Most Extreme Player for 8/3/06

This week's MEP is our newest ECW Extremist, CM Punk. While this follower of the drug and alcohol free straight-edge lifestyle may be new to ECW and WWE fans, I’ve been fortunate enough to follow his career for the past five years. For ten years total, CM Punk has been honing his craft in Japan and Europe as well as stealing the show in small regional wrestling promotions based in Pennsylvania and Tennessee. This young man should be a money player for years to come, being as much of an overachiever in the ring as he is in his social life. CM Punk is a perfect fit for the new ECW and would have been a perfect fit for the original ECW as well.
And that is the segue for this week's MEP runner-up: the ECW fans at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom in the Manhattan Center. If I had any authority (and I don't by the way), ECW would be live from the Hammerstein every week the same way WWE Monday Night RAW was at its inception. There is an energy and happiness I derive from working in midtown Manhattan that I simply cannot get from working anywhere else...not Philadelphia and not even WrestleMania. Manhattan is, in many ways, the center of the universe, and I feel that power. Sinatra sang it best; if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, New York, New York.
The Hammerstein Ballroom was full of many original ECW fans, and they were very vocal about their displeasure with the Big Show vs. Batista main event. Contrary to popular belief, original ECW fans do not behave that way because nobody and nothing can please them. CM Punk and Kurt Angle received standing ovations upon their respective ring entrances, and a William Regal vs. Finlay main event would have as well.
The original ECW was about three styles of wrestling:
-Hardcore, featuring blood and barbed wire matches with the likes of Tommy Dreamer, Mick Foley, Sandman, Sabu and others.
-High Flying Lucha style, featuring the likes of Rob Van Dam, Rey Mysterio, Kid Kash, Super Crazy and others.
-Classic and Impactful Japanese styles, featuring the likes of Tazz, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, the late Eddie Guerrero and others.
The original ECW was never about the biggest and most powerful men in wrestling (like Big Show and Batista) muscling each other all over the arena; we knew that WWE did that style best and we wanted ECW to be different. That is not to say that any style is better or worse than the others. ECW was always about being different that WWE. When WWE zigged, ECW zagged. I think some original ECW fans are looking for more zagging than zigging in regards to ECW, RAW and SmackDown. To those fans I say please be patient; the new ECW is a work in progress. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is a global entertainment brand. Let us take our time shaping the new ECW and perhaps this time around, the ECW brand may live forever.
Joey Styles

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