The company was known for creating top wrestlers, and also utilizing prior stars. And with every promotion, came athletes who exceeded the others.
Now it’s time to look at the wrestlers who turned ECW into such a phenomenon.
Alongside Sabu and Mick Foley, hardcore icon Terry Funk is one of the most extreme wrestlers of all time.
When he was over 25 years into his wrestling career, Terry Funk joined ECW. He had classic matches, many against his long-time rival Cactus Jack. At 52 years old, Funk won the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. Paul Heyman would later declare Funk The Lifetime ECW World Heavyweight Championship.
Age is just a number, and with his stellar wrestling, Terry Funk was able to prove to this in ECW.
After some of ECW’s stars left for WCW and the WWF, Rhyno came to ECW. And over his two-year ECW tenure, he won three titles.
He held the ECW World Television Championship twice. Also, Rhyno won the ECW World Heavyweight Championship.
As the company folded in 2001, Rhyno was the ECW World Heavyweight Champion and ECW World Television Champion simultaneously.
Overall, Rhyno was a guy who came in ECW to make an impact, and that’s exactly what he did.
The Dudley Boyz
Behold, the most hated tag team in ECW history. However, the Dudley Boyz were also the most accomplished tag team to step foot in ECW.
Although they were known for provoking fans and attacking wrestlers, Bubba Ray, and Devon were great athletes. Their infamous Dudley Death Drop (as well as some cheating) earned them the ECW World Tag Team Championship on eight occasions. Fast forward almost two decades, the Dudley Boyz would win a total of 23 world tag team titles.
Whenever they lost the title, The Dudleys would come right back and regain the gold.
No matter how they won their matches, The Dudley Boyz always made an impact in ECW.
Raven’s villainous tactics didn’t always please fans, but his in-ring skills did. He won the ECW World Heavyweight Championship twice, and the ECW World Tag Team Championship four times.
He took part in one of ECW’s most infamous feuds: Raven vs. Tommy Dreamer. Also, Raven and Sandman battled one another in one of ECW’s most emotional feuds.
Despite his nastiness, Raven became one of ECW’s most impactful stars.
Having held seven titles in the company, Shane Douglas shaped ECW in many ways.
The Franchise was instrumental in the creation of the word “extreme”. ECW has a long list of memorable moments, most notably Shane Douglas’ decline of the NWA title belt. This marked the begin of Extreme Championship Wrestling.
Douglas continued to excel in the company, winning the ECW World Heavyweight Championship four times.
He wasn’t with ECW throughout its entire tenure, yet Shane Douglas truly made ECW the phenomenon it was.
During his journey through ECW, The Sandman was one of the toughest wrestlers there.
After being the champion five different times, The Sandman holds the records for most ECW World Heavyweight Championship reigns.
When he is compared to other wrestlers, there is one quality that stands out; he was a trend setter. The Sandman innovated Singapore Canes, which would later be called the infamous “kendo sticks.” And one of pro wrestling’s greatest icons, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was known for drinking beer in arenas. But he didn’t start this idea. Rather, The Sandman started this trend, and it would go on to be notorious.
Without a doubt, The Sandman shaped ECW, and the pro wrestling industry’s future.
Much like Tommy Dreamer, Taz was not always high on the food chain. But the Human Suplex Machine made his way to the top.
Taz went from being part of a mediocre tag team to being the fourth ECW Triple Crown Champion. What’s more unique about this is the fact that he held all titles, at least, two different times. He had his ups and downs with Sabu, but their rivalry is arguably the most intense feud in ECW History.
Dedication was another quality of Taz. No, he didn’t stick with ECW for its entire tenure, but Taz gave the company his all, both in and out of the ring. Taz helped with some of the brand’s merchandise sales, and he was phenomenal with the wrestling boots on. In WWE Home Video’s The Rise and Fall of ECW, Taz openly talked about his special connection with ECW and its other wrestlers.
People start in different places, but for Taz, it was all about the finish (both figuratively and literally).
After making his ECW debut in 1993, Sabu constantly gave the fans what they wanted.
If the crowd desired tables, Sabu would crush those tables with his body, usually onto an opponent. And tables weren’t his only forte. He was also known for his barbed wire tactics. At Born to be Wired, Sabu battled Terry Funk in a vicious No-Rope Barbed Wire match. Many wrestlers have agreed that Sabu was ECW’s most extreme star.
Sabu is second wrestler to be an ECW Triple Crown Champion. This means that Sabu held all three ECW championships. He never had all three at once, but he simultaneously held the promotion’s World Tag Team and World Television championships. In 2009, Sabu was inducted to the Hardcore Hall of Fame.
Among all the ways to describe the Suicidal, Homicidal, Genocidal, Death-Defying Man, there’s another word: extreme.
Rob Van Dam
ECW embodied violence, but Rob Van Dam brought forth a different quality: athleticism.
This doesn’t mean he wasn’t “hardcore,” though. Van Dam was known for kicking chairs into his opponents faces, and also breaking tables. His high-flying abilities actually helped him to evolve as a hardcore wrestler.
Perhaps RVD’s great achievement is his renowned title reign. He held the ECW World Television Championship for exactly 700 days, which is double the previous record. Not only was he a singles all-star, but Van Dam was also accomplished tag team star. Van Dam was one-half the ECW World Tag Team Championship on two occasions.
Since he exemplified everything it means to be a versatile wrestler, Rob Van Dam is truly one-of-a-kind.
“The Heart and Soul of ECW” is a title that speaks for itself. Blood, sweat, and tears were all parts of Tommy Dreamer’s career, but they were all worth it.
Starting in 1993, Dreamer gave his all to the Philadelphia-based promotion. However, he wasn’t always a fan favorite. Dreamer originally got booed, but as he continued to define “hardcore”, fans loved him. This is a fine example of how progression will always be beneficial.
Tommy Dreamer had some notable feuds in ECW, specifically with his arch nemesis, Raven. Also, Dreamer competed in the renowned scaffold match. Outside of the ring, he had several back office roles.
It isn’t the numbers that make Tommy Dreamer so special. Rather, it’s his pure dedication to a group that shaped the wrestling industry.