Welcome, cats and kittens, to yet another installment of the only reviews that come around less often than spontaneous three ways with buxom celebrities, Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat for you tonight, as after years and years of people asking me, begging me, and occasionally outright threatening me, I have finally broken down and agreed to review the consensus choice for the worst mainstream PPV in wrestling history. Of course, I can only be talking about WWE December To Dismember. After 8 years of healing, it is finally time for us to investigate just what the hell it is about this show that makes people bleed out of their eyeballs whenever they remember seeing it. Was it the Elimination Chamber match that killed the ECW concept in one fell swoop? Was it the undercard full of matches even their mothers couldn’t love? Or was it some wonderful tidbit that has been blocked from my memory that will come tearing out with the force and fury of a runaway supernova? As always, there’s only one way to find out.
Cewsh: Everyone have their time travel vests on? Have all your gauges set to the right year? Are you sure? Because so help me god, if one of you goes back to 1991 by mistake, i’m going to leave you there to go through the grunge era all over again as your punishment. Alright then. Ready…set…TIME WARP.
Welcome, boys and girls, to the year 2006. The year that brought us such cultural milestones as Big Momma’s House 2, and all those songs that Grey’s Anatomy got stuck in your head and will never ever leave. And in the world of professional wrestling, something really exciting was happening. On the heels of the unbelievable, runaway success of both The Rise and Fall of ECW DVD and the ECW reunion show, One Night Stand, the WWE made the decision to bring ECW back as a full time brand all its own.
Looking back on that decision, from our comfortable seat in the future, it’s easy to see now that there’s no way that it ever could have worked. But back in 2006, we didn’t know this, or didn’t want to believe it. And so the launch of ECW went off with great fanfare, boasting a champion, (Rob Van Dam,) who not only represented ECW as their champion, but also the WWE as a whole as the WWE Champion as well. ECW was getting tons of screen time, Sci-Fi gave them their own show, and it really seemed like we were going to get the vision of Paul Heyman brought to life once more.
Almost immediately after the launch of ECW, things started to go wrong in a hurry. Heyman was removed from his role as the creative head of the product, and WWE writers were forced to fill his shoes, Rob Van Dam and Sabu got busted for a very well publicized drug possession incident that caused WWE to strip him of both titles, and, (out of fear for flagging ratings,) WWE started forcing stars like Ric Flair and Batista onto the shows to utterly hostile crowd reactions. This was a potent cocktail of suck that slowly seeped away all the goodwill that the brand had earned over the years, but even to the most jaded ECW fan, there appeared to be a bright light on the horizon.
In December of that year, ECW would be given it’s very own PPV. No Raw, no Smackdown, no John Cena or Batista. For one night, the ECW stars would be given a chance to show that they could shine as brightly as they ever had. And with a new champion to be crowned, ECW fans ached for CM Punk to become their new hero, or for Rob Van Dam to recapture the glory of his youth. All it would take is one good show to get people back on board. To show them what ECW could really be in the 21st century. This was to be that show. Just keep that thought fixed in your mind as we move forward. It’s only a truly great tragedy if there was hope before the fall.
Cewsh: This match is a great illustration of just how long ago this show took place. John Morrison has been gone for a long time, and this was before Melina got him fired, before his promising push to the top, before his tag team run with The Miz, before his transformation into John Morrison, and before we saw Joey Mercury’s nose explode which led to the end of MNM for good. 2006 doesn’t seem like that long ago, but in wrestling time, that’s roughly 107 years.
Here, MNM have reunited after Mercury served a 6 month Wellness suspension, in order to answer an open challenge put out by the also recently reunited Hardy Boys. You might, at this point, be aware that none of these people was a part of the ECW brand, and that they have chosen to open this show with a match that doesn’t represent ECW in any tangible way. But hey, the Hardy Boyz do crazy shit, and I suppose you could say that they embody the ECW spirit, if nothing else. And, perhaps not coincidentally, this match featuring no ECW stars is the only match from this show that you will ever see anyone giving compliments to.
This is a good match. Not a great match, not an overly memorable match, but nothing you would be mad about paying money to see. On another PPV, it might be a pretty solid opener. But considering that this is an ECW PPV, and they have the two fastest moving teams in the company here, this thing is shockingly slow paced. For the first 5 minutes, we just get a traditional tag match, with a ton of arm bars, headlocks and whatever it is that Matt Hardy is doing in slow motion.
Eventually they do some dives to the outside in a casual, disaffected way that it reminds me that every match back then featured 87 leaps from the ring to the floor. Then they try a novel idea, and basically just start the match over halfway through. We get another heat section where the heels beat down Jeff Hardy, another hot tag, another round of half assed high flying moves, and another batch of Melina interference that is noticeably similar to the first time. If I had been watching this at the time, the idea that they killed off the crowd by stretching this out for no reason would have baffled and infuriated me, but in the comfortable seat of retrospect it all becomes clear. They’re stalling.
This match goes 22 minutes. Not because the match needed that much time, or because the performers were really up to the challenge of a 20 minute tag match, but just because every other match on the show aside from the main event clocks in at under 8 minutes. But despite all this time and not much to fill it with, it never seems to occur to anyone to grab a chair or a table, or something that would make this memorable. I’m not a hardcore wrestling guy, but fuck man, this is the Hardy Boyz on an ECW PPV. You don’t even want to tease a ladder? Not even a little? Not even at all?
70 out of 100
Cewsh: It’s entirely possible that Rob Van Dam is personally to blame the most for the failure of ECW in WWE. It was Van Dam who suggested and pushed for the first One Night Stand, which became such a massive success. It was Van Dam who was positioned as the face of the brand, and a mega player in WWE as a whole by holding both the ECW World Championship and the WWE Championship at the same time. And it was Van Dam who got caught with drugs while holding both titles, causing a huge PR embarrassment for WWE.
The aftermath of that incident pretty much tells the story of the ECW brand. RVD immediately lost the WWE title to Edge, and then also lost the ECW title to the Big Show, a move which both symbolically and literally took ECW out of the hands of ECW. An already leery Vince McMahon, who had taken a pretty substantial risk in giving this whole thing a try, and had already been clashing with Paul Heyman over it’s direction, had all the excuse he needed to turn the brand into a glorified developmental promotion. And that’s exactly what he did.
All this took place just a few months prior to this show, and I would say it’s the single biggest reason why this is such a colossal suck fest. Everything was in upheaval as the ECW originals were phased out, and the new guard was brought in, so there were no real feuds to promote. No matches worth having. And then along came this show at exactly the wrong time.
Now, with all that in mind, look at this screenshot of Rob Van Dam.
Those are the dead eyes of a man who is watching his dream die. Despite that, he really does try his best to sell the elimination chamber main event as something horrifically dangerous and exciting. Bless his heart, he really, really does. But since his point isn’t that Bobby Lashley is in it, i’m having trouble sharing his optimism.
Cewsh: Here is a picture of Matt Striker’s ass:
For the purposes of this match, Matt Striker has commissioned tights which have his face on the back. Since this matches his skin tone, and the details of the face keep getting lost in the crack of his ass, this ensemble gives the impression that Striker has opted for upside down ass cleavage. This is great for a number of reason, not the least of which being that I was looking for a new and exciting insult to give this match and was stuck until now. So thanks, Striker. Here goes. This match is like sweaty ass cleavage.
The fault for that can’t really be laid at the feet of either of these two. If you look up the definition of “mediocre heel” you will either find a picture of Matt Striker or, more likely, nothing at all since the dictionary doesn’t contain phrases; and Balls Mahoney, along with Tommy Dreamer, is one of only two ECW Originals who really managed to adapt to the WWE and it’s new audience. But while neither guy is overly objectionable, this match is exactly what the crowd didn’t need after the completely placid opener. The idea of Striker instituting his own series of ridiculously strict rules would be good for a laugh usually, but after the completely flaccid opener, the crowd is already craving violence of some sort. They don’t find it here, and unsurprisingly the “boring” chants start to be heard, as sad eyed fans watch Balls Mahoney wrestle a traditional style match.
You guys, this show is starting to bum me out. Everyone is so sad and depressed and everything. Can we have a match that they’ll enjoy so I can stop feeling the urge to start a charity in the name of everyone who attended this show?
32 out of 100
Cewsh: We go backstage, where Sabu is lying on the ground in pain, surrounded by medical staff. The announcers and Paul Heyman immediately jump to the conclusion that he was assaulted to prevent him from being in the main event, but I don’t know, man. This is Sabu we’re talking about. It seems equally plausible to me that the vending machine ate his quarters, so he decided to give it a springboard dropkick, and botched the landing. We’re talking about a homicidal, genocidal, suicidal maniac here. That’s not a guy who is going to stand for a Snickers malfunction.
Cewsh: So what would be a good name for my new charity? I’m thinking Dismembered Members.
It seems like an eternity ago now, but once upon a time, Elijah Burke was a darkhorse to become a major star in WWE. He had the look, was overflowing with charisma, and had a legit background in boxing, which is the kind of thing that makes Jim Ross’ voice go up a register when he says your name. The only thing standing in his way was that he was very, very, very, very green in the ring. Amusingly, Burke would go on to be one of the small handful of people who would actually achieve more in TNA than in WWE, before that, too, went off the rails and Burke abruptly vanished from the wrestling industry altogether. But regardless of what we know about the peaks and valleys of his career now, at this point he was a rookie with potential, but with a desperate need for help with his matches.
In order to address this, they paired him with Sylvester Terkay, an MMA fighting big man who had a ton of potential, but was very, very, very green in the…hmm. I think you can spot the issue here. Terkay’s entire run on the main roster lasted approximately 7 months, and a month after this he’ll have already been released.
That might make you think that this match is offensive garbage, but it’s really not all that bad. Terkay is not built for the WWE style and the FBI just aren’t over at all, even in front of an ECW audience. But even though this is a mostly heatless squash match, the flashes of heel brilliance from Burke keep it from being a totally joyless experience.
Of course, that’s just me. The people in attendance don’t seem to agree, as this is the part in the show where they start loudly chanting “CHANGE THE CHANNEL” which is one of the most scathing indictments of a wrestling show that I have ever heard. They’re not just unhappy for themselves, they’re unhappy for the people sitting at home who actually have a choice in what they watch. Considering the kind of people who generally comprise these audiences, this act is so alturistic that it’s bringing a tear to my eye.
61 out of 100
Cewsh: So the last 3 segments of this show have been slow paced and/or disappointing to ECW fans. So what should we do next? I KNOW, let’s throw the Great Khali out there! They’ll definitely respond to the walking incarnation of everything that ECW fans sought an alternative from in the first place! n the surface, this may seem like total lunacy, but there really is a compelling story here.
See, there’s one man who will always be over in front of this audience no matter what he does. He is the living breathing embodiment of ECW. A figure so charged with symbolism and meaning for these fans that the entire crowd erupts into ECW chants at the merest sight of him. With ECW having it’s first large scale show as it’s own brand in WWE, Tommy Dreamer is maybe the one guy who has the ability to make the transition work and sell it to the faithful. Here, he faces a gigantic threat that represents everything wrong with WWE’s control over the wrestling industry. A big, slow, mammoth of a man who can’t wrestle or emote, but who has been given a huge push simply due to his genetics. It’s an insult to everything that the everyman Dreamer represents that Khali stands above him, and this is the chance for both he and his company to prove that they’re every bit as good as any prepackaged star. So can the little cult figure prevail against the unbeatable monolith? The symbolism alone makes this…
Oh wait, Khali is leaving the ring. He’s not wrestling. So that means…
I’ve got nothing.
This match is a disaster. Dreamer puts his all into it, and actually wrestles a pretty decent WWE style match with Davari, but the crowd is actively offended by the lack of violence on display, and they have every right to be. For the second time tonight, a man known for his innovative use of weapons and scenery is reduced to drop toeholds and headlocks. If that isn’t enough, WWE actually has the balls to have Dreamer LOSE this match, which, spoiler alert, makes Balls Mahoney the only original ECW wrestler to win a match on this show.
So let’s work this out. Thus far we have seen the least extreme Hardy Boyz match of all time, Balls Mahoney mat wrestling, Sabu getting knocked out of the main event that is tailor made for him, the FBI getting squashed, and Tommy Dreamer losing to a manager. I would like to make it clear that I don’t truly believe that this show was DESIGNED to kill ECW, or to alienate its fans, as some have suggested. But if it was, then whoever was in charge of that did an incredibly efficient job.
The ECW faithful did get one bit of hardcoreness here, though. The slightest taste of what this match probably should have been, posed as a slap in the face.
50 out of 100
Cewsh: Backstage, Paul Heyman formally inserts Hardcore Holly into Sabu’s place in the main event. I’m not even going to have time to cover how insane it is that Hardcore Holly is in a PPV main event once we get to the match itself, so just take a moment to let that realization wash over you. That gives Hardcore Holly more WWE PPV main events than Ric Flair. But, in fairness, that still leaves him with one less than Zeus.
Cewsh: Tucked snugly in between Tommy Dreamer being beaten and humiliated, and the main event, which is one of the biggest middle fingers to an audience in the history of entertainment, we get this. An intergender match featuring two women who had no business in the ring, and their random weirdo boyfriends.
OH MY GOD WHAT ARE YOU PEOPLE DOING?! ARE YOU TRYING TO SEE HOW OFFENSIVE YOU CAN BE TO THESE FANS BEFORE THEY WILL CHARGE THE RING AND TAKE JOEY STYLES HOSTAGE?!
I don’t even want to talk about this match. I can’t. I have blood coming out of my eye sockets and I need to figure out if it’s ebola or if I’ve developed a mutant power to protect my eyes from seeing the pain things.
The only noteworthy thing here comes after the match, when Kelly Kelly is being assaulted by Ariel, and a mysterious vigilante rises out of the night to save her.
Now, for all the issues on this show, and for all the misery that the crowd goes through, the two minutes that Sandman is on screen go a long way towards cheering everyone up. He comes through the crowd, chugs a beer, canes Kevin Thorn half to (un)death, and then made me laugh out loud by tossing a beer to a group of obvious teenagers, who completely fail to catch it despite their desperation to do so.
This two minute stretch is the closest to ECW that this entire night comes. And if ECW Sandman met this Sandman, he’d give him a wedgie. That pretty much says it all.
45 out of 100
Cewsh: Well here we are. The coup d’ crap. The ultimate albatross. Perhaps the single worst PPV main event in WWE history. And that’s not even a reference to what happens in the ring. Look at that lineup. You have baby, unpushable CM Punk, the disgraced remains of Rob Van Dam, a burnt out Big Show eyeing retirement and those three are the good half. We also have a totally miscast Bobby Lashley, a Test impersonator that seems to be confusing steroids for cereal, and Hardcore Holly, who is Hardcore Holly. All of them will come together here to attempt to rescue this show, and to crown a new ECW Champion.
Now right up front, let’s cover the obvious. Yes, I am probably the biggest fan of Bobby Lashley that exists. But that really doesn’t come into play here. Despite a great and productive run on Smackdown against the likes of Finlay, Booker T and JBL, Lashley was still very much a work in progress when he arrived in ECW. For some reason, WWE decided that the musclebound, soft spoken guy would be the perfect face of this brand, and in doing so they fostered a distaste for Lashley among fans that I have spent years trying to dispel. That all begins here. So as a Lashley fan, I am basically required by law to hate this.
Also, as one final note, the promo video for the main event starts at 1 hour and 26 minutes into the show. The entire rest of this show has the same runtime as Malibu’s Most Wanted. And in this one and only example, Malibu’s Most Wanted may be a better use of your time.
Alright, on to the match. If you’re not familiar with Elimination Chamber matches, the rules work like this. 6 guys are in the match, with 4 of them trapped in pods around the inside of the cage. One pod will open at random every 5 minutes, until everyone is out. You can pin anyone at anytime once they’ve been released, and for this special match, there are weapons inside of all of the pods. Make sense? Good. Because go ahead and throw all of that information away. The only thing you need to know about this match is that is has special rules unique to itself and they go like this: No babyfaces are allowed to do anything except for Bobby Lashley. And the Big Show is not allowed to come out and play until last.
I’m exaggerating of course, but not by much. Hardcore Holly and Rob Van Dam start this match, and they spend a full 5 minutes having a match that would be called dull if anyone was still awake enough to form complete words. Then the first pod opens and CM Punk comes out to a HUGE reaction. By far the biggest reaction of anyone on this show thus far. Punk, Van Dam and Holly actually start having a decently exciting match with some interesting and unique spots mixed in. This does not last. By the time the 5 minutes are up everyone is just sort of standing around, waiting for whatever comes next.
Next up is Test, who sucks. We’ll ignore him for now, because before too long we have our first elimination. Rob Van Dam frog splashes CM Punk into oblivion to the rabid disapproval of the crowd.
Punk is almost followed by Hardcore Holly when Test suddenly gives him the big boot, (despite them technically being on the same team,) and then pins him. Unfortunately, the referee decides to get up and physically wander away before counting the three, so as far as I’m aware, he is still the number one contender to the ECW Championship.
Test gets a chance to redeem himself a moment later, as Van Dam tries to climb to the top of Big Show’s pod to deliver a Super Saiyan Frog Splash. Show grabs his foot through the mesh, and Test hits Van Dam with a chair all about the facial region, before delivering a gigantic elbow drop that is probably the greatest moment of his career.
Did I say the fans were pissed before? Because now they’re piiiiiiiiiiiiiiissed. The match is now the guy that they don’t like, up against the entire heel stable. It’s not hard to see where this is going.
When the 5 minutes expire and Bobby Lashley’s time comes, Heyman’s goons refuse to let them unlock the pod, leaving Lashley trapped inside while Test mocks him with a crowbar. This causes Lashley to rip apart the mesh chains at the top of the pod and crawl out, because he’s for real strong, you guys. Seriously. This, and pretty much everything else he does for the rest of this match, earns the following reaction:
A few power moves and a spear later, and Lashley and Show are all alone.
The crowd, realizing that the champion is guaranteed to be one of these two, turns on this match completely. To Lashley’s credit, he tries to win them over with sheer aggression, and starts chucking weapons around like a madman, but they’re not having it. As Show steps into the ring in the climactic moment of this 40 minute match, the fans can be heard loudly chanting “TNA” and “FUCK HIM UP, SHOW!” No matter what Lashley does, and he actually does some neat stuff here, is enough to wipe the stink of this show off, Clearly the crowd was counting on the main event to deliver and had their hopes pinned on Van Dam, which was dumb of them, but understandable.
After a surprisingly short struggle back and forth, Big Show hoists Lashley up to try for a Dominator, which is the most easily reversed move in wrestling history. As such, Lashley wriggles out, hits a spear and ruins his own career.
The funny thing about this match is that it really isn’t THAT bad. I’ve seen more than a few elimination chamber matches that wouldn’t live up to it over the years, purely in terms of the wrestling. And while this is ME saying this, Lashley worked his ass off to look aggressive and dangerous, and at times he seemed to win the crowd over in spite of themselves, (a state of affairs that would continue through the rest of his WWE career.) But the match quality here is irrelevant. The second that Punk and Van Dam were eliminated, the crowd, which had been pretty generous to the card up to that point, just let loose with all the bile that had been building up all night. Lashley, Big Show and ECW as a brand could never really recover from being associated with this whole debacle, and only Show ever managed to get his mojo back after an extended sabbatical.
So while this is often mention in hushed tones as the worst thing ever, the truth is that it isn’t. It just REMINDS people of the worst thing ever. Which, admittedly, is still not great.
75 out of 100
Cewsh: Yeah, so this show blows. You didn’t come in here expecting anything else, but the fascinating thing about this show is just how perfectly blowy it is. This is less a bad wrestling show, and more a prolonged, slow motion kick to the balls of anyone who has ever been an ECW fan. And while I do not number among that group, I couldn’t help but get second hand offended at the egregious skullfuckery that was going on in front of me. Watching those fans filing out while Lashley celebrated with the title hurt my heart a little bit. I feel for you guys. You’ve all suffered so much and come so far. In Cewsh Reviews, you will always find a caring, supportive shoulder and HAHA FOOLED YOU ECW SUCKS AND ALWAYS SUCKED AND BOBBY LASHLEY IS THE GREATEST ECW CHAMPION OF ALL TIME BY DEFAULT SINCE HE’S OVER 5 FEET TALL AND SOBER. SUCK IT NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERDS.
Well that’ll do it for us this time, boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed our spirited breakdown of yet another of the worst shows in wrestling history. Until next time, remember to keep reading and be good to one another.