When Vince McMahon agreed to finance one final show for ECW, he was expecting one show. Considering the show got a better Pay Per View buy rate than the majority of PPV’s the WWE ran this year, is Vince going to be forced to bring ECW back full time? If you ask ECW faithful, the answer is yes.
Vince McMahon, with the guidance of Paul Heyman and Tommy Dreamer, took the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, and turned it into what you would expect an ECW arena to feel like. They couldn’t have started the show any better than they did, with the return of Joey Styles to PPV. This ignited the first “E-C-Dub” chant of the night. Even though Styles had just participated in Shane Douglas’ “Hardcore Homecoming” two nights previous, it was visible that he was emotionally touched by being a part of this. After what seemed like forever, Styles introduced his broadcast partner, none other than the Hardcore Legend Mick Foley. The fans of course popped big for Foley, but you could tell he was a bit out of place, and many have said Taz would have been a better fit. Regardless, Joey Styles with his trademark “Oh my GOD” was powerful enough to carry the show.
This first match of the show was announced as Lance Storm’s last, as he took on his former tag team partner Chris Jericho. What could have been a great match, maybe even a classic, was limited to seven minutes and ended with a run in from another one of Storm’s tag team partners Justin Credible. From this match, you could see the WWE’s influence on booking, in the previous ECW, two competitors like this would have gone thirty minutes, but in WWE’s version of ECW, they got seven.
Another disappointment would follow in the Triple threat match between Tajiri and Little Guido (who are both under WWE contract), and Super Crazy (who is not). This could have been an excellent match full of high spots that made ECW famous, but instead the focus was in the “Invading” WWE wrestlers. This in my opinion was Vince McMahon’s attempt at sabotaging this show. The original plans for “One Night Stand” were to be completely and totally ECW focused, with no WWE references whatsoever. The previous week’s on RAW And Smackdown however, had Eric Bischoff and Kurt Angle threaten to invade “One Night Stand.” They however did not use big name talent like Triple H, Shawn Michaels or John Cena. What they used was mid card talent like Edge, Gene Snitsky, and Maven. The thought was, it was going to turn alot of viewers off, and therefore allow Vince to continue preaching his theory that “ECW can not make it in today’s wrestling business.” If it did do well, he of course had the ability to say that it was the interest in the WWE talent, not the ECW talent that brought in the viewers. It was arranged so Vince could continue to ignore the requests to bring back ECW full time.
The next match began to pick up the action, but again was loaded with references and camera cut aways to WWE talent. Rey Mysterio and Psicosis wrestled each other for literally the thousandth time, and as usual they didn’t disappoint. What came after the match though, was the turning point taking what was turning out to be a semi-memorable show, and turning it into the legendary event that it became. Rob Van Dam, the biggest star in ECW history, and a current WWE talent on the injured list, made his way “home” to ECW One Night Stand. Van Dam was arguably the most impressive wrestler in the history of ECW , and was certianly the most charismatic. In WWE however, his character was given limitations, and while still impressive, he was a shell of his ECW self. He made his way to the ring to chants of “RVD, RVD, RVD” for a full five minutes. Van Dam touced on the issues, saying that ECW was where he made himself known, long before all he was allowed to say on camera was “Cool” or “Whatever”. Rob went into full ECW mode, and in ECW fashion was cut off by a gore from Rhyno. This brought prbably the most exciting moment of the night when the homocidal, suicidal, genocidal ECW legend Sabu came to the aid of RVD, and delivered the Arabian Skull crusher to get the better of Rhyno.
The next match was a pure wrestling clinic whether it was done in ECW, WCW or WWE. Chris Benoit and Eddie Guererro tore the house down like they do every single time they are in the ring. This kept the crowd right on track after seeing the returns of RVD and Sabu. The crowd was buzzing going into the Mike Awesome, Masato Tanaka match, which was a war. These two had been in wars before, and they brought back all the tricks for this one. Chairs, tables and the concrete floor were the major weapons in this one. It ended with everyone on their feet as Mike Awesome delivered an “Awesome Bomb” from the inside of the ring to the outside of the ring. What some thought might be the biggest disappointment of the night due to age and injuries, turned out to be the show stealer.
Unfortunately they continued to reference the WWE, and even had Joel Gertner, a former ECW announcer, stoop so low as to ask RAW general manager and former WCW president Eric Bischoff for a job. None of this was mattering though, the fans were ignoring the WWE references (except when ECW was put over), and just continuing to re-live the glory days of ECW. The main event was supposed to be Tommy Dreamer and the Sandman against the Dudley’s, but after Balls Mahoney, Axl Rotten, the bWo, (Blue Meanie, Stevie Richards and Nova)Chris Chetti, CW Anderson became involved it signaled the climax to what was an amazing show. However, Vince couldn’t let the show end with a flaming table, he had to bring out his biggest draw of all time, Stone Cold Steve Austin. Don’t get me wrong, Austin was an ECW wrestler briefly, but if ECW wanted someone to drink beer, the Sandman could do that just fine, and get just as big a pop doing it. Where Vince now has to do some soul searching however is this PPV garnered as many buyrates as the average WWE PPV. Vince would like to think that he could give the credit to guys like Eric Bischoff, Kurt Angle, JBL, Edge and Stone Cold Steve Austin. However, when the show was coming to a close, and the ECW guys had run off the WWE “invaders”, and Stone Cold was in the ring drinking beer, the crowd wasn’t chanting “Austin, Austin”, it was chanting “E-C-Dub, E-C-Dub.”
Due to this development, Vince McMahon is now under pressure to look at bringing back ECW full time. He owns all rights to ECW and it would be a money maker, but will his pride and ego of buying all his competition five years ago allow him to do what is right for the business and right for the fans? History says no, but only Vince McMahon knows for sure.