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June 6, 2005 Observer Newsletter: The future of ECW, Simon Inoki named NJPW president

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The return of the ECW name, spurred on by the strong DVD sales of "The Rise and Fall of ECW," have led to talks about the future of the brand, or at least the spirit of the brand, more than four years after it died.

Will this be the final chapter for ECW, the beginning of a resurrection, or something in the middle?

The two shows in question are Shane Douglas' "Hardcore Homecoming" show on 6/10 at the ECW Arena, which will likely more capture the spirit of ECW, and the WWE's ECW One Night Stand show on 6/12, which will be the better wrestling show, but will include many WWE characters who never had anything to do with ECW.

Both shows will feature heavy juice, tables, ladders, barbed wire and promos from guys telling the fans how much they love them and that they are the reason ECW is still alive. The Douglas show, unlimited by three-hour time constraints and bizarre WWE politics, and held in the building the company made famous, will likely have the best promos and the best real emotion. It will probably have closer to the real atmosphere. But the wrestling, at the top will be suspect, and it may end up being a sad show to watch. Terry Funk is almost 61, Douglas is 43 and Sabu is 42. All are physically racked with injuries. Sabu has been inactive for 10 months and was near death at one point. Douglas rarely wrestles, and Funk is only a few months removed from heart surgery. Worse, their main event is recreating a three-way match from February 5, 1994, which put ECW and the term "three-way dance" (the term actually was created after the match, but was based on the match, and it became an ECW trademark and popularized the style of match all over the world) into wrestling lexicon. That match went 60:00, and while it wouldn't hold up on video watching today (which is immaterial because nobody goes into the ring thinking how we can use our ESP to figure out what will be in vogue for people watching 11 years later so we can do a match that "holds up" as opposed to a match that means something the day it's done), it, in hindsight, was one of the most important matches of the past 20 years. It put a company on the map, and it made Douglas and Sabu into significantly bigger stars (Douglas, perhaps more for the post-match face-to-face interview with Funk, who was a legend in wrestling nearly two decades before the match ever took place). It springboarded the company's growth to whatever it became, which to this day is a hotly debated issue. But there is no way to live up to the legend of this match, although the audience will likely be well aware of that, but this really could be ugly. Other items, like the return of The Eliminators, will put two guys together who haven't teamed in eight years and are for the most part out of the industry. It's pure nostalgia, and in wrestling, that can work and already has financially, but it can also be ugly for those watching later on tape.

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