The documentary we watched the other night titled The Rise and Fall of the ECW, was one of the more interesting documentaries we have watched this semester. Since the events of the documentary took place relatively recently, it is easier to see the impact that the organization had on all of wrestling. The ECW wrestlers’ commentary provides first-hands accounts on the events and we are able to hear their perspective on some of the behind-the-scene issues.
The Extreme in ECW was the single most important motivation for the wrestlers. They wanted to set themselves apart from the more widespread WCW and WWE. Paul Heyman openly admits that they couldn’t compete with the two superpowers’ production capabilities so they focused on being better at their strengths. Consequently, lucha libre and hardcore styles became characteristic of ECW. The wrestlers pushed the limits in both cases and the fans loved every minute of it.
ECW wrestlers and their wrestling style had a very big impact on the rest of wrestling. Up to that point wrestling was very formulaic and somewhat predictable. ECW wanted to break this mold and really put on a show for the fans. I remember I thought that the show was unscripted and as close to real as possible the first time I watched an ECW show. Bloody wrestlers and high-risk maneuvers made the show very extreme and realistic. I thought that the way the show incorporated the fans was a good idea. It made the most important part of the show actually part of the show. Their participation was a key part of an ECW show and it greatly contributed to the cult following that ECW possessed.
One of the things that caught my attention was how those from ECW viewed WCW. Even during the documentary it seems like Paul Heyman still had some hard feelings towards Eric Bischoff and his underhandedness. It seems like the recurring theme in these documentaries is the bigger guy is always trying to “steal” from the smaller guy. The organizations with more bargaining power drew the wrestlers from the smaller companies. First the WWE stole all the talent from the territories. Then WCW stole wrestlers from the WWE and, inversely, the WWE stole wrestlers from WCW. Now, the new story is that WCW was stealing from ECW. I thought it was funny how those wrestlers from the WCW were later stolen by the WWE (but then again most wrestlers would end up in the WWE).
The documentary was able to shed some light on the events that I had only heard of and the organization that almost made it. The current style of wrestling that we have become accustomed to is definitely a product of the ECW’s extreme style of wrestling. Although I wasn’t able to see how the ECW fell, it seems unlikely that they would’ve been able to compete with the WWE. Even though the WWE eventually bought out ECW, ECW was able to make a lasting impression on wrestling.