Obviously 2020 has been a trying year for most of us, and it’s probably led a lot of us to experiencing a very different type of holiday season than we are normally used to. I hope you’re all keeping well wherever you are and that this review can give you some kind of distraction from what’s going on in the world for a little bit at least.
This show was requested by JLAJRC, and at the bottom of the review I’ll give everyone a chance to suggest shows for the next Stinker review, which will happen on the 30th of January if all goes well, so stay tuned for that at the end.
For those who haven’t read one of my Stinker reviews, they’re basically what you’d think they are, as I review a show that has a reputation for being really bad for whatever reason and ask the immortal question of whether it’s actually a Stinker or not. It’s not too dissimilar from what the fine folk over at Wrestle Crap do, except I’m going to give the show a chance to prove it’s not awful before deciding one way or another.
ECW was WWE’s first attempt at dabbling with a third brand, which it continues today with NXT, with it lifting the ECW name from the dearly departed former company. The likes of Paul Heyman and Tommy Dreamer were involved in the rebirth of the brand, but ultimately Vince McMahon was the one calling the shots and the early days of the brand were a real hodgepodge that resulted in a product that wasn’t true to the original company whilst also not really presenting anything exciting or interesting that would really differentiate it from the other two WWE brands at the time, outside of adjusting the entrance way to give the arena a cosier feel.
December to Dismember was in a lot of ways the last stand for not just the brand in its current form but also for the existing creative crew, as they were given 3 hours of pay per view time to fill despite not having a roster that was really equipped for it and also having to deal with the fact pretty much every guy even approaching a genuine star on the brand had been shoehorned into one match, leaving the already threadbare roster even thinner.
Could ECW defy the odds and still put on a fun event? Let’s watch on and find out!
The event is emanating from well-known ECW stronghold Augusta, Georgia on the 3rd of December 2006
Calling the action are Joey Styles and Tazz
Joey Mercury and Johnny Nitro w/ Melina Vs Matt and Jeff Hardy
Joey already makes our first botch of the night, saying we’ll crown a new ECW Champion tonight, which kind of writes off Big Show before the bout even begins. MNM had split up earlier in the year but they got back together for this show so that they could take on The Hardyz, mainly because the ECW roster was pretty thin and they needed some extra warm bodies to fill out a pay per view telecast. Jeff was the IC Champ at the time and had been feuding with Nitro for quite a few months over the belt, so this match is kind of a continuation of that feud. Things would heat up a bit later in the year when Matt accidentally broke Mercury’s face with a ladder, thus leading to more matches.
The Hardyz do a traditional babyface shine in the early going, with MNM selling it well and the commentators having fun calling it. The crowd digs it too and likes the action on display, as these two teams are good at their respective roles. The crowd does their best to live up to the ECW crowds of yore by suggesting that Melina might occasionally show people a good time in exchange for access to a certain illicit substance. Ahem. She screeches and yells following that in order to get booed and kill the chant off. Matt actually busts out the Splash Mountain Bomb on Nitro, but he gets distracted by Melina and that leads to the cut off from Mercury. The crowd suggests that Melina may have picked up a certain ailment as a result of one too many adventures in the bedroom, which leads the WWE sound crew to turn down the audio.
MNM work some heat on Matt following that, and it all looks good as MNM were a very good heel team and The Hardyz were a fantastic babyface act. They’ve thus far kept the crowd invested here and it’s been a solid opening bout for the most part. Jeff eventually gets the hot tag and runs wild with some nice stuff, which leads to a bunch of dives and the crowd actually chants “EC-Dub” from that. Bless those in this Augusta crowd who are actually trying to react like an ECW audience would, I appreciate the effort. The only critique I could really send the bouts way is that it goes on a tad too long, with Jeff also taking a heat segment at one stage.
Hey, I’m all for the extended Rock and Roll Express double heat double hot tag stuff, but you kind of need to earn that in the modern era by having a feud that’s over enough to justify it, and they don’t really have that here. It’s a first time meeting and they’ve barely had time to heat up the rivalry, so this feels a bit much for the opening part of the story. The work is all very good and the crowd doesn’t turn on it, but they are notably less invested once the second heat segment starts as they were all primed for a hot finishing sequence and don’t really want to go back to more heat.
Some of the false hot tag spots are done really well, with Mercury pulling Matt off the apron at one stage just as Jeff is about to tag out. These four guys clearly know their tag wrestling you have to give them that. Jeff eventually manages to hit both heels with The Whisper In The Wind and finally tags in Matt, who does a nice hot tag segment on MNM. We head into the finishing stretch following that, with both teams getting some nice near falls and the action continuing to be good fun. Melina gets involved and takes an accidental shot from Nitro to finally take her out of proceedings and that leads to the Swanton onto both heels for the three count.
WINNERS: MATT & JEFF HARDY
Went a bit long, but aside from that it was a good match and a fun way to start out the show
Joey and Tazz talk about history being made tonight in the Extreme Elimination Chamber (Oh it will be lads, but perhaps not for the reason you think) and send to a promo from Rob Van Dam. He says he understands that he’s going to get hurt tonight, but the risks are worth the prize.
Matt Striker Vs Balls Mahoney
This highlights the lack of ECW squad depth, as these two guys aren’t bad or anything but it’s a pretty steep drop between them and the guys we just saw in the previous match. Striker cuts a cheap heat promo prior to the match, teasing that his match with be an Extreme Rules match, but then says it will instead be a match where the rules are Extremely enforced. Striker is a good insincere heel and his teacher gimmick is fine as a lower card character, but it’s really out of place in a pay per view setting like this, especially in a match with zero storyline or hype behind it.
They have the slovenly Balls out wrestle Striker in the early going, which is all building to Striker getting a cheap shot and turning it into a brawl, which works for his heel character that he’d complain about brawling and cheating in his promo, only to then do it himself at the first opportunity. This actually succeeds in getting a “Striker Sucks” for a bit at one stage, which is more heat than I expected this match to have so they can hang their hats on that at least. As a match this has been fine to be honest, with Striker being a good heel and Balls selling well during the heat.
Striker targets Balls’ left arm, which limits the power in his punches, but he makes a comeback with a side slam and then heads up top, which Striker said would be banned in the pre-match promo, and that allows Striker to shake the ropes and go to a Fujiwara arm bar. This would work well as a finish with the duplicitous Striker going against his own rules all match only to then win thanks to them, but Balls manages to survive and then makes the comeback before finishing with the Ball Breaker for the three.
WINNER: BALLS MAHONEY
That was such an odd ending, as the whole match seemed to be building to Striker abusing his own rules to win, thus setting up an Extreme Rules match down the line where Balls could get some vengeance with a chair shot, but instead they just had Balls overcome Striker’s deviousness in the very first outing, thus essentially ending the program. I mean, they might have tried to go back to this (Maffew would be the one to ask on that front as he did an excellent collection of reviews for the entire ECW on Sci-Fi run) but if they did it would be pretty hollow seeing as the face had already won the opening match in the feud by beating the heel at his own game. The match itself was fine, just basic under card stuff that would work on a TV taping or a House Show, but for pay per view you expect more
Sabu has been attacked backstage, but we don’t know by whom. That means he is out of the Main Event (The lucky bastard). The crowd is not pleased about that. I’m not sure on the backstory as to why they took Sabu out of the match or whether it went anywhere. I’m guessing not.
Elijah Burke and Sylvester Terkay Vs Tony Mamaluke and Little Guido w/ Trinity
Terkay had been over in Japan doing a Bruiser Brody cosplay act as The Predator, but they decided to play up his legitimate amateur wrestling credentials during his WWE run and paired him up with former boxer Elijah Burke. It was weird that they put them on ECW actually seeing as that brand had no tag belts and it wasn’t like the Smackdown tag scene was on fire with the likes of Chad Wicks and Tank Toland, The Gymini, and Deuce & Domino at the time. Trinity looks great here and I think they missed the boat on her actually, as her previous history as a stunt actor meant that she could do some really impressive high spots and they could have found a better use for her other than managing The FBI.
Neither Burke or Terkay are what I’d describe as being good wrestlers, but Burke has lots of charisma and Terkay has an imposing look, so they definitely had something to offer here and The FBI are a good choice of team for them to face, as they can work and also do a good job at making their opponents look good. The FBI gets a bit of a shine on Burke, but once Terkay comes in the party is over, as he works Mamaluke over. It’s so odd to me that Terkay got over in Japan being this crazy Wildman, but WWE brought him in and just made him a generic power guy who did the occasional MMA styled strikes. Him being this unchained nutter who was only just getting kept under control by Burke would have been an interesting act and the likes of London and Kendrick would have probably gotten some good matches out of them.
The crowd doesn’t really care that much about this one, outside of the odd scattered “FBI” chants, and the match is mostly a showcase for the heels, as they control most of things following the opening moments, with Burke’s stuff actually looking okay and Terkay’s looking more restrained than anything. The FBI get a bit of a comeback and actually manage to take Terkay down to a knee by double dropkicking him, but that doesn’t last long and Burke pins Mamaluke with the Elijah Experience.
WINNERS: BURKE & TERKAY
Almost a Squash for the heels really. Again, yet another match that would be fine on TV but not even close to being pay per view quality
Terkay gives Guido a Muscle Buster post-match for good measure and some fans chant “TNA” in response as Samoa Joe was getting a push in TNA at the time.
Sabu is loaded into an ambulance whilst RVD and CM Punk look worried. Can I go with him so I don’t have to watch anymore of this show? And shouldn’t those two be happy that a Homicidal, Suicidal, Genocidal mad man now won’t be in the chamber with them?
Daivari w/ The Great Khali Vs Tommy Dreamer
Daivari cuts the usual angry promo in Farsi for cheap heat. Khali wasn’t long for ECW and they’d soon move him over to Raw for a feud with John Cena. Dreamer gets a bit of a pop for his entrance at least, as you have to think he was pretty disheartened by how the ECW brand was going by this stage. The people in the crowd who are actually invested in being at an ECW show chant “EC-Dub” for Tommy, but their will might soon be sapped as this show continues.
This is another TV calibre match in a series of them, as there’s nothing especially wrong with the wrestling and they tell the simple story of the babyface Tommy having the better of Daivari in a fair fight and the heel Daivari needing to cheat and use Khali as a way to get himself into contention. It’s a story as old as time and they execute it just fine, with Khali pulling down the ropes to low bridge Tommy at one stage, which leads to the referee sending him to the back to a pop from the crowd.
This would seem like the perfect opportunity for Tommy to win the match now that Daivari’s back-up has gone and we have a fair fight, with Khali then coming down to attack him afterwards so that the feud can continue. We don’t get that though, as they have Daivari work some basic heat with chin locks and the like, building to Tommy making a comeback. He doesn’t end up winning though, as Daivari gets a roll up with tights grab in order to steal the victory.
The work was fine, with both men knowing how to play their respective roles and nothing being botched, but it was yet another middling match from the ECW crew when they needed something to pick the crowd up after two nothing matches. Any momentum that was built from that good opener has all but been lost now. They are in desperate need of a wild ECW style brawl where New Jack jumps off a high place or something
Dreamer tries to attack Daivari post-match, but he ends up taking a Tree Slam from Khali onto the metal staging, which leads to him selling that he can’t feel his feet. That was a darn nasty bump for Tommy to take on such a middling show as this. Again, how hard would it have been for Tommy to win and then get jumped by Khali as he backed up the ramp? Tommy does a great sell job by pulling himself to his feet and the crowd responds. There might honestly be no better a downtrodden babyface than Tommy Dreamer. He’s just great at getting killed but still retaining some semblance of dignity by dragging himself back up to get killed once more.
Paul Heyman is backstage and asks Hardcore Holly to be in the chamber match later as Sabu’s replacement. That means the Holly Vs Sandman is now off the card. Joey teases that Heyman always wanted Holly in the match to begin with, thus suggesting chicanery might be afoot.
Mike Knox and Kelly Kelly Vs Kevin Thorn and Ariel
Kelly was doing a gimmick at the time that she had the hots for CM Punk, even though she was dating Mike Knox. Kelly wishes Punk luck in his match later before the match, which Knox is understandably angry about. This was such an odd storyline as Kelly was regularly flirting and going after Punk, which means Knox would be completely justified to be annoyed that his girlfriend was making googly eyes at another man on worldwide television. They didn’t even go with the “Punk and Kelly are just friends and Knox is being a psychotic jealous jerk” story, which would have made much more sense and would have actually kept Kelly as a sympathetic character.
Thorn and Ariel as “Vampire Lovers” is one of the few new ECW gimmicks that I think actually had some mileage and they could have probably put them on one of Raw or Smackdown and it would have worked as a mid-card act. It was a good example of Heyman having his finger on the pulse, especially when you look at all the vampire based movies, books and TV shows that have come along since and been very popular. This is an odd match as Knox, Thorn and Ariel are all heels and Kelly is thoroughly unlikable due to making a patsy of her boyfriend every week, so there’s not anyone you actually want to root for,
Knox and Thorn work a basic big man slug fest, and its fine if uneventful stuff. Knox going all hairy was a good look for him, as he doesn’t really have much of a body despite being tall and going for the Wildman look in 2008 made up for that. There was a period where he was kind of getting over in a feud with Rey Mysterio and having some okay matches too due to Rey being so good in the ring, but they ended up going nowhere with him and he jumped to TNA to join the biker gang faction they had going on at the time. Knox and Thorn end up fighting to stalemate, which leads to Kelly and Ariel coming in for a bit.
They have a pretty awful match with one another, in one of those situations where if they were over with the crowd it wouldn’t be as bad as at least they’d be invested in it. The crowd mostly entertains themselves by looking at Ariel’s bum when she bends over and chokes Kelly with her feet. Kelly tries to tag out to Knox, but Knox justifiably short arms her due to her making him look like a fool for months on end, which actually gets some applause from the crowd and leads to a “CM Punk” chant. Ariel finishes Kelly off pretty quickly with an awful STO and sits on Kelly’s face for an admittedly hot looking pin.
WINNERS: TEAM EDWARD
Heatless stuff and the ladies portion was awful
Sandman saves Kelly from a post-match beat down to at least give the crowd something resembling an ECW show. Thorn takes one heck of a shellacking to be fair to him, especially on a show as rubbish as this one has been.
Rebecca the interviewer and Bobby Lashley have a conversation so wooden you could build a tree house out of it. We see a video package of Lashley laying out Big Show and The Basham’s until Test runs down for the save and the 5 on 1 beat down. That Test attack would end up making a bit more sense next month. Lashley says he’ll still win tonight.
So yes, we’re not even 90 minutes into the show and it’s already time for the Main Event.
Extreme Elimination Chamber
Champ: Big Show Vs Test Vs Hardcore Holly Vs CM Punk Vs Rob Van Dam Vs Bobby Lashley
Show had defeated RVD for the Title courtesy of a Paul Heyman heel turn back in the summer when RVD got suspended for a wellness violation after being pulled over by the cops. Lashley had jumped to ECW and Vince McMahon was going all in on him, despite Heyman instead wanting to push Punk. That eventually led to Vince getting frustrated with Heyman and replacing him with Dusty Rhodes, which led to the quality of the weekly show getting a bit better but essentially bringing an end to any suggestion of the brand being an authentic ECW product. Heyman comes down to the ring to cut a promo, saying ECW will live on even after he dies. I dunno man, if my ECW Hardcore TV reviews are anything to go by then ECW is pretty darn cold as a brand amongst fans today, even online IWC die-hards.
The gimmick here is that everyone has a weapon in their pods that will enter the match when they do, with CM Punk having a chair, Test having a crowbar, Lashley having a table and Big Show having a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. Test’s physique at this stage was getting pretty darn ludicrous, having a near Iron Sheik level of roid belly. I do like the version of Lashley’s theme from this period actually, and just to look at him you can see why they wanted to push him. The crowd chants for Punk during Lashley’s entrance though, which shows that Heyman might have had his finger on the pulse once again. To be honest, if I were booking this then I would have turned Lashley heel in a Survivor Series 98 styled outcome at the expense of Punk. Lashley would have been better as a heel Champ during this period anyway and you could have built to Punk defeating him at Mania after Lashley had already mowed through the ECW Originals.
RVD and Holly start us out, and they actually had some good matches from around this period, including one where Holly had his back ripped open following a bad table bump. RVD and Holly do a decent opening actually, with RVD getting to do his Spiderman act by landing on the fence and Holly slamming him out on the nasty steel floor of the chamber. The crowd isn’t really that into it, but the action itself is fine. Punk is in next and that wakes up the crowd, as he gets to run wild on the two other guys. Seriously, why did it take John Morrison getting wellnessed for them to finally belt Punk? He was one of the few genuine new stars they made on this brand.
RVD blades from getting leg dropped onto a chair and then gets flung into a chair in the corner for good measure, whilst Heyman yells at Holly to pin one of them whilst he can so that there’s one less babyface for him to worry about. The crowd soon dies down again, as they really don’t seem to care about this match at all unless it involves Punk beating someone up. Since coming in hot though he’s now just lying around and selling. RVD’s blade job earns him some chants from the crowd, who appreciate him making the effort to bleed on this miserable show.
Test is next and digs the crowbar into RVD’s cut to at least give us something bordering on being extreme after nearly two hours of the supposedly “Extreme” pay per view event. RVD chairs everyone following that, kicking it into Punk’s head and then heading up top with the Frogsplash to send Punk to the showers and infuriate the crowd.
CM Punk Eliminated by Rob Van Dam (1) – Five Star Frogsplash
Test immediately looks like he’s going to Big Boot RVD, but then does it to Holly instead because…reasons, leading to a horribly botched count from the referee. Was Holly supposed to kick out or something? Anyway, he’s gone regardless.
Hardcore Holly Eliminated by Test (1) – Big Boot
RVD and Test do a little bit following that but RVD stupidly climbs atop of Big Show’s pod, which of course leads to Show grabbing his foot and Test attacking him with a chair before leaping off with an elbow drop for three.
Rob Van Dam Eliminated by Test (2) – Elbow Drop from top of pod
So now the fans have no one but Lashley to cheer for, so they decide to chant “BS” and outright reject the match. Man, you think this stuff started in recent years but even back in 2006 Vince was screwing over his paying audience so he could push who he wanted to. Lashley is supposed to be next, but The Basham’s lock him in his pod, because Big Show isn’t out yet and they don’t want Test going one on one with him. Thus we get minutes of waiting around as Lashley is trapped in his pod and no action of any kind is going on inside the chamber itself. Lashley manages to fight his way out of the pod and then does some brawling with Test, showing some good intensity at least. Lashley flinging Test around has woken the crowd up a bit at least, but they soon think both guys suck and boo everything out of spite. Lashley hits Test with the crowbar and Spear follows for three.
Test Eliminated by Bobby Lashley (1) – Spear
We still have a minute left, so we get more waiting around whilst Heyman tries to fire up Big Show. This is just inexcusable in one of these matches. Big Show does eventually join us and brings his barbed wire bat with him to the party, which gives us more “TNA” chants from the crowd. Show manages to get the bat trapped in the steel mesh, which gives Lashley an opening whilst large parts of the crowd are still booing. Heyman has a trademark freak-out during this, whilst Show is soon bleeding. Big Show was in really rough shape physically during this period and would take over a year off from WWE not too soon after this, so he basically limps his way through this in quite a gutsy manner to be fair to him. They don’t do a terrible segment together, but it’s not enough to save the match as Lashley gives Show a Spear to pick up the belt.
Big Show Eliminated by Bobby Lashley (2) – Spear
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: BOBBY LASHLEY
MOST ELIMINATIONS: TEST, BOBBY LASHLEY (2)
This had some decent action at points, but the booking was all over the place, with the match flow essentially sacrificed so that all of the spotlight could be on Lashley as he defeated the two monsters at the end. Though that was good for Lashley, it was at the expense of the match, as it led to RVD and Punk (The two guys the crowd actually cared about and probably the two best workers) having to go out early so that there’d be no distractions for Lashley’s coronation. Honestly, if you just wanted Lashley to overcome the odds against two big guys, then why not just book Show Vs Test Vs Lashley as the Main Event and then use Punk, RVD and Sabu elsewhere on the card to flesh it out a bit and create a more interesting event? You still get the finish you want of Lashley toppling the two monsters, whilst also getting a better overall show as a result
Lashley gets a fireworks display as WWE desperately rushes off the air despite being well under the pay per view time limit. Probably for the best. Apparently the best action all night was a fight between some rednecks and some punks outside the venue once the show was over, which the police missed as they were trying to get autographs.
Is It Really A Stinker?
Oh my goodness YES!
This show was a near epic disaster that could have quite honestly led to the entire brand getting axed if Vince had gotten up on the wrong side of the bed the morning after. The opener was good, but none of those guys were actually on the ECW brand, and all the matches involving the actual ECW talent was either House Show Special™ or just downright awful.
What permeated the show for me was just an overall sense of sadness. I felt pity for the likes of Dreamer, RVD and Sabu, who had potentially all thought that this brand had the chance of being a real opportunity to keep the name of ECW alive for a whole new generation of fans, only to see it get twisted in all kinds of different directions until the ECW name was all but mud as a result.
This was the ultimate destination of how poorly the ECW brand was managed, with every issue it had (Lack of roster depth, lack of over stars, poor booking, storylines that were either not over or didn’t make sense, a total lack of understanding of what the third brand should be, pushing the wrong people when the crowd clearly wanted something else etc) laid bare for all to see.
Bryan Alvarez referred to this as the “public execution” of the brand at the time, and I can see where he was coming from.
Overall Rating: Stinker
So, with another Stinker in the bag, it’s time to decide what to review next. Below I’ll list what shows are currently on the shortlist. If you see a show that isn’t there that I haven’t reviewed yet that you’d like to be in contention then just put it in the comments section. I’ll stick all the shows in a hat and then pick out a lucky “winner”, which I’ll then review on the 30th of January if everything goes to plan.
The shows currently on the list are;
UWF Beach Brawl requested by Chael Sonnen’s Coke Dealer
WWF Rock Bottom requested by Bones
WWE Judgement Day 2003 requested by Milk Marketing Board
LPWA Super Ladies Showdown 92 requested by Stampeder
WWE Great American Bash 2004 requested by Sivsky
Shout out in the comments if you want me to add your own suggestion!
Take care everyone and let’s all hope 2021 is a marked improvement on 2020 eh?
Credit for the feature image must go to JOSRULEZ on Deviant Art. Thanks to them for letting me use it