Again, I have been a wrestling fan for a while but was never exposed to ECW just as I was never exposed to WCW. And it was for the same reason. When I started watching WWF programming, that was when the Dudley Boyz came in, that is when Chris Jericho made his debut. A low card wrestler name Raven came onto the show some time after. Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit, then came in around the same time as well. Watching the Rise and Fall of ECW really opened up my eyes to what ECW was and how it worked, the kind of feeling it had to it and how much the wrestlers were involved in other aspects of the company. And i was pleasantly surprised to hear that most people agreed this documentary was fairly accurate.
I had read about the ECW before taking this class and to me it seemed that it was reminicent of the territories that we read about in class. And it should be. It used to be called Eastern Championship Wrestling. The production values were lower than that of the Big Two and it had it's own homegrown talent. And yet it survived. I suppose the reason it thrived, in addition to being in Philly, was that the Big Two did not see ECW as potential competition. It reminds of me other types of products where people put out something that is in the same category but appeal to different demographics. Video Games is the newest example I can think of. The Wii is obviously not aimed at those hardcore gamers who want the latest technology and most bells and whistles. And that is what ECW seemed to be like. LIke the Wii it seems to try to appeal to a different market that the other companies have not tapped into. But of course, the product is discovered by people of the more mainstream market and it becomes bigger than people could have envisioned. Of course this is happening with the Wii and it sort of happened with ECW. While the ECW did not explode into mainstream wrestling popularity, it did have its spirit incorporated into the WWE. Would there have been a Hell in a Cell match between the Undertaker and Mankind had it not been for ECW? Or the TLC match? So much is owed to the ECW for pushing the bar of entertainment and thrills.
It was amazing to see that the wrestlers that used to work for Paul Heyman were always speaking about him as if he was their big brother who looked out for them. I had read lots of negative stories, about people who were owed money and still had not been payed. I think one of those people is Mick Foley. The demise of ECW is just like the demise of the other territories. But this was different. It wasn't that Paul Heyman didn't know how to compete. It wasn't that he did not nurture talent and use them to their fullest, it was just that ECW didn't have as much money as the WWE. He had always known that to succeed, Pay-Per-View was the next step and getting on cable was also important, but when he did get there, he didn't have the money to stay there and keep the ECW from being pushed aside. I really think that ECW could have possibly taken the place of WCW as #2 had it just had more money, or simply the WWE not pushing it out of TNN. Of course, having more money meant it would already be #2.
One surprising thing I found was the way the wrestlers in ECW were beloved by the fans and the reaction and stories they were put into. Raven in particular. When I saw him the WWE, he never seemed like anything special. But the documentary showed otherwise. The whole rivalry with Tommy Dreamer and the story involving the Sandman's son, just seemed brilliantly done. But when he was in the WWE, there was hardly a story, a rivalry. He was Hardcore Champion on and off but thats it. And I think this kind of mismanagement of talent is happening in the ECW brand of the WWE. Bobby Lashley is champ but do you see the talent that they have there that could be contenders for the championship? Most of the guys that were in ECW before are there and having someone like Sandman or Tommy Dreamer as champ would make a much more interesting story than having Bobby Lashley at the top. It really is unfortunate that this happens. Why keep talent if you are not going to use it properly? I really think it is a shame the way the ECW brand is used in the WWE. Aren't the matches supposed to be extreme rules? I would like to know how fans of the ECW feel about the "new" ECW. ECW had so much potential and this brand seems to have that same potential, it just seems to only live on what people remember and not what it is or will be.
One last thought, why was there no mention of the Barb Wire Match? That I think would be very important to discuss as part of the history of ECW.