This Sunday marks the third WWE Extreme Rules pay-per-view. The show is an extension of the WWE/ECW One Night Stand series. One Night Stand may be gone, but it is certainly not forgotten. Today I look back at the top five moments in One Night Stand’s short history.
Sure ECW may reappear every few years in a bastardized form, but the Extreme Championship Wrestling that most of us knew and loved is a distant memory. The closest reprisal to capture the spirit of ECW was arguably One Night Stand. With that said, let’s take a look back at some of the most exciting and memorable moments in One Night Stand history.
The Top Five Moments in ECW/WWE One Night Stand history.
Rob Van Dam won his opportunity to challenge for the title by winning Money in the Bank at WrestleMania. Van Dam had been a crowd favorite from his first day in the WWE. However, the politics and Rob’s lack of browning his nose kept him from getting a push that correlated with his ability to draw fans.
Surprisingly, an ex-WWE writer wrote a revealing fact about Rob Van Dam. When the WWE split brands, Van Dam was allegedly the original choice to become the SmackDown champion. Unfortunately for RVD fans, maneuvering behind the scenes switched those plans to Brock Lesnar.
A sign in the crowd that read, “If Cena wins we riot,” said it all. The fans booed John Cena like never before the second he walked through the curtain. The crowd went just as crazy for RVD’s entrance as the fans in Philly did for Hulk Hogan when I saw him in 1985 at the Spectrum. Keep in mind that the Hammerstein Ballroom only sits a couple thousand people, so the reaction was multiplied more so than most big shows.
The match was fantastic and the wrestlers played to the crowd like a tee. Cena was a true professional and had a lot of fun with the fan reaction. RVD of course soaked up the moment. RVD won the match with a controversial Paul Heyman 1-2-3. Cena’s main rival, Edge interfered as well to set up the win. I don’t think that the WWE will ever be able to capture this kind of moment for years to come, if ever again.
2 – Paul Heyman’s promo (WWE One Night Stand 2005). Paul Heyman was the booker of ECW when it went Extreme and has been seen as the anti-establishment for years. Heyman could have walked out that night in a WCW t-shirt and the fans still would have gone crazy for their God. There were so many rumors of inner-turmoil in setting up the show that just about everyone wondered what wrestling’s evil madman was going to say.
What made this so great is that most WWE fans have never heard anything like this before. For ECW fans like me, we had heard these Heyman rants many times and loved every one of them. But the gravity of the impact is that fans unfamiliar with the “ECW” Paul Heyman were probably shocked yet curious.
The highlight of the long rant was Heyman’s comments on the Edge-Matt Hardy-Lita situation. Hardy wasn’t even under contract to the WWE at the time. Most of the fans knew the situation with the three, but it was never truly acknowledged up to this point. Once Heyman acknowledged the yellow elephant in the room, the place went absolutely crazy and made this one of the greatest moments in One Night Stand history.
3 – Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka (One Night Stand 2005). In the ring, these two guys stole the show that night. The amazing part of this is that neither was under contract to the WWE at the time. In Awesome’s case, he had been under contract but never given the opportunity like this to shine. In Tanaka’s case, he was an ECW legend who finally had his chance to shine on a big stage. To the fans, this was one of their favorite ECW series coming back to life.
Both men had absolutely brutal ECW matches back in the original ECW. Yet, nobody was sure what kind of shape both would be in on this day. The two went out there and had absolute magic in the ring. The match was fast, hard, stiff, and absolutely brutal. The match ended any confusion between WWE’s version of hardcore and ECW’s version of hardcore.
I spoke to Mike Awesome about this match on my radio show before he passed away. I asked Mike whether he realized that he and Tanaka had just stolen the show following their match.
4 – Vince McMahon defends the ECW title against Bobby Lashley in a Street Fight Match (One Night Stand 2007). To ECW fans, this was truly a slap in the face. Of course the real slap in the face would come the following the year when the show was headlined by John Cena vs. Great Khali. Vince McMahon continued his feud with Bobby Lashley from WrestleMania and the two wrestled on the show in their first-ever Street Fight.
The match was better than you’d expect in that it was entertaining. The match featured interference from both Shane McMahon and Umaga. In the “ECW moment” of the match, Shane flew high in the air and crashed his elbow through Bobby Lashley onto a table outside of the ring. Lashley would recuperate and spear Vince for a 1-2-3 and win the ECW title.
The idea of Vince McMahon defending the ECW title on One Night Stand was appalling to most original ECW fans. Seeing Vince stroll into the ring with the title truly did make it a memorable moment. It would have been something to see if this show had been held in the Hammerstein Ballroom. The next night Vince McMahon “died” on RAW, while our hopes for the new ECW died months earlier.
5 – Joey Styles opens up One Night Stand (One Night Stand 2005). Like him or not, Joey Styles is the voice of ECW. For many wrestling fans, Styles is to them what Gordon Solie is to fans over the age of 40 from Florida and Georgia. It almost never happened, and Paul Heyman wrote about it in the Heyman Hustle.
“Even a few weeks before the show, I was writing “announcers” because the decision still hadn’t been made to finalise the deal with Joey. Trivia note, by the way: The backup plan was to go with Jim Ross.”
Seeing Joey Styles in the middle of the Hammerstein Ballroom for the first time in over four years was breathtaking. Fans of the original ECW all had chills hearing Joey open up the show. In retrospect, it is amazing think that Heyman had to fight for something that should have been the easiest decision going into the show.
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