You wrestling fans out there that watch WWE “Raw”, “Smackdown”, TNA , MMA or the UFC are probably a bit young to remember the early days of ECW, and no, I’m not talking about the WWE version of ECW, there’s simply no comparison! No ill-will towards WWE but ever since the “Invasion”, the ECW got watered down and commercialized compared to the late 80’s when ECW at that time was called the Tri-State Wrestling Alliance.
Now despite we all know wrestling is acting and has storylines and pushes the envelope with risqué themes more aimed at the 18-35 age bracket, these are still athletes that take their bodies to the limit and perform stunts that the majority of us would never risk. ECW pushed that envelope in a way that it was obvious that the WWE (back then it was the WWF, who later changed the name due to the animal organization with the same acronym) was keeping a sharp eye on the brand due to constant good ratings for TV and their pay-per-view events.
Still seen on WWE today is Paul Heyman, the man that brought the ECW to excellence in the 80’s and 90’s. ECW is the reason we have the Dudley Boyz, Shane Douglas, Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer and many others. ECW at this time was competing against the WWF and the WCW. Once they changed their name to Extreme Championship Wrestling, people saw the difference in style and it when on to popularize hardcore wrestling as well as lucha libre and Japanese wrestling styles compared to the American and European styles the other leagues had.
ECW was as underground as it could get with the majority of it’s shows in Philadelphia and off I-95 at ECW Arena, which was just an empty warehouse set up with folding steel chairs and makeshift bleachers and a ring. This was the start of true, unglamorized events that kept people coming for more.