Who am I talking about?
The guys who made their names in ECW. The ones who really enjoyed their best years there. Not the guys who had¬† a good stint, but saw it as a stepping stone or a rehab stop. Because, if the WWE Hall of Fame annually brings in a WCW mainstay, or a foreign mainstay, or any major name who was significant in a promotion or territory long since absorbed by WWE, then why can’t the misfits out of South Philly get some love?
And just who would I want to see among those honored?
The so-called Innovator of Violence, I had the pleasure of watching his evolution from the guy the crowds loved to jeer, to the man they loved to cheer. Long gone are the parachute pants and suspenders he used to come down to the ring in, long since replaced by a more Extreme look. If anyone has earned it, it’s Tommy. He did more than wrestle, too, as it’s been pointed out that he doubled as a production assistant, way back when Heyman was piecing together promos from the basement in Long Island.
This man is equally synonymous with the brand, though he’s received a lot less WWE love. For one thing, he was pure Extreme-coming to the ring smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer, and his Singapore cane was never far from his reach. He was doing beer in the ring long before Austin ever did. And you cannot recognize Dreamer without giving love to Sandman, because he and Tommy had battles, some of which helped make Tommy the fan favorite he became. Plus, as one of the few wrestlers I’ve met in real life (true story, I got to play pool with him), he’s actually a really nice guy outside of the ring.
Yes, he made it to WWE (as Tazz) and also had a run in TNA, but his best work was as the One Man Crime Spree, the Human Suplex Machine, Taz. If anyone needs reminding of his feelings toward ECW, just remember that, when Mike Awesome was ECW Champion and had taken a bag of cash to jump to WCW, it was Taz, on the WWE roster, who came back to win the ECW title off of him, rather than risk the possibility of an Alundra Blayze incident.
Again, someone who has had success after ECW, but who was a huge part of ECW. The lovable underdog, who came out to Beck’s “Loser” was ECW Champion, and actually retained in a match against the eventual Stone Cold Steve Austin.
If I am throwing Dreamer and Sandman together, then I need to include Sabu with Taz. The homocidal, suicidal, genocidal maniac, who no one thought could speak (until they saw the documentaries where he’s actually well spoken), he’s as extreme as they come. Triple jump moonsault. Arabian facebuster. Whatever move you love that he did, he made it a spectacle and often took major abuse in doing so. His body is a mess of scars, but you never saw a Sabu match and left disappointed. I sure never did.
Rob Van Dam
Yes, I know he’s enjoyed a good amount of success in WWE. But he blew up in ECW, and his run with the ECW TV Championship remains impressive to this day. He and Sabu were a unique and extreme pairing, so it’s only fair to have them both mentioned.
That is only a handful of names, and I’ve left a slew off the list, guys who were significant to the company and very much deserve a nod. I’ve already suggested Heyman go in for the Class of 2017, though I thought he should have gone in when ‘Mania was in NYC, since it’s his hometown. So, why am I advocating for this now? Well, I am in a reflective mood after the ’16 Hall class didn’t really wow me, and now after another ECW alum passed away, it had me thinking. There are a bunch of guys who are deserving, and they are still around. Posthumous inductions are nice and all, but it does suck when you cannot get to hear the honoree speak. Not that I think these guys are at risk of dying soon-just that, we’ve seen a lot of the posthumous inductions, and they suck. Warrior barely made it in before his untimely death-could you imagine if we hadn’t got a chance to hear his speech? Wouldn’t you have preferred to hear Macho Man himself (even though his brother did a wonderful job)? I am not saying that anyone above is on the level of a headliner. But as many folks as WWE tends to induct each year, you can’t tell me there’s not room for one ECW focal point, and 15 minutes of additional programming on an already long show.
WNZ readers, what do you think?