Like all the shows this week, ECW would get in on the preview to Mania. But unlike its bigger brothers, Raw and Smack Down, EC dub did not have much to preview. Other than a few participants in the Money in the Bank match, there is only really one brand match, the Battle Royal that will give the winner the shot at the ECW title. On an interesting note the biggest star on this brand was no where to be found tonight. This may further confirm my speculation that CM Punk will be moving off this show after winning Money in the Bank.
The best match of tonight was Shelton Benjamin up against Carlito in the MITB preview. Both guys put on a decent showing of technical and athletic moves during the match. Benjamin would get the win. For both of these guys MITB should give them a chance to get their careers on track again. Two years ago during Mania in Chicago these guys were supposed to be the next big things. Fast forward to now, and they need to reestablish themselves. This match tonight showed they can handle their own and would at least deserve a Intercontinental or US title shot perhaps by the end of this year with a little luck. If they keep up the hard work they may find themselves back in the good graces of the WWE. If not they will be tagging with B-list partners like Charlie Haas and Santino Marella again.
The other big preview was a tag match between the 24 participants in the Battle Royal to determine the number one contender for the ECW title. The winner of this was Snitsky, and you have to consider him one of the top favorites. Everyone had their chance to shine as it turned into a clear the apron brawl at the end. Other than Snitsky, you have to look at Mark Henry, Kane, Khali and perhaps Tommy Dreamer as the other front runners.
Speaking of Dreamer, he would challenge Chavo to a non title match to prove his worth tonight. Of course in classic Dreamer fashion he would lose. but with all the participants of the Battle Royal ringside, Chavo received a 23 man beat-down. With Dreamer losing I don’t think they will go with this angle at Mania. Plus Dreamer had his moment last year in the ECW originals match against the New Breed.
In the “Hey We Need Hot Chicks on the Show” match we saw Kelly Kelly and Stevie Richards take on Kelly’s enemies, Layla and Mike Knox. Of course Layla hates her for leaving Extreme Expose for Balls Mahoney. It’s great though to see those two kids together still. They’re still together right? I don’t remember the break up, but does it really matter? Also remember Mike Know use to date her. Actually does anyone remember Mike Knox period? Well enough of that, the heels won and who knows were this will go. Most likely no where.
On final note, it was great to see Gordon Solie go into the Hall of Fame tonight. Growing up I was a big fan of the NWA and Georgia championship Wrestling. My brothers would take me to Public Hall here in Cleveland at Solie’s urging to “be there”. It was here I would witness Rick Flair, Dusty Rhodes, The Road Warriors and other wrestling legends. I saw the first cage match ever in Cleveland and even witnessed one of my brothers friends try to body slam King Kong Bundy. It’s pretty clear to say I had many a great night watching these cards. And it was Solie who provided the backdrop for the TV show that hooked me on the action in the squared circle. This is a fitting tribute to one of the great who turned many a person into hardcore wrestling fans. Thank you Gordon, I know you will be looking down with pride upon Orlando at the sight of all the legends you helped to create and fans you hooked on this great sport.