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Extreme Championship Wrestling

Jun 23

When you think of ECW, you probably think of stipulations like the Eye for an Eye match where the only way to win is by extracting your opponent's eye from their head. But, the reality is that ECW did a lot more than just throw the rulebook out the window. It was also a place where different styles of wrestling were showcased, ranging from street fights to hardcore.

The defunct promotion that was once a WWE brand was founded in 1992 as National Wrestling Alliance affiliate Eastern Championship Wrestling by Tod Gordon. It would later be renamed Extreme Championship Wrestling by businessman Paul Heyman. The rebranding gave the company an identity as one of the big three wrestling promotions in the United States, and it would become a home to some of the biggest names in professional wrestling like Tazz, Raven, Sandman, the Dudley Boyz, and Rob Van Dam.

With the help of Paul Heyman, the ECW roster was filled with hardcore wrestlers who weren't afraid to push the envelope and work the crowd. As a result, matches were often full of high risk maneuvers and violence. This included some of the first-ever tables, chairlegs, and even blood. The use of weaponry was also common in ECW, with each wrestler having select weapons that were used as part of their gimmick. For example, Sabu was the guy that favored the table and often went through them while the Dudley Boyz were known to use stop sign gags.

In addition to a willingness to take risks, the ECW roster was always full of great athletes. This made for some very entertaining in-ring action and helped the promotion stand out from the other wrestling promotions of the time. In the early days of ECW, matches were often fought in small arenas with very little room to move around and the action was often fast-paced.

This helped to create a sense of urgency amongst the fans that wasn't seen in the other two brands at the time. It's also why many of the early ECW matches are still some of the best in wrestling history.

Another important element to the early days of ECW was the way in which the promotion blurred the lines between faces and heels. The early ECW heel characters were not nearly as polarizing as the face characters of WWE Raw and SmackDown, and they worked the crowd in a different way.

During the early years of ECW, it was often possible to see live events in some major cities, and many of them were sold out. The shows were also aired on local television on Friday nights or Saturday mornings at 1:00a. Due to the obscurity of the station and the late hours, a lot of expletives and violence were often not edited out of the broadcasts.

Eventually, ECW became the third major wrestling promotion in the United States and was ultimately purchased by World Wrestling Entertainment in 2003. Today, the ECW legacy continues on as WWE's NXT brand.