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July 9, 2009
– John Cannon

After covering ECW last week I have to admit to being less than thrilled about sitting through another episode.  While not initially a fan of
the original ECW, I had noticed in recent months that the brand had become more exciting than it had been in years.  Just like that
though, you had some trades and all of a sudden ECW looked like the spot in the back of your pantry where all the unwanted canned
vegetables get lost in limbo.

This week’s ECW episode on SyFy (yes I spelled that correctly…obviously some sort of promotional strategy by the network – who
knows, who cares) was presented on a different night at a different time.  I never bothered to research why the change from 10 pm
Tuesday to 7 pm Thursday this week.  I just assumed that either a) ECW didn’t want to try and compete with the Michael Jackson
memorial post reports or b) the network had already scheduled a Twilight Zone marathon well in advance.  No matter the reason, I was
hoping that I would actually see some wrestling this time around.   One thing was for sure though, the main event between Christian and
Vladimir Kozlov to determine a #1 contender for the ECW Championship at “Night of Champions� at least offered a glimmer of
promise.

--Nikki Bella (w/ Brie Bella) vs. Katie Lea Burchill—

After last week’s mini spat on the ill-advised Abraham Washington show it surely seemed like perhaps twins sisters Nikki and Brie
Bella would soon be pitted against each other but on this eve solidarity prevailed with Brie tagging along to support sis Nikki as she took
on the larger more powerful Katie Lea Burchill.  UNFORTUNATELY for the sisters they started off doing the one thing they probably
shouldn’t...speak.  After a cheeky short play on the fact that they are twins (thanks, I was wondering about that…) Burchill hit the ring
and in mere minutes sent Nikki flying out of the ring.  Once back in the ring Nikki fell victim to a wicked backbreaker and near-fall.  
Eventually Nikki elbowed her way back and surprisingly pulled off some great rope walking and a sweet flying drop kick.  This bit of
momentum was short-lived though as Burchill sent Nikki over the top rope and hard on to the floor.  Nikki was brought back in to the ring
by way of a nasty
neckbreaker off the ropes before being kicked back onto the floor.  The view from the floor blocked just enough for the twins to switch
places leaving a fresh Brie (hmmm…cheesy) free to enter the ring and plant Burchill face first into the mat for the win.

Winner – Brie Bella

--“The Gold Standard� Shelton Benjamin vs. Yoshi Tatsu—

After some discussion between Striker and Mathews about the “New Superstar Initiative� aka “Strategy to replace talent sent
over to RAWâ€� a review clip of last week’s match between Shelton Benjamin and Yoshi Tatsu was shown.  Imagine my excitement
(or lack thereof) as I realized that this was simply a lead-up to a rematch.  Fortunately for me the two would actually wrestle this time.

After a quick flash of Yoshi martial arts prowess to start the match, Benjamin powered his way out of a tie-up and into position to get
Tatsu in a very nice fireman’s carry takedown, something rarely seen in this day and age of wrestling entertainment.  Immediately
Benjamin played the aggressor with punches to the head.  Tatsu caught a glimpse of momentum but was blocked trying to hit a splash
on Benjamin.  From there Benjamin worked on keeping his opponent grounded.  Tatsu managed to catch Benjamin for a pin attempt and
just missed on a high kick as Benjamin ducked and bailed to the floor.  After a couple of missed rope exchanges Benjamin returned to
working on the head of Tatsu eventually clamping on a reverse chin lock which drew Yoshi chants from the audience.  Tatsu then
impressed with a nice rolling pin combo followed by a face kick for another near pinfall.  Benjamin managed to gain a bit of composure
sending Tatsu into the corner but missing with a splash attempt.  This lead to an incredible springboard spinning heel kick by Tatsu, and
another close kickout by Benjamin.  After another set of missed exchanges Benjamin hit his Pay Dirt finisher for the win leaving the two
ECW superstars 1-1 in head-to-head competition.

Winner – Shelton Benjamin

An interesting promo was shown spotlighting Russian Vladimir Kozlov.  I guess the clip was meant to try and pump up the main event
between Kozlov and Christian  and was very reminiscent of the training clips of Russian Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.  This was followed by the
Raw rebound which incorrectly was listed as taking place “Last Night.â€�  The rebound was a look back at the John Cena / Triple H
match to face Randy Orton at “Night of Championsâ€� including the outcome.  Sadly, a great match that was killed due to the
ending.  But that’s for another review.

--Ezekial Jackson vs. Jack Meridol—

While Ezekial Jackson is being touted as part of the “new Superstar Initiative�, WWE fans have seen the massive wrestler before
courtesy of his role as The Brian Kendrick’s bodyguard on Smackdown in 2008 eventually making his wrestling debut last October
squashing Super Crazy.  A short stint teaming with Kendrick followed with his final Smackdown match, a loss to Jeff Hardy, occurring this
past April.  Now part of ECW Jackson once again showed up in powerful fashion rolling over the hapless Jack Meridol, who just like last
week’s “who the hell is that guyâ€� wrestler Oliver John, was listed in results on the ECW website as a “local competitor.â
€�  You gotta feel sorry for these “local competitors.â€�  They get zero respect and usually end up being carried back to the “local
competitorâ€� locker room.  (Probably the equivalent of Vince McMahon’s office on the recent Donald Trump episode.)  But anyway,
Jackson started off by pounding on
Meridol then tossing the poor guy off the ropes and into the air.  Jackson slapped on a bear hug before sending Meridol back into the
turnbuckle and tossing the guy around the ring like a rag doll.  Jackson then smacked Meridol with a wicked clothesline on the way to
finally putting the “local competitor’ of  his misery courtesy of a Modified Yurinagi.  If I’m making it sound like Jackson broke a
sweat I must apologize because honestly, the only thing he broke was Meridol.

Winner – Ezekial Jackson

Just before the commercial break there was an odd exchange between a girl who fell off a ladder and a guy, who looked an awful lot like
The Hurricane, rescuing her before her four-foot plunge of death.  Hmmm.

Next up was the return of the Abraham Washington show and to be brutally honest, I can’t believe the segment survived long enough
to even make it to a second week after watching last week’s debut with the Bella Twins.  This guy came out, to a barrage of boos, all
pimped out talking about how his ratings are “higher than Snoop Dogg in a hot air balloon.â€� Really?  For starters, this guy can
barely talk and I’m supposed to believe that he gets good ratings?  NOT!  Well the good news, if there could be any, was that his
guest this time was ECW champion Tommy Dreamer which brought a huge pop from the audience highlighted by chants of “ECW.â
€�  Yes, Dreamer is old school and it’s nice that after a couple of years of Dreamer having to job out to every crappy wannabee
wrestler in the WWE Universe that the guy is finally getting his due respect.  Washington started off with some pretty lame fat jokes about
Dreamer but eventually Dreamer shot back
replying “about as good as your talk show is going for you� when asked by Washington “how’s that gastric bypass
surgery?â€�  Dreamer did pay respects with shout outs to some of original ECW alumni and especially got a huge cheer when
mentioning Eddie Guerrero.   When asked who Dreamer thought would win the Christian / Kozlov match the ECW champ responded by
predicting that Christian would win which drew Vladimir Kozlov out for in in-ring stare down prompting Washington to predict Kozlov as
Dreamer’s opponent for “Night of Champions.�

--Vladimir Kozlov  vs. Christian—

With Dreamer planted at the announce desk and Christian finally in the ring the match to determine the challenger for Dreamer’s title
was set to take place.  This match was a contrast of styles featuring Kozlov’s power taking on Christian’s speed and agility.  
Kozlov eventually pulled Christian over into a fireman’s carry (second one of the night! Unbelieveable!)  The big Russian then used
his knees to grind Christian down but was thwarted when Christian escaped out the back door.  Christian then pulled the ropes to send
a charging Kozlov out to the floor,  Kozlov finally managed to get back into the ring by using his head.  Literally.  Kozlov then started to pour
on the power working on Christian’s back by use of a rack backbreaker and overhead slam nearly gaining the pinfall on two separate
occasions.  After a few out of ring exchanges Christian managed to uncover one of the turnbuckles before Kozlov laid on a great
Guillotine Slam gaining a two-count.  Christian then moved out of the way of Kozlov who ran head first into the exposed  turnbuckle
allowing Christian to drop Kozlov with the Killswitch for the 1-2-3 and a chance to meet ECW champ Dreamer  July 26 at “Night of
Champions.�.

Winner - Christian

While I have to admit that this week’s ECW show was miles above the previous episode, there were still points that left me baffled
and curious.  The whole Abraham Washington segment is not only a complete dud, but also very much more Raw style than ECW.  Iâ
€™ve seen bad indie ring announcers with more charisma than Washington.  And the whole “put a new guy over by having him
squash the local competitorâ€� thing to me is an insult to the intelligence of just about every viewer and fan of ECW.  It worked in the old
days only because it was the norm for TV.  In today’s wrestling it just comes off as a sideshow to all of the regular “Superstar vs.
Superstarâ€� matches.  While I was skeptical about the Bella Twins (and still deem it pointless) this week’s match had me at least
hoping for future promise.  It’s been a while since the switcharoo tactic has been used and I’d forgotten how fun it could be.

While the overall show couldn’t hold a candle to this week’s Raw (or even Superstars which aired just a few hours later) the
improvement over the course of a week is enough to peak my interest in where the WWE will take the ECW brand.  There’s potential,
only time will tell if it is reached.

Overall Winner this Week: Shelton Benjamin – Benjamin rarely disappoints and this week his in-ring work remained solid.  Whether
Yoshi Tatsu will turn into a good rival for “The Gold Standard� remains to be seen but for now it looks like fans of high flying
wrestling will have something to look forward to in ECW.

Overall Loser this Week: “Local Competitor� Jack Meridol – This guy just needs to get back to his job at the “local�
grocery store and enjoy life with his “local� friends.