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INSIDE THE ROPES    
The Rise and Fall and 
Fall and Rise of ECW 

January 13, 2005

by the Canadian Bulldog    
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

"E-C-Dub! E-C-Dub! E-C-Dub!" 
      -- Fans Who Apparently Can't Spell, 1999

Welcome to a very special EXCLUSIVE, JAM-PACKED and HIGHLY ILLUSTRATED edition of Inside The Ropes. I'm Canadian Bulldog and as you all know, I'M HARDCORE! I'M HARDCORE!

What terms come to mind when you think of the name ECW? Groundbreaking? Innovative? Violent? Low budget? SHNITSKY? Perhaps all of these and more?

If you're like me, you long for the days of the second-most hardcore promotion (behind the AWA) of all time. Well, fear not, wrestling fans. I have just received

word that World Wrestling Federtainment Ltd. Corp. Inc. is planning a DVD set chronicling the rise and fall of ECW!!!

But until this unnamed video comes out, I thought that the next best thing might be for YOURS TRULY, the Notorious D.O.G., to chronicle the history of EC F'N W (Extreme Championship Fuckin' Wrestling).

It all started in 1789 when nine Dioceses formed the Episcopal Church in America. Then by 1837, Queen Victoria began ruling Great Britian. In 1893, New Zealand became the first nation to let women vote, and… oh, wait. Sorry, I'm giving you the wrong ECW timeline.

I'm instead referring to "the little promotion that could", emanating from the infamous Bowling Hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, providing fans with a smorgasbord of violence, a buffet of bone-breaking and a salad bar of sexuality.


A typical night of ECW action.

The promotion was created in 1992 from the fertile mind of Some Guy, but it didn't really make any headlines until August 1994, when company franchise and perennial whiner Shawn Douglas threw down the NWA World Title and said that it and Nature Guy Ricky Flare were dead. It turned out that Flare had just passed out drunk backstage at The Omni in Atlanta, and the belt was eventually returned to him. Woooo!

Way back in 1994 -- an era when The Tel-O-Tubbies were television's biggest act, Curt Cobayne was busy committing suicide, and the movie Paul Fiction ruled the box office -- ECW distinguished itself from the other wrestling promotions by not hiring guys who moonlighted as evil clowns, wimpy race car drivers, jealous major league baseball umpires, cranky vampires, overpowering high school janitors and gay movie theater ushers. Instead they went with time-tested, old school gimmicks such as the stumbling drunk Sand Man and Public Enema, two white rapper wannabe's.

Soon, Paul Herman, the current Smack! Down star and manager of HI-DAN-RIKE, was brought in as ECW's "booker" (backstage language for the guy who likes to read books), and by 1996, he bought the company.

Herman, that is. Not HI-DAN-RIKE.

Many people figured Herman, who had previously worked as manager Paul E. Dangerfield in WCW, didn't have any business sense, mainly because his Dangerously Alliance stable kept getting beaten up every week by Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham Wearing A Cast And Leather Jacket.

Still, the tiny group began taking off, using a series of innovative and not-at-all offensive angles, such as Bryan The Pillman peeing on the audience; Ravin tying someone to a crucifix and then setting them on fire and killing them; bodyguard 9/11 choke-slamming little old ladies and handicapped children; Cactus Jack Manson lifting the wallets of people at ringside; and Johnny Dreamer using a chainsaw to cut the arms off of security guards.

ECW also was the first wrestling group to exploit scantily-clad women as a recurring theme for their programs. Unfortunately, they weren't the last.

Trying to deflect criticism that the company was too one-dimensional, Herman produced high-flying stunts on each show. For example, daredevil Saboo would routinely jump from forty-six feet in the air and land into a glass of water. It was commonplace for underaged teen Mikey Whippersnapper to be tossed into a trash compactor and crushed until he was only two and a half feet tall. Hardcore legend and senior citizen Terry Fuck would often hit himself with a chair covered in fire, and then he'd burst into flames, and then he'd explode, and then the crowd would boo, and it was the best stunt ever!!!

EVER!!!

The company was getting ready for its first ever paper-view in 1996 when tragedy struck. During a routine house show, convicted felon "New" Jack "accidentally" used a knife to "cut" open a young "wrestler" who "worked" under the name Mass Transportation. Although ECW aired a classy tribute video to the deceased wrestler the next week on its programming, detractors still killed the stunt uncalled for.

Perhaps Jack was still pissed because someone had invited him to work their grandparent's anniversary party:

Are you a fucking dumbass or what???? You can't be a worker to ask me some stupid shit like that. Give me a fucking break! And no I don't know who you are, you fuck. I don't do weddings, What am I gonna do, jump off of a fucking balcony onto a cake? What the fuck? Well, yeah, for 5000 I will show up and fuck your mother, you fuck

(Sorry, I couldn't resist dragging that quote out again for laughs. By the way, cheap plug -- Letters From A Nut V: Coming Soon!!!)

Anyhoo… In September 1996, several ECW wrestlers arrived at the WWF's At Your House paper-view spectacular, sitting at ringside, holding up signs and eventually interfering in a match involving Savio Vegas and Breadshaw. This led to a long and fruitful on-air relationship between ECW and WWF that lasted exactly one night.

By 1997, the company landed their first PPV. The event, entitled Somewhat Legal, featured the following matches:


ECW finally makes it to the big time.
  • The Dudley Brotherz (Barbara Ray Dudley, D-Lo Dudley, Spike TV Dudley, Big Dick Dudley, Dances With Dudley, Dudley Dudley, Dudley Dudley Dudley, Dudley Dudley Dudley Dudley, Dudley Do-Right, James Dudley and Sign Man Dudley) defeated The Eliminations (Saturn and Neptune), in which approximately 74 people interfered, leading to: 
  • Lanny Storm, who hailed from Toronto, Ontario, Canada (no, wait, that's me) got the better of Rod Van-Damme, in which forty other guys interfered, leading to: 
  • A bunch of Japanese Guys defeated each other, leading to: 
  • Shawn Douglas defeated The Pitbull Who Isn't Dead Yet, featuring interference by The One Who Is, leading to: 
  • Saboo defeated Tazzzzzzzzz in a "you better fucking respect me or else" match, in which the two shook hands, then hugged, then quietly made out, leading to: 
  • Sand Man beat Steven Richards and Terry Fuck in a three-way dance in which none of them actually danced (although Terry did attempt a foxtrot at one point.) For some reason, this led to: 
  • Ravin defeated Terry Fuck for the ECW World Title in a match marred by interference by The Blow Meanie, Pitbull # 6, Johnny Dreamer, Balls Maloney and The Fat Guy With The Neckbrace, and it was the best match ever!!! 
  • EVER!!!

ECW also did several other critically-acclaimed PPV's, the results of which I can't remember. But they all had cool names like Lethal Injection '98, Inmates Running The Asylum 2000 and Ambulance Madness '99. All of them featured Gerry Lynn jobbing to somebody.

Soon, WWF and WCW executives began taking notice of ECW's accomplishments and as a tribute to their success, stole all of their good wrestlers. This is why at the company's final PPV in 2001, the main event was Steve Corina's Little Kid against The Camera Man in a ladder match.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Fans of the company were getting tired of having to watch ECW's weekly show at 3 a.m., sandwiched in between infomercials for The Jumbo Juicer and Desperate Danny's Dating Hotline. After much discussion, ECW catered to its prime demographic by landing a show on the Country and Western Channel, in between Roller Skatin' Maniacs and Desperate Danny's Dance Party.

Playing to their merged audience, on the very first episode of "ECW on TNN", The Rookie Monster Rhinocerous fought Yokoono Takajiri to a no-contest when Boss Hogg came to the ring looking for "them no-good Dukes". This led to a PPV match between Jason Credible and Roscoe P. Coltrane, which would have gone fine except that Enos planted moonshine in Roscoe's car instead of Cooter's. And it was the best match ever!!!

EVER!!!

Around this time, the company also landed its first video game, ECW Fucking Sadists 1, which would have been a great game had it not completely ripped off WWF War Zone.


Realistic-style gaming action experienced by the four people who bought this game.

Soon, wrestlers noticed that their paychecks began bouncing, and some were even upset about it. But Herman convinced them that the whole business was a work anyways, and that they couldn't expect to be paid in real money when it was just a fake show to begin with.

Eventually, HHG Corporation, which was either Paul Herman's holding company or some type of designer drug, filed for bankruptcy after a company-run contest in which a lucky fan got to "run ECW" (not for a day, but for good) didn't pan out.

As has happened so many times, who was there to save the wrestling business but none other than Vince MacMahon!!! The WWE's head writer decided to buy out the competition himself, making the announcement SIMOTANEOUSLY on episodes of "Monday Night Raw Is War" and "ECW Hard Core Wrestling". Here's the EXCLUSIVE, JAM-PACKED transcript:

Vince MacMahon: For the first time ever, for the first time ever in sports entertainment history, this broadcast is not only being seen here on TNN and Cleveland, Ohio...it is also being seen on some UHF station several weeks later.

Now there's only one way that that can happen - there's only one way, and one man who can make history like this happen. Obviously, you all know I have acquired ECW. That's right, I bought my competition! Now then, it's not exactly final - well it is and it isn't, you see...the only thing is, HHG can't sell this property to anybody else because nobody really knows what to do with it, so therefore this is what's gonna happen.

HHG is practically BEGGING me - they're practically begging me to buy ECW, and I have agreed. There's only one small caveat; they're hearing for the first time, and that is this: HHG...they've signed the contracts, and I will sign the contracts, but I'll sign it this Sunday on pay-per-view at WrestleMania. And I'll sign it when Paul Herman walks down the aisle at WrestleMania and delivers the contract in front of me…

(Shane MacMahon's music hits. But he's not in the building!)

Shane O' Max: What's up, Vince? Surprise, dad! You're in Cleveland, Ohio - and I'm here in… well, I'm not sure exactly where I am, some dark alley or something… standing in an ECW ring.

And as usual, dad, your ego has gotten the best of you. Your ego has gotten the best of you. I mean, dad, you wanted to finalize this deal - ECW at WrestleMania? You wanted, you have the audacity to ask Paul Herman himself to come down and to finalize that deal?

Well dad, that's just the opportunity that I was looking for - because… hey, wait… Rod Van-Damme and Sand Man and The Full-Bodied Italians and The Fat Guy With The Neckbrace are beating me up with a lead pipe! Dad? DAD? HELPPPPPP!!!!!

And then the rest, as they say, is history. ECW shut its doors forever after that fateful night. Will the company never ever come back again, not even for a one-time PPV in June? BANK ON IT!!!

If you want to drop me a line (no more corrections, PLEASE. What do you people want from me?), email me at bulldog@onlineonslaught.com.  And remember, if you heard it here first, it's Inside The F'N Ropes!!!

(Note: By an amazing coincidence, IT F'N R T-shirts now available at the BulldogZone merchandise center!!!)

E-MAIL THE BULLDOG    
BROWSE THE ITR ARCHIVES

CANADIAN BULLDOG  is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.


  
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