SLAM! Speaks: What we miss about ECW
SLAM! Wrestling Staff
Those were the days...
It's hard to believe it's only been a few years since Extreme Championship
Wrestling folded up camp and rode off into the sunset aboard a flaming horse.
But here we are, mere days before World Wrestling Entertainment releases "The
Best and Worst of ECW" to Canadian retailers. Already, the DVD has been
getting huge play Stateside and on the Internet, reaching number one on Amazon's
sports DVD best-seller list. Soon, Canadians will get to see what all the fuss
is about. (It is, of course, available now in our SLAM! Wrestling store.)
In preparation for what will likely be the best WWE DVD of 2004 (which is saying
a lot when you think about it), three of SLAM!'s writers look back on the rebel
league. Here is what we miss most about ECW.
While some miss the blood and gore that was practically ECW's trademark, I
miss the technical wrestling side of the promotion. While WWF and WCW had guys
like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Sting and Ric Flair who could craft a great
match story, ECW's roster was near top-to-bottom guys who could actually shut
up and wrestle. Guys like Taz, Tajiri, Chris Jericho, Rhyno, Dean Malenko and
Lance Storm didn't get over because they were prone to ripping flesh or talked
a cocky game (hell most of these guys never said much of anything); these were
the best pure wrestlers in the business. There's no better way this can be shown
than to watch Wrestlemania XX, where two ECW alumns, Chris Benoit and Eddie Guererro,
stood together in the centre of wrestling's biggest spotlight, holding championship
belts proudly above their heads.
I miss a lot of things about ECW. I was a late convert, only getting on board
when they got onto TNN. Perhaps more than anything, I miss the impact of their
moves. Watching Mike Awesome vs Masato Tanako made me believe in wrestling again
when everything else was so cartoony -- especially WCW at the time. Their matches
were long enough to tell a story and they tried to bring a bit of history to
their storylines, acknowledging the past while pushing pro wrestling forward.
I raise a toast to the ECW vets (though I won't be spilling it all over myself
I found ECW during my undergrad years. I started off by reading all of the
results of their TV shows on rec.sports.pro-wrestling (at the time, newsboards
were all the rage), and was immediately intrigued by this "renegade"
promotion. They had larger-than-life characters like the monstrous 911, who
would chokeslam anyone and everyone at the drop of a hat, and The Sandman, who
would cane people unmercifully.
I remember reading about a match where someone poured salt from a pretzel stand
into the freshly-made wound in his opponent's forehead, and people hitting each
other with fists wrapped in barbed wire or covered in shards of broken glass.
I was fascinated; I had to see this action unfold on-screen.
When I finally did (through asking fellow news-boarders to ship me tapes of
the show and watching the ECW telecast online), I almost felt dirty. Compared
to the WWF and WCW, with their clean-cut heroes and their cartoonish bad guys
in front of full-stadium crowds, ECW's shows, well, it was like comparing a
Disney movie to a triple-X porno. There was something just so wrong about watching
it, but I couldn't turn away. And I didn't. I followed it right up to the end,
and I still lament its loss.
There are so many things I miss about ECW, it's hard to name the one thing
I miss the most. So here are my Top 3:
1. ECW fans. Unlike today's WWE fans who often sit on their hands (or worse,
chant "Boring" during a match), ECW fans always demonstrated a tremendous
respect for the work going on the ring. They would stand and applaud for lengthy
sequences of chain wrestling and hold/counterholds. When business picked up,
they would get on their feet and cheer on both competitors, no matter who they
wanted to see win. For a fan base that's often considered as being too "bloodthirsty",
the wrestling never took a back-seat to the other elements.
2. The company's commitment to fans. ECW did a lot to make their product accessible
to fans who wanted to follow the product, but couldn't get the show on TV - for example, they sold tapes of their house shows and posted their
TV shows online. Whereas WWF and WCW would take away signs from people at TV tapings and cover up their T-shirts, ECW crowds were encouraged to throw
styrofoam heads (and sometimes, chairs!) into the ring. Fans who brought weapons
to the arena would leave them at the entrance, and they were guaranteed to see
their plunder used at some point during the night. Before, after, and during the
intermissions in the shows, wrestlers would come out and sign autographs and
take pictures with the fans. All of that made you feel that you were really
wanted as a fan - and it's something that the "Big Two" would never
3. Francine Fournier. She is my absolute favourite woman in wrestling of all
time (including Sunny, on whom I had a complete crush on back in the day, and
Molly Holly, on whom I have one now). Tougher than most male wrestlers, there
was nothing that the "Extreme Cheerleader" didn't live through, from
piledrivers to gores to cane shots to powerbombs through tables. The fact that
she was "easy on the eyes" didn't hurt either. Francine, call me.
(Editor's note: If Francine is reading this, you can e-mail Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org).
So what do you miss most about ECW? Was it the flaming tables? Joel Gertner's
poetry? Joey Styles screaming "catfight" at the tob of his lungs?
an e-mail and let us know your thoughts on Extreme Championship Wrestling.
Visit the SLAM! Wrestling store!
Order the The Rise and Fall of ECW DVD