When WWE rebooted ECW for a weekly TV show in 2006, hopes were dashed very early on. After two incredible One Night Stand reunion shows that truly captured the essence of what it meant to be extreme, ECW was picked up by the Sci Fi Channel. Not a sports network, but a science-fiction network. Right off the bat, things were looking bleak. We weren’t expecting it to be 1998 again, but we definitely weren’t expecting what was to come.
The two reunion shows prior to ECW’s debut on the Sci Fi Channel put on some absolute clinics and are often recognized as being some of the promotion's best pay-per-views, despite being under the WWE banner at the time. Vince McMahon had bought out ECW only four years before the first reunion show, so surely it wouldn’t be too hard to rearrange the pieces and see what made the land of extreme thrive with such a hardcore following… How did they fuck this up so bad?
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Not even 30-seconds into the first ever ECW episode on the Sci Fi Channel, The Zombie made his way down the aisle. He kept his hands out in front of him like the zombies in Scooby Doo, and immediately picked up a microphone upon entering the ring. He growled, grunted and screamed until a watered-down version of Enter Sandman played, (licensing issues, I guess) as The Sandman walked through the crowd, stepped through the ropes and pounded the zombie about 30 times with a kendo stick. The crowd was… mild.
These were the same fans that watched Raven save Tommy Dreamer. These were the same fans that watched Shane Douglas throw away the NWA title. Now they’re watching a zombie get bashed with a wooden stick.
Supposedly, the reason The Zombie even existed in the first place was to spite the network that was hosting ECW. A tongue-in-cheek mocking of the fact that a pro-wrestling show was being featured on a science fiction channel. When in reality, the only people who were being mocked were the fans. WWE’s ECW could have been big. It had all the tools. The Zombie, though a one-off appearance, is a dark foreshadowing of what was to come in what is perhaps one of the most memed-about arcs of professional wrestling.