It started inside a warehouse in Pennsylvania. Not an arena. Not even a community center. But that was the thing about ECW. It didn’t need the same type of flare or pageantry that WWF or WCW demanded. It just needed the fans to never stop cheering.
It’s been over two decades since Dennis Carolluzzo and Paul Heyman turned Eastern Championship Wrestling into Extreme Championship Wrestling. For an inspirational period in time that switch changed the landscape of pro wrestling, changing what American “wrasslers” were and motivating Vince McMahon’s WWF to ignite their “attitude era” (which, in turn, would spawn superstars like HHH, The Rock, and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin).
This week was deemed “ECW Week” by the WWE (that’s a whole other story), and with it came a brand new ECW pay-per-view and a flurry of renewed online interest in the mostly defunct Extreme Championship Wrestling. However, while the chants and cheering remain the same, there is no way for us the recapture that lightening in a bottle 20 years ago…unless it was on YouTube.
Here are four reasons why ECW was so great.
1. Many of WWE’s existing superstars cut their teeth (and forehead) in ECW.
High-flyer Rey Mysterio has spent time in three of wrestling’s biggest organizations but, for my money, nothing will come close to his epic match with Psicosis (although, that time Kevin Nash used him as a lawn dart was pretty memorable).
2. Rob Van Damm. That is all.
ECW pumped out many great superstars, but RVD was arguably their most celebrated. In the following match-up against Bam Bam Bigelow you can see why.
Under any other organization, this mismatch would have generated yawns from the crowd, but on RVD’s watch it becomes a spotfest that encompasses everything skillfully ridiculous about ECW’s talent.
3. Putting someone through a table wasn’t enough.
My first memory of ECW was of the Dudley Boyz. It was a crappy VHS copy of the tag team cutting a promo on the entire audience (and spewing the type of rhetoric that would be called “hate speech” today). The audience responded by throwing so much garbage at them that they dissappeared amidst a hail of refuse.
Make no mistake, in ECW, the Dudley Boyz were heat seeking missiles. And this match against their brother (Spike) is one of the reasons why.
4. High-flyers from around the world came to ECW.
A crowning moment in ECW history. Japan vs. Mexico vs. America.
I really can’t think of a better match to show someone who has never heard of Extreme Championship Wrestling.*
Troy-Jeffrey Allen writes about action/adventure for Action A Go Go. He is a comic book writer whose works include BamnComics.com, The Magic Bullet, Dr. Dremo’s Taphouse of Tall Tales, and the Harvey Award nominated District Comics. In addition, Allen has been a contributing writer for ComicBookBin.com, OfNote Magazine, and ForcesOfGeek.com. His work has been featured in the City Paper, The Baltimore Sun, Bethesda Magazine, The Examiner, and The Washington Post. Yes, he wrote this bio.