The Zom­bie

SFX - - View screen - Alex Cox, Op­er­a­tions Ed­i­tor

Send angry mail to sfx@ fu­turenet. com about this. Please do. Be­cause I don’t have the space here to prop­erly con­vince you that pro­fes­sional wrestling – a wacky self con­tained uni­verse of evil vil­lains, gal­lant su­per­heroes and un­be­liev­able vi­o­lence and re­silience – de­serves to be firmly stuffed into the SFX canon. But hu­mour me. Let’s talk about about The Zom­bie.

His story starts with Ex­treme Cham­pi­onship Wrestling. The Philadel­phia in­de­pen­dent group gained a cult fol­low­ing thanks to its grungy pre­sen­ta­tion and mix of niche wrestling styles, from Mex­i­can Lucha Li­bre to ( pri­mar­ily) gaudy ul­tra- vi­o­lence, but suf­fered from some cre­ative fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment which led to its as­sets be­ing pur­chased by pow­er­house World Wrestling En­ter­tain­ment. After ex­ploit­ing the brand for two suc­cess­ful pay- per- view events and sev­eral DVD re­leases, WWE struck a deal with the Sci- Fi Chan­nel ( later Syfy) to launch a brand new weekly ECW tele­vi­sion show.

Would wrestling as- was fit the then genre- fo­cused con­tent of Sci- Fi? No. But WWE jefe Vince McMa­hon and Sci- Fi boss Bon­nie Ham­mer con­cocted a plan to present ECW as grap­pling with a twist that would suit its home chan­nel. This man­i­fested it­self – after pass­ing through the of­ten ques­tion­able fil­ter of WWE’s cre­ative team – on ECW’s 2006 re- de­but event. In­de­pen­dent wrestler Tim Ar­son, clad in torn plaid and filthy jeans, sham­bled arms- out­stretched to the ring as stock li­brary fu­ne­real or­gan mu­sic played. Thus The Zom­bie was born. And fol­low­ing a quick promo (“Uu­u­ur­rrrrrrrrgh!”) The Zom­bie was sub­se­quently killed at the hands of The Sand­man, a beer­swill­ing, cig­a­rette- smoking fig­ure­head of the old ECW ethos. After a kendo stick as­sault which gen­er­ated a pleas­ing plume of grave dust, the first match of ECW was in the books, and The Zom­bie re­turned to the grave, never to be seen again.

To me, no five min­utes of pro­gram­ming has bet­ter summed up what makes wrestling bril­liant. It was silly, need­less, vi­o­lent and even slightly petu­lent. I was happy to join the com­men­ta­tors in their ex­as­per­ated laugh­ter as they tried to fathom what the hell was go­ing on. And while ECW ended up shed­ding both the ex­treme and fan­tas­ti­cal el­e­ments over the course of its 193- episode run, this lu­di­crous mo­ment is the one I keep com­ing back to. And hey, there’s no rea­son The Zom­bie couldn’t claw his way out of the soil once again. I live in hope.

“Hey, not the br­rraaains!”

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