In December of 2006 ECW, the third brand of WWE which was fresh off a revival 6 months earlier was given its very first brand exclusive Pay-Per-View, December to Dismember 2006. The event took place in Augusta, Georgia at the James Brown Arena with an attendance of just 4,800. This event would go on to become the true beginning of the downfall of the promising promotion.
After the immense success of the ECW One Night Stand 2005 and 2006, the decision was made to revive the once thriving underground promotion of the 1980s and ‘90s. The promotion had remained dormant since 2001 when ECW was driven out of business after a series of financial failure including a betrayal by their own television network. Though the nostalgic essence of the revival was fun at first, the gold paint soon began to rust as flaw after flaw was exposed to the viewing audience from a thin roster to various questionable booking choices that left droves of fans puzzled.
On December 3rd, 2006, the ECW promotion held their very first stand alone ‘December To Dismember’, an event which showed signs of failure days before the feed ever went live as only two matches were advertised for the event.
The first match was the main event, an ‘extreme’ Elimination Chamber which put an interesting spin on the popular match with designated weapons in each of the four pods surrounding the ring. The second match was a tag team match between the The Hardy Boyz and MNM, the team of Joey Mercury and Johnny Nitro. After the tag team match opened the show, the card was filled with matches clearly thrown together like Matt Striker v. Balls Mahoney in what was called a “Striker’s Rules” match. Another match was Tommy Dreamer v. Khosrow Daivari which ended in an assault of Dreamer by The Great Khali, which was clearly meant to kill time to attempt to move the show along until it was time for the main event.
The participants of the ‘extreme’ Elimination Chamber were: ECW Champion The Big Show, Rob Van Dam, Hardcore Holly, Test, CM Punk, and Bobby Lashley. The old school ECW faithful around the world hoping for RVD and CM Punk as the final two had their dreams shattered as they were the first two men eliminated.
The match ended with Bobby Lashley hitting Big Show with a Spear for the pinfall and the championship, leading to the game event going off air minutes before it was scheduled to. This PPV marked Paul Heyman’s departure from the company as he engaged in a heated argument with Vince McMahon on the company jet which resulted in Heyman’s dismissal. The argument stemmed from the events terrible buy rates, the blame of which was placed on Heyman’s shoulders despite the fact that, according to reports, Heyman was micro managed at every turn by McMahon.
According to those behind the scenes at the time, Heyman wanted Big Show to be eliminated first by way of submission from CM Punk’s Anaconda Vice who would go on to win the championship after defeating Rob Van Dam in the final moments. As what can only be presumed as a ‘show of power from McMahon who wanted Lashley to be the new face of ECW, the booking was changed so that Punk and RVD were the first two men eliminated. This event was truly the death knell of the promotion as it would see a sharp decline of on-screen booking and a clear overall lack of “give a damn” from the higher-ups of the company. December to Dismember was the first and only ECW brand exclusive event in the promotions history.
On February 16, 2010, ECW was promptly canceled, and it was announced by Vince McMahon himself that the ECW timeslot would be hard for a “groundbreaking, innovative piece of WWE programming.” This would go on to become the game show version of NXT. Quite the (piss poor) legacy that WWE’s attempt at reviving ECW had which deserved a series of its own from start to finish but the memory and discussion of the nauseating travesty known as December to Dismember 2006 need not be discussed ever again.