I'm amused Paul Heyman basically equivocates ECW and its impact on wrestling to that of Nirvana to the music business at the turn of the 90's. It was something down, dirty and honest, in contrast to the WWE and WCW products at the time, which had polished production and inflated, unreal personalities. ECW guys spilled blood like it was water, they beat the living crap out of each other without a single pulled shot. They jumped into the crowd and worked with the fans, they even encouraged fans to _bring weapons_ to the shows for the wrestlers to use. This was grungy, dirty, 'hardcore' if you will, and because it _wasn't_ mainstream it made it even cooler to be a part of.
We can definitely see the effects of ECW popularity in the WWE product, as they moved through the Attitude era and pushed boundaries with the Hardcore Division and eventually by bringing in ECW's top guys, like Mick Foley, Tommy Dreamer, Raven, etc (Dreamer basically drove the Hardcore division during his time on air, drove it with a Singapore cane, no less). These matches didn't help the WWE's reputation with morality groups or parents' councils, but the fans ate it up. And that was only a taste of the real ECW, that could barely get on the air because it was so violent, so disturbing, but overall, uncompromising.
Well, Paul Heyman aka Paul E. Dangerously was uncompromising in many ways. While he gave his talent a wide berth in terms of creative freedom in the ring, he was in charge of the plot direction. He was head writer, producer, director, he wore so many hats while running ECW no wonder he lost his hair, from all the switching from one to another. That unrelenting drive and control helped push ECW out of armories and onto the air, but even then, he was his own master, no matter what the Network (TNN I think?) told him. They kept the low budget, 'intimate' production values mostly because their budget was tiny, but also because that's the feel Heyman wanted.
While he was the ringmaster, he did not treat his acts poorly. In fact, he gave them more freedom and more control over their fate and hand in the company than I've seen in any other wrestling organization so far. This probably had a hand in the cult-like devotion exhibited by ECW'ers to Paul Heyman over the years, as he always took care of them and treated them well, even as he was running everything personally and things began to unravel. The bluster and crazed self-assuredness we see of Heyman on screen has the allure of a demagogue, and orator with such intensity that you can't help be sucked into his words. If ECW was a cult, the wrestlers and hardcore fans were the followers of Paul Heyman, the cultmaster, and their message of violence and gritty realism gradually sucked the wrestling world in, including eventually the WWE. 'Just like Nirvana.'