wrestling / Columns

ECW December To Dismember: Was It Really That Bad?

December 6, 2019 | Posted by Justin Watry
Big Show ECW December to Dismember Paul Wight Image Credit: WWE

Sometimes in wrestling, it is difficult to see the forest from the trees. What may seem pointless, horrible, laughable or bad story telling like The Firefly Funhouse promos debuting could turn into The Fiend Bray Wyatt as a dominant WWE Champion. Just as giving creative geniuses like Paul Heyman the head of a company could result in financial disaster and bankruptcy like ECW in 2001. We can’t use 20/20 hindsight in that very moment. However, looking back on things, it gives a little bit of perspective.

That brings us to my new column series. Tell me what you think…

ECW December To Dismember 2006: Was It Really That Bad?

INTRODUCTION: A quick Google search will tell you this has a near record low pay-per-view buy rate in all of WWE history and is often used as THE punchline for bad shows. Let’s rewind nearly 13 years to the day.

Opening Video – We actually start things off with a nice video. It highlights the brutality of the “extreme” Elimination Chamber as well as puts over the theme of the show. In terms of hokey WWE PPV posters, this one was pretty good too as a bonus. Live shot to the building and it looks like a packed house in Georgia. Not sure if it is but WWE production tends to always excel in showing an arena appearing full. Ring apron and stage look sweet and stand out in a good way. Joey Styles and Tazz are our two commentators for the evening. Two minutes in, so far so good. No complaints yet on the hype.

MNM vs. Hardyz – Yep, you all remember the classic MNM vs. Hardyz feud each and every Tuesday night on Sy-Fy, right? The two best tag teams in ECW going at it – made perfect sense. Oh wait, Jeff Hardy was Intercontinental Champion on Raw wrestling Johnny Nitro, and the other two were the other two. Basically, WWE knew they were screwed with this pay-per-view about a week beforehand and added this as the special attraction. They threw out some build last minute, but it was mainly sold on being a first time ever bout. Cool idea and anything with Melina in 2006 gets a thumbs up from yours truly. Scott Armstrong was the referee, long before he was in the pocket of The Authority. Good wrestling here with MNM often mocking the Hardyz’ patented offense and their ringside valet getting involved. Once Jeff Hardy tagged in, things picked up a bit, and we had an action packed closing stretch. No surprise, the brothers from North Carolina won following a double Swanton from Jeff. These two tandems would wrestle again down the road, so it was not exactly a one time only deal as was advertised. A little over twenty minutes. Solid start to the show.

Matt Striker vs. Balls Mahoney – This was held under “Striker’s Rules.” No hair pulling, no moves off the tope rope, etc. Pretty paint by the numbers heel mic work. The ref was John Cone, who looks extremely young (ha). Joey Styles does a nice job of explaining to us that Balls is fairly competent inside the squared circle due to an amateur background. He is more than just a chair swinging maniac and will adapt well to these so called ‘rules.’ Personally, I always thought there was indeed more to the Balls character than just the hardcore dude who acted like a goof. The fans seemed to back him with “Balls” chants, so he felt like a missed opportunity during this comeback era for ECW. Fans show some life by chanting Striker Sucks. Must hand it to him, the man was a great heel. Captain Caveman gets the victory after seven minutes, as the camera shows two guys chanting ECW in the crowd. Probably the only two guys in the crowd chanting ECW. Not a lot to this. Filler.

Backstage Segment – Sabu is shown backstage knocked out. Paul Heyman asks what the heck is going on and yells at all the doctors nearby. Non-kayfabe we would later find out that Sabu was a mess backstage and an overall pain in the new WWECW. This was punishment to take him out of the main event. I know WWE caught some flack for their handling of this, but I tend to back them here. If Sabu was truly unprofessional and living it up like it was still the old ECW, then forget it. Obviously, it was a new era and a new regime. He had to know that stuff would NOT be tolerated. Dating back to his arrest with RVD in the summer, he never did fully click. Mostly his own doing. As we head back to the live crowd, you can hear fans chanting “Bulls**t” which even Tazz points out. Yeah, not good. We later see him loaded on a stretcher.

Elijah Burke and Sylvester Turkay vs. Little Guido and Tony Mamaluke – The Elijah Experience was in full effect here. Months later, Vince McMahon was appear live on television and proclaim him to be a future champion. He would be the original chosen one, as would Drew McIntyre two years later. Neither has quite panned out (yet). In my opinion, the only experience fans cared about was Trinity’s entrance with the FBI. Mama mia! Why she was not on ECW more in 2006 is beyond me. Good grief. The whole point of this ever taking place was to showcase Terkay. Burke was his mouthpiece, and he was the monster. Not a bad idea in theory. Never executed well though. Hot tag to Mamaluke as the crickets go mild. Burke pins him a minute later and continues to lay waste on their small opponents after the bell as you hear one fan yelling “TNA” loudly. Probably the Muscle Buster from Terkay that did it. Indeed you can hear one fan yelling.

Daivari vs. Tommy Dreamer – What’s funny is that The Great Khali was actually on the ECW brand. He walked to the ring with Daivari. This was WWE’s way of giving ECW some star power, but it was short lived. For those that do not recall, Khali debuted on Smackdown after WrestleMania 22 in 2006 and destroyed The Undertaker fairly easily. It was quite the moment. In their first PPV meeting, he also handled The Deadman with ease. It was not until later on in the summer that Taker was able to even the score before moving on. With nobody quite sure what to do with Khali next, he was sent to ECW to do…nothing. A little over a month later, he’d show up on Raw in early 2007 to have a good run feuding with Kane, John Cena and ever got some WWE Title matches on PPV. Then it was off to Smackdown in summer 2007 and yes, a World Title win. Quite the roller coaster. Back to December To Dismember, Daivari was the man wrestling Tommy Dreamer, not Khali. This was your standard seven minute filler bout. Daivari wins with a hand full of tights, and Khali adds insult to injury by giving Dreamer a body press choke slam thingy at the top of the entrance ramp. OUCH.

Hardcore Holly Added – We can debate the Sabu controversy all day long. There are fans who will be on his side, and there will be those that see the side of the company. What made things worse though was his replacement for the main event was Hardcore Holly. Paul Heyman made the announcement to his face backstage, and Georgia let out a giant groan. Nobody cared about Holly as a potential ECW Title contender in late 2006. If there was a surprise entrant that fans would have popped for, this PPV may have been saved. Instead, there was no ace up the sleeve. It was just ‘Sabu is out, Holly is in.’

Kelly Kelly/Mike Knox vs. Kevin Thorn/Ariel – Yet another match clocking in around seven minutes, a theme of the night it seems. Kelly Kelly was falling for CM Punk at the time and made sure to wish him luck later on in the Extreme Elimination Chamber match. Not sure she should have said that right in front of Know but whatever. Jealous boyfriend story line and all. I know fans loved Kelly Kelly, but who are the faces here? Definitely not Mike Knox and definitely not Ariel and Thorn. Once the women tagged in, things stalled and got ugly in a hurry. Clearly the inexperience here. Do not worry though. The match was saved as Kelly went to tag Knox back in, and he walked out. There was your payoff. Ariel and Thorn win before making out in the ring. The vampires celebrate before The Sandman of all people makes the save! Crappy generic music. However, the fans got the cue and went wild. A rare highlight on this PPV. Thorn ate some cane shots all over and retreated up the ramp.

Interview – Rebecca (remember her?) interviewed Bobby Lashley before the main event backstage. We went to a video package showing Lashley getting screwed over and Paul Heyman messing with his ECW Title aspirations. Lashley says nothing is going to stop him to become ECW Champion. He never has been the best promo, but this was good. Fire up the fans and make your mission statement clear. Video for the Extreme Elimination Chamber airs. Our main event is up next, only 90 minutes into the pay-per-view…

Paul Heyman Promo – To stall even more time, we are treated to a Paul Heyman promo as he has his security with him. I think they were later revealed to be The Bashams? Am I correct in that? Either way, he pumps up the legacy of ECW, and it is very fitting in hindsight that this promo takes place. Later we would find out all the turmoil that took place behind the scenes that afternoon and Heyman’s subsequent exit from the company.

Extreme Elimination Chamber ECW Title Match – It’s an Elimination Chamber with weapons scattered throughout. Big Show with Paul Heyman by his side is the defending champion who dethroned Rob Van Dam back in the summer. The other five competitors are Test, Hardcore Holly, RVD, CM Punk, and Lashley. We start off with Holly and RVD. Later interviews tell us that Rob was already counting down the days of his contract expiring so he could leave. Do you blame him? They put the outside steel to good use early on, as the fans wake up. CM Punk’s pod is the first to open and wow! The live crowd erupts. Loudest ovation of the night. You had to think Heyman was smiling on the inside with that reaction. RVD is bleeding thanks to Punk ramming his head in a chair. Test enters and starts clawing RVD’s bloody head with a crowbar.

Five star frog splash to Punk and one, two, three! Mixed reaction to that. Punk is the first person eliminated, by the beloved ECW face. Not sure what the logic is. This is where the main event could have potentially been saved. I mean, why not make Punk last to the final two or even final three? I don’t think I agree with Heyman’s big bold idea of making him tap out Big Show in the opening seconds and running the table. Still, there had to be some kind of middle ground. Test turns on Holly and pins him…or doesn’t. No idea. The ref stopped counting but then started rolling Holly out anyways. Test and RVD left, with Show and Lashley still in their chambers. A giant elbow drop from test onto RVD from the top of a chamber is good for yet another elimination. Yep, Punk and RVD are two of the first three gone. I guess this was done to make room for making Lashley’s moment all about him. Similar to Daniel Bryan being eliminated early from the 2015 Royal Rumble to make room for Roman Reigns to get the spotlight. Same idea, same result.

Lashley is out of his pod next and immediately has to fight off Heyman’s security. Test gets a spear minutes later and is history. So long! Now we play the waiting game of Lashley and Show going head to head. Heyman tries to give his giant champ a pep talk before the pod opens. Something tells me that isn’t going to work. Show was finishing up his current contract with the company, and clearly WWE had big plans for Lashley in the near future. There was only one direction for this showdown. After a couple of power moves by both, Lashley won the ECW Title with a big spear. He posed with the title belt on top of the ramp as fireworks went off to finish the show. Predictable and got a decent reaction but not what was going to keep this entire brand from sinking. ECW needed much more than your basic ho hum feel good ending.

SUMMARY: Look, ECW December To Dismember sucked. Okay? There is no chance this could have been purchased at full price and be considered worth while. Back in 2006 or now in 2019. There was just TOO MUCH FILLER. Some filler on pay-per-view is fine if it serves some kind of purpose. Literally wasting time because only two matches were announced ahead of time is unacceptable. Not only that but this PPV was two hours and fifteen minutes! Technically, they did not use enough filler! Seriously, another match or two could have been tossed in there to get near the three hour mark. Then of course was the main event debacle and choice to go with Lashley over RVD or CM Punk to get fans back on the side of ECW. That being said, there was a cool first time ever opener, a somewhat historic main event, the main championship of the brand changing hands and well, a whole heck of a lot to discuss afterwards. Good and bad. I’d say a solid C- or D grade would be fair. Make no mistake, it was bad but…was it really THAT bad?