Saturday night was my first experience inside the building formerly known as the ECW Arena and it was an overall good time.
Here's a quick rundown of the winners and losers from Extreme Rising's "Unfinished Business."
- Jake Manning defeated Blue Meanie and Robby Mireno via pinfall
- Ricky Ortiz defeated Homicide via submission
- Devon Storm (Crowbar) defeated Rhino via pinfall
- "Greek God" Papadon defeated Hijo del Rey Misterio via pinfall
- 2 Tuff Tony defeated Balls Mahoney via pinfall
- Sabu defeated Façade via pinfall
- Damien 666 & Bestia 666 defeated Super Crazy & Pesadilla via pinfall
- Stevie Richards defeated Steve Corino (surprise opponent) to retain the Extreme Rising World Championship via submission
- Luke Hawx defeated Matt Hardy inside of a steel cage via pinfall
Now to some of my observations from the show:
- The arena itself looked good. The main entrance was large space, but was clearly unfinished. Extreme Rising made the best use of the large space, however, as it had merchandise tables set up among other things. The arena itself was in good shape considering there weren't a whole lot of bells and whistles added. The walls have been repainted with a darker color, which gives the arena a different look than most are used to seeing. There were concession stands serving slices of pizza and various beverages. There may have been more, but I never ventured over to it.
- Extreme Rising promoter Steve O'Neill started the show by welcoming everyone back to the old ECW Arena and back to another production from Extreme Rising. He announced that the promotion's television will not start Jan. 1 like it was supposed to. He said that a travel/logistics problem with announcer Arda Ocal prevented the promotion from doing production, thus pushing the television show back. He did not announce a new date, but did announce that former WWE announcer Matt Striker will be taking Ocal's place alongside ECW mainstay Joel Gertner. O'Neill brought the building's general manager, Roger Artigiani in the ring and recognized all of his hard work and thanked him for the opportunity to put on a the first wrestling show in the new and improved building. Artigiani apologized for how the main entrance looked, but said that it will be in much better shape by the time the building officially opens in April.
- The crowd was as lively as you would expect in the old ECW Arena. They made it quite clear whom they did like and who didn't like, but generally respected all of the wrestlers' hard work in the ring. Every time a big hardcore spot occurred, the crowd chanted "E-C-W!" and did so multiple times.
- After the Ortiz-Homicide match, Hardy came out and cut a heel promo. He mentioned how it was his first time in the old ECW Arena and that it was about time the best ECW Champion of all time finally made an appearance on the hallowed ground. Hardy won the ECW title in WWE 2008. Hawx interrupted him with an assist from Homicide. Hardy high-tailed it out of the ring and demanded the match between himself and Hawx take place inside of a steel cage, which was not advertised before the show. It turned out to be probably the most fulfilling surprise on the show.
- The surprise that was supposed to blow everyone away was kind of a let down. Richards was scheduled to defend the Extreme Rising title against a mystery opponent. A number of names were batted around as to who could face Richards, but it eventually turned out to be Corino. The fans in attendance were not blown away. The match that followed left a little to be desired as well considering it was a world title match. It was still solid though. Corino held court the majority of the match until Richards made a comeback that ended in Corino tapping out.
- After the Richards-Corino match, the promotion took a brief intermission so that it could set up the cage for the main event. After about a 20-minute (maybe shorter) intermission, the cage was ready to go for the main event. I wasn't sure how the cage was going to hold up considering how it was put together, but it held firm during the match. Hardy and Hawx put on a good match that had a couple of spots from the top of the cage. My only problem was that Hardy's wife Reby Sky and Homicide both waltzed into the cage with no problem. I thought the point of a steel cage match was to keep people out. Instead, two people got in and interfered in the match. Even after the match, Richards came back to the ring and gave everyone a Steviekick, including Sky. Sky took multiple bumps on the show.
- All of the original ECW guys were very much over with the fans in Philadelphia as expected. Despite that, only Sabu and Richards won their matches. Blue Meanie, Rhino and Mahoney were all pinned during their matches, which I didn't have a problem with.
- The non-ECW guys were impressive as well, especially Misterio, Papadon and Façade. Papadon and Misterio put on a mostly hardcore-free match in between the Rhino-Storm and Tony-Mahoney matches. Both of which were hardcore matches. I didn't time each match, but it felt like the Papadon-Misterio match was the longest on the show. The match was very good as both guys worked hard. The crowd appreciated it and gave both competitors a round of applause — even Papadon, who was working as a heel the entire match. Façade has amazing athletic ability and a very distinct look with the blonde dreadlocks. He's young in the business so barring any injuries he could become a real star very soon. Sabu raised Façade's hand after their match in a show of respect.
- Blk Out made an appearance and cut a heel promo on everyone that had anything to do with the old ECW, including Straw Hat Guy. Pitbull Gary Wolfe interrupted the tandem only to be beaten on by them. The Hit Squad came down and disposed of Blkout to end the segment.
- According to PWInsider.com, the show drew between 700-850 people, which sounds about right. There were 1,000 seats for the show and not all of them were filled, but there was still good number of people in attendance.
Overall I thought the show was good. I do think people expected to see some of over-the-top spots, which did not happen. The building isn't equipped for anything like that and it no longer allows it. The fans still received a good show. As always, there are areas that could be improved upon. But for its first show in nearly a year, Extreme Rising received a passing grade from me. All of the matches were at least good and a couple you could argue was great. The production on the show was very good for an independent show as well. The entrance way had a video screen that showed what the viewers were seeing on the iPPV. It was needed since there weren't any risers in the arena and the view of the match could be obstructed. The show even started on time, which was something O'Neill stressed upon leading up to the show.