The Match That Made Me A Wrestling Fan (and why it’s a bad one…) By John Brecko
via wrestling edge.com
In my first pro-wrestling article (every 5 star NXT match ranked), I said that the match that made me a fan of pro-wrestling is the worst match possible that could have made anyone a fan.
If you are already a fan, you will understand why. If you are not, I will give background on why this match was bad, so don’t worry.
This match was…Rob Van Dam vs Big Show on July 4, 2006 for the ECW World Championship.
I could feel the soul of every wrestling fan reading this shrink in size just a little bit as soon as I typed that last sentence…
For those that do not understand why this match is terrible, let me start by giving background on ECW.
It stands for Extreme Championship Wrestling. What makes it “extreme” is that there are no disqualifications in any of their matches, meaning wrestlers can use whatever weapon they would like to hurt their opponent.
If you have seen wrestling, you may have seen someone use a chair, or put someone through a table from time to time. Weapons like those were regularly used in ECW matches.
Weapons that were also commonly used were barbed wire, thumbtacks and anything that be could set on fire (fun place to work…their programming is not for the squeamish, but you probably already figured that out).
ECW never became as mainstream as WWE, but it had a rabid and loyal fan base that kept it alive for eight years, even if it could not go mainstream and financially sustain itself.
ECW ended operations in 2001 and WWE bought the rights to ECW.
WWE put on a pay-per-view called “ECW: One Night Stand” in 2005 that featured many wrestlers that worked for the promotion, including Tommy Dreamer, Sandman, Balls Mahoney, Chris Jericho, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (yes, he wrestled for ECW at one point) and many others.
Many great wrestling matches took place that night as well as a couple violent ones and the pay-per-view was a huge success.
One Night Stand ran again in 2006 and the storyline going into it was a revived ECW standing against WWE. It featured matches such as Rey Mysterio vs Sabu, John Cena vs Rob Van Dam, Mick Foley and Edge vs Terry Funk and Tommy Dreamer.
ECW was given a television spot on Sci-Fi and WWE’s third brand, but was not the same.
Their matches now had disqualifications and many WWE wrestlers would constantly wrestle on the brand with only a few ECW originals being there for the reboot. All of the ECW originals would eventually leave the company before ECW was replaced with NXT in 2010.
Rob Van Dam vs Big Show was a month into the ECW television show, which was already failing miserably.
Now that you have the background behind ECW, put yourself into the shoes of an 11 year old watching wrestling for the first time.
The champion going into the match as the good guy in Rob Van Dam against the evil, gigantic 500 pound seven foot big show.
Rob Van Dam tried to use his speed and quickness to overcome his bigger and stronger opponent, but Big Show would use his power to try and pound Van Dam into the ground.
When the Big Show was in control, the crowd would boo and chant “boring”, which you would think makes sense if you’re 11 years old.
Van Dam would eventually land his finisher, the five star frog splash. Paul Heyman, the authority figure on ECW at the time came out to count the pinfall because Big Show punched out the referee after he couldn’t put Van Dam away with his finisher, the Chokeslam.
He counted 1…he counted 2…and then stopped counting.
Van Dam, confused got up to ask Heyman why he did that. Heyman got out of the ring and Big Show would get up and blindside Van Dam by hitting him in the head with a steel chair.
Big Show would follow up with a chokeslam on the chair and Heyman came back in the ring to count the pinfall.
The Big Show was the new ECW Champion and the fans were furious. By the time the show went off the air, the wrestling ring was littered with trash the fans had thrown in the ring.
Looking at it from the perspective of a 25 year old man, I see the match that came the closest to causing a riot that I have ever seen.
Looking at it as an 11 year old, I saw an evil giant screw another man out of his championship and I kept watching so I could see someone beat him and take a title from him that shouldn’t be his in the first place.
The hatred people had for the story made it seem like it was for the performer and it felt real to 11 year old John Brecko, so it drew him in and made him a wrestling fan to this day.
To this day, I don’t know anyone that has been made a fan with a worse match, but despite how bad it was, it worked for me and when I learned more about pro wrestling as I got older, I grew to appreciate good wrestling and have seen wrestling get better and better year after year.
Despite how bad that was, I’m glad that was what made me a wrestling fan because I appreciated everything that came after (it all seemed better as well in comparison too xD).