In the sixth edition of the Hidden Gems series, we head back to 2009 and WWE’s take on ECW as we see Christian take on William Regal for the ECW title.
Man, William Regal gets around. Throughout WWE ECW’s lifespan, it was seen as a poor attempt at recreating something that was a once in a lifetime lightning-in-a-bottle situation, that being the rise and success of the original ECW. Once they were purchased by Mr. McMahon in 2001, they have largely tucked away following a lackluster “invasion” angle. It would rise once again in 2005 with WWE producing a “One Night Stand” event from Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, where ECW originals gathered for one night only to put on a show much like old times. With the initial event being successful, WWE held another the following year, and that second event, in turn, would lead to the revival of ECW as WWE’s third brand during their first brand split.
WWE ECW would see the likes of RVD, Sabu, Sandman, and Balls Mahoney all compete on it, as well as new, WWE certified additions, such as Kurt Angle, Big Show, and Chris Benoit. Despite the show at first appearing to be a modern take on classic ECW, fans would soon realize that was not the case at all, with WWE using it mainly as a training grounds for new superstars, as well as using it as a place to send older superstars whom the company had no true future plans for. With that all being said, WWE ECW wasn’t all doom and gloom. It created many stars that wrestling fans know and love. CM Punk started out on WWE ECW in 2006 and would go on to have an extremely successful career, which included being beloved by most in the WWE Universe. The Miz also became the superstar he is today on ECW, following a lackluster initial run on SmackDown. There, he’d team with John Morrison and become both WWE Tag Team and World Tag Team champions. All of this led to Miz being drafted to RAW in 2009 where he’d feud with John Cena, and, well, the rest is history.
Once Teddy Long started the “New Superstar Initiative” in 2008, ECW truly became the place to see up and coming talent on national television. While you had guys like Kane, Mark Henry, and Matt Hardy running the top of the card, you also had the likes of Kofi Kingston, Sheamus and Jack Swagger boiling underneath, getting ready to become the new faces of RAW and SmackDown. As a result, 2008 and 2009 ECW was very similar to what NXT has become in this day and age. It was a nice mixture of established talent doing some of the best work of their career, as well as new faces learning from those veterans. That’s why when Christian arrived on the ECW scene in 2009, things picked up drastically for the show. I know for me personally, as a kid, Tuesday nights were my favorite, because that meant I’d get to see Christian, Shelton Benjamin and others tear it up on ECW.
Understandably “WWECW” does get a lot of flack from older fans who watched the original ECW as it was happening, but in my opinion, I feel like if they had given it a chance, especially in its final year, they would have liked it. Christian taking on all comers, Tommy Dreamer’s ECW title run and retirement, Paul Burchill vs. The Hurricane, Sheamus vs. Goldust, all of this made ECW one great show to watch. The storylines were fun, the in-ring action was top notch, and you never knew who might show up one week. I remember towards the end, one episode was headlined by Christian vs. Chris Jericho (which is another hidden gem, but I could honestly make a Hidden Gem article for every match Christian had in 2009, he was on fire). Christian was making the most of his time on ECW, as was fellow veteran William Regal, who was cast away to ECW in 2009. He would go on to have his final true “run” on the main roster on this brand, where he formed the short-lived “Ruthless Roundtable” with Vladimir Kozlov and Ezekiel Jackson. Together, these three men would go on to target the ECW Champion Christian. Regal himself would be first in line to get title shots, which happened at SummerSlam and Breaking Point in 2009, where both times he would fail to win the title. Regal however was granted one final title match, and it would happen in his home country, the United Kingdom, on an episode of ECW in November of that year. These two former Un-Americans stablemates would do battle one last time in an epic encounter on television for their brand’s top championship.
Without further ado, let’s jump into it.
Oh my god, Byron Saxton is on commentary. What kind of time travel, history-altering nonsense is this? I mean I vaguely remembered him being on ECW, but I didn’t remember him doing commentary on my beautiful Christian matches. Who allowed this? In all fairness, he’s out there with Josh Mathews, and Josh sucks worse than Byron, so I guess I’ll take what I can get. I also want to note that I, JeriKane, love the silver ECW Championship design. That’s right. Knock me for it all you want, but that title was gorgeous and it just fit the era so well. Plus, it looked perfect with Christian. Can you tell that I love Christian? ‘Cause I really love him. I’m still upset that WWE didn’t give him a proper retirement speech and sendoff. I mean god dammit this man was one of the six who nearly killed themselves to get TLC over. Oh well, I know one day he’ll be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and when that day comes, you know I will be elated.
We start this match off with a lock-up, as you do. Christian backs Regal into the corner, and we get a clean break. A quick stare-down next before Regal grabs hold of Christian’s arm and twists it about. Christian and Regal trade flippy shit maneuvers from a wrist lock position before breaking. An unfortunately placed commercial break takes away from the action until we return and see Christian hit Lord Snugglesworth with a huge shoulder block. William Regal was always really good at looking like he was in legitimate pain. Or maybe he was actually in pain. Christian hits a snap mare and out the ring goes Regal to regroup. Yes, I am extremely surprised I managed to remember the name of that move. Granted it took me a decent two minutes to think about. Christian locks and loads, then unleash a huge dropkick through the ropes to William Regal on the outside. Captain Charisma rolls Regal back into the ring and covers him, but only gets one count. I love how split this crowd is. I know this is Regal’s crowd and all, but he wasn’t exactly a featured superstar at the time. It goes to show how much respect the crowd had and still has for Regal. They know who he is, they know how damn good he is, and they’re never going to forget it. Same for Christian around this time. I think his reaction speaks to how great he was doing on ECW throughout the year.
William Regal regains control with a huge uppercut that sends Christian to the mat. He follows that up with a big forearm to the face. Another uppercut follows as commentary reminds us that Kozlov and Jackson are barred from ringside. I guess this week it’ll be a… table for one. No? Okay, I’m sorry. Christian hits Regal with a shoulder to the gut from the apron as he looks to get things back on his side. He sends Regal face first into the top turnbuckle, then reenters the ring to nail some slaps. An Irish whip leads to Christian hitting the much bigger William Regal with a back body drop. That’s pretty impressive. Especially considering it seemed like Regal helped absolutely none with that. Christian then gets him up to hit one of those awesome reverse DDTs for one count. Damn, we’re really about to go through stages of ref counts with this match. The ECW Champion hits another snapmare, this time into a chin lock. Hashtag rest hold. This might be a good time to get a screenshot, actually. William Regal fights out of the hold with an uppercut, then sends Christian chest first into the turnbuckles, which sends the champ to the mat. He took that Bret Hart bump. Fantastic. Regal covers Christian for only one count, and now it’s Regal who locks in the chin lock. Oh, how the tables have turned.
Christian is all over and underneath the ropes, yet the referee is not counting to five to get Regal off. Pure incompetence, I say. Christian attempted to fight back but got hit with multiple knees to his stomach for good measure. Regal then gouges at the eyes of Christian, and for that the referee counts. Well done Scott. Yeah, it’s the crooked ref Scott Armstrong. Regal sets Christian on the top rope and lays in with some forearms. Regal himself is now scaling the ropes. We’re getting wild up in here, lads. Christian fires back before William Regal can hit anything. He then stands up on the top to hit a huge flying cross body for only a two count. We’ve entered stage two of the ref counting process, my friends. Christian takes a break to soak it all in and looks towards his peeps in the crowd, which leads to a decent amount of boos. He then does that move where the opponent is on the middle rope, and he steps on them to choke them out. I’m not doing good with my move-calling today. Nonetheless, I have decided to grab a screenshot of it just in case. I may or may not use it later on. We’ll see. Christian steps off, but only to reset the ref’s count as he goes right back into the choke. What a feeling. Remember that one? Babyface + heel = feel. Only because he’s in the UK against William Regal. Otherwise, pure babyface. Christian jumps over the top to the outside, only to slap Regal. Holy shit I love that spot. Regal sold it like death too, it was quite funny.
Captain Charisma once again ascends the ropes, only to be met by Regal and his forearms. They do the back and forth strike spot and it’s Christian who is on the boo side. After an eye rake, Regal is able to get onto the second rope, where he connects with a beautiful butterfly suplex down to the mat. There’s a reason I always make that move my signature in the WWE games. It’s amazing. Both men are down now. Regal soon begins to stir, and quickly goes over to Christian for a pin attempt, however, he only gets a two count. William Regal lets out some rage before slapping on an arm-trap sleeper hold type of maneuver as we go into a commercial break. Lovely. You’d think with this god damn WWE Network that they’d just include whatever action happened during these breaks. Don’t tell me they don’t have the footage available. I refuse to believe that. If WWE was able to release an entire DVD solely based on RAW after-show antics, then they’ve gotta have footage for everything, including this. Nonetheless, we come back from the break to see Christian failing at a baseball slide as Regal moved out of the way. That was followed up by Regal hitting a huge exploder suplex on the outside of the ring. Regal then hilariously grabs Christian by his ear to throw him back into the ring, where he attempts a pin, to only get a two count. Albeit it was a very close two count.
Lord Snugglesworth tries yet again to get the pinfall, but again Christian is able to kick out. He then lifts Christian onto his feet to hit some uppercuts, followed by a kick that sends Christian back to the mat. Another pin attempt, another kick out. Regal goes for an arm trap sleeper, but Christian is able to fight out of it. Big slap by Christian as he looks to gain momentum. That is halted however as Christian runs face first into Regal’s fist. Regal does more heel-Regal stuff here as we continue on. Uppercuts, taking advantage of the ref’s five counts, the works. The ECW champion breaks free and heads to the second rope only to get caught by Regal, who takes his leg out from under him. This leads to an extremely awkward looking cover that only yields Regal a two count. In fairness, I get what he was doing, trying to keep those shoulders down. It was great in terms of selling what wrestling at its core is all about, but damn it really was weird looking. Another awkward cover by Regal for another two count. Next, we get a combination of face gouging and forearms to the chest by Regal to a beaten down Christian. Regal rolls up Christian for another two count. The desperation in Lord Regal is beginning to show. Christian gets away to the corner, where he lures in Regal for that sunset flip pin he does, except this time Regal sits down on him and grabs the rope for a pin of his own. Referee Scott Armstrong notices this cheating behavior, however, and he’s going to tolerate none of it. Christian in the meantime counters into his intended pin attempt, yet only gets a two count. What a shame.
Christian gets taken over and under by Regal with another exploder suplex, which nets Regal another two count. We get some submission wrestling here with Regal applying a full nelson, while the crowd chants “let’s go Christian.” Make up your mind, crowd. Christian fights out and hits a HUGE Killswitch on Lord Regal from out of nowhere! Holy crap that was unexpected. He takes a bit of time to capitalize on this though. Due to this, William Regal is about to kick out once Christian does attempt a pin. Regal kicks Christian right in the face, then attempts to steal one. Not gonna happen however as Captain Charisma escapes. Back to square one now, as Christian looks to gain momentum for perhaps another Killswitch. Champ hits a running forearm to a sitting Regal, then an elbow drop to a downed Regal. Unique offense there from Christian. I dig it. He goes for a cover afterwards to get another two. Man, both these guys look spent. I’m really enjoying how desperate they seem to win this match. Face first into the corner goes Regal, then Christian attempts a tornado DDT. However Regal is able to block it, and pushes Christian off the ropes, tumbling to the outside of the ring. A random horn goes off in the arena as Christian fights his way back into the ring, until he hits a huge missile dropkick from the second rope. King down, lads. Christian then hits another missile dropkick, this time off the top rope. Afterwards he covers Regal, but for only a two count.
Christian now does his clap-taunt-thing to signal for the Killswitch. He attempts it, but Regal is able to push him off and hit him with a forearm to the jaw. Regal then tries for another cover and is only able to get a two count. He slides into the corner to prepare for a Knee Trembler. He misses his first attempt, however turns around and immediately hits it on his second attempt. That was a pretty cool spot, not gonna lie. Regardless, Christian manages to kick out. What a match. Christian gets up and attempts another Killswitch, but Regal is able to take Christian down and into a Regal Stretch. After some struggle, Christian is able to break Regal’s grip, then strikes him straight in the face with some elbows. Ouch. Regal runs into a dropkick, which Christian follows up with a middle rope back elbow. Christian tries for a Killswitch but gets exploder suplexed instead. Regal is really feeling it now. Knee Tremblr imminent. Christian says ‘no sir’ as he sidesteps, and connects with a second Killswitch to get the one, two, three. This one is over.
Match Rating: 4 Gems
That my friends was a wrestling match. It was all about wrestling, its psychology, and what it’s really all about. Two guys giving it their all to win a championship. Even without knowledge of the story prior to this match, Christian and William Regal worked to make this match great as a standalone. You could tell Regal was the older, more experienced wrestler, looking to knock off the champion in any way possible. You could tell Christian was desperate to keep his title and was having to outsmart the villain at every turn. Add in a cool UK crowd, and you’ve got a classic little match here. Just one of Christian’s many amazing matches from his ECW run, and one of William Regal’s final in-ring classics. It’s a shame WWE cutoff ECW when it was its peak because stuff like this was happening every week, and it was glorious.
Be sure to join us here next week for Hidden Gems as we go back to SmackDown in 2001 for a forgotten Intercontinental Championship match between two of the greatest superstars of all time. Until then, I am JeriKane, and this is the Hidden Gems series.