ECW delivers the ol' ultraviolence
By TYLER MCCLEOD -- Calgary Sun
You've got WWF Shotgun, WCW Saturday Night, WWF Live Wire, WWF Metal, WWF Jakked, WCW World Wide and WWF Sunday Night Heat on the weekends.
Rob Van Dam (with manager Bill Alfonso) is set to take it to the extreme on TNN.
Monday, of course, is Raw. Nitro airs Wednesdays here. And let's not forget WCW Thunder and, beginning tonight, WWF Smackdown on Thursdays.
Is there really room for a 12th weekly wrestling program?
"There can always be too much of anything on TV but there can never be enough quality product," says Paul Heyman, owner of Extreme Championship Wrestling.
"Johnny Carson was on the air for 30 years. If it's a good show, people are not going to get tired of it."
And with that we announce the international television debut of Extreme Championship Wrestling tomorrow at 6 p.m. on Z.
Heyman obviously considers his entry into the ring a quality product and he does so as only a professional wrestling promoter can.
"I think we bring to the table the No. 1, absolute best-quality product ... the Dom Perignon of wrestling," Heyman says.
"Anyone who watches Friday night, the Rob Van Dam/Jerry Lynn match and doesn't think it blows away anything they've seen on WWF or WCW in the last five years, I encourage you not to watch our show because I don't know what you want."
You may recognize this bravado as that of one Paul E. Dangerously -- longtime WCW announcer and manager. He hooked up with a regional circuit Eastern Championship Wrestling in 1993 and subsequently made Extreme Championship Wrestling a top draw in the U.S. via syndication and pay-per-view.
Such wrestlers as Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mankind, Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit have grappled for ECW, but Heyman wants viewers to learn the names of Taz, Justin Credible, Lance Storm, Sabu, Francine and Tommy Dreamer.
"If you took the top five guys on our roster and offered me anybody in this industry -- from Mr. X to Steve Austin -- I wouldn't trade one of my top five guys," says Heyman.
Heyman says Rob Van Dam, the current ECW World Television Champion, is "the single best performer in the industry today."
Rob Van Dam says Rob Van Dam wants to prove it.
"Nobody does it like Rob Van Dam. I am ready for our national exposure -- it's the payoff for three-and-a-half years of working my a-- off," the 237-lb. veteran of both the WWF and WCW says.
The ECW expansion is appropriately ambitious. More PPV events, more merchandising, more touring.
Heyman nearly guarantees an Alberta appearance for ECW.
"Lance Storm, one of our biggest stars, is from Calgary. '...because I'm from Calgary... Alberta... Canada!' That's his catch phrase. He trained in the (Hart family) dungeon."
Van Dam says some longtime wrestling fans compare ECW to the old Stampede Wrestling circuit or the barbwire glory days of the NWA.
"I grew up in Battle Creek, Mich., and the only wrestling we got was WWF. I didn't have cable, I didn't know any other wrestling even existed," he says.
"(But) that's the feedback I get. ECW is hardcore. You'll see some blood, you'll see some guys getting busted open."
Obviously, wrestling has changed infinitely since Dusty Rhodes and Gamma Singh prowled the arenas.
"Even back in that day, there's no way they were extreme like us," Van Dam boasts.
"Our guys are truly a new generation. We've got guys who will do anything to entertain the crowd."