Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Rise and Fall of ECW DVD

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."



  1. ECW was possibly my favorite fed back in the day. I remember when I discovered it I could not get enough and began looking at other forms of extreme wrestling. I soon found some of the Japanese 'death match' shows. If you can stomach the commentary the first Stranglemania video by ICP is worth the watch.

    1. Cool. I have always wondered about the ICP shows and if they are any good. I have also wondered if the XPW matches are worth a look. I liked that ECW DVD so much that I got the ECW Unreleased DVD also. Good stuff.

  2. Heyman has come out and admitted that the initial 'crash tv' style that ECW ran was a direct result of his trying to hide the wrestler's weaknesses. What I do not think he counted on, though, was how many rabid fans would embrace it.

    From that point on the extreme nature got more and more pronounced, as they continually had to top what they did last show. Pretty soon you've got New Jack force blading some 16 year old kid while a bunch of apes cheer like jaded Romans.

    I've never watched an episode of ECW, having only caught a few of Sabu's Youtube matches over the years. I understand that such ignorance of the product nullifies my opinion and throws me into the 'old man protecting his grass' camp, but I have never found modern extreme wrestling enjoyable.

    There's nothing too enjoyable about seeing what borderline cripples a big chunk of those wrestlers are these days (physical or otherwise).

    What really made me sick was watching the Sheik, at 60+, rolling around the ring with flaming barbed wire in some jerk-off Japanese promotion. For what? A couple of thousand dollars and third degree burns over 40% of his body?

    But... but... that's hardcore!

  3. I agrede that after a certain point it just turns into utter stupidity. The DVD was cool bit it was a retrospective and only showed a fraction of the matches. When ECW used hardcore as an exclamation point, it was great! When ECW used hardcore to one-up what happened 5 minutes ago every 5 minutes then it was just ridiculous like what you pointed out in your reply.