“The Original Gangsta” New Jack had an aura like nobody in the company. When his music hit, you knew whoever was in the ring was going to get one of the most vicious beatings in their lives – and you did not know if it was real or not. Him and Mustafa, known as “The Gangstas,” were one of the most dangerous tag teams in the history of the sport. New Jack will be remembered for The Mass Transit incident, where he beat the living hell out of a 17-year old kid with a chair shot to the dome off the top rope and the Newbury fall – where he and Vic Grimes fell fifteen feet off a scaffold on the concrete floor after missing a the tables that were supposed to soften their fall. After his ECW stint, New Jack was involved in a few unfortunate sequences on the independent scene. Google it. Perhaps the most underrated competitor to ever grace the ECW squared circle. Jerry Lynn was like a Daniel Bryan for ECW – old school, hard working and had excellent matches, week in, week out. He had memorable feuds with Justin Credible, Lance Storm and Mikey Whipwreck but some of the greatest matches in the promotion’s history were against Rob Van Dam, as the two had epic encounters for the ECW Television Championship. Lynn deemed himself as “The New F’n Show,” mocking Van Dam and if you have not seen these matches, please call in sick to work today or do not go to school. It is worth your time. Lynn would win the ECW World Heavyweight Championship once, defeating Credible at Anarchy Rulz 2000. Well before their time with WWE, The Dudley Boyz were the first family of ECW and The Dudleys were not just Buh Buh Ray and D-Von; Little Spike Dudley and Big Dick Dudley also entered the fold, to name a few. Flaming tables were a signature from the Dudleys and they were also subject to draw intense heat from the crowd, and almost caused a near riot when they mocked and spat on fans at The Madhouse of Extreme in New York and that really was too surreal for wrestling. They feuded with just about every tag team and held the titles a whopping 8 times, being the most popular and successful tag team in ECW history. They also walked to the ring in tie-dye but that was by no means a soft approach. Raven’s gimmick was perfect timing for everything that was disgusting with pop culture. He looked like he was the wasted youth who spent too much time listening to Nirvana and Suicidal Tendencies. He was the abandoned child who never felt love and his character could have grown a lot more had he not left to WCW. Nevertheless, he had great matches with Tommy Dreamer, The Sandman, Terry Funk and the original idea from The Flock came from ECW, as Raven had his fair share of followers that included Stevie Richards. He was also one of the most hated wrestlers in the company, because of controversial storylines and segments, along with the fact that a lot of the ECW fans did not feel bad for him whatsoever. Apart from forgetful stints in WWE and WCW as Johnny Polo and Scotty Flamingo, “Don’t quote the Raven: Nevermore” became synonymous with ECW and he was always up for a good hardcore scrap. The shoot-style promo that “The Franchise” cut as he threw the NWA Championship to the ground birthed the extreme in ECW and if it was not for that moment, who knows what would have happened with the company. Douglas was a fantastic wrestler, arguably the best one in all of the company. He had a chip on his shoulder, held multiple championships and was accompanied by the “Queen of Extreme” and the most popular vixen in ECW, Francine. His contributions were monumental to the company and Douglas’ matches were world-class for a small promotion that lived in Philadelphia and New York. His crowning moment was when he beat Chris Jericho, Pitbull #2 and Too Cold Scorpio in an epic four-way dance, when Francine turned on the Pitbulls and commenced her tenure with “The Franchise” – helping him win the ECW Television Championship. “The Innovator of Violence” was the perfect underdog. He was hated in the beginning of his career because he seemed like the same old, recycled wrestler who was supposed to be a face. After taking a hefty amount of shots to the back with a Singapore cane from The Sandman, fans grew to love Tommy Dreamer. He only one their major championship once, and according to him, if he had it his way he would have never wanted to win it. His career after ECW was a little unfortunate since it was hard to top what he had accomplished with ECW. His feud with Raven was one of the company’s best, and Dreamer never won against his opponent – until the last match. Truth be told, The Sandman was more or less a horrendous wrestler. Whether or not his gimmick was a real life representation of himself, he was perfect for ECW. He would come to the ring through the crowd with a Singapore cane, smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer – which he would eventually smash the can on his head and bloodied his own forehead. Having held the ECW Tag Team Championship with 2 Cold Scorpio, he was a five-time ECW World Heavyweight Champion, and his feud with Raven was monumental for the company. It was also one of the edgiest and controversial in wrestling, as his son was involved – whom Raven became more like a father figure to and nobody will ever forget the crucifixion that left the audience near speechless. “Homicidal, genocidal and suicidal,” Sabu could go down as the most underrated wrestler of all-time. Not for what he did in the ring, but more so the style he brought to North America from Mexico and Japan – which was a mixture of lucha libre and hardcore, something that nearly everyone copied further down the road. He should have been paid a lot more, but that is a different story. Sabu’s scars on his body tell the tale of time well spent in Heyman’s creation, as he too enjoyed success over the years and was in some intense, grueling matches. A suplex from Tazz (Hardcore TV 1998_ and one from Chris Benoit broke his neck (November to Remember 1994) twice, he broke his jaw in a match and taped it shut, continuing and had the most violent match in ECW history against Terry Funk at Born to Be Wired 1997, with the ropes replaced by barbed wire. Still, one of the most intense moments in the promotion was when Sabu finally answered Tazz’s callouts after a year and the two met at ECW’s first ever pay-per-view, Barely Legal 1995. There was something about the “Human Suplex Machine” that was different from all the other wrestlers. For a man who measured 5 feet 9 inches, he was the meanest dude to ever grace the ECW ring. His vibrant style, mixing up his game with unorthodox suplexes and submission holds, made a good match with just about anyone and he competed against the best of the best in ECW – having longtime feuds with Rob Van Dam, Shane Douglas, Bam Bam Bigelow, and most notably, Sabu. He will always be remembered for walking to the ring with a towel on his head, while Bill Alfonso goes absolutely nuts with his whistle at ringside – equally annoying as Vickie Guerrero was yet more tolerable – because everyone loved him. Tazz is an ECW alumni who held the ECW World Heavyweight Championship twice, the ECW Tag Team Championship three times, the ECW Television Championship twice, was the fourth ECW Triple Crown Winner in history and held his own version of The Million Dollar Championship, titled FTW Championship two times before it was retired in March 1999. “Mr. Monday Night,” “Mr. Pay-Per-View,” “The Whole F’n Show” and the man who put 4:20 on the map in the wrestling world, RVD was the most popular wrestler in ECW. Fans who did not watch or know of ECW at the time knew exactly who RVD was. Incredibly versatile in the ring, he was the true ECW Television Champion and when he was under the guidance of Bill Alfonso and teaming up with Sabu, there was no team that created more of a buzz than those two individuals. RVD had spectacular matches under the ECW banner, some with Sabu, Jerry Lynn, and wrestled just about anybody with a nonchalant attitude that the fans ate up. He was their modern day Stone Cold Steve Austin – you simply could not hate the guy. His move set was also out of this world – The Van Daminator and The Van Terminator (which we saw at Night of Champions) are some of the most famous ECW spots of all-time. RVD also led the way for the original WWE Invasion in 1997 and RVD was the main culprit, along with Jerry “The King” Lawler.
On Sunday night’s
Night of Champions, Rob Van Dam unearthed a move (The Van Terminator) on Alberto Del Rio that had the Michigan crowd on its feet and they started to chant letters that every wrestling fan was familiar with. Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) was the most unique, innovative and influential wrestling promotion of the nineties. Led by mastermind Paul Heyman, they reinvented the wheel and threw everything you knew about this sports entertainment industry and spray-painted in with hardcore, low-budget violence that everyone fell in love with. ECW has had an abundance of unsung heroes (Mick Foley, Terry Funk, 2 Cold Scorpio and the Blue World Order, to name a few) and many of you may not agree with this list, yet when these names are mentioned you cannot help but shout out in unison a very loud E-C-W.