on one hell of a bloody classic in September, and at the time, I was kinda looking forward to his inclusion. I was also reaching for joy at this point.

Mike Knox/Kelly Kelly vs. Kevin Thorn/Ariel

Knox upgraded going from Kelly to Rebel in TNA, let's face it. Kelly looks the Foreman daughter on That 70's Show here, back when she was alive and relatively healthy. Ariel's ass hanging out of her skirt is all that's keeping the crowd above sea level in this well. Styles refers to Thorn and Knox as 'extremists', the catch-all being riveted to the male roster, a la 'superstars'. Believe the ECW women were 'vixens', Branding is extreme! Thorn works over Knox with slow, basic shit as Ariel gives everyone a show on the ropes. If she were wearing a nun's habit, there would be no redeeming value to this match. Thorn continues with the heatless offense, and the cameras focus more on her and Kelly. It's for the best. Knox with a slam for 2, but the crowd is more preoccupied with Ariel. Tazz gets in a subtle dig at Kelly somehow understanding the elements wrestling as a performance. Ariel tags in, so Kelly has to enter as well. Well, this should be hideous. Ariel kicks away and bends Kelly's neck on the ropes. Kelly sells punches horribly, so Ariel distracts the crowd with a high foot choke, exposing the ass again. "ONE MORE TIME" says Augusta. Since it took Augusta National forever to let women in, they get denied. Knox picks this moment to turn on Kelly for her Punk-related lust, leading to the first ever spiteful "CM PUNK" chant. Groundbreaking moment! Choke-STO ends this ordeal at 7:43. Sandman runs in to save Kelly by caning Thorn, and that's all the ECW Original gets is a cameo.

Rating: -***

-Cheesecake model Rebecca DiPietro delivers a badly-acted interview with Bobby Lashley. You know it's bad when Lashley has to carry the talking segment.

-Paul Heyman cuts a promo essentially foretelling the end of his time with WWE, saying that ECW will live on long after he is gone. There are only two things a Heyman speech cannot save: this show, and Reigns' credibility as a main eventer.

ECW Championship/Extreme Elimination Chamber: Big Show vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Bobby Lashley vs. CM Punk vs. Bob Holly vs. Test

It's ECW and Ohio Valley vs. The Attitude Era. The 'extreme' modifier comes from each Chamber pod containing a weapon that the dispatched entrant brings into the ring. Decent idea in theory. Van Dam and Holly start out, slugging it out with Van Dam gradually gaining the advantage. Van Dam leaps at Holly on the mesh, but misses and Spiderman's the cage chain-link. The ensuing dive sadly misses, ruining the fun spot. Crowd wants Punk, much like the duration of 2014. Holly misses a dive onto the mesh, and Van Dam responds with a cross-ring Rolling Thunder onto Holly on the mesh. First extreme moment in over 90 minutes. RVD is suplexed into the ring and the two kill time en route to the third entrant, which ends up being Punk, armed with a chair, and immediately throws it at Holly's face. Springboard clothesline takes down RVD, but Van Dam comes back by throwing the chair at his head. Punk takes a blown monkey-flip onto the chair, and Punk legdrops Van Dam's head onto the chair after avoiding a legsweep in a nice spot. RVD's opened up and gets sent into the corner-wedged chair. Sickly, Punk kicks the chair legs to tighten the wedge. Holly sends Punk careening into the cage wall, and I sense the match has peaked in terms of fun. Holly superplexes Punk, and Van Dam covers him for 2. Tazz: "This thing is starting to percolate!" Tazz has never had a cup of hot coffee in his life.

Test enters fourth, armed with a crowbar, which isn't exactly a staple of classic ECW. Maybe a cheese grater? At least it works like a charm when he digs it into RVD's cut. Punk snaps Test over the top rope, and a bloody RVD tries to rally a dead crowd with some kicks on Holly, and a chair shot on Test. Skateboard dropkick kills Punk, and a Five Star finishes Punk. Crowd cheers RVD at first, and then it turns to boos once they realize who's out. Test turns on Holly and boots him in the face for the pin, although the count was botched. This thing is just dying. RVD tries a Five Star off of Show's pod, but gets grabbed and Test chairs him twice. Test sacrifices himself for the match by hitting a diving elbow off the pod onto the chair on RVD's face, eliminating him. The move gets a huge cheer, but the pin brings out the 'bullshit' chants. That leaves the three big guys, clearly Vince's pecker-tracks dotting the blueprints. Still over a minute before the fifth entry, so even the planning sucks.

Lashley is next up with a table, but the security guards won't let the referees unlock the pod. So Lashley breaks through the chain-link ceiling of his pod with the table, which would've been a great spot if the crowd wasn't so committed to hostility. Lashley's unconventional entry finishes with a diving clothesline on Test, and Test gets sent hard into the pods, waking the crowd somewhat. Test's comebacks kills off the minimal momentum. Lashley kicks a chair into his face and resumes the beating, finishing with a crowbar shot and a spear with 1:20 remaining in the period. Crowd could care less. Heyman hard-sells Lashley to Show personally, and an angry Lashley launches the table and chair at Show's pod. And that's it for the table, possibly the only ECW PPV without a broken table.

Show enters with the barbed wire bat, and he and Lashley (armed with the chair) duel while the fans chant 'TNA'. Just as was intended during the production meeting, I'm sure. Show gets the bat stuck in the cage wall, and that's it for that. A now-bloody Show is sent through the pod. Back inside the ring, chokeslam is countered with a DDT. Show misses an avalanche, but has a slam countered, and Lashley spears his way to the title at 24:42. Crowd pops initially for the win, but quickly turns back to apathy. Match had some nice spots, but they were nullified by dead spots, a crowd killed by seeing the two favorites go so early, and a poor second half.

Rating: *1/4

OVERALL: If Vince had set out to kill ECW's appeal by booking this show, I'd call him a Machiavellian genius. Sadly, he apparently thought Lashley's big win equated to a quality show, and the result was the horseshit we saw here. The opener was great, but not for all tastes. After that, into the hopper this show went, and Heyman, the scapegoat, vanished until Lesnar's comeback. After having my name unfairly attached to this show, I'd go into seclusion as well.

Thumbs WAY down.

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