Wrestling Review: ECW December To Dismember 2006

Image Source: Wrestling View

Genre: Wrestling
Produced By: WWE
Format: Pay-Per-View
Date: December 3 2006
Location: James Brown Arena, Augusta, Georgia, USA
Attendance: 4,800

ECW December To Dismember 2006 was a classic show, one that will always be fondly remembered for … okay, I’m lying.

Normally, I review a vintage show with historic redeeming features. This week, though, I turn it the other way, and look at an event that was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

December To Dismember 2006. This show effectively killed ECW, and was a big reason why the subsequent single-brand PPVs would be the last. It also saw the WWE departure of a notable figure, and the least interesting installment of WWE’s most dangerous match. That, in itself, would describe DTD 2006, but I will elaborate.

In 2005, ECW One Night Stand was held. The one-off ECW reunion show was so good, it returned in 2006. By then, though, it marked the rebirth of ECW, as a third WWE brand. From June to November 2006, though, the “new” ECW more resembled WWE than the old ECW, as besides the old ECW names being featured, very little could be described as “extreme”, with more being classed as “watered-down”.

Nevertheless, the new ECW chugged along to the point that it had its own PPV, December To Dismember 2006. It would be main evented by an Extreme Elimination Chamber match, and would also feature a dream tag team match between MNM and The Hardyz. But nothing else was relaly revealed beforehand. A PPV obviously wouldn’t have two matches, so DTD 2006 would need four more bouts. Unfortunately, these four matches would play a key role in DTD being (not) fondly remembered.

Balls Mahoney beat Matt Striker. Elijah Burke and Sylvester Terkay beat The FBI. Daivari w/ The Great Khali beat Tommy Dreamer. And Kevin Thorn and Ariel beat Mike Knox and Kelly Kelly. They’re the results: now let’s see why they failed.

None had extreme carnage in the manner of bouts at One Night Stand. Mahoney’s win wasn’t memorable, although at least an ECW original won. This didn’t happen in the next two bouts, although the first tag match pitted no wrestlers whom fans were interested in (at the time, in Elijah’s case). And Dreamer losing to Daivari was like DDP or Sting losing to someone like Armando Estrada on a WCW PPV. Had Khali faced and beaten Dreamer, the result would have been more tolerable. And the mixed tag match was so bad, it provoked chants of “I want my money back” and “TNA”.

The dream tag match was genuinely good, but it should have been third or fourth, to raise the mood. As an opener, it was very good, but it meant four consecutive dull bouts. The Hardyz were victorious in a bout which featured a lot of great tag team high-flying spots, and this would be more memorable except for what was to follow that meant the card almost being deliberately ignored by WWE in the years to come.

As for the main event . . . well, it seemed okay on paper. And it wasn’t that bad a match in practice. But everything about it seemed like a slap in the face to ECW fans.

The participants were ECW Champ Big Show, Test, Bobby Lashley, CM Punk, Sabu and Rob Van Dam. Just as a back-story: Show was the bad guy Champ, and Test was his accomplice. Lashley had just jumped from SmackDown! to ECW. Punk was undefeated. Sabu was an ECW Legend, and in an Extreme Elimination Chamber, he could provide many brutal stunts. And RVD had been robbed out of the Title in July, and only now was getting his rematch. Except, the focus had changed. When it was made, RVD seemed like Show’s top challenger. By December 3, 2006, the focus had shifted to Lashley. That was problem number one.

Problem number two was that Sabu was found “injured” midway through the show, so he never competed, and was replaced by  . . . Hardcore Holly. In fairness, Holly’s style suited ECW, but to replace a popular ECW name with an unpopular WWE name was an insult. Especially since Sabu wasn’t really injured, and would return just two days later on ECW. What a waste. Problem number three: the four wrestlers in the Chamber pods had weapons, but they were barely used. Had the whole structure been filled with objects, including a ladder, a couple of tables and a barbed wire board, it could have been as extreme as an original ECW match. Not the case here.

The next problem (yes, there were a few): Punk was the first eliminated, by RVD. Punk’s five-month winning streak wasn’t expected to continue beyond this night – but to have him go out first was incredibly short-sighted, and it would be months before Punk regained the momentum he had coming into this event. In more than one interview, Paul Heyman revealed that his original plan was for Punk, then a newcomer to WWE/ECW, to quickly eliminate defending champ Show by submission, thus making him a superstar. Given their size difference and his inexperience in WWE, I can understand why this didn’t transpire, although it would have been a lot better than what did happen.

Problem number five: RVD was eliminated by Test, before Show had even entered the match. Despite being the top storyline on ECW for months, RVD never did face Big Show again, or get another shot at the ECW Title. Problem number six: on an ECW show, for the ECW Title, in the main event, the last three were . . . all WWE names. Lashley beat Test, and then pinned Show to win the Title.

So angry were fans that many left, demanded refunds or turned their backs on the new Champ. As a match, it wasn’t that bad – there were several dangerous and/or eye-catching stunts – but when you consider the back-story, it’s understandable why many were infuriated. One of them was Paul Heyman, who left WWE after this event. Apparently, the show originally had a different layout, from matches to results. This was allegedly changed, and once it was over, Heyman walked.

More bad news: it only attracted 90,000 PPV orders – the lowest since The Wrestling Classic in 1985. That every PPV in WWE history bar the first, held in the infancy of PPV, attracted more orders than this summed up how fans felt about the “new” ECW. The two One Night Stands never had this problem.

All this meant that, from Backlash 2007 onwards, every PPV featured wrestlers from all brands. No more ECW PPVs, and from June 2007 onwards, ECW lagged far behind Raw and SmackDown, to the point that its main prize was no longer considered a World Title. In 2010, the brand finished without much notice, and within weeks, its very existence was practically forgotten.

In retrospect, this show should have been main evented by Show vs. RVD, or at least Show vs. Lashley (or even Show vs. Lashley vs. RVD). Punk and Sabu (and RVD, if it was Show-Lashley) could have paired off with Test, Holly or even Heyman in separate single matches. Sandman could have refereed the mixed tag, to make it mildly interesting. And at least one or two bouts could have had extreme or hardcore stipulations. That way, the show would have had eight or nine matches, some providing ECW-style action, and structured properly, the dull bouts wouldn’t have stood out like a sore thumb. The Chamber could have been saved for a bigger stage. The single-brand event may have attracted more orders, and thus the concept could have continued. And Lashley becoming Champ may have been met with cheers rather than jeers. Unfortunately, the actual December To Dismember did not succeed.

There have been much worse shows, events where the top matches were either awful, nonsensical or a combination of the two with a terrible undercard to “support” them. December To Dismember did have a thrilling opener and the main event was watchable if you had it on mute and didn’t consider the back-story. But you can’t help but acknowledge the fact that this was an ECW show that had RVD, CM Punk, The Hardyz, Lashley, Big Show, MNM, Tommy Dreamer and although they never wrestled, Sabu and Sandman. Plus, an Elimination Chamber – and with weapons. That it bombed with all that for the aforementioned reasons means that, intentionally or not, December To Dismember goes down as one of the worst WWE Pay-Per-Views of all-time. Hopefully, those depths will not be sunk to again (although the fact that Royal Rumble 2015 would have done so had it not been for the awesome 3-way WWE Title match is not an encouraging sign!).

Overall Rating: 3.5/10 – Poor