Posts Tagged ‘ecw’

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haybusa1

by @anarchyroll

One of the greatest high flyers in the history of professional wrestling died recently.

Hayabusa (real name Eiji Ezaki) died on March 3, 2016.

People of a certain age likely first discovered Hayabusa under the name Hannibal in the Nintendo 64 video game WCW vs nWo World Tour.

Many US wrestling fans discovered Hayabusa while at in the wrestling VHS/DVD aisle at Sun Coast and/or Best Buy and reading about the wildest sounding deathmatches in the history of wrestling from the FMW promotion.

However, most US wrestling fans were introduced to Hayabusa in one of the most entertaining tag team matches of all time, at one of the most entertaining pay per views of all time, ECW Heatwave 1998.

Hayabusa innovated the Falcon Arrow and the Phoenix Splash. Moves used regularly in the modern era by Jay Briscoe of ROH and Seth Rollins of WWE. Two men who a year ago at this time, respectively held the world titles for two of the three biggest pro wrestling promotions in the US.

Hayabusa was so far ahead of his time, that he would just in the decade be surrounded with people of his speed, style, and talent despite debuting in 1991. Hayabusa would have fit like a glove in CZW in 2003, ROH in 2005, DGUSA in 2008, PWG in 2012, and of present day Lucha Underground seems custom made for him.

The in ring tragedy that paralyzed him is nothing short of horrific. I won’t link to the video here, but you can look it up if you’re a glutton for the suffering of others. The fact that he walked again just last year was amazing and brings strong goosebumps to me now just as it did when I first read the story.

Hayabusa to me was imaginary, video game wrestling come to life. Every person I’ve ever shown that Heatwave ’98 match to always has the same look on their face when they see him, child like awe and amazement.

The man, the myth, the legend. A series of words as befitting Hayabusa as any professional athlete or entertainer in history. For a fan of my taste he is the ultimate combination of wrestlers. Cactus Jack meets Shawn Michaels. Abdullah the Butcher meets Brian Pillman. The Sandman meets Too Cold Scorpio. AJ Styles meets Abyss. Pentagon Jr meets Prince Puma.

Hayabusa was a hero, Hayabusa was an innovator, Haybusa was a legend, Hayabusa will Rest In Power.

 

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by @anarchyroll
10/13/2014

I have written far too little about Ring of Honor. As someone who was a fan of the original ECW, neither of the big two come close to being as good as the ROH product on a consistent basis in my opinion.

If you’re not familiar with Ring of Honor, it was founded by Paul Heyman’s #1, Gabe Sapolsky in 2002. Some of the stars and superstars that ROH has produced to TNA and WWE since their inception are;

  • CM Punk
  • Daniel Bryan
  • Samoa Joe
  • Seth Rollins
  • Austin Aries
  • Cesaro
  • Low Ki/ Kaval

The Ring of Honor product, style, and presentation has also been copied/used to build TNA’s X Divsion as well as WWE’s developmental territory NXT.

Years before either Chris Jericho or CM Punk were inserting the label Best in the World into their promos and onto their merchandise, fans were shouting those words after seeing ROH’s finest matches to the point they named their biggest show of the year Best in the World, which takes place every June.

If you’re an older wrestling fan who liked the Original ECW; then Ring of Honor is the product for your. If you’re a younger fan who likes NXT better than either RAW or Smackdown; Ring of Honor is the product for you.

I saw ROH live for the first time in 2005, during their 3rd Anniversary Show. The main event was Austin Aries vs Samoa Joe for the ROH World Title. I was hooked. The show stealer was Brian Danielson vs Homicide in a Falls Count Anywhere Match.

Ring of Honor has long been established as the top American independent professional wrestling promotion. They are the ECW of this era. They are about the best between the ropes, bell to bell wrestling on the planet. They are the only product in America that can rival the between the ropes action of Japan. If you like the matches that CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, and Cesaro have been having on WWE TV for the last two years, then you’ll love Ring of Honor.

I have seen ROH live at least once a year, every year, since 2005. The product not only thoroughly entertains me, but consistently restores my faith in pro wrestling. My personal taste is pro wrestling is no better or worse than anyone else’s. I care far less about storylines and characters than I do about fast paced, physical, high intensity pro wrestling matches. I am fully aware that to draw big money like WWE has done for 50 years, the model of success is inverted from my taste.

Since 2010, there are very few who have seen the product who would disagree with the thought of; if ROH had the corporate backing that TNA has had, ROH would be in a much more prominent place in the pro wrestling and sports entertainment landscape. ROH has routinely proven they are able to produce memorable, unique, entertaining characters, promos, and storylines. People like Jimmy Jacobs, Truth Martini, and Kevin Steen have been involved in programs and promos that would have slid perfectly into the WWE’s Attitude Era.

What makes ROH great in my opinion is that in their world/universe, wrestling didn’t stop evolving after the end of the Attitude Era. They didn’t hit the pause, rewind, or erase buttons in the wake of the Austin/Rock retirements, the Chris Benoit incident, or the John Cena PG Era. ROH is what ECW on SyFy would have looked like if Paul Heyman and Tommy Dreamer would have been allowed to control the product as opposed to Kevin Dunn and Vince McMahon.

It is important that there be three major pro wrestling promotions operating within the United States. For the purpose of competition, innovation, and evolution of the business as a whole.

  1. NWA, AWA, and WWWF
  2. WWF, WCW, and ECW
  3. WWE, TNA, and ROH

Me and all the other smart marks will keep crossing our fingers and hoping someone with a lot of money decides to invest in ROH. They can make it if money isn’t as much of a limiting issue as it has always been for them. They have manufactured new superstars. They have a unique presentation style. They believe in storyline continuity and character evolution. Their product doesn’t insult anyone’s intelligence. The product would fit like a glove on FX, Adult Swim, or Showtime. The product isn’t overly vulgar or obscene. ROH routinely walks the line between family friendly and for adults only, they always have, and have always had the proper proportions.

Without ROH I likely wouldn’t be a wrestling fan anymore. What John Cena and the PG Era did to WWE and what Hulk Hogan and Eric Bishoff did to TNA were both more than enough for me to do, what so many fans of my generation have done; make a permanent switch to exclusive mixed martial arts viewing. But ROH pulls me back from the ledge everytime I need to be. With their great matches, clean finishes, intense rivalries, straight to the point promos, and continuous evolution I can’t recommend ROH enough to the casual fan whose looking for something different to Super Cena and the not ready for prime time booking of Impact Wrestling.

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by @anarchyroll
10/3/2014

As a fan of the original ECW, there are few wrestlers I want to dislike more than Bobby Lashley. And for years, Lashley made it very easy to dislike him whether he was pushed as a face or a heel in WWE or TNA.

Bobby Lashley was what is known in pro wrestling as a “body guy”. Someone whose success in pro wrestling is entirely dependent on the fact that they are or look like a body builder. Lashley’s run in WWE from 2005-2007 was the textbook definition of the WWE using their marketing machine to try to force fans to like a body guy with no charisma, no mic skills, and a mediocre at best level of technical wrestling skill.

Why as an ECW fan did I intensely dislike Lashley? Because body guys are antithesis of what ECW is all about, and when ECW was revived in 2006, at their second and final pay per view event, Lashley was chosen over CM Punk to win the only ECW Elimination Chamber match to become ECW Champion. Lashley then co main evented WrestleMania with the ECW Title around his waste and to this day, a generation of wrestling fans associate a body guy as the face of ECW. Sigh, thanks Vince.

Flash forward seven years later, and Lashley can only be classified as strictly a body guy by fervent haters of him and TNA Wrestling where he is (as of this writing) their World Heavyweight Champion. Why can Lashley no longer be classified as just a body guy? After all he still looks like a walking commercial for anabolic steroids.

Because after his run in the WWE and after his first run in TNA, Bobby Lashley went out and became the second most legitimate pro wrestling to mixed martial arts crossover in history. Second to only Brock Lesnar.

Lashley has had 3 times as many fights as Lesnar had, though no one would argue Lashley has faced nearly the same level of competition Lesnar did. But unlike Lesnar, Lashley isn’t retired, he’s still actively fighting.

It is worth noting, and praising, that Lashley while actively competing for TNA as their World Champion, fought and won a fight in Bellator MMA. That is something that Brock Lesnar never did and never will do. It is a little caveat, but a legitimate one.

Lashley’s in ring pro wrestling skills, have also improved dramatically. He tells a story with his facial features and plays to his strengths. TNA to their credit, has booked him as well as someone like Lashley can be booked. In an era where TNA can’t seem to do anything right, they have done very little if anything wrong with Lashley since he returned to the company at Lockdown in March.

Since Lashley apparently doesn’t know how to talk arrogantly, TNA gave him a mouthpiece/hype man in MVP. That was a double win as MVP was nursing a broken ankle at the time and needed something to do on camera. TNA killed two birds with one stone and now, it is almost impossible to think of or book Lashley without MVP as his version of Paul Heyman.

TNA has booked Lashley against technically proficient opponents who are able to bump for Bobby as well as mask his deficiencies in the same model of The Undertaker’s last five WrestleMania opponents. Lashley’s matches against Samoa Joe (twice), Eric Young, Austin Aries, and Bobby Roode have all been American style, pro wrestling/sports entertainment heavyweight style matches. Fans of wrestling both pre PG and pre Attitude eras would have an appreciation of those matches. Storytelling, selling, submissions, hot crowds, manuever exchanges, a high spot or two, go home. TNA has also booked him as an unstoppable monster. When he inevitably loses the world title, it will be a big deal, at least by TNA standards.

Lashley has come along way since his unwatchable runs as United States and ECW Champions in WWE. He is becoming the type of talent that Vince McMahon likely envisioned him as when he tryed to ram Lashley down the fan’s throats for almost two full years before releasing him after main eventing a pay per view with John Cena. Yeah, you read that right.

Lashley has also become a face in the argument of the legitimacy of pro wrestlers as real athletes and genuine tough guys instead of phony actors. Actively holding the world title for the #2 pro wrestling company and actively winning fights for the #2 mixed martial arts promotion is a bigger deal in both sports than many seem to want to give it credit for. It’s understandable, Lashley’s work in WWE was just awful. But his work in his first run in TNA in 2009 was good. His matches against Rhino, Samoa Joe, and Scott Steiner are all worth looking up on You Tube. He then spent four years bouncing between independent pro wrestling and mixed martial arts. Now he’s a top guy in the #2 promotion for both sports. What’s next? Lashley isn’t that old. He may not just be getting started, but he certainly isn’t finished.

It’s hard for me to believe that a body guy could be such an inspirational figure. But in the year 2014 in the worlds of pro wrestling and mixed martial arts, there is no better story than the renaissance of Bobby Lashley.

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by @anarchyroll
6/04/2014

The United States Championship in WWE is essentially useless, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be the bridge belt for NXT call ups and main roster mid carders who have lost their way, place, momentum, or all of the above.

In a by gone era, a title belt like this was called the Television Title. The best wrestler on television today is how it was branded in kayfabe. However, in reality it was a way for new wrestlers to a promotion to make their mark, for young up and comers to show if they were worthy of moving from the mid card to the main events, and for former main eventers to regain some momentum or play gatekeeper.

The NWA, WCW, and ECW all utilized the Television Title correctly for many years and created many stars with that roster spot. Even TNA had a TV Title for a while, technically they still do, but let’s not go down that very dark, very disappointing road now.

From the late 1980s through the late 1990s wrestlers like Steve Austin, Steven Regal, Paul Orndorff, Ricky Steamboat, Arn Anderson, Chris Jericho, Shane Douglas, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Rob Van Dam all had runs as Television Champion in either the NWA/WCW or ECW or in the case of Jericho, both. The title helped each wrestler as well as many not listed. The shiny gold belt around their waste let the masses know to pay attention to them. It was made clear by how early on the show their match was taking place that they were not to be confused with the World Champion. But it got more eyeballs put on the talent, which allowed them to get over as a heel (Austin) or a face (RVD) or in the case of gatekeepers like Anderson help get younger talents over or show that they weren’t yet ready for prime time.

In the year 2014 there is no reason to have Intercontinental and United States Champions. But there is no way that the WWE will ever rebrand the US Title as TV Title. That’s fine, don’t rebrand it, just treat it like a TV Title.

WWE is in the midst of a youth revolution. In my opinion, I think there is an overkill of NXT call ups who are not ready for the main roster flooding my television screen. However, regardless of opinion, one need only have working ear drums to hear that the majority of these talents are not over with the live crowds. For every Wyatt and Shield member, there is a Bo Dallas, Adam Rose, Xavier Woods, Alexander Rusev, and Curtis Axel who through no fault of their own draw cricket noises when they are in the ring. Why? The fans have no reason to care about them. They’re all green in the ring or don’t have a unique character or don’t have mic skills or a combination of the three. How would a US/TV Title get them over?

It would help. A shiny belt draws eyes and symbolizes importance. That’s why world titles are big and gold. Bo Dallas got called up to the main roster because he spent over a year as NXT Champion. But was he NXT Champion because he was over? Or was he over because he was NXT Champion? Or is he nepotism incarnate? Regardless, the Bo-lieve gimmick/character would gain some steam with a win over Sheamus (as of writing the current US Champion) and a lengthy run with the United States title. Bo could then drop the title to another NXT call up who needs to get over as a face like Xavier Woods, Adam Rose, or Sami Zayn (fingers crossed).

Or much like Sheamus; a former main eventer needing to pick up some purpose and momentum again; perhaps someone like Dolph Ziggler, Damien Sandow, Ryback, Mark Henry, or Rob Van Dam could have a transitional run with the title before dropping it to someone like Adrian Neville, Tyson Kidd, or Kalisto.

Dean Ambrose was the right person to hold the US Title for a year. However, management not booking him to defend it for multiple four-month clips did him and the title no favors. This is the perfect time to rebrand or in the case of WWE, repurpose the United States Title. Changing the look of the physical belt also wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.

Unofficially officially making the US Title the NXT bridge belt, as well as a way for main roster journeyman to regain some shine is what is best for business in 2014.

Over half of the main roster is doing nothing of storyline substance. Every NXT call up since the Wyatt Family have been greeted with silence. Using the US Title to put a wee bit of spotlight and attention on these talents to see if they can generate heat, good promos, good feuds, and god forbid money will be good for everyone in the long run. It puts the US Title to use, it puts it in its place, and gives the talent another safety net to fall back on before getting a creative has nothing for you pink slip.

And let’s change the look of the physical belt please. Every other belt in the company has changed looks at least twice over since 2003. No time like the present for a new look and a new purpose for the illustrious United States Championship.