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  • Writer's pictureMatt Dod

The Fall Of ECW


For more on this topic and loads of pro wrestling content, check out my YouTube channel: The Fall Of ECW, What Happened?


In this article, we will discover the key components in the failure of ECW in the late 1990s and early 2000s. From the final ECW ppvs with Barely Legal, Heatwave and Guilty As Charged, through the success of WWE ECW One Night Stand.


We will see how a veteran Paul Heyman would rise through the ranks in WWE before taking over WWF Raw in 2001 as part of the WCW and ECW invasion. With appearances from Tommy Dreamer, Sandman, Rob Van Dam, Sabu, Terry Funk, Mick Foley, Joey Styles, Raven and John Cena as well as a host of other hardcore pro wrestlers who took ECW from the ECW Arena in Philadelphia all the way to WWE Wrestlemania.


WOMEN OF ECW


With the insertion of extreme violence and lashings of foul language, ECW also introduced sexually objectifying women to their repertoire around this time.


"When ECW was first starting, it was more geared towards children. ECW was mainly that 18-24 male demographic of testosterone-filled, ass-kicking wrestling with hot women. There was also a lot of blood, a no-no in WCW and WWE, and many women were getting their butt kicked by men. Some wrestling fans on the internet were offended, and some people weren’t, but there were a lot of people talking." Tommy Dreamer

From air-headed cheerleaders to ex-porn stars, Paul Heyman brought in a legion of women who were there for nothing more than to shake their butts and look good on the arms of the male competitors. And for the time period, it worked perfectly.

The prior WWE success as Sunny made her a big name with more star power than most in ECW. Sytch has taken a big hit through the years with various arrests relating to her driving under the influence multiple times. This meant her fall from grace was swift and sad. On her way down she made several appearances alongside Chris Candido.


What this has to do with wrestling, I have no idea, but I can see the ratings soaring!” Joey Styles


The popularity of Beulah McGillicutty in ECW came when she was in a love triangle with Raven and Tommy Dreamer. Beulah’s backstory was that Dreamer broke her heart at summer camp and she ended up with Raven as the two looked to get revenge for his past actions. An eventual face turn would see Dreamer and Beulah becoming a couple with tremendous results. The retirement of Beulah came towards the end of ECW when moving into other fields. Beulah became a successful children’s book author and now has a family with Dreamer after they became a real couple outside of the ring.

Francine is the top pick for the most important woman in ECW’s history when looking back at her long run. The role managing Shane Douglas put him over the top as the missing piece for his heel character. Tommy Dreamer and Justin Credible also benefited from having her at their side. WWE did sign Francine in 2006 for the ECW brand relaunch, but the company did nothing of note with her before the release.


"We did a lot of stuff, and we always incorporated sex into everything, because sex sells." Francine

The last few years of ECW featured Dawn Marie becoming a breakout star. Dawn managing the Impact Players tag team helped her break out as a charismatic talent with a look that clearly connected with the ECW faithful. WWE signed Marie after ECW went out of business and she had a successful stint there as a heel personality.


"Being a woman in ECW was probably the one experience that made me tough," she admits. "It made me learn how to protect myself and have confidence in myself. There were no prima donnas in ECW. They groomed us to be tough." Dawn Marie

Although the company was clearly run by seedy men who saw these female performers as nothing more than some cleavage and a little titillation for the young men in the crowd, some of the women on the roster managed to make a name for themselves as in-ring competitors despite that fact.


The ECW run of Jazz added something different than the other women in the company since she wrestled against men. Jazz did spend time managing the Impact Players with others, but it was the matches vs male competitors to show her in-ring skills.


"The biggest difference, ECW was a family. There was no competition amongst the workers in the back," said Jazz. "There were no egos because we all knew that if we were there, we were going to get to wrestle. And at the end of the day, that's what any and every worker would want, anyway, it's to wrestle." Jazz

One of the rare instances of Paul Heyman missing the boat on a future talent saw Lita playing the character of Miss Congeniality. Lita’s chances of success were slim to none in a terrible role as the girlfriend of Danny Doring. The main purpose for Lita’s character was to get heat in the form of negative chants that would hopefully carry over to Doring and Roadkill. Lita became a legendary star for WWE and is considered one of the most popular and influential female wrestlers of her generation.


“I knew that there was lot of talent there and I could learn. They were No. 3 in the big 3 promotions. I wanted to learn, but I had my eyes set on going to WWE.” Lita


So now ECW had the violence, it had the excellent in-ring work and recognisable wrestling faces, throw in some late 90s T and A and you have a magnet for rabid young, disenfranchised teenagers, pulling them from the local area to each and every one of ECW’s shows.




END OF AN ERA

In 1999, Paul Heyman entered into a three-year contract with TNN, aiming to raise national awareness of his company. On August 27th, 1999, ECW made its national broadcast debut on The Nashville Network (later known as Spike), quickly becoming the channel's highest-rated show, despite the absence of advertising or an increased production budget.


Prior to ECW on TNN, ECW events were only televised through syndication. TNN, looking to capitalize on the growing viewership of teenagers and young males attracted by RollerJam, added ECW to its "Friday Night Thrill Zone" lineup. The addition of ECW supposedly contributed to a significant boost in the network's young male demographic on Friday nights in the early 2000s.


Initially, this opportunity seemed like a chance for ECW to compete on a major scale with the WWE and WCW. However, the deal turned out to be a nightmare as the network's involvement began to harm the product. The relationship between ECW and TNN showed signs of strain when TNN president David Hall suggested that the program should be "toned down" from its usual extreme style.


ECW was known for its more violent matches and explicit content, distinguishing it from the leading professional wrestling companies of that time, the WWF (now WWE) and WCW. Paul Heyman later claimed that TNN's requests to tone down ECW's content were excessive, as documented in WWE's The Rise and Fall of ECW DVD.


ECW on TNN lasted for thirteen-and-a-half months. As part of an agreement between WWF and TNN's owner Viacom, the show Raw moved to TNN on September 25, 2000, coinciding with a major rebranding of the channel as The National Network. During a live on-air promo, Heyman expressed his displeasure with TNN, accusing them of neglecting ECW by not promoting the show and threatening legal action. Despite rumours of a possible coexistence between the two shows on TNN, ECW on TNN was cancelled just two weeks later. Heyman believed that TNN used ECW as a test run to gauge wrestling's performance on the channel, a sentiment shared by former ECW wrestler Jerry Lynn.


So now Paul Heyman had lost his lucrative slot on national television and all of the financial stability that came with it. He could have cut back on the ECW roster at this time and saved cash on some of the larger contracts. He could have toned down the excessive production in his shows and save money on pyro, flares and fireworks.


Perhaps he could have gone to the bank and attempted to receive some kind of financial assistance. But instead, Paul Heyman made the most ingenious and logical next step imaginable. He spent all of the rest of the non-existent money.


"We had enough in the budget to last us to the first major event that I completely scripted, which was the November to Remember. If that show didn't completely sell out, the promotion would have folded. That got us enough of a budget to last to February, which ended up being The Night The Line Was Crossed. If that show didn't sell out completely, and we sell a certain number of T-shirts and videotapes, we wouldn't have been open the next day. We survived. Literally, it was a struggle to survive every day." Paul Heyman


ECW HARDCORE REVOLUTION


ECW Hardcore Revolution, released in 2000, is a professional wrestling video game that sought to capture the unique essence of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). Developed by Acclaim Entertainment, the game aimed to deliver an authentic experience for fans of the promotion. This review explores the highlights and drawbacks of ECW Hardcore Revolution, shedding light on its ability to replicate the hardcore wrestling style.


ECW Hardcore Revolution succeeds in capturing the essence of ECW's gritty and extreme atmosphere. The game showcases an impressive roster of ECW wrestlers, complete with their signature moves, entrance themes, and costumes. The attention to detail in replicating the unique personalities of these wrestlers adds an authentic touch that fans of the promotion can appreciate.


The gameplay mechanics in ECW Hardcore Revolution provide a solid foundation for the in-ring action. The controls are intuitive, allowing players to execute various moves and combinations with relative ease.


The game includes a wide array of match types, including hardcore matches, ladder matches, and tables matches, which align with the extreme nature of ECW. The inclusion of weapons and interactive elements within the arenas adds an extra layer of excitement and strategy.


One of the standout features of ECW Hardcore Revolution is its robust Create-a-Wrestler mode. This mode allows players to design and customize their own wrestlers, from appearance and moveset to entrance music and attire. The level of depth and customization options available in this mode enhances the game's replay value and provides an avenue for personal creativity.


ECW Hardcore Revolution shines in its multiplayer and versus modes. The game allows players to compete against friends locally or through multiplayer functionality. The inclusion of tag team matches, battle royals, and tournament modes adds variety to the multiplayer experience, making it enjoyable for group gatherings or friendly competitions.


While ECW Hardcore Revolution was released during the early days of 3D gaming, the graphics and visual presentation have not aged well. The character models lack detail and can appear blocky and stiff. The arenas and environments, although recognizable, lack visual polish and fail to capture the grandeur of a live ECW event.


ECW Hardcore Revolution suffers from a limited move set for each wrestler, which can result in repetitive gameplay over time. Additionally, the AI of the computer-controlled opponents can be inconsistent, often failing to provide a consistently challenging experience. This can lead to matches feeling predictable and lacking in strategic depth.


The game's Story Mode, while attempting to emulate the narrative-driven style of ECW, falls short in terms of depth and engagement. The storylines and character progression are minimal, leaving players craving a more immersive and captivating experience. This missed opportunity to fully explore the rich storytelling potential of ECW is a notable drawback.


ECW Hardcore Revolution successfully captures the essence of Extreme Championship Wrestling, providing fans with a taste of the promotion's unique brand of hardcore wrestling. The faithful representation of ECW wrestlers, solid gameplay mechanics, and extensive Create-a-Wrestler mode are commendable aspects of the game. However, the dated graphics, limited move sets, and lack of depth in the Story Mode hinder the overall experience. Despite its flaws, ECW Hardcore Revolution remains a nostalgic trip for fans of the promotion and a respectable attempt at translating ECW's extreme spirit into the realm of video games.





XPW 2000 HEATWAVE

With numerous renowned stars having ventured towards more promising horizons, embracing fresh opportunities within the WWF, such as The Dudley Boyz and Tazz making their debut, the ECW found itself truly embodying the essence of the island of misfit toys they had always identified with.


In the wake of the contentious exit of ECW Champion Mike Awesome to WCW, ECW found itself in a precarious situation. The unfolding of events at Heat Wave 2000 not only thrust them into the spotlight but also delivered a mind-boggling spectacle, solidifying its reputation as a crazy affair.


In a fascinating sequence of events, rumours started circulating prior to the show at the Grand Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. Speculations were rife that wrestlers from Xtreme Pro Wrestling (XPW) were plotting to attend the event, taking advantage of its location in their Los Angeles 'backyard.' Adding an intriguing twist, XPW producer Kevin Kleinrock surprisingly purchased the tickets himself. Interestingly, Kleinrock would later become the creator of the ill-fated Wrestling Society X (WSX), which you can learn more about here.


Being aware of XPW's intention to invade the Pay-Per-View, ECW sought the assistance of former porn star Jasmine St. Claire, who was now a part of the ECW roster due to her relationship with The Blue Meanie. St. Claire, having previously worked with XPW, was tasked with identifying any XPW intruders among the incoming fans. Meanwhile, ECW's owner, Paul Heyman, had assured that none of his contracted wrestlers would disrupt the event. Since the XPW wrestlers had purchased their tickets like ordinary fans, they couldn't be simply turned away. To minimize the potential disruption, ECW instructed building security to confiscate or have XPW signs and shirts turned inside out as the attendees entered the arena.


The XPW talents, including notable stars such as The Messiah, Supreme, Homeless Jimmy, Kid Kaos, announcer Kris Kloss, and valet/porn star Kristi Myst, were escorted to their seats, conveniently located on the side facing the 'hard cam,' ensuring they were not immediately visible on camera. Throughout the event, there were no significant disturbances, aside from a few fans from the rival promotion approaching the XPW wrestlers and valets for autographs and photos.


However, after a match between Rhino and The Sandman, Rhino made a bold move by chugging a can of beer and then hurling it towards the XPW invaders, effectively initiating the first confrontation. It was during the penultimate match featuring Scotty Anton (formerly known as Scotty Riggs in WCW) and Rob Van Dam that the XPW crew decided it was time to make a name for themselves at ECW's expense. To the crowd's excitement, Kristi Myst garnered a huge pop by removing her top, though she remained wearing a bra, ensuring no nudity was exposed. This unexpected action created tension with Francine, who had planned a similar moment during the main event, a Stairway To Hell match (a more extreme term for a ladder match) between Justin Credible and Tommy Dreamer.


“We were all looking at each other like, ‘Rob is gonna be fucking pissed off’ because he spent all this money on front row seats and the shirts didn’t get on. The main event came and we said ‘if we’re gonna do it, let’s do it now.’ So we did, we showed our shirts’” The Messiah


In a surprising turn of events, prior to the start of the match, the XPW stars boldly flipped their shirts inside out, proudly displaying the XPW logo. Their rowdy behavior escalated, catching the attention of Tommy Dreamer, who promptly left the ring on camera and made his way toward the agitated crowd. Almost immediately, a substantial portion of the ECW roster and crew members rushed to support Dreamer. During the commotion, Joey Styles skillfully attempted to divert attention, claiming that an unruly fan had grabbed Francine.


The situation quickly intensified as the XPW wrestlers were forcibly escorted out of the building, with Paul Heyman himself spitting on some members of the XPW crew. Following their removal, Messiah and his associates allegedly began distributing flyers for an upcoming XPW show featuring former ECW stars Sabu and Terry Funk in the main event. This further escalated the conflict, leading to an all-out clash between the ECW and XPW factions.


ECW stars, including Mikey Whipwreck, Amish Roadkill, Sal E. Graziano (the imposing bodyguard of the FBI), New Jack, and even Paul Heyman, actively participated in the battle. Meanwhile, the main event continued inside the arena.


An intriguing twist unfolded as a group of Los Angeles Police Department officers observed the chaos, mistakenly assuming it was part of the scripted entertainment due to the nature of the confrontation. Eventually, the XPW wrestlers retreated, while ECW remained tight-lipped about the incident. However, Rob Black, associated with XPW, took to the syndicated XPW television show to proclaim his innocence in the matter.


In a final rant, he boldly declared that XPW would outlive ECW. Interestingly, his statement proved true, as ECW filed for bankruptcy the following year before being acquired by Vince McMahon and the WWF. XPW managed to survive for a few more years, organizing events at the old ECW arena and employing several former ECW stars whom the World Wrestling Federation had not signed in later years.


Ultimately, while it initially seemed like the XPW invasion of ECW had the potential to spark a larger storyline, it ultimately became just another intriguing footnote in wrestling history. One can only speculate about the possibilities had a working relationship between the two "Extreme" companies been established, but such conjecture remains purely speculative.



THE FINAL SHOW


In January 2001, the Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) promotion was in a state of disarray. It was plagued by severe financial troubles resulting from poor business decisions, as well as the continuous departure of top talent to rival companies WWE and WCW.


The Guilty as Charged pay-per-view event, held on January 7, 2001, at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, New York, marked a significant turning point for ECW.
“The Hammerstein Ballroom was magical. We always had a great relationship with New York. We had the Lost Battalion Hall and the Elks Lodge in Queens, but Hammerstein was a big step for us.” Tommy Dreamer

It would be the last event produced by Paul Heyman and the original ECW. And this home away from home in New York would serve as the perfect venue.


“It was a major league venue, in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. And yet, it had the same feel to me as the ECW Arena during the height of the promotion. It was intimate enough to maintain our aura, and large enough to turn a tremendous profit and fund the company. Had ECW continued operations, the Hammerstein was going to become our base.” Paul Heyman

This broadcast was the final farewell to the beloved original cast and format of the company, as it would undergo major changes thereafter.


“I never believed in my heart Living Dangerously wouldn’t happen until about 12 days before the event, when we had to secure the satellite time and just could not afford it. At that point, I knew we were going down. And yet, I still hoped for a last-moment miracle, which had happened for us several times before.” Paul Heyman

The centrepiece of the event was a ground-breaking encounter known as the Tables, Ladders, Chairs, and Canes match, a first and only in the history of ECW. The match was fought for the prestigious ECW World Heavyweight Championship, with Steve Corino putting his title on the line against The Sandman and Justin Credible.


In an astonishing turn of events, The Sandman emerged victorious, claiming the championship after climbing the ladder to claim the belt. However, his reign was short-lived as he immediately faced a determined challenger in Rhino, who came out and threatened Sandman’s family if he wasn’t given an immediate shot at Sandman’s new ECW title.


Surpassing all expectations, Rhino managed to dethrone The Sandman, delivering a wicked gore through a table and seized the coveted title for himself.


With the championship in his possession, Rhino issued an open challenge, inviting any worthy competitor to step forward. Rob Van Dam fearlessly answered the call, ready to test his mettle against the best. But before the encounter could unfold, Jerry Lynn ambushed Van Dam, igniting an impromptu clash between the two dynamic athletes.

In an intense showdown, Van Dam emerged triumphant, showcasing his resilience and skill. This electrifying confrontation epitomized the rebellious spirit that defined the renegade company, delivering a fitting conclusion to the era of the original and independent ECW.


However, behind the scenes things were completely falling apart. The nature of the impromptu match between RVD and Jerry Lynn was in fact due to a dispute over pay, with Paul Heyman yet again falling behind on his employee’s contracts.


“There was a big controversy based on money between Jerry Lynn, Rob Van Dam and Paul Heyman about doing that final show. Jerry didn’t even bring his boots because he was owed so much money. I believe he used Scotty Riggs’ black boots and black biker shorts for that match.” Tommy Dreamer

Initially, ECW had planned to present their next pay-per-view event, Living Dangerously, on March 11, 2001, signalling a reduction in their pay-per-view schedule. However, unforeseen circumstances abruptly altered these intentions. Surprisingly, the fate of ECW took an unexpected turn after a house show in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, held on January 13, unexpectedly became the promotion's final show ever, without prior indication.


As the weeks progressed, ECW encountered more setbacks. In February, news circulated that the highly anticipated Living Dangerously pay-per-view had been cancelled, leaving fans disappointed and uncertain about the promotion's future.


“To me, it was the end, and I was calling the final ECW show. I knew we were completely out of money. We borrowed money from everybody we could, including Acclaim video games and Original San Francisco Toymakers. The death knell was that there was going to be no Hardcore TV the following week. There was no money left to pay talent, no money left to rent buildings and no money left to pay the production team. It was over.” Joey Styles

Then, on March 5, a bombshell announcement shook the wrestling world. Paul Heyman, a prominent figure within ECW, stunned audiences by making a surprising appearance on Monday Night Raw. This unexpected development witnessed Heyman reuniting with his former WCW colleague, Jim Ross, as he stepped in to replace Jerry Lawler, who had recently resigned from the WWF.


Heyman's unexpected transition to Monday Night Raw left the wrestling industry abuzz, with speculation and intrigue surrounding the implications for both ECW and the WWF. The surprising reunion of Heyman and Ross added another layer of anticipation and uncertainty to an already tumultuous period in professional wrestling.


“I came to WWE and my first thing I said to Vince (McMahon) in coming in the door was, ‘I don’t wanna be on television. I’m 35, I had my fun. I wanna be behind the scenes only’ and then the whole thing happened with they fired Jerry Lawler’s wife and Jerry Lawler quit and I wasn’t supposed to get into WWE until WrestleMania because I was too busy dealing with the ridiculous amount of legalities of what was the pending ECW bankruptcy. So I’m going into a personal bankruptcy and a corporate bankruptcy and I’m jumping into WWE and I cut my deal to come in behind the scenes and I get a call from Vince on a Tuesday and he says, ‘Are you aware that Jerry Lawler quit last night?” Paul Heyman



BANKRUPT


For fans of ECW, news of their financial struggles going into the new millennium may have came as somewhat of a shock. After all the company was putting on more wrestling events in bigger, more prestigious venues than ever before. They had managed a run of well viewed and critically acclaimed pay-per-view shows and were seemingly set to continue their meteoric rise. However, to anyone who had been unfortunate enough to engage in a business relationship with Paul Heyman at this time, the total collapse of the company was always only a matter of time. ECW had faced financial difficulties throughout its entire existence, but eventually in 2001 the magnitude of the debts accrued by Heyman and ECW became apparent.


"You cannot achieve success without the risk of failure. And I learned a long time ago, you cannot achieve success if you fear failure. If you're not afraid to fail, man you have a chance to succeed but you're never gonna get there unless you risk it all the way. I was a failure. Sometimes half the fun is failing, learning from your mistakes, waking up the next morning and saying, okay watch out, here I come again. A little bit smarter, licking my wounds and really not looking forward to getting my ass kicked the way I just did yesterday. And now I'm just a little more dangerous." Paul Heyman

ECW's financial struggles were primarily attributed to the high costs associated with running a professional wrestling promotion and the intense competition within the industry. The company operated on a much smaller budget compared to its mainstream counterparts, such as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). ECW relied heavily on its passionate fan base and innovative storytelling to differentiate itself in the highly competitive wrestling landscape.


Throughout the late 1990s, ECW experienced significant growth in popularity and critical acclaim, largely due to its unique presentation and emphasis on a more extreme and gritty style of wrestling. However, the company struggled to convert its cult following into sustainable financial success. Despite various television deals and pay-per-view events, ECW often faced challenges in securing consistent revenue streams.


One of the major setbacks for ECW was losing its television deal with TNN (The Nashville Network) in 2000. The loss of this national television exposure limited ECW's reach and ability to attract new viewers and sponsors. This setback, combined with increasing debts, led to the company filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April 2001.


Under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, ECW attempted to reorganize its finances and continue operations. However, the company faced insurmountable challenges and was unable to secure the necessary funding to sustain its operations. As a result, ECW's assets were eventually sold to WWE in early 2001. Following the bankruptcy, WWE acquired the rights to ECW's video library and intellectual property.


“The whole wrestling industry collapsed in 2001. The bubble burst on the industry and WCW and ECW collapsed under the weight of it all. If we were still around today, no I don't think we'd be number two. I think we would mop the floor with WWE simply because of our work ethic and the rabid fan base and how the fans promoted us themselves. I think if we could've survived that year, it would be an entirely different industry today.” Paul Heyman

During the bankruptcy proceedings, the financial records from Paul Heyman and the ECW holding company HHG Corporation became public. This is where we see with undoubtable proof that Heyman’s wise talking, manipulating of the facts and risk-taking behind the scenes had hidden the true financial collapse of the company as his borrowing had grown to astronomical levels.


“Although he was taking care of me pretty good, it still felt like the longer I was there, the deeper hole I was digging for myself. And so, that’s why eventually I was like, ‘Look, I’m not going to be getting paid this and another type of company is going to be around much longer. So, when I left I think it was just before their last show if I’m not mistaken, but the very loose number though was 150 Grand.” Rob Van Dam

Alongside the money owed to RVD, the owner of ECW owed Tommy Dreamer, Rhino, Shane Douglas, Francine, Don Callis, Super Crazy alongside some other wrestlers, almost $300,000 in contractually obligated missed payments. Joey Styles a passionate supporter of Heyman and a crucial part of the company’s success was owed more than $50,000.


But it wasn’t only the onscreen talent that had not been paid by ECW. Paul Heyman had made great strives towards increasing the production value of his live shows, but at a huge cost. He owed 9 different production companies in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Chicago and Atlanta an amount totalling more than half a million dollars.


He owed the owners of the Maddison Square Garden venue $250,000 and the manufacturer of ECW’s action figure range, The Original San Francisco Toymakers the same amount. When ECW’s


“In total, HHG listed debts of $8,881,435 which doesn't include the"unknown" amounts owed to some workers or allowed for the settlement of the thirteen pending lawsuits and other potential litigation.”


HARCORE HOMECOMING

In 2004, after finally purchasing ECW’s assets from a bankruptcy court, WWE releases “The Rise and Fall of ECW,” which tells the wild story of the alternative promotion’s carnal history. The documentary is such a success that WWE follows it up with ECW One Night Stand on pay-per-view. However, Vince McMahon was not the only one with the bright idea to pounce on the revived interest in the extreme brand.


In response to the Rise and Fall documentary, many ex-ECW wrestlers felt that they had not been given the chance to express their side of the story by WWE. After all, Vince McMahon’s company had only used interviews from wrestlers they had signed on their roster at the time. The likes of Shane Douglas, Raven and Sandman had all been instrumental in the growing success of ECW, but were all absent in WWE’s newly released documentary.


So, an unlikely figure emerged in order to shine a light on the other side of the company’s past. Jeremy Borash a man who started his career as a commentator in WCW and then TNA stepped up. Alongside the Big Vision Entertainment production company, Borash not only produced the Forever Hardcore documentary, but to coincide with its release, begun organising a wrestling re-union show.


On June 10, 2005, the first-ever Hardcore Homecoming event took place at the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, the spiritual home of ECW. was where the event was held. This means that the event occurred just two days prior to the WWE's ECW One Night Stand 2005 reunion show in New York City. Before the show, a fan tailgate party was organized outside the former ECW Arena, with several wrestlers making appearances. This gathering harkened back to the 1980s era of territorial wrestling, when independent promotions would often host barbecues before and after their events.


The main event of the show was a three-way dance match between Shane Douglas, Terry Funk, and Sabu. This match was highly anticipated as it showcased three of the most iconic figures in ECW history. Other notable matches included a steel cage match between Raven and The Sandman, a tag team match between The Dudley Boyz (Buh Buh Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley) and The Gangstas (New Jack and Mustafa Saed), and a four-way dance match for the ECW World Television Championship.


The event also featured several memorable moments and surprises, including the return of former ECW owner Tod Gordon and the emotional tribute to ECW wrestler Chris Candido, who had passed away earlier that year.


None of the former ECW performers who were under contract with WWE appeared at the Hardcore Homecoming event. However, Mick Foley, a retired wrestler who was not signed to WWE at the time, made a surprise appearance. The event featured former ECW ring announcers Bob Artese and Stephen DeAngelis, as well as former ECW referees John Finnegan, Mike Kehner, and John "Pee Wee" Moore, and former ECW timekeeper Rocco Musciano.


Hardcore Homecoming received positive reviews from both fans and critics. It captured the spirit and nostalgia of the original ECW and provided an opportunity for fans to relive the excitement and passion of the hardcore wrestling era.





ONE NIGHT STAND


In the annals of professional wrestling history, there are moments that stand out as transformative, forever altering the landscape of the industry. ECW One Night Stand 2005 is undoubtedly one of those landmark events. As a resurrected and nostalgic homage to Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), this pay-per-view event held on June 12, 2005, at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, became a rallying cry for die-hard fans and a testament to the enduring legacy of ECW. This essay explores the significance, atmosphere, and impact of ECW One Night Stand 2005, a night that rekindled the flame of hardcore wrestling.


“I went through different cycles of motivation in my career; the biggest one was bringing ECW back. When I mentioned the idea to Vince about doing the One Night Stand, a reunion show where the ECW alumni could be seen the way we want to be seen, just for one night, he went for it and thought it was a great idea. I was going around to all the old ECW wrestlers like Spike Dudley and Taz, saying, ‘If I talk Vince into doing this pay-per-view, you guys are down, right?’ Everybody was like, ‘It’s not going to happen. It did happen, and even though I was injured and side-lined because of my reconstructed knee, it was still one of my favourite nights up to that point of my career. It was awesome for ECW to be back and on WWE’s stage so everybody could see it.” Rob Van Dam


Following ECW's closure in 2001 due to financial struggles, fans were left yearning for the unique experience it offered. ECW had developed a loyal following that appreciated its unapologetic and boundary-pushing approach to wrestling.


In the years that followed, a cult-like fervour grew among wrestling enthusiasts, creating a groundswell of nostalgia and a desire to see their beloved promotion resurrected, even if only for one night. The Hammerstein Ballroom was chosen as the venue for the event due to its historical association with ECW. As fans entered the arena, they were greeted by an atmosphere brimming with energy and anticipation. The intimate setting, combined with a raucous crowd primarily composed of ECW faithful, created an electric ambiance that felt like a throwback to the promotion's glory days. Signs, chants, and a palpable sense of excitement permeated the air, setting the stage for an unforgettable evening.


ECW One Night Stand 2005 brought together an impressive roster of ECW alumni, including icons such as Tommy Dreamer, Rob Van Dam, The Sandman, and Sabu. These superstars, known for their extreme in-ring style and unwavering dedication to the promotion, provided a bridge between the past and present, reminding fans of the innovative and ground-breaking performances that defined ECW.


Their presence injected a sense of authenticity and legitimacy into the event, making it a true tribute to the spirit of the promotion.


The card for ECW One Night Stand 2005 featured a mix of classic ECW matches and confrontations between ECW alumni and representatives from WWE, which had acquired the rights to ECW's intellectual property. Highlights of the evening included an emotionally charged battle between Rey Mysterio and Psicosis, the brutal encounter between Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit, and the headline match pitting The Dudley Boyz against Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman in an unforgettable Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match.


These matches exemplified the essence of ECW, showcasing the extreme, high-risk, and often violent style that made the promotion so beloved. ECW One Night Stand 2005 had a profound impact on the wrestling industry.



ONE NIGHT STAND 2006


ECW One Night Stand 2006 held at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City was a homecoming for the ECW faithful. The event was a testament to the enduring legacy of ECW, a promotion that was renowned for its unapologetically intense and hardcore style of wrestling. Fans, many dressed in old ECW merchandise, were transported back in time to relive the rebellious spirit that defined the promotion. The event breathed new life into the world of professional wrestling, reminding fans and wrestlers alike of the importance of pushing boundaries and embracing the extreme.


Iconic Matches and Unforgettable Moments: ECW One Night Stand 2006 delivered on its promise of showcasing extreme wrestling at its finest. The event featured an array of memorable matches that paid homage to the promotion's legacy while introducing a new generation of fans to its unique brand of entertainment. Iconic matchups such as Rey Mysterio versus Sabu, Rob Van Dam taking on John Cena, and Edge clashing with Mick Foley pushed the limits of physicality and storytelling.


Each match was characterized by high spots, brutal chair shots, and the unrelenting passion of the wrestlers, evoking a sense of nostalgia while leaving a lasting impression on the audience. One of the most poignant aspects of ECW One Night Stand 2006 was the emotional return of ECW legends. Familiar faces such as Tommy Dreamer, Sandman, Tazz, and The Dudley Boyz graced the event, sparking an overwhelming surge of emotions among the audience.


The energy inside the Hammerstein Ballroom reached a fever pitch as these legends reconnected with the fans who had supported them throughout the years. Their presence added an authentic touch to the event, cementing the fact that ECW was more than just a wrestling promotion; it was a tight-knit community that shared an unbreakable bond. ECW One Night Stand 2006 holds a special place in the history of professional wrestling. Beyond being a nostalgic celebration of the past, the event played a significant role in influencing the future of the industry.


The resounding success of the show led to the revival of ECW as a full-fledged brand under the WWE umbrella. This resurgence allowed new talents to flourish and provided a platform for innovative and unconventional wrestling styles to thrive. The event also served as a reminder that alternative wrestling promotions could compete and capture the hearts of fans on a global scale. ECW One Night Stand 2006 will forever be remembered as a pivotal event in the annals of professional wrestling.


It successfully reignited the flame of extreme wrestling, captivating audiences with its unapologetic brutality and unwavering passion. The event not only paid homage to the legacy of ECW but also shaped the future of the industry, influencing the wrestling landscape for years to come. ECW One Night Stand 2006 was a celebration of the human spirit, a testament to the enduring power of a community united by their love for extreme wrestling.


“Not only did everyone in the Manhattan Ballroom all really, really get behind everything that I stood for — because they knew bringing ECW back was my idea — they knew back in the day that I brought ECW up to new heights. Not only were all the fans pro-RVD in the extreme, at the same time, they were all against everything that Cena stood for. The demise of ECW made me probably more disappointed than anything else related to wrestling in my entire career.” Rob Van Dam


DECEMBER TO DISMEMBER


WWE ECW December to Dismember was a pay-per-view event that took place on December 3, 2006, under the rebranded "ECW" brand of WWE. The event was held at the James Brown Arena in Augusta, Georgia. It is worth noting that the event received significant criticism and is widely regarded as one of the worst pay-per-views in WWE history. The match between Elijah Burke and Sylvester Terkay against The Full Blooded Italians Little Guido and Tony Mamaluke was part of the ongoing feud between the two teams. It was an average match with some decent action, but nothing particularly memorable.


Daivari faced ECW Original Tommy Dreamer, this match was a result of the feud between the two wrestlers. It was a relatively short match that didn't leave a lasting impression. The Kevin Thorn vs. Sabu match was contested under Extreme Rules. It had some hardcore elements and weapon usage, but it still failed to generate much excitement or engage the audience. The Hardys (Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy) vs. MNM (Joey Mercury and Johnny Nitro): This tag team match had the most star power and anticipation. The Hardys were fan favourites, and MNM were known for their high-flying style. However, the match was cut short due to an unfortunate injury to Joey Mercury, which led to a chaotic and abrupt finish.


Extreme Elimination Chamber match for the ECW World Championship: This was the main event and the match that gave the event its name. The participants were Big Show, Bobby Lashley, Rob Van Dam, CM Punk, Test, and Hardcore Holly. The match concept was intriguing, but the execution fell flat. The crowd was uninterested, and the eliminations felt rushed and anticlimactic. Bobby Lashley emerged as the winner and became the ECW World Champion. Overall, WWE ECW December to Dismember was heavily criticized for its lacklustre matches, poor booking decisions, and an overall lack of excitement. The event failed to live up to expectations and didn't deliver the quality that fans had come to expect from WWE pay-per-views. It is considered one of the most disappointing events in WWE history.


The event had a weak line-up with matches that lacked star power and compelling storylines. Many of the matches were hastily put together and lacked the build-up necessary to create anticipation among fans. Despite being promoted as an ECW event, it failed to capture the spirit and essence of the original ECW promotion that had a dedicated fan base. The event felt more like a watered-down version of WWE's main roster programming rather than the edgier and hardcore style that ECW was known for. The absence of key ECW superstars such as Sandman, Rob Van Dam, and Sabu in prominent roles was a major disappointment for fans who expected to see the iconic ECW performers showcased. Instead, the event relied heavily on wrestlers from WWE's main roster who didn't necessarily fit the ECW mould.


The match quality and booking decisions were subpar. The matches lacked excitement and failed to engage the audience. The Extreme Elimination Chamber match, which was meant to be the highlight of the event, suffered from rushed eliminations and a lack of drama. Unenthusiastic Crowd:


The live crowd in attendance seemed disinterested and unresponsive throughout the event. Their lack of enthusiasm further dampened the atmosphere, making it difficult for the performers to generate excitement and create memorable moments. All these factors contributed to the event's poor reception and its reputation as one of the worst WWE pay-per-views in history. It failed to meet expectations and did not deliver the quality of entertainment that fans had come to expect from WWE events.




ECW ON SYFY


Just two days following Rob Van Dam's victory over John Cena to claim the WWE Championship at the second ECW One Night Stand event, on June 13th, 2006, WWE made a significant move by introducing ECW as a separate brand on the Syfy television network. The new program showcased beloved ECW icons such as Sabu and The Sandman alongside prominent WWE Superstars like Big Show and Kurt Angle. Its debut proved to be a massive success, quickly soaring to the pinnacle of the network's ratings charts. Nonetheless, as time passed over the course of the next four years, the original essence of the extreme brand gradually eroded, diminishing bit by bit, until it eventually merged into the vast sea of World Wrestling Entertainment.


ECW's revival on Syfy, which took place from 2006 to 2010, has often been seen as a disappointment and ultimately a failure. Several factors contributed to this perception:

The ECW brand had gained a cult following for its rebellious, hardcore style of wrestling, featuring intense matches, extreme violence, and unique characters. When ECW was brought back on Syfy, it was heavily toned down and sanitized to fit within the constraints of mainstream television. This departure from the original spirit of ECW alienated many of its passionate fans who were drawn to the promotion's edgier and more alternative approach.


The revival on Syfy failed to capture the authentic essence of ECW. The original ECW was known for its gritty and intimate atmosphere, often held in small venues with passionate fans. However, the Syfy version of ECW was produced within the confines of a larger WWE production, losing the intimate feel and raw energy that made the original ECW so special. The product felt watered down and sanitized, lacking the authenticity that fans had come to expect.


Mismanagement and Booking Decisions: The creative direction and booking decisions for the ECW brand on Syfy were often criticized. The roster largely consisted of new talents who were unfamiliar to the ECW fanbase, and there was a lack of compelling storylines and character development. Many of the established ECW stars who returned for the revival were underutilized or poorly booked, which further frustrated fans and diminished their interest in the product.


Competition from Other WWE Brands: The ECW brand on Syfy faced stiff competition within the WWE itself. The flagship shows, Raw and SmackDown, were already established and had larger audiences and more recognizable stars. As a result, the ECW brand struggled to stand out and differentiate itself, leading to a lack of viewership and diminished interest from both fans and WWE itself.


Decline in Interest for Extreme Wrestling: By the time ECW was revived on Syfy, the landscape of professional wrestling had significantly changed. The edgy and extreme style of wrestling that ECW had popularized in the 1990s had become less mainstream and more niche. The appetite for the extreme had waned, and fans were now more interested in a different style of wrestling, focusing on athleticism, in-ring storytelling, and larger-than-life characters.


These factors combined to create a product that failed to capture the passion and excitement of the original ECW, ultimately leading to the downfall of the brand on Syfy.


WRESTLEMANIA MOMENT

The frustration by Paul Heyman and the men and women that had be brought with to WWE was palpable backstage. Many felt that Vince McMahon had not delivered on his promise to create a new future for the dying ECW and felt trapped by their contracts, working somewhere they didn’t want to be.


“When I saw it all spiralling downhill, I was extremely disappointed. And I was kicking and screaming and fighting it. I was talking to Vince at first, saying, ‘The ECW fans aren’t going to go for this,’ and I would hear such ridiculous things back like, ‘Rob, nobody remembers the original ECW.’ You’ve got to be kidding me! Didn’t we bring this back based on the success of that pay-per-view and ECW DVD? And all I heard was, ‘For all I know, Rob, those 2,500 fans in New York City are the last of the ECW fans.” Rob Van Dam

One cathartic moment came for the performers of ECW in April of 2007. More than 80,000 WWE fans begin chanting “E-C-W!” as ECW took stage at WrestleMania 23 as Joey Styles and Tazz call the action on commentary. It’s a huge moment for the performers who had been with ECW for so many years, who started out in front of a few hundred fans in a bingo hall in Philadelphia and were now front and centre on the biggest stage in the wrestling calendar.


The ECW brand was fueled by a gripping rivalry between two squads, The ECW Originals and The New Breed, each consisting of four members. This heated feud centered primarily around determining the ultimate "dominant force" within the revived ECW brand. In the weeks leading up to the pivotal event, the two factions clashed in numerous tag team matches.


Initially, The New Breed appeared to hold the upper hand, showcasing their dominance over several weeks. However, in a crucial singles match, the leader of the ECW Originals, Rob Van Dam, emerged triumphant against the leader of The New Breed, Elijah Burke. Inspired by this victory, ECW Original Tommy Dreamer stepped up and issued a bold challenge to The New Breed—a high-stakes eight-man tag team match at WrestleMania 23. The match was popular with fans and served as a way to give some of the longest serving members of ECW the ever important Wrestlemania moment.



Battle Of The Billionaires


The other involvement from ECW that night would stand in stark contrast to the celebratory ladder match that preceded it. If the 6 man bout was all about shining a light on the special talent that the extreme brand had to offer, then the main event would serve as a nod to the dark future of Paul Heyman’s brainchild. With not one person involved in the match having anything remotely to do with the original ECW, except that Bobby Lashley had been given the token gesture of carrying around what Vince McMahon saw as the worthless ECW World title.


Donald Trump would appear on WWE television to build towards a match at Wrestlemania 23. Which thankfully would be fought by Trump’s proxy Bobby Lashley the ECW Champion. Against a proxy of Vince McMahon’s choosing, which ended up being the Samoan Umaga the Intercontinental champion.


When Donald Trump & Vince McMahon came face to face in this Wrestlemania press conference, they expertly played their hand and had the worlds media outlets perking up their ears. In weeks prior, Trump had expertly provoked the owner of WWE into going to war.


Both men had made it a personal affair with insults slung at one another. Building to a stipulation being added to the match during a painfully awkward 23-minute contract signing, – one that would see the loser, either Trump or McMahon have their heads shaved in defeat. But neither mentioned anything to do with ECW or the belt that Lashley was carrying around.


The Battle of the Billionaires as it became known was watched by over 1.2 million homes around the world as part of a Wrestlemania 234 event which made over $5 million in ticket sales alone. Some of whom had paid for their entry in the hopes of seeing one of these giants of the business world humiliated on a grand stage.


And boy how the fans weren’t disappointed. After Umaga lost the match and bobby Lashley was declared victorious, the pair of trump and Lashley with the aid of special guest referee stone cold Steve Austin, strapped the chairman of WWE down, Trump then laid in some of the worst looking punches in pro wrestling history and proceeded to take turns shaving Vince completely bald. All the while managing to completely ignore the ECW championship.


Stone Cold Steve Austin then proceeded to flip the crowd on its head and delivered a shock stone cold stunner to Donald Trump and finish the segment on a high where most fans seemed jubilant with the idea that both the billionaires were defeated and the ‘working class’, everyman, stone cold came out on top.


While this is simply an iconic pro wrestling moment and one I very much enjoyed at the time. Couldn’t the ECW belt have had it’s own separate match? Didn’t it deserve to be more thana mere after thought. Perhaps not. And in retrospect it is obvious that this was a signal towards the very end of ECW as a powerhouse brand. Vince McMahon either intentionally or not had killed it.



VINCE’S DISSRESPECT


To see Vince’s opinions on the original ideas of ECW we need only look at one of the first times he was in control of a storyline featuring an ECW wrestler. When in April 2000 on an episode of Smackdown, The Human Suplex Machine Tazz who was then ECW World Champion appeared to take on the WWE Champion Triple H. Now, if Vince McMahon, the man responsible for the outcome of the match, saw WWE and ECW as equals at this time, then surely we’d see a competitive match between the two companies top stars. But no, of course not. Tazz looked tiny compared to Triple H and even smaller inside of the enormous, squared circle of WWE. It was a complete mismatch from the start, showing that Vince McMahon wasn’t ever intending to take Taz or any of his colleagues seriously. Sending a message that the WWE fans shouldn’t either. Tazz obviously loss, when he was accidentally attacked by Tommy Dreamer, making the pair look as stupid as they did insignificant.


“You know, I thought he’s making a mockery of ECW. I thought he might have even brought ECW back just to destroy it because he didn’t like the fans chanting EC Dub,” RVD

So little did Vince value the ECW brand and it’s world title, that in 2007 he made himself the Extreme Championship Wrestling World Champion, changing his persona to mock the ebonics of urban life, even wearing a durag alongside his title belt. And delivering one of the cringiest lines in all of pro wrestling history, on live television.


“I thought Vince looked really cool in durag. I loved it. I thought that was cool because he’s all buff in the black sweater shirt with the sleeves. I loved working with him. I had a match that was three against one. So that was pretty cool.” Rob Van Dam

Vince McMahon's relationship with ECW, both the original promotion and the revived brand, is complex and multifaceted. While it's difficult to pinpoint specific personal reasons or feelings, there are a few factors that may have influenced McMahon's perspective on ECW:


Different Vision and Style: ECW was known for its edgier, more hardcore style of professional wrestling, which included extreme and high-risk matches. This diverged from the more mainstream, family-friendly approach that WWE traditionally favored. McMahon may have had reservations about aligning his company's image too closely with the extreme nature of ECW.


Financial Struggles: ECW faced significant financial difficulties during its initial run, ultimately leading to its closure in 2001. McMahon acquired the assets of the promotion, including its video library, and sought to revive the brand in 2006. However, the financial instability of ECW may have made McMahon cautious about fully embracing and investing in the brand.


Creative Control: As the chairman and owner of WWE, McMahon is known for maintaining a high level of creative control over the company. The ECW brand, even in its revived form, represented a departure from McMahon's established vision for professional wrestling. This might have led to some reluctance in fully embracing ECW and its unique style and presentation.


It's important to note that these are speculative reasons and not definitive explanations for McMahon's views on ECW. Ultimately, only Vince McMahon himself could provide the true motivations behind his opinions on the brand.


During the final episode of ECW on Syfy, a significant turn of events unfolded. In an Extreme Rules Match, Ezekiel Jackson, under the guidance of William Regal, emerged victorious over Christian, seizing the ECW Championship. It was an electrifying moment that marked the end of an era. Unless WWE decides to resurrect ECW once again (as anything can happen in the world of WWE!), Ezekiel Jackson, known as the Personification of Domination, will forever be etched in the record books as the final ECW Champion.


However, behind the curtain, the unpredictable nature of Vince McMahon persisted, and several sources reveal that Paul Heyman, unlike other agents and writers, refused to cower during McMahon's notorious outbursts resembling those of "Mr. McMahon" himself. A writer, who typically avoids confrontation with Vince, shared, "Everyone was taken aback by Paul's unwavering commitment to his beliefs, particularly his belief in himself." This writer confessed that he would rather endure the unpleasantness and collect his paycheck than challenge the status quo.


On December 3rd, Heyman and McMahon engaged in a heated clash regarding the December To Dismember pay-per-view event. The tensions reached their zenith the following day in North Charleston, South Carolina, described by an eyewitness as a highly intense meeting. Subsequently, Heyman chose to leave and reportedly declined WWE's offer to continue working behind the scenes in developmental. In the past few months, either Heyman's contract expired, he resigned, or he and WWE reached a discreet agreement to part ways.


Deeply affected by the disappointing outcome of December to Dismember, Paul Heyman, the representative of ECW, appeared distant and despondent before an ECW live event at the North Charleston Coliseum. Mr. McMahon aggravated this state of distress by making the decision to send Heyman home. Citing declining television ratings and a discontented roster of talent, the WWE Chairman justified Heyman's dismissal.


On February 3rd 2010 the ECW brand was officially dissolved and those performers signed to the extreme branch of WWE were either absorbed into Smackdown and Raw or released.


5 years later, in November of 2015, The Dudley Boyz, engaged in a fierce rivalry with The Wyatt Family, orchestrated the return of Tommy Dreamer on Raw, leading to the formation of a fresh iteration of the ECW Originals. Two days later, on December 2, 2015, the group made a captivating comeback by introducing the returning Rhyno on Raw, who joined forces with them to combat the Wyatts. Subsequently, on December 13, during the TLC pay-per-view event, the ECW Originals faced off against the Wyatt Family in an intense 8-man tables elimination match, suffering defeat. The following night on Raw, they encountered the Wyatts once more in an Extreme Rules match, but unfortunately emerged on the losing end.


Once again, the presence of ECW in WWE fizzled out with little fanfare. As time progressed, the presence of the ECW Originals gradually diminished from WWE television, ultimately fading away by 2016.


ECW IN TNA


It has now been almost a decade since the original ECW brand closed it’s doors for the final time. And almost 20 years since the company was founded. WWE had tried to make money leeching off of the organic success of Paul Heyman’s company, but the false and forced feeling of Vince McMahon’s attempt at extreme had all but guaranteed it’s failure. So, as TNA seemingly built its identity around copying failed ideas from their bigger competitor at this time, of course the company wanted to try their hand at failing to revive ECW. In July 2010, the group made their first appearance in TNA as EV 2.0 (EV standing for "Extreme Violence" or "Extreme Version"). However, the reunion of the ECW Originals was indirectly acknowledged and not officially promoted with that name, as WWE held the rights to all ECW trademarks and assets.


"Due to some legal complications with the alphabet with certain letters, we have decided, we got with our attorneys, so we came up with, like, a newer extreme version - so we're basically EV 2.0 - pretty basic, pretty simple." Tommy Dreamer

On the TNA Impact! Programme, Tommy Dreamer brought together, Rob Van Dam, Mick Foley, Raven, Rhino, Brother Devon, Stevie Richards, Al Snow and Pat Kenney to bring chaos to the order within the company and quickly set to work attacking the rest of the roster. This led to owner and booker of TNA Dixie Carter coming to the ring and pleaded with Dreamer to stop EV’s destruction of the set and roster. She agreed to allow Dreamer and the rest of the ECW originals a re-union they could be proud of.


She announced a rebrand of the Hard Justice show to a new pay-per-view Hardcore Justice which would take place in August. With the main event of Rob Van Dam facing old rival Sabu.To oppose the invading ECW performers, stars from TNA stepped up and quickly formed an alliance. Abyss and A.J. Styles, Kazarian, Robert Roode, James Storm, Douglas Williams, and Matt Morgan were known as Fourtune and led at the time by Ric Flair. After Team 3D's contracts with TNA expired, they ceased to appear as members of EV 2.0, and the same was true for Bill Alfonso and Sandman, who failed to show up for an Impact! taping on August 23.


Guido Maritato and Tony Luke made their final appearance for TNA on the August 26 edition of Impact. At the No Surrender event, EV 2.0 suffered defeats in all three of their matches. Sabu's attempt to dethrone Douglas Williams as the TNA X Division Champion ended in failure, Rhino lost a Falls Count Anywhere match against Abyss, and Dreamer was defeated by A.J. Styles in an "I Quit" match. The following week, Dreamer returned with Raven, Stevie Richards, Sabu, and Rhino.


They announced that Dixie Carter had granted them a Lethal Lockdown match against Fortune at Bound for Glory. On the live edition of Impact! on October 7, Mick Foley emerged victorious in a Last Man Standing match against Ric Flair, the leader of Fortune. At Bound for Glory, Dreamer, Raven, Rhino, Richards, and Sabu triumphed over Fortune members Styles, Kazarian, Morgan, Roode, and Storm in a Lethal Lockdown match. During Turning Point, Brian Kendrick, Raven, Richards, Rhino, and Sabu faced Fortune in a ten-man tag team match, where each member of EV 2.0 put their TNA careers on the line. Fortune emerged as the winners, and Sabu was subsequently fired by Flair.


Due to the peculiar nature of TNA's management, Sabu's release from the promotion was indeed legitimate. In the following week, Raven was compelled to put his TNA future at stake in a match against TNA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Hardy. Raven was defeated by Hardy, resulting in his release from TNA, which was also a legitimate decision. Rhino wrestled his final match for TNA on December 5 at Final Resolution, where he faced Van Dam in a First Blood match and ended up losing.


Stevie Richards announced his departure from TNA on January 11, 2011. Since then, the stable has not made any appearances in TNA or Impact. Most recently, during the 2022 Bound for Glory event, Tommy Dreamer inducted Raven into the Impact Hall of Fame.


LEGACY


“I was on 57th Ave. in New York City and there was a three-car pileup and a bunch of people looked at the car wreck and started chanting ‘ECW’. It's become part of the country's lexicon. It's an accepted, acknowledged phrase” Paul Heyman

The rise and fall of Extreme Championship Wrestling represents a compelling chapter in the history of professional wrestling. ECW emerged as a renegade promotion in the early 1990s, pushing the boundaries of the industry and captivating a passionate fan base with its unique blend of hardcore wrestling, edgy storylines, and unparalleled athleticism. However, despite its initial success, a series of challenges ultimately led to ECW's demise.


During its rise, ECW stood out as a beacon of innovation. It introduced a gritty and realistic style of wrestling that resonated with a generation hungry for an alternative to the mainstream offerings of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). ECW showcased a roster of talented performers, many of whom would go on to become household names in the wrestling world.


The promotion's unapologetic embrace of violence and adult-oriented content provided a stark contrast to the more sanitized product of its competitors, attracting a dedicated fan base that craved an edgier form of entertainment.


Despite its popularity, ECW faced numerous financial and operational challenges that ultimately contributed to its downfall. The promotion struggled with limited financial resources, relying on a patchwork of funding sources to stay afloat.


This constant financial strain led to a revolving door of talent and an inability to compete with the deep pockets of larger promotions. In addition, ECW faced legal battles and controversies surrounding its content, which placed further strain on its resources and reputation. Furthermore, the wrestling landscape underwent a seismic shift in the late 1990s when both WWE and WCW began to incorporate elements of ECW's style into their own programming.


Recognizing the popularity of the hardcore and edgy aesthetic, these larger promotions lured away ECW's top stars, leaving the promotion scrambling to rebuild its roster. This exodus of talent, coupled with mounting financial difficulties, ultimately proved insurmountable, and ECW was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2001.


“All I can tell you is 25 years later, people are still saying “ECW” at shows. It gives me goosebumps, its amazing that all these years later the fans still remember ECW and chant it at shows. It will never die.” Todd Gordon

However, while ECW may have fallen, its impact on the wrestling industry is undeniable. The promotion's influence can be seen in the way wrestling is presented today, with a greater emphasis on athleticism, a more diverse range of characters, and a willingness to push the boundaries of storytelling. ECW's legacy lives on in the hearts of its passionate fan base, as well as in the careers of the wrestlers who honed their craft within its hallowed halls.


In conclusion, the rise and fall of ECW represents a compelling story of innovation, passion, and the challenges of operating within the wrestling industry. While the promotion faced numerous obstacles that ultimately led to its demise, its impact and influence continue to reverberate throughout the wrestling world. ECW will forever be remembered as a trailblazer, pushing the boundaries and leaving an indelible mark on the history of professional wrestling.


For more on this topic and loads of pro wrestling content, check out my YouTube channel: The Fall Of ECW, What Happened?

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