I am off on a professional wrestling tangent for this post. I may delve into some more posts about this topic because I was a huge professional wrestling fan at one point in time. I mainly skip it these days but I will stop for a few minutes while I am flipping through the channels. If someone invites me over to watch a Pay-Per-View event then I will more than likely show up. I must admit that professional wrestling is just all around not the same anymore at all. I loved it from the late 70s to the early 90s - when kayfabe was still in effect - but now that Vince McMahon is the undisputed king of the dung heap the state of professional wrestling is in a shambles. Like the old timers say, "A polished turd is STILL a turd." That is a quick background and my current opinion of the professional wrestling industry so now it is time to move on to my thoughts on ECW.
Before I go any further, I need to make a few things clear. First, I was aware of ECW at the time but I was not a regular viewer. I did not have cable because I was a young married soldier in the Army with little to no disposable income. Second, my knowledge of ECW comes from the DVD, The Rise and Fall of ECW, and from YouTube and other sources. Third, I am only discussing Extreme Championship Wrestling and not the precursor Eastern Championship Wrestling or the revival (read as "abomination") known as WWECW in wrestling circles.
I found this DVD at Wal-Mart and bought it since I was always interested in seeing more about ECW. This 2-Disc set has a company retrospective on the first disc and 7 matches on the second disc. The first disc starts in the days of Eastern Champinship Wrestling when they were part of the National Wrestling Alliance. Eventually, Eastern Championship Wrestling is folded and Extreme Championship Wrestling is born. This is a new era of reality tv type wrestling that smacks you in the face and caters to the adults instead of the children. The DVD continues to tell the story of how the company got a TV show, started doing pay per view shows and finally folded.
ECW seems to be a very divisive topic to a large majority of wrestling fans. The fans of ECW were almost fanatical and cult like in their devotion to the company; there was a group of fans that would show up every week and try to sit in the same seating area for the shows. The crowd did not just watch the show but they participated in it by chanting "E-C-W" when the wrestlers pulled off amazing moves. Since this was an adult show, the violence was pretty intense. Wrestlers were getting slammed through tables AFTER THEY WERE LIT ON FIRE, slammed onto thumb tacks thrown on the mat. jumping from 20 feet above the ring onto their opponents - it was just insane seeing the moves that these guys would pull out in a match! For a glimpse of some extreme action, watch this video:
The crowd would also bring pots, pans, oars, and sorts of other things that the wrestlers would go to the audience to grab and use in the matches. You can not get that sort of interaction at a WWE event! If a wrestler messed up a move, the crowd was waiting to chant "You Fucked Up!". It was a completely different atmosphere at an ECW event and I am sorry to say I never got to see it live.
I know that the ECW style is not for everybody and there is nothing wrong with that at all - different strokes for different folks and all - but if you are a wrestling fan and want a promotion that is about the product in the ring and not "sports entertainment" then you should check out some ECW. If it was so terrible then why did wrestling legends such as Terry Funk, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Sid Vicious decide to work there? It ECW was "Extremely Crappy Wrestling" as Jerry Lawler put it then why did the big two companies raid their lineup in search of new talent? In all honesty, ECW was the first victim of the Monday Night Wars that took place between WWE and WCW.
The DVD closes by having various wrestlers state why they thought ECW was special. Finally, Paul Heyman closes with these words, "You cannot achieve success without the risk of failure. And I learned a long time ago, you cannot achieve success, if you fear failure. If you're not afraid to fail, man, you have a chance to succeed. But you're never gonna get there unless you risk it, all the way. I'll risk failure. Sometimes, half the fun is failing. Learning from your mistakes, waking up the next morning, and saying 'Okay. Watch out. Here I come again. A little bit smarter, licking my wounds, and really not looking forward to getting my ass kicked the way I just did yesterday.' So now, I'm just a little more dangerous."