Well, I've been asked to respond to TFC's assessment of ECW. What's more, I'm being asked in a very public forum to comment about a conversation where two views of ECW come barreling towards one another and though TFC was heavily invested in the short-lived eastern promotion, I was not. I was introduced to the wrestling scene in the early 90's and was transfixed by the leaders of the WWF and WCW of the day. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and The Undertaker were running strong and taking names in the process.
Though my attentions were rather focused, it turns out that SOME kids (me) tend to try out the moves to see how they hurt or don't as the case may be, on their brothers. SO, my parents put me in the penalty box for a good portion of my childhood. NOW, once I WAS able to get back into the swing of things, a few years had passed, leading me into some of wrestling's finest moments; Jericho's debut in WWF, Hogan's heel turn in WCW, and the like. Now that we've got some of MY history behind us, we can move on to my assessment of the 9 year incarnation known as ECW.......
I would like to speak to TFC's statements that ECW's 9 year run was "one of wrestling's most important eras in wrestling history." When ECW's first World Heavyweight Champion, Shane Douglas, helped make the Paul Heyman and Tod Gordon led Extreme Championship Wrestling a separate entity from the NWA of the day, and forcefully so I might add, they set the tone for what ECW would eventually become....a break from what tradition had been up until that point. NOW, that having been said, it was Douglas' words on the day of ECW's inception that IMMEDIATELY turned me off to the product. Even now, the promo burns me in a bad way.
He insults Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, the Briscoes, Lou Thesz, and a long list of legends beyond, using them to introduce Extreme Championship Wrestling's new belt. From the business end of things, ECW was running on the red line from shortly after Tod and Paul began their independent venture until they filed for bankruptcy in 2001. Granted, they managed to garner some mainstream attention by sideline promoting off of WWF's already established air time, but to call them a real contender to even a second place spot would be foolhardy at best.
While men like Steve Austin, Terry Funk, Mick Foley, RVD, the Radicals, and others passed through ECW, to think they either hadn't been discovered OR offered work elsewhere would be COMPLETELY inaccurate. Some owe everything they have to the ECW product for whatever notoriety they still have, but by and large, the talents the major two wrestling companies wanted, they ended up with anyway. So what do I give ECW credit for?
I've got a couple of things in mind to thank ECW with. First is talent. Without ECW, the Dudleys, Steve Austin, and a host of others wouldn't have hit pay dirt. Second is a story. Paul Heyman made no bones about the fact that HIS agenda was to put Eric Bischoff out of business. Irony of ironies was that Bischoff wanted to do the same to Vince McMahon and NEITHER one succeeded in their plans. In fact, BOTH were bought out by Vince. And the last thing I credit ECW with is a short term escape from normal. The hardcore format may not have been one that could last long term on its own, but there is something to be said for a flash in the bucket.