ECCW 20th Anniversary Review

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ECCW recently held its 20th Anniversary show in New Westminster, which meant not only did you get to take a trip down memory lane, you also had the thrill of wondering if your car was going to get stolen.

Now, the 20th Anniversary show is a different beast from a normal ECCW show. One of the main points was to honor the past and give people a chance to see some ECCW legends show up, and pay their respects to them. So it wasn’t a traditional show in the sense that it wasn’t only about advancing story lines as ECCW marches towards its big July 16th Ballroom Brawl show. Which is why this review is going to be less critical (ring gear concerns, moonsaults landing on Pete Powers jaw, slippage due to sweaty bodies will not be focused on) and more about talking about the experience of the show. It was truly one of the most positive ECCW experiences I’ve had, and I really want the focus to be on respecting those who paved the roads for ECCW.

So without further ado…wait is that my car alarm?

Buddy Wayne vs Alex Plexis

Plexis, whose latest belt diet saw him lose several pounds in tag team gold, took on a wrestling legend in Buddy Wayne. Wayne, who has trained the Cunninghams, Kingpin and Lucky Strike, the Outlaw Vegas Ricter, King Khash and Darby Allin, has his footprint heavily on ECCW. He is someone who whenever I hear his name mentioned it is spoken with the utmost respect. Plus it’s hard not to cheer the guy on when he’s busting out moonsaults at his age.

As with many of the legends on the night, I was just honored to be able to watch Buddy in the ring. Unfortunately for me, I was very WWE focused as a child, and didn’t have a lot of exposure to the indies or circuit wrestling. It was only as I grew older I started learning more about the world outside WWE, and even to this day I am learning all the time about the pioneers of this business. So for me, getting a chance to watch guys I never had a chance to watch many years ago, was very exciting. I’m a historian at heart, so even just getting a glimpse into the window of the past is an opportunity I will always be thankful for.

As for the match itself, putting the heat magnet Alex Plexis in a match with Buddy was a great choice, as you can never have a bad time screaming “Asshole Plexis!”. Buddy ended up getting the win, even while chewing gum the entire time, throwing caution to the wind left and right.

Naturally Spoken

The Bollywood Boyz music hit and out came the Natural, extending his streak of disappointing and angering audiences across BC. He explained that he gave the Boyz the night off, much to the chagrin of the crowd. So much chagrin. Chagrin everywhere.

This plays into the recent storyline of Natch perhaps recruiting the Boyz, as he has been watching their matches as of late.

As for the segment itself, Memphis came out, and while he couldn’t wrestle due to an injury, he wanted to thank the fans for all of their support. Memphis is another guy before my time (most of ECCW is, sadly), but my takeaway from him is he’s good on the mic. He knows how to land some good one liners. And his name seems to originate from Gone in 60 Seconds, and the rule is anything related to Nicolas Cage is a good thing, so I applaud it.

Scotty Mac then came out, the man with the best entrance video in all of wrestling, and ran down Memphis and taunted him over injuring him at their last match. He also talked about becoming ECCW champion once again. Smaccy then turned his back on Memphis, only to be Mephisted (Memphis warmed this punch up in a very graphic manner, which seemed more of an Extreme move than an Elite one) and laid out Scotty with a solid punch, thus ending the segment.

TNT vs DTA

In the battle of the three letters, Air Adonis and Jamie Diaz fell just short of a win against Pete Powers and Dynamite Dan. As with many of the throwbacks on the night, these pairings were before my time, but it was great to see more of the history of ECCW as old alliances reformed for a night.

Even better though is apparently Pete Powers is building himself a power suit:

I’m convinced this ends one day with him wearing super armor and wielding a weapon and I couldn’t be happier. Look, the dude is convinced he’s a God, yet he still loses matches. You just KNOW that has to be effing him up mentally. So what does he do? He goes about eliminating any potential weaknesses by burying himself in more and more armor. I can’t wait until one day he drives out in a literal tank and just starts dropping bombs on ECCW.

As for DTA it was great seeing Mama Diaz’s baby boy back in the ring, and getting to see a bit of that DTA action. Adonis, who has been traveling with the King of the Yukon as of late, got to re-unite with someone I assume he often yells encouragement at in the gym.

I don’t know a much about Dynamite Dan, but I love alliteration, and I enjoyed his ring gear.

Shreddz vs Bishop

Shreddz, aka former Club Bish member, took on Bishop once again. They’ve had many matches since they had their falling out, with Bish coming out on top. Tonight, however, Shreddz picked up the win when Sylum came out and distracted Bishop. I liked that Shreddz got the win, and it is a good way to give him momentum moving forward, and can kind of close the chapter on his Bish past for now.

I also liked the fact Bishop took on Shreddz because currently he is dealing with Sylum, a former GODS member, which is royally messing with his head. Normally Bish turns on people left and right, using them as nothing more than a bus transfer on the Skytrain to the top. But Sylum fighting him? That one hit too close to home for him, and really rattled him. Clearly he wants to destroy Shreddz because that was the last guy who “betrayed” him, as he wants to do everything in his power to hurt those he felt let him down.

So if you’ve ever done anything to upset Bishop, watch out, because he’s probably coming to find you as he looks for a way to plug up the hole in his heart. Carl Cunningham, you’ve been warned.

Also of note, Veronika Vice came out with Bishop, re-uniting Pop Culture, a stable with a god damn catchy theme song. Although Vice didn’t get involved in the match, she did get involved when King Khash came out and tried to woo her, which led to a great exchange:

18 Man Battle Royale for an ECCW Championship Title Shot

The easiest and best way to showcase a bunch of wrestling legends? A Battle Royale. This one had the extra intrigue of having a title shot on the line, which meant anyone could face El P for the title (although realistically it was probably only a few who might win).

My pick, Scotty Mac, was the last man eliminated as Moondog Manson punched his ticket to a shot at the ECCW title:

It was great seeing guys I’ve only recently started reading and hearing about (ECCW history is hard to come by, it’s not recorded in one spot, so most times you have to track people down to ask them about ‘the good old days’) and I am sure it was awesome for the wrestlers involved to see people cheering them on in an ECCW ring again.

As for the Royale itself, I promised I wouldn’t criticize, but I do have to say it was odd that at one point the refs got tossed in the ring and got the shit kicked out of them. That itself wasn’t odd, what was odd was that Andy Bird of all people was the one doing the most kicking AND he threw in an eye poke. I mean, kicking, sure, maybe he got carried away, but an eye poke? That’s some cold calculated shit right there. What’s your deal Bird??? Did Scotty Mac break you last week??

Other highlights of the Royale was the Beserker Barrage unleashed by Lucky Strike Flynn:

It was a fun match and one of the better Battle Royales I have seen. I normally hate Royales, so kudos to ECCW for making this one palatable. Royales normally are the zucchini to the Royal Rumble cucumber; bland and leaves you wondering why you didn’t just have the other one.

Dave Republic and Mike Democrat

Former ECCW owner Dave Republic showed up and gave a nice speech to the crowd, before introducing Dr. Luther and Abbadon, former AOD members. Now again, I didn’t know much about Luther. All I know is I have a friend who raved about his work and said he was a complete bad ass, and one of the best things in wrestling during his time in ECCW. And there’s not a lot out there, but I did find this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcV9sbaKxQQ

Now once you get past Dave Republic summoning his inner Doc Hayes delivery, you get to a Dr. Luther promo. And it’s awesome. I love it. He’s all in on this character and goes between screeching and lecturing and it has a very dark feel to it. For those who read my articles on ECCW you know I don’t like comedy too much in wrestling, as I like the dark serious stuff more, so this was right up my alley. I love the fact this kind of angle was used and it really made me wish I had seen Luther in his prime.

That being said, Luther still has a commanding presence. He owns the mic and he just has that ability to make people watch him to see what he’s going to do next. I would love to see more of Luther, even if he was just around in a non-wrestling role, as his presence alone adds something to a show.

At the end of the segment, Galaxy came out and it was good to see him go at Luther on the mic. It ended with Luther dropping Galaxy with a punch and Abbadon dry humping his leg, which I have to assume is a time honored tradition.

Ray Brooks and The Cunninghams vs The Ladies Choice, Skag Rollins and Wrathchild

The Cunninghams picked up a rare win, powered by Ray Brooks, as they beat the unlikely team of TLC, Skag Rollins and Wrathchild.

This match was a fun lighthearted affair, with one of the best moments of the night when Skag and Jack, both big men, attempted to kip-up off the ground, but instead could only roll around like turtles. Again, I’m not a huge comedy guy, but spots like this can work really well.

In other news, Carl’s strength was tested once again as he was unable to pull down TLC’s pants:

Ray Brooks, however, showed Carl how to do it:

For shame Carl, for shame.

My takeaway from the match is:

A) Ray Brooks didn’t have his cowboy hat which upset me greatly

B) Wrathchild is a god damn beast. Seeing him in person, he legitimately frightened me. Guy has an imposing presence. Also he has AMAZING arm armor. It’s so amazing I assume at one point Pete Powers will kill him and claim it for his own.

C) The Ladies Choice is quick on his feet. At one point TLC said he had a partner in the back and someone yelled “Yeah, a life partner”, which caused people to giggle. TLC rolled with it and retorted “Yeah, it’s 2016, you’re god damn right it’s a life partner” which I thought was super quick and clever.

El Phantasmo vs Moondog Manson

This match was El Phantasmo taking on grizzled veteran Moondog Manson in a hardcore match. It felt very much like a Mick Foley vs Randy Orton type of situation. And holy hell, this match was BANANAS.

I loved it. Pure and simple, I loved it. Take your choice of some of these vines:

 

The vines don’t even do the match justice. Like, you knew El P had to win, but the match was so good that at times you kind of wondered “Wait, what if Moondog gets the upset here…”

I’ve never seen Manson wrestle but he blew me away. Just his willingness to take a beating as well as dish out the punishment. He also had a very good “slightly psychotic” vibe to him in the ring, which only added to the extreme flavor of the match. These two told a great story of a veteran guy pushing the younger guy to prove he is worthy of being called Champ, and of making El P step up his game to beat another man at his own game.

It was also during this match that I realized El P is essentially Deadpool. Guy breaks the fourth wall constantly, he’s mouthy, and he looks like he’s constantly fighting an inner battle between two voices. He’s an anti-hero of sorts. Case in point, Sapperton has low ceilings, so when people began chanting for a ladder in the main event, El P shrugged it off. But because he’s Deadpool, he both wants to please the crowd, but also at the same time, admonish them for having a bad idea. So he sets up the ladder and yells “it’s not going to do anything” and proceeds to moonsault over it.

That is the El P I love. A guy who both wants to make you happy but doesn’t feel he should have to. He is torn in so many different directions and he lets off steam by making wisecracks about any situation he finds himself in. I laughed very hard about the ladder spot and it’s the reason why I gravitate towards him as a performer. On top of that, the dude can flat out wrestle. I keep waiting for a poor match from him so I can bury him, but when he has a bad match, odds are he’ll be the first one to point it out. The son of a bitch won’t even give me that moment.

The show ended with Dr. Luther coming out, teasing a battle with El Phantasmo, before “handing the torch” over to El P. It was a brilliant move, one that fused the past with the present, and gives El P more of a rub. This leaves El P’s character having beaten the past, the present, and been called the future by one of the greatest ECCW wrestlers of all time. It sets him up as a guy ECCW is going to have to search long and hard for to find somebody to beat him.

Awards

Match of the Night:

El P vs Moondog Manson

It was an awesome match that made the ECCW title feel important. It was also entertaining as hell to watch, and a nice homage to the “Extreme” in ECCW’s past.

Personality of the Night:

Dr. Luther

He leaves you wanting more. I would love to see him involved with ECCW in any capacity going forward.

Story-line of the Night:

Bish vs Sylum

It’s the only real clear lead-in to Brawl that there is, so even though it wins by default, it’s still a good tale. I’m greatly enjoying Bishop trying to deal with Sylum coming after him. This is where Bishop always shines, when he shows that vulnerability.

Move of the Night:

The Outlaw Bowlers

Come for the wrestling, stay for these guys moves.

Entrance of the Night:

POP (Vice and Bishop)

Song is super catchy and just proves once again there is probably none better in the business at picking entrance music than Bishop.

Wrestler of the Night:

All of them.

Final Thoughts:

It might seem cliche and cheesy for me to pump up this show. Maybe you think I’m being disingenuous or that I don’t really mean it. But I truly did love the show. The vibe in the air was something you had to be there to experience. I am sure there are egos and arguments in wrestling. It’s hard to imagine there not being some hurt feelings happening left and right in the wrestling business. But for one night there wasn’t a sign of any of that negative stuff anywhere. Everywhere you looked you saw wrestlers almost beaming just being there. Seeing guys and gals share war stories with each other as they renewed acquaintances. Getting to experience the live crowd showering them with adoration for all of the hard work they put in during their careers.

And I didn’t talk about Scotty much (mostly because I have been lucky enough to see him wrestle the last year) but full credit has to be given to him, Natural and Mary for putting this show together, and letting the history of ECCW shine through. Credit to the ring crew, the people behind the scenes, everyone who has made ECCW possible over the years. In my short time with ECCW I can tell you it feels very much like they are a family. There will be disagreements like all families have, but at the end of the day, there is such a strong bond that exists between them all.

So congratulations on twenty years ECCW. It was an honor to see even a small shadow of your past, and I hope there will be many more years to come.

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Wyatt Arndt Wyatt Arndt is a freelance writer who currently writes for The Province, Canucks Army, Canucks.com and Vancity Buzz. He's probably written in bathroom stalls near you as well. You can find him on Twitter where he is most likely making fun of Eddie Lack's goalie mask.
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