The little wrestling promotion that could - and did - change everything.
Tod Gordon started Eastern Championship Wrestling in 1992, with the first event being held on February 25, at the Original Sports Bar in Philadelphia, PA as a member of the National Wrestling Alliance. Memphis legend "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert was the original booker, but he split from the company in October 1993, right before Ultra Clash. Former WCW manager/commentator Paul E. Dangerously (Paul Heyman), who had arrived in the summer as a manager, took over as booker, while also working on-screen as a manager.
Along with the young hopefuls who would go on to become at least semi-stars (Stevie Richards, the Sandman, Chris Candido, later Tommy Dreamer, Sabu and the Tazmaniac), the promotion also featured many Ring Oldies, such as Jimmy Snuka (the first NWA ECW Heavyweight Champion), Terry Funk, Don Muraco and Ivan Koloff, as well as cameos by Davey Boy Smith, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, Nikolai Volkoff, Scott Hall, Sid, Rick Rude, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Jerry "The King" Lawler and one of the final in-ring appearances of Kerry Von Erich.
In 1994, the company was part of an NWA World Heavyweight Championship tournament that would crown a new champion. The NWA president was worried that ECW was going to monopolize the title much like Jim Crockett Promotions did in the '80s, so he took control of the tournament. In retaliation, Tod Gordon and Paul Heyman devised a plan with the man booked to win the tournament - Shane Douglas - that went into effect after Shane won the title. The quote that starts off this article comes from Shane's post-match speech after defeating 2 Cold Scorpio for the title; Douglas ended up tossing down the NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt, raised up the NWA ECW Heavyweight Championship belt, and declared himself the "new ECW Heavyweight Champion of the World". August 27, 1994 would forever be known as the day Eastern Championship Wrestling died; the NWA dissolved its association with the company and stripped Douglas of its world title, while the company itself would change a single word in its name just days later - it was now officially Extreme Championship Wrestling.
For the next seven years, ECW would drastically change the landscape of the national pro wrestling scene. Taking a cue from Garbage Wrestlers of the past (like Terry Funk - himself an ECW alumni - and Abdullah the Butcher, who also appeared), as well as Japanese "deathmatch" promotions like FMW, ECW popularized "hardcore" wrestling in the United States; practically every match was fought under what's now known as "Extreme Rules" (where pretty much anything except hitting a ref was legal). Several other wrestling styles were also highlighted and popularized thanks to ECW, including lucha libre (which led WCW to raid ECW's talent roster for the best luchadores they had to create their famous Cruiserweight division).
ECW presented a product for a more mature wrestling fan, giving them flawed heroes, deeper storylines, dramatic matches, and - oh, yeah, how could we forget - plenty of sex and violence. Their product was a stark contrast to the family-friendly comic-book superheroes of the WWF and WCW, as well as the highly-kayfabed style of the NWA. ECW also invented and/or popularized many things that the modern wrestling fan takes for granted these days: having an arsenal of weapons under the ring, the presence of an Evil Authority Figure (in the form of Bill Alphonso from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission, and later Cyrus from "The Network"), many of the most daring maneuvers that are now seen on TV on a regular basis (mostly in Gimmick Matches), and angles with "shades of grey". ECW also turned a whole bunch of wrestlers who were rejects from the big promotions (because they were too short, or not muscular enough, or too ethnic, or anything not having to do with actual skill) and turned them into hot commodities, leading to many of them having long and successful careers with the bigger promotions. (Amongst the ECW alumni that left the company to go on and have memorable careers were Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Mick Foley, Rey Mysterio Jr., Lita,note Chris Jericho, Raven, Rob Van Dam, and - arguably the most famous of them all - "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.)
Even the ECW crowds had a big influence on other wrestling fans. The "WOO!" when one wrestler chops another (a homage to Ric Flair), the "This is awesome!" chant for a great match, the "Holy shit!" chant for a particularly impressive move, and the "You fucked up!" chant when a wrestler misses a spot were born in ECW, and almost all of these chants remain ingrained in wrestling crowds to this day. The fans were also allowed to bring their own weapons to the show in its early days, and wrestlers would use them during matches (infamous weapons included a cactus, a ladder, an NES, a VCR, a two-man kayak, and a cast-iron skillet, whose use by Mick Foley against The Sandman brought "Bring Your Own Weapons" nights to an end).
The promotion was not without its share of controversy, either - in 1996, two incidents marred the company almost to the point of ruination. At High Incident on October 26, ECW World Heavyweight Champion the Sandman defeated his former tag team partner 2 Cold Scorpio. After the match, Raven and members of his Nest, Stevie Richards, the Blue Meanie and Super Nova, crucified the Sandman, with a crown of barbed-wire instead of thorns. This incident caused many fans to go silent as it happened, marking the first time even the ECW Mutants (as the fans came to be known) were left speechless. Fearing possible backlash, Raven was ordered to apologize for the act to the crowd. The incident would not be seen until nearly a decade later thanks to Kurt Angle - he had attended the show where the "crucifixion" happened and even appeared in the ring to set up an angle between himself and Taz, but threatened to sue Heyman and ECW should footage of him at that show ever be aired; the footage of both Angle and the crucifixion wouldn't be seen by the general public until The Rise and Fall of ECW was released.
On top of that, there was also the "Mass Transit Incident". In late 1996, a young man by the name of Eric Kulas managed to get into a match when another wrestler no-showed due to travel issues; going by the ring name "Mass Transit", Kulas competed in a tag team match and was cut open pretty deep by infamous hardcore wrestler/psychopath New Jack. This wouldn't normally be a problem, but in Kulas' case, he was underage and had no wrestling experience of any kind - he had lied to Heyman and other ECW bookers to get a spot on the card. The incident caused ECW to come under major scrutiny and almost cost them their first big pay-per-view spot until Kulas' lying to the booking team came to light. You can read more about this at That Other Wiki.
Once the colorful supermen the WWF had built their company on started to fail and they found themselves chasing WCW's lead, its rise back to dominance came through mimicking the ECW style. Both the WWF and WCW raided ECW's talent rosters with varying levels of success (the biggest success being "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, whose firing from WCW led him to go to ECW for a brief period before entering the WWF and becoming the most famous pro wrestler since Hulk Hogan).
Sadly, ECW was not long for this world: combined with a TV deal with cable network TNN (the precursor to Spike TV) that went horribly awry thanks to the WWF, Paul Heyman's notoriously bad business sense (something even Heyman owns up to) sent the promotion into bankruptcy even as the wrestling styles and writing style they popularized took the wrestling world by storm. Wrestlers were lucky to get paid in the final year or two. In the end, the company went out on pay-per-view - its last event was their Guilty as Charged PPV in January of 2001, and the main event saw Jerry Lynn face a returning Rob Van Dam (who had taken a hiatus from the company because of contract disagreements) in the last great match of the promotion. (Incidentally, the show was held at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, the same building where the two ECW One Night Stand pay-per-views were held.) Once the company officially declared bankruptcy, the WWF bought the promotion, getting all of its trademarks and its video library in the deal. This buyout, coupled with the eventual buyout of WCW just a couple of months later, left the WWF as the biggest wrestling promotion on the planet.
After its closing, ECW's popularization of "hardcore" wrestling resulted in countless independent federations, such as XPW, poorly mimicking that style. Backyard CZW would take over ECW's territory, projecting itself as a successor, but proved to be a very different promotion; Pro Wrestling Guerilla opened in a different territory and is typically seen as a more "proper" successor to ECW, though it's still not quite the same. ECW also brought back old-school technical wrestling and high-flying spot-wrestlers, and thus served as a big influence on Ring of Honor.
In June 2005, the ECW name was revived by WWE for ECW One Night Stand, a one-night pay-per-view reunion of ECW alumni (that same weekend, there was another ECW tribute show - Hardcore Homecoming - which was spearheaded by Shane Douglas and featured several ECW wrestlers who didn't appear at One Night Stand). The event proved so successful that a second ECW One Night Stand was held a year later - this time, ECW and WWE talent was mixed together, since this event would be the starting point for ECW becoming WWE's third brand (alongside Raw and SmackDown). WWE's ECW brand, which had an weekly hour-long show on SyFy, would last until February 16, 2010; the next week, it was replaced with WWE NXT, the wrestlers on the ECW brand were split up and placed on the Raw and SmackDown rosters (or released outright), and the brand was laid to rest by WWE for good. While the initial One Night Stand was quite authentic to the original ECW and the second edition was also well-regarded, the ensuing "WWECW" brand was generally regarded as ECW In Name Only. In the summer of 2010, TNA would put on HardCORE Justice as a "tribute" to the ECW Originals, and brought several of them in as members of the roster after the PPV under the group name "EV 2.0" (with "EV" standing for "Extreme Violence").
Despite whatever damage the WWE's version of ECW and TNA's "EV 2.0" may have done to the promotion's legacy, most fans agree: there was only one real ECW.
"Extreme Championship Tropes!":
- '90s Anti-Hero: Take New Jack, for example: great talker, terrible wrestler, and a product of a different time when ultra-violence was the norm. He was unbelievably over as a babyface because of his brutality, but he tried to murder a couple of people in the ring in real-life.
- Acrofatic: The Blue Meanie and Bam Bam Bigelow were definitely not slim by any means, but they both could do moonsaults.
- Action Girl: Beulah McGillicutty, Francine (on occasion),Jazz, Luna Vachon (who had a brief ECW tenure). note Malia Hosaka and Sherri Martel made some appearances in the early years.
- All Men Are Perverts:
- Joel Gertner, of course.
- Also, starting around 1999, ECW invoked this with their website featuring photoshoots of Francine, Dawn Marie and Jasmine St. Claire (porn star who was dating the Blue Boy, a slimmed-down Blue Meanie, at the time) that were billed as "Pervert Pics."
- Arch-Enemy: Eric Bischoff and WCW. It really cannot be exaggerated how much the fans of ECW hated this man. While some would put WWE here as well (ECW fans hated Vince McMahon just as much as Bischoff, and probably way more now), their relationship was a bit more complicated; the fanbase just wasn't aware that Vince McMahon and WWE were actively helping ECW. In Have A Nice Day, Mick Foley explained that he had specifically chosen Bischoff and WCW as a suggested alternative for Tommy Dreamer in his "Cane Dewey" promo because of how much ECW fans hated him. This was what also led Cactus to wear spoofy "Dungeon of Doom" and Bischoff shirts at ECW November to Remember 95.
- Audience Participation: Taken to the extreme with the infamous chair-throwing incident at the end of Hardcore Heaven 94. Also, Cactus Jack hitting the Sandman with a cast-iron skillet at Double Tables ended the "Fans Bring the Weapons" concept. However, matches would sometimes feature fans holding up chairs so wrestlers could run their opponents into them.
- Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: While WCW and the WWF were still churning out the same colorful, larger-than-life personalities, ECW was putting on a product with a grimy, more realistic edge, featuring more sex and violence than any other major promotion before—or, arguably, since. (Aside from perhaps CZW and the XXX-rated Women's Extreme Wrestling, both based in Philly). WCW decided to take a page from Heyman's book and inject it into their company, producing a domino effect of imitation that led to the Attitude Era.
- Ax-Crazy: Tommy Dreamer, Sabu, Terry Funk, Cactus Jack, NEW JACK. Fights featuring any of them are extremely sadistic.
- Bilingual Bonus:
- In wrestling, fans have a tendency to count to ten when a wrestler climbs the ropes and delivers punches to a dazed opponent while he's in the corner. The ECW fans took it a step further by chanting to ten in Spanish when Mexican wrestlers did it.
- Joey Styles's substitution of his "OH MY GAWD!" Catchphrase whenever a luchador did a crazy spot - "AY DIOS MIO!!!"
- Bittersweet Ending: Rob Van Dam returning to wrestle Jerry Lynn... at ECW's final event.
- Black-and-Gray Morality: Telling the heels and faces apart was not always an easy task. The Mutants were hesitant to accept anyone who walked into the ring to make a name for themselves. The only time the fans would rally behind someone was when said wrestler fought for their lives, or made it known that they were a dominant force.
- Borrowed Catchphrase: The famous ECF'NW T-shirt read "Of Course You Know...This Means War!" on the back.
- Brick Joke: Once during a Pitbulls (#1 and #2) match, Joey said that the fans chanting "Two Two Two" made it sound like they were chanting for Mr. Wrestling II, and joked that WCW was thinking of bringing him back. Starting in 1999 on ECW on TNN, when a wrestler would do a kneelift, Joey would say, "There's the Mr. Wrestling II kneelift," and Joel Gertner would chant "Two Two Two!"
- Catfight: Aside from being a Joey Styles catchphrase, it was both played straight and subverted. The ECW girls absolutely would roll around a ring trying to tear each other's hair out... and then later piledrive, powerbomb, and hurricanrana each other.
- Celebrity Resemblance: Faith No More Guy, named for his remarkable resemblance to the band's guitarist Jim Martin.
- Cheap Heat:
- Heeldom was defined by more abstract things than just breaking rules. Wearing a WCW or WWF shirt would get you instant heat, something Sabu, RVD, and Foley pushed to the hilt. A lot of newcomers tended to bash ECW and complain about how they were slumming it, or marking time until they made it to the big leagues.
- The Dudleys, two of the vilest heels in wrestling history, had great heat simply due to the fact that they insulted the audience every chance they got.
- And finally, it should be noted that even the salty Irish/Italians in attendance were left speechless at times, the Sandman's crucifixion at the hands of Raven being an example.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Cyrus, a representative of "The Network", during ECW's run on The Nashville Network. WWE ended up poaching that angle with "Right to Censor".
- Cover Album: Both OST albums released by ECW, 1998's Extreme Music and 2001's Anarchy Rocks, Extreme Music Vol. 2 were cover versions of wrestlers' themes. Although they weren't the original tunes, the cover artists were awesome, including "Enter Sandman" made by Lemmy Kilmister and "The Zoo" by Bruce Dickinson.
- ECW in its early days did joint promotional events with, among others, the Mid-Eastern Wrestling Federation in Maryland. More so when they started working with WWE, leading to ECW wrestlers competing on Raw and WWE guys (Flash Funk/2 Cold Scorpio, Aldo Montoya/Justin Credible and Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon) being shipped down to ECW.
- In December 1997, Dreamer, Sandman, Terry Funk, and the Dudley Boys went over to FMW for the FMW Super Extreme Wrestling War shows. This marked Masato Tanaka's first appearance on American television and led to him debuting in the U.S. at Living Dangerously, March 1, 1998 and, in the summer, his big feud with Mike Awesome (known in FMW as the Gladiator), being brought to the States.
- Darker and Edgier:
- ECW's product as a whole was much darker and edgier in comparison with what any other major promotion did before—or, arguably, since.
- Tommy Dreamer himself went through this, appropiately enough for a man called "The Heart and Soul of ECW." In his early career, Dreamer was similar to WCW's Buff Bagwell early on: He was a himbo, with shredded abs, and wore suspenders, too. But Dreamer would later earn the fans' respect with his extreme match ups, such as his feud with Sandman (who himself was a surfer dude who Paul Heyman turned into a hardcore gimmick) and tearing his body apart to the point where his pretty boy look was non-existent, and he became totally enmeshed in the E-C-Dub culture.
- Deep South:
- The Dupps.
- Buh Buh Ray Dudley sometimes wore a Confederate flag do-rag on his head.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Played straight with the Dudley Boys showing their disgust when Justin Credible interrupted a ten-bell salute for Tommy Dreamer's deceased grandfather. However, it would be horrifically subverted after they broke Beulah's neck with the 3D.
- Extra-Long Episode: The January 18, 1994 episode of ECW Hardcore TV ran 90 minutes as opposed to the usual 60 for the NWA ECW Heavyweight Champion Terry Funk vs. Shane Douglas match, which went to a 45-minute draw. This was building up to The Night The Line Was Crossed on February 5th, which featured the famous 60-minute draw with Funk, Douglas and Sabu.
- Fat Bastard: Big Val Puccio, Big Sal E. Graziano, The Blue Meanie...As a rule, anyone who qualified for this would find himself subjected to chants of "YOU FAT FUCK! YOU FAT FUCK! YOU FAT FUCK!"
- Fire-Forged Friends: The guys who are widely considered to be part of ECW's foundation have bonded into brothers-in-arms through their time with the company. This is especially evident through kayfabe in other companies over the years following the end of ECW.
- Foreshadowing: The 3/25/98 episode of ECW Hardcore TV started with a promo from Rob Van Dam, Bill Alfonso, and Sabu about Bam Bam Bigelow defending the ECW World Television Championship against Sabu. Before that could happen, he would have a tune-up match against RVD. In that, RVD mentioned how he beat Bigelow in the past, and that he'll beat him again so Sabu can take the TV Title and bring it to Fonzie's stable. Afterward, he said "what's yours (Sabu's) is mine, and what's mine is mine." RVD would win the World Television Championship from Bigelow himself (and hold it for 700 days, the longest title reign in ECW history, and the longest title reign for a secondary title in a major promotion since the Honky Tonk Man's epic run with the WWE Intercontinental Championship from 1987-1988. Van Dam was exactly one month away from having held the title for a full two years. As an aside, this win was legitimately the moment that made RVD, as the fans were cheering like crazy for him, something that continues today 15 years later.)
- Frenemy: The promotion as a whole had this relationship with the WWF. While ECW would mock and decry WWF almost as much as they did WCW, WWF would return fire on a regular basis, and it was WWF's Channel Hop to TNN that would eventually help kill ECW. However, the WWF provided a lot of support to the promotion, giving them large loans, loaning out wrestlers they weren't using at the moment, and even engaging in the occasional Crossover to help promote ECW's talent and product as equal to, if very different than, WWF's.
- Fun with Acronyms: Little Spike Dudley. His finisher? The Acid Drop.
- Garbage Wrestler: The Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, the Public Enemy, Terry Funk, the Gangstas, the Bad Breed (Axl and Ian Rotten), Balls Mahoney...
- The Giant: 911, Big Guido.
- Gimmick Matches: Several. At ECW Double Tables, February 4, 1995, ECW introduced the tables match. They also had no-rope barbed-wire matches, the Taipei (hands wrapped in tape, dipped in glue and covered with glass) Death Match, and Ultimate Jeopardy, which was a cage match with a variety of stipulations.
- Golden Age: ECW Alumni such as Rob Van Dam and The Sandman describe ECW as their favorite career period, as they had some creative control over their characters, with the logic that they know how to get themselves over best. That, combined with Paul Heyman's perfect understanding of wrestling, all came together to form an excellent work environment that allowed wrestlers to thrive without dealing with the Executive Meddling that the WCW and WWF were (and in WWE's case, still are), known for.
- Happily Married: Long after ECW went out of business, Tommy Dreamer married Beulah McGillicutty.
- Learnt English from Watching Television: During the "The Insane Luchador" Super Crazy-Yoshihiro Tajiri match at ECW House Party '99, Super Crazy was doing the ten punches in the corner and the crowd was counting along in Spanish, prompting Joey to exclaim, "Thank God for Sesame Street!"
- Licensed Game:
- ECW only received two 3D Wrestling Games, ECW Hardcore Revolution and ECW Anarchy Rulz, both made by Acclaim and sadly both are average-to-bad games that are Cut-and-Paste Environments of some of their 3D WWF games.
- WWE Video Games recreated ECW in part thanks to SmackDown vs. Raw series (SVR 2008 to 2010 to be specific) where the WWECW was part of the game, with various of the ECW Originals as selectable wrestlers, being Tommy Dreamer the only that appeared in these three games, as well Joey Styles as the commentator. Also, thanks to their CAWs, players can recreate ECW wrestlers and even arenas to be part of these games in next editions.
- Masked Luchador: A good deal from AAA, including the continuation of the Rey Mysterio Jr.-Psicosis feud but from elsewhere too such as Michinoku Pro Wrestling.
- Ms. Fanservice:
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: After the company became Extreme Championship Wrestling, pretty much every match became this in theory, as pretty much anything and everything was allowed during a match (except hitting a referee intentionally).
- Once per Episode: ECW Hardcore TV frequently ended with several "surprise" run-ins and the match turning into an all out brawl. When Chris Candido asked Jim Cornette to participate saying "we always have a surprise ending!", Cornette remarked that it's not much of a surprise if it's done every night.
- One of the Boys: Muscular female wrestler Jazz. She wrestled the guys, and was portrayed more as a wrestler who happened to be female rather than a female wrestler, since ECW didn't have a proper women's division. Whether or not she was attractive was never discussed, most likely because she'd beat up whoever said she wasn't. The only guy who spoke about it was Tommy Dreamer, who once opined that she looked like a crack whore and inferred that "the boys in the back" would rather receive fellatio from her stable mate Jason.
- One-Shot Character: At ECW Enter Sandman, May 13, 1995, The Tazmaniac and 911 squashed the Oriental Connection, made up of Japanese wrestlers Tsubo Genjin and Hiroyoshi Iekuda under masks. Genjin had previously defeated Tony Stetson at ECW Hostile City Showdown on April 15, and has competed for many different Japanese promotions. Iekuda is so obscure that a Google search for him only turns up references to this one match, with no indication as to where ECW had found him or what, if anything, he had done before this or went on to do after this.
- Parts Unknown:
- Person with the Clothing: Hat Guy.
- Power Stable: Raven's Nest, the Network.
- Power Trio: The Triple Threat (Shane Douglas and various allies)
- Really 17 Years Old: The infamous "Mass Transit incident". See the trope page for details.
- Refuge in Audacity: A lot of ECW, but anything out of Joel Gertner's mouth.
- Ring Oldies: Terry Funk, of course. In the Eastern Championship Wrestling days, Jimmy Snuka, Don Muraco, Tito Santana, Ivan Koloff, Nikolai Volkoff, Stan Hansen, Abdullah The Butcher and Kevin Sullivan all appeared.
- Ripped from the Headlines: The caning of Michael Fay in Singapore led to the famous Simgapore Caning Match between the Sandman and Tommy Dreamer, something Paul Heyman acknowledged on The Rise and Fall of ECW DVD.
- Scary Black Man: New Jack. Full stop.
- Sex Sells:
- As Francine said in the Forever Hardcore documentary, "We always incorporated sex into everything because sex sells."
- Porn star Jenna Jameson actually made a few appearances, making out with Tommy Dreamer.
- Spiritual Successor:
- Attitude and backstage-wise, ECW owed more to FMW than anyone there would want to admit, to the point it could also count as a Foreign Remake.
- Even Paul Heyman has gone on record saying that he believes ROH is the spiritual successor of ECW. It was founded to fill a gap in RF Video sales that used to be made up by ECW fancams, and their original booker was Paul Heyman's lackey/protege for years. It was founded in the same city and it's initial expansion outside of Philly was predicated a lot on "was this a strong ECW house show town?" ROH went from running rec centers and only having their shows available on DVD/VHS to becoming a corporate-owned company that has TV, PPVs and tours all over the country, every month, and they have been growing every year.
- Take That!:
- The Blue World Order. As Joey Styles put it during the first ECW One Night Stand event: "If any gimmick never deserved to make a dime and made a whole boatload of cash, this is it! And the best is they couldn't sue us because of parody!" Nevertheless, he took umbrage at the Blue Meanie dressing up as WWF wrestlers. During his entrance, Joey interrupted "Bluedust" to yell, "That's enough. STOP THE MUSIC! If I wanted to work in a circus, I'd stay home in Stamford!"
- And then there was Paul Heyman's infamous shoot promo on The Nashville Network (later The National Network, and now Spike TV) at the end of ECW's run. "Hey, Network - throw us off the air! I DARE YOU!"
- Naming a jobber "Joel Hartgood," a shot at TWA (Tri-State) Wrestling Alliance promoter Joel Goodhart.note
- Unnecessary Roughness: The infamous Barbed Wire Match between Sabu and Terry Funk; the Mass Transit Incident.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Believe it or not, this was the relationship between ECW and WWE. Despite several employees, most notably Jerry Lawler, openly admitting to hating ECW, WWE did damn near everything they could to help ECW get off the ground. Both did quite a bit of cross promotion, and Vince even helped ECW get out of a bit of financial trouble from time to time. Really, most of the hate seems to stem from the fact that WWE replaced ECW on TNN, ultimately leading to the latter's dissolution, and that's more TNN's fault than WWE's.
- World of Badass: Compared to WWF and WCW at the time.
- Win Back the Crowd: Invoked. ECW Hardcore Heaven 95, July 1, 1995, featured a tag team match with Chad Austin and The Broadstreet Bully (Tony Stetson) vs. Donn E. Allen and Dino Sendoff that featured blown spots, with the crowd turning on it and Joey even saying, "This match isn't very good," and, figuring that the match probably wouldn't make TV, using it to take a shot at WCW Slamboree, a PPV which, from 1993-1995, would feature Ring Oldies along with wrestlers from the regular roster. Then "Frankenstein" by the Edgar Winter Group hit, bringing out Paul E. and 911. 911 chokeslammed all four guys to the cheers of the crowd.
- Worthy Opponents: RVD-Jerry Lynn is the most notable of this, but the Eliminators vs. the Gangstas is such that New Jack and John Kronus would become a tag team themselves when Mustafa Saed and Perry Saturn left ECW in 1997.
- Would Hit a Girl: Absolutely everyone, but most notable in the case of Tommy Dreamer's repeated piledriving of Raven's female companions. According to Francine (a recipient of kendo stick shots to the kisser), the idea was to fill a niche the WWF Divas weren't willing to go at the time. However, as Bill Alfonso famously discovered at As Good As It Gets, September 20, 1997, sometimes they hit back.note
- Wrestling Doesn't Pay:
- In this case, literally; when the promotion declared bankruptcy, some wrestlers were still owed hundreds, if not thousands, in back pay from Paul Heyman.
- This was one of the reasons that WWE didn't immediately purchase the assets of ECW following its demise, instead waiting for the bankruptcy court to go about its business (though they managed to earn a stern warning from the same bankruptcy court for utilizing ECW trademarks during the Invasion period, necessitating a quick-fix rename of the WCW/ECW faction to "The Alliance"). WWE was actually listed as a creditor in ECW's bankruptcy, to the tune of $587,500 - which was, not-so-coincidentally, very close to the amount listed as the value of ECW's tape library.
- Many of the wrestlers did double duty through much of the promotion's existence - Stevie Richards would take calls, Bubba Ray Dudley booked venues, Tommy Dreamer dealt with shirts and merchandise, Taz designed logos, etc. Of course, Paul Heyman handled the finances, and we all know how well that went...
- Wrestling Family:
- In kayfabe, the Dudleys were all fathered by the same man (a traveling salesman), but were born to different mothers.
- C.W. Anderson was related to the famous Anderson family in kayfabe. In real life, like all the Andersons, there's no actual relation, just a strong resemblance.
- Axl and Ian Rotten, not really related.
- Wrestling Monster: Big Dick Dudley, 911, Sal E. Graziano, Sid, Mike Awesome, Rhyno.
- You Have to Have Jews: Tod Gordon, Paul E., Joel Gertner, and Raven. This ruffled some feathers when Paul colluded in Sandman's crucifixion, and it was suggested by some that they nail Sandman to a Jewish Star and see how that goes over with Raven's friends. Tod and Paul quickly got cold feet and told Raven to apologize for the shoot, which he grudgingly did. Raven, who is not religious, still insists it was a good angle and had the desired impact (and jokingly pointed out that the Jewish Star idea wouldnt work because Sandman could roll away). As Terry Funk said in Forever Hardcore:Funk: Leave God out of our business. [laughter] Doesn't he have enough to do? We don't want to drag him into our business, do we?
- Aborted Arc:
- Rob Van Dam's dual WWE/ECW Championship reigns had to be cut short after Van Dam and Sabu got busted for marijuana possession.
- Kurt Angle was drafted to ECW to get people to watch the show. About a month and a half later, he was released (allegedly for refusing to go to rehab).
- Chris Benoit was supposed to win the ECW World Championship at Vengeance 2007. Then Atlanta happened. He was promptly replaced by Johnny Nitro, who would soon rechristen himself as John Morrison.
- The Ace:
- Bobby Lashley. He didn't even lose the ECW title in his second reign — he was forced to vacate it because he got drafted to Raw. Since he was never beaten for it, this technically makes him the strongest wrestler in WWECW's brief history. Even how he lost it the first time was full of shenanigans that didn't make it a clean loss.note
- After Lashley left, CM Punk was this to the vast majority of the WWECW roster, to the point that both the ECW Originals and the New Breed tried to recruit him knowing that whichever stable did would eventually win the feud. Unlike Lashley, Punk did lose the title — in a No DQ match, after being speared by then-World Heavyweight Champion Edge. Punk would later have the last laugh after he cashed in his MITB briefcase on Edge later that year to win his first world title.
- Christian, who was the only two-time ECW Champion in the history of the show besides Lashley. The only reason he lost to Ezekiel Jackson is because every heel on ECW's roster interfered with the match to make sure he lost.
- All Love Is Unrequited: The only two romantic pairings on this show that went anywhere were Kevin Thorn and Ariel (Shelly Martinez), and Zack Ryder and Rosa Mendes.
- Bastard Boyfriend: Mike Knox to Kelly Kelly, abandoning her to her fate in mixed tag team matches they were in and even at one point hitting his finisher on her.
- Big Bad: William Regal was unquestionably this during the show's last year of existence. He attempted to take the ECW title off Christian, recruiting the help of Vladimir Kozlov and Ezekiel Jackson to do it, and when he himself couldn't do it managed Jackson to get the job done, eventually achieving it on the last episode of the show.
- B Show: It was a secondary show in comparison to Raw and SmackDown, to the point that in its last years it was seen as being used as testing ground for new wrestlers to be later moved on to said shows, making it a predecessor of sorts to NXT (as a developmental brand/promotion). Though it could be argued that by its last year it was a C Show, barely above Superstars in importance.
- Curb-Stomp Battle:
- Chavo Guerrero Jr. lost the ECW Championship to Kane at WrestleMania XXIV in eight seconds.
- Yoshi Tatsu's debut match, where he knocked out Shelton Benjamin with one kick.
- Christian's title defense against William Regal at SummerSlam 2009 ended in seconds after Christian jumped Regal and hit the Killswitch while Regal taking off his coat. He payed for it immediately afterwards when Regal and his lackeys Ezekiel Jackson and Vladimir Kozlov beat him down for it.
- Hate Sink: The New Breed stable were this for ECW's hardcore audience, encompassing everything the Mutants hated about ECW's revival.
- Hijacked by Ganon: A rare heroic version. Christian took over ECW immediately upon his return and basically carried it through its last year. This was because his original return storyline (where he would have been revealed as the one behind Jeff Hardy's recent misfortunes at the time) was spoiled on the Internet, forcing ECW's top face at the time, Matt Hardy, to take his place and turn heel in the process.
- In Name Only: "CHANGE THE CHANNEL". That was a momentous chant. WWE were really pushing their ECW brand and the old fans were having any of it. The Big Show vs. Batista would be a good draw for Raw or SmackDown but it didn't belong in ECW, and could only have been viewed as an implicit screw you, WWE is all you've got now from Vince McMahon. Some will complain that the crowd was too rude but with live entertainment, the ultimate lesson is to know your audience. When Sabu came in and saved the day, the roof came off the place. This was the final nail in the coffin as far as WWE running any shows like this; they never returned to the Hammerstein. The only saving grace was the Big Show's reactions. He was always pissed-off at being there, put minimal effort into everything (mainly due to his health concerns at the time), and he always found a way to crash into a table. Watching him and Batista getting booed out of the building and arguing with fans is the most entertaining stuff ever: the crowd chanted "YOU CAN'T WRESTLE" and he responded "I don't have to!", and the crowd was like Yeah fair enough and then focused on Batista. Big Show spoke in ECW Untold about how he enjoyed learning to be a heel during his time with that brand.
- Last of His Kind: By 2009, Tommy Dreamer was the last of the ECW Originals on WWE ECW (and the company, if you discount Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio).
- Lighter and Softer: In comparison with the original ECW. On the one side, you had Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn demanding more promos and sports entertainment, and on the other side, you had SyFy executives demanding some alien or supernatural elements to the matches, to go in line with the channel's sci-fi theme. Paul Heyman's concession was to toss in a The Zombie (Tim Roberts), who as his name implies was a growling wrestling zombie, and immediately have the Sandman cane him to death. They would have much better results with Kevin Thorn (Kevin Fertig) and Ariel (Shelly Martinez) of the New Breed.
- Love at First Sight: One look at Rosa Mendes and Zack Ryder was instantly smitten.
- Older Hero vs. Younger Villain:
- The ECW Originals vs New Breed feud. Note that the ECW Originals weren't entirely against the younger generation, as seen by their attempts to recruit CM Punk.
- A lot of feuds on ECW were like this, because two of the top faces over the last year-and-a-half of its existence were Matt Hardy and Christian, both of whom were a part of WWE during the Attitude Era. In fact, Christian's only feuds on ECW that didn't invoke this trope were those he had with William Regal and Tommy Dreamer, who were also active during the Monday Night Wars.
- Power Stable: Three major ones: the ECW Originals, the New Breed, and the Ruthless Roundtable.
- Popularity Power: With the exception of Bobby Lashley, everyone mentioned in Spotlight-Stealing Squad below were the most popular wrestler on ECW during their era. Considering how all three of these wrestlers wouldn't have been out of place in the original ECW, that was only to be expected.
- Preppy Name: When Christian called him "Bill", William Regal went on a tirade about how he was not be called that common person's name. So, Christian proceeded to refer to him as "Bill" for the rest of his ECW run.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Subverted with ECW General Manager Armando Alejandro Estrada, but played straight with his successors Teddy Long and Tiffany.
- Rogues Gallery: The majority of the roster was this for whoever was The Face of the show at the time.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: During her first major storyline, Kelly Kelly had a major crush on CM Punk. Later on, she chafed with the other two members of Extreme Expose when she fell for the kind Balls Mahoney over The Miz.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Yes. ECW was proto-NXT, a show where many young wrestlers were sent to for experience on TV. After the annual WWE draft, the brand's major storylines would be centered on whoever was the most popular wrestler on the show that year.
- Bobby Lashley. According to Paul Heyman, Vince McMahon outright told him that ECW was revived solely to put him over. Lashley won the ECW Title, started feuding with Vince and subsequently moved to RAW after the 2007 Draft.
- After Lashley left, CM Punk had the spotlight. Punk was the sole ECW competitor at WrestleMania 23's Money in the Bank ladder match (a match he almost won). Afterwards, ECW's most important storyline in 2007, the ECW Originals vs the New Breed, eventually centered around both factions trying to get Punk to join them. By that point, not only was it obvious that the storyline was really about getting Punk over, but also that Punk was the only person involved who had any real future with the company. Once that storyline was over, Punk's ECW Title chase dominated the show for the rest of the year. He would lose the title to Chavo Guerrero (thanks to interference from Edge) at the beginning of 2008, win his first Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania 24 that year, and would be drafted to RAW in the summer (and would win his first world title the following week).
- Matt Hardy was the centerpiece of the show after Punk moved to RAW, but since he had a more varied and experienced roster to work with, he didn't have to carry it as much. Like Punk above, Matt's ECW Championship chase was the main storyline for the rest of 2008. Come 2009, after losing the title to Jack Swagger, Matt was revealed to be his brother Jeff Hardy's mystery attacker and rejoined the SmackDown roster.
- Jeff's mystery attacker was originally supposed to be Christian, but after the fans predicted it and spoiled it on the internet, it was switched to Matt and Christian took Matt's place at ECW. Christian would soon win the ECW Championship from Swagger and, aside from a brief reign for the retiring Tommy Dreamer, would continue to hold it for the last year of ECW's existence. He would lose the title on the brand's final episode to Ezekiel Jackson in order to help put the latter over.
- Talk Show with Fists:
- The Abraham Washington Show.
- MVP's VIP Lounge also had an episode on this show to help build up the Money in the Bank Ladder match at WrestleMania XXV.
- The Peep Show also made a return on this show, though the existence of the Abraham Washington Show meant it didn't appear often.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The Miz and John Morrison's initial partnership, until they won the tag titles and started bonding over their similarities (such as their hatred of CM Punk).
E-C-DUB! E-C-DUB! E-C-DUB!