The Rise and Fall of ECW DVD Review

I don’t think anyone in the wrestling fraternity can disagree when its said that Extreme Championship Wrestling revolutionised the wrestling world in the 1990’s. It’s in your face, hard hitting “hardcore” style attracted a unique cult-like following which still remains strong today, but ECW did a lot more than attract rabid fans, it influenced the WWE’s “Attitude” era, which propelled the wrestling business into realms which had never been seen before. Now for the first time ever, the ECW story has been documented into a 2 disk DVD set, entitled “The Rise & Fall of ECW”.

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Cert: 15

Length: (DVD) 366 mins

Since acquiring the video library of ECW & WCW, the good folks down at the WWE have started to take full advantage of the vast archives they have at their finger tips, producing all sorts of DVD sets, featuring WWE, WCW, and ECW footage. Anyway getting down to the point, the big wigs at Titan Towers decided to produce a DVD set looking at the rise & fall of ECW, aptly titled “The Rise & Fall of ECW”. The DVD would look at the entire history of the company, featuring interviews with people who made ECW, such as Tazz, Rob Van Dam, The Dudley Boys and many more, and of course not to forget the man who made ECW, Paul Heyman, also featuring would be comments from Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff and many others.

There is no question that ECW had a huge impact on the wrestling world, it built a legacy as a controversial and hard hitting company, which was the forerunner in a new generation of wrestling, but would this DVD do it justice, would it be a fair and just account of “The Rise & Fall of ECW”, lets have a look.

Highs & Lows

As usual the DVD is chopped up into different chapters for easy viewing, and easier reviewing, so I’ll look at each chapter one by one and then I’ll give you the verdict at the end.

Early ECW – The DVD kicks off with various former ECW stars talking about ECW, and their time with the company. Then Tazz moves on to talk about how ECW started up, Tazz informs us that ECW was owned by Todd Gordon, and was known as Eastern Championship Wrestling, with Eddie Gilbert as the company’s booker. Tazz talks about how Gordon and Gilbert had a falling out with one another, and Gordon turned to Paul Heyman for advice. Heyman talks about how he thought wrestling & music were similar, saying that Nirvana were just making it huge in the music industry, and wrestling needed its own version of Nirvana.

The Public Enemy – Heyman talks about how he saw Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge fighting one another on an overseas tour, and he thought it would be good to team them up. Tazz talks about the team being two white rappers who were all fun, but when they got into the ring they were two mean tough guys from Philadelphia.

Tazz – We now take a look at Tazz, and we look at some early footage of Tazz, when he was known as “The Tazmaniac”. Tazz talks about how he ended up working for ECW, basically he was just starting out, and Paul E. offered him a one night deal where he would take on Sabu, it was from there that Tazz ended up staying with ECW and working for them up until 1999.

Sabu – Paul talks about how he had heard of Sabu’s work from Japan in the Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling promotion. He goes onto talk about how Sabu epitomised the whole ECW philosophy, with his death defying moves and banged- up body.

Terry Funk – Paul Heyman is very high on Terry Funk, stating that Terry Funk was key to ECW surviving. Heyman says that Funk was very willing to put guys over, saying that he would pick who he wanted to put over because it would help their careers. Paul says Funk was very different than a lot of “old timers” because he wasn’t scared to lose his “spot”.

The Night the Line was Crossed – This chapter looks at the 3 Way Match with Sabu vs. Shane Douglas vs. Terry Funk, which lasted to a one hour time limit draw. Tommy Dreamer talks about how “The Franchise” Shane Douglas wasn’t too happy with WCW and he was able to vent his frustration on TV.

Paul Heyman vs. WCW – Unsurprisingly this chapter looks at Paul Heyman’s relationship with WCW. Basically we see footage of Paul in WCW and Tommy Dreamer talks about how much Paul hated WCW, he states that after Paul left WCW he was supposed to go to WWE, but due to his hatred of WCW he ended getting involved with ECW, with the sole purpose to take WCW down. Paul talks about how much WCW messed him about, and he just didn’t like it and they (WCW) didn’t like him.

The Sandman – We see clips of The Sandman with Paul Heyman talking about the Sandman being the embodiment of ECW, saying that the whole image with the beer, cigarettes and his entrance all made his matches seem secondary, and he says that he was just a tough guy looking for a fight, and the crowd loved it.

The Sandman & Dreamer feud – Tommy Dreamer starts the chapter off by talking about how a US citizen was accused of committing a crime over in Singapore and he faced the punishment of being caned, apparently there was a huge public outcry to the situation, and Paul Heyman decided to have The Sandman & Tommy Dreamer compete in a “Singapore Cane Match”, where the loser would be caned by his opponent. Tommy Dreamer lost the match and Sandman caned him, but the end of the match and caning saw Dreamer still standing and he went head to head with Sandman. Tommy talks about it being a very emotional moment and a turning point in his career. Then Paul talks about another Sandman and Dreamer angle where Dreamer accidentally blinded The Sandman with a Singapore cane, Heyman talks about how they went backstage and showed “heels” & “faces” mix together, something which was very taboo at the time. He also talks about the lengths Sandman went to put over the angle, by staying at home for a month and not leaving his house just to give the impression to the fans the angle was legit. Obviously it wasn’t, as Sandman made his return to ECW and caned Tommy Dreamer to hell.

ECW Evolution – Tommy Dreamer talks about the wrestling landscape at the time, with both WWE & WCW, and he talks about when ECW came about it was an all new type of product, with blood, sexy women and hardcore violence that made ECW the talk of the town. Paul Heyman talks about how it was ok to respect the likes of Lou Thez, Pat O’Connor and Ric Flair, but they has to be a point when things change, and ECW was that point.

Cactus Jack – Mick Foley talks about how he came to ECW, as part of a talent exchange between WCW & ECW, in which he would be taking part in a match with Sabu, something which was a “dream match” to many ECW fans. We then see footage of the post match interview with Cactus Jack after he has lost to Sabu. Mick talks about the interview saying that he was told to put the ECW guys over, and he wanted to do it in his interviews, as well as in the ring, so after talking about how important the WCW Tag Team Belt was to him, he threw it on the floor and said his pride was more important. Foley talks about how he got a lot of heat from WCW for this, but he feels it was unfair heat because no WCW management watched the promo and if they didn‘t, they would have understood it better.

Mikey Whipwreak – Paul Heyman talks about Mikey being one of the ring crew, and one day Heyman asked him to wrestle. Heyman says the key to Mikey was that he never had any offensive moves. We see Cactus Jack and Mikey winning the ECW tag team belts.

The Extreme Begins – Paul Heyman talks about the NWA being everything that ECW wanted to get away from. We see footage of Shane Douglas winning the NWA World Title, and then throwing it down on the floor and declaring himself the new Extreme Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Champion. Tommy Dreamer talks about not knowing what was going on, and that only Shane Douglas and Paul Heyman knew what was going to happen. We see footage of NWA President Dennis Corraluzzo calling the act a disgrace. Steve Richards talks about seeing this as a fan and thinking it was cool, and the fact the NWA was furious with ECW made it even cooler.

Philadelphia – Basically Paul Heyman talks about how important Philadelphia was to ECW’s success.

The Technical Wrestlers – Tommy Dreamer talks about in late 1994 the likes of Benoit, Guerrero and Malenko all joined ECW and people started to notice that ECW had a lot of great wrestlers with the likes of Ron Simmons and Too Cold Scorpio. Both Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit talked about how they offered something different to what the ECW fans used to, and the fans loved it. Heyman goes on to talk about how this was needed so ECW could expand its audiences.

Production Values – Paul Heyman talks about how ECW couldn’t compete with WCW or WWE in regards to product values, so they wouldn’t have any, no pyrotechnics, no lighting, Paul Heyman’s philosophy was hide the negatives, accentuate the positives. They talk about the fact that ECW never cut anything out from their product, which was very unusual to do, they left in all the mistakes, fans chants to give the product a more real feel.

The Fans – Former ECW superstars talk about the fans, and how much they were responsible for the success of ECW. Rob Van Dam talks about some of the fans actually becoming stars in their own right and having fans of their own, just because they were so loyal and always at ECW shows. Some superstars talk about how the crowd were blood thirsty, but also very respectful of the stars. Paul Heyman talks about how the fans could make or break a guys career with their reactions.

Raven/Dreamer – Chapter opens up with various Raven clips , and Heyman talks about how much he loved the Raven character, talking about how he had someone who could do anything, and how this motivated Heyman. He talks about how Raven had the passion for his character that Heyman had never seen before. Tommy Dreamer talks about the Raven and Dreamer feud, saying it was the best feud in ECW, because Dreamer never beat Raven. Dreamer talks about the how much creativity Heyman let them have which helped the feud buildup, he also talks about how the feud started to incorporate other guys like The Pitbulls, Steve Richards and Brian Lee.

Sabu gets fired – Tazz talks about how he and Sabu became Tag Team Champions in ECW, and they were due to have a title defence in a Triple Threat Tag Team match at a up and coming show, Sabu ended up not appearing on the card because he was offered more money to tour Japan. Paul Heyman then comes to the ring and publicly fires Sabu for no showing.

Tazz breaks his neck – Tazz talks about the night when he broke his neck in a match when he teamed with Eddie Guerrero against Too Cold Scorpio and Dean Malenko. Tazz talks about how Paul Heyman still paid him for the 12 months he was out of commission, just on a hand shake as Tazz didn’t have a contract.

The Monday Night War – This chapter looks at how ECW was affected by the Monday Night War between WCW and WWE, it looks at how WCW “raided” ECW by taking Benoit, Guerrero, Malenko and Chris Jericho. Eric Bischoff talks about how he never raided ECW, or the WWE for that matter, he insists that one mans “raid” is another man’s acquisition, Paul Heyman’s response is quite simply “Bischoff is full of shit” Heyman goes onto say that it was a smart move for Bischoff to steal the ECW talent, but he just wishes that Bischoff would acknowledge the fact that he stole the talent.

Lucha Libre – Heyman talks about how he contacted Konnan and brought in a lot of Lucha Libre stars to ECW, the likes of Rey Mysterio, Juventud Guerrera and Psichosis.

Austin comes to ECW – Paul Heyman talks about how he worked with Austin in WCW and then he got fired, and then Austin was fired too. Heyman talks about how he was luckily enough to contact Austin first, invited him to ECW to air his grievances with WCW. We see some great Austin promos, and Heyman talks about how he wanted to make Austin champion, but instead Austin wanted to lose to Mikey Whipwreak so he could do more promos to put his character over.

Promos – Paul Heyman talks about how great the “Anti Hardcore” promo’s where, which Mick Foley did, he says they were probably the most creative promo’s ever.

Cactus Jack leaves ECW – A brief look at the departure of Cactus Jack from ECW, some brief clips of Mick’s farewell speech is shown.

Tazz Returns – Tazz talks about his return to ECW after his neck injury `He says he decided to scrap the Tazzmaniac character and become a more Ultimate Fight style character. Heyman says this character change brought more of a “big match” feel to Tazz’s matches.

Sandman / Raven – This chapter looks at the Sandman and Raven feud, in which Raven brainwashed Sandman’s son, Tyler. Paul Heyman talks about how the angle worked, because usually Sandman was this tough guy, but when Tyler turned on his Dad, he broke down on TV, and it was captivating for the fans. We see various clips of footage from the feud.

The b.W.o – Chapter begins with footage of “Big Stevie Cool” (Stevie Richards) “The Blue Guy” (Blue Meanie) and Nova cutting an in ring promo for the ECW fans. Stevie Richards talks about how he and Meanie had been parodying all sorts of superstars, from Public Enemy, to The Fabulous Ones and the fans enjoyed it. Stevie then goes onto talk about how they were planning to parody the n.W.o, as the culmination of all the parodies, as they were the hottest thing around in wrestling, so they came up with the b.W.o, Stevie says the fans loved it.

Beulah & Dreamer – Tommy Dreamer starts off by talking about the night when Beulah (Raven’s girlfriend) reveals that she was pregnant, Tommy explains that Raven at first attacked Stevie Richards thinking he was the father of the child, but Beulah tells Raven that its actual Tommy’s baby, on hearing this news, Raven goes to attack Beulah, but is stopped when Tommy Dreamer runs to the ring and attacks Raven, and makes the save. We then see the footage of Shane Douglas telling Tommy that Beulah wasn’t pregnant at all, and she was actually having an affair behind Tommy’s back, with Kimona, this leads to the lesbian kiss between the two women. Tommy Dreamer mentions that this was the first lesbian kiss in wrestling, and it subsequently lead to ECW being kicked off almost every TV station they were on.

ECW & WWE – Paul Heyman talks about Vince McMahon’s curiosity with ECW beginning at the 1995 King of the Ring tournament in Philadelphia when Mabel was facing off with Savigo Vega in the final of the tournament and the crowd were chanting “ECW, ECW, ECW!”, Heyman says the crowd was chanting this at Vince McMahon with “Great passion and anger”. Vince talks about how he had started to hear about ECW and thought it would be good to incorporate them into the WWE product as a type of cross promotion. Paul talks about the following years Mind Games PPV, which was in Philadelphia and explains that McMahon and Heyman agreed on a way that ECW would be incorporated into the show. We see footage of Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman sitting in the crowd at the PPV during a Bradshaw vs. Savio Vega match up. Tazz talks about how the ECW wrestlers would stay in the car park until the show because they weren’t sure whether the WWE guys would jump them or not.

The Crucifixion – Stevie Richards talks about the incident when Raven had the idea to crucify The Sandman during one of their shows. Stevie talks about how uncomfortable he and The Blue Meanie felt during the incident as they were both Catholics. Stevie mentions how this was the only time that the ECW fans had ever been silent. The incident offended so many people, that Raven had to go out into the ring later on in the show and make a public apology.

Stevie goes on to mention that Kurt Angle was actually appearing on the same show as the crucifixion, Tazz had brought him into the company with the prospect of him working a few shows. However, Angle was extremely disgusted at the crucifixion incident and he walked out of the show, asked for his pay check and threatened to sue Paul Heyman if he appeared on the same TV show as the crucifixion. Angle goes on to talk about how Paul Heyman claimed he wasn’t aware that the incident was going to happen, and Angle believed him, but now he thinks that either Heyman was lying, or he was an idiot for now knowing what was happening on his shows.

The Importance of Pay Per View – Tazz talks about how ECW wasn’t known on a national level, and Paul Heyman says that ECW needed to be so they could pay for talent, pay to bring in new talent and also for the company to expand. Heyman then goes onto talk about how it was the fans emails, letters, faxes and phone calls that got ECW onto New York TV, and they were trying to do the same for PPV. Heyman says that a lot of Pay Per View companies believed ECW was “real” wrestling, and that it was in the same league as Ultimate Fight which meant a lot of companies wouldn’t air it. Heyman says eventually one provider listened to the fans, and ECW got its Pay Per View deal.

ECW loses their Pay Per View – Paul Heyman explains what happened in what is known as the “Mass Transit Incident”. Heyman explains that Axl Rotten didn’t turn up for a match, so a young lad called Eric Kulas put himself forward to replace Rotten, so Heyman booked him in the match. Problem was, Kulas claimed that he was over 18, and that he had wrestled professionally before, neither of which turned out to be true. During Kulas’ match, one of his opponents was New Jack, New Jack though he’d get some “Juice” from his young opponents, and proceeded to “blade” him on the forehead, and thus seriously injuring the youngster. This lead to all sorts of trouble for ECW and Heyman, including Pay Per View companies pulling any planned ECW shows off their schedules.

The PPV is back on! – D-von Dudley talks about the fact that Paul Heyman never stopped “pushing the envelope” even after the “Mass Transit Incident“. Then Heyman talks about the fact that he had to beg the Pay Per View companies to put them back on the schedules, but eventually they did, and the first ever ECW Pay Per View went ahead.

WWE Co Promotion – This chapter kicks off with footage of ECW invading RAW, McMahon talks about how ECW didn’t have nearly as much TV coverage as both WWE, and WCW, yet when a ECW superstar was brought onto WWE television, the crowd would be chanting very much for ECW. Eric Bischoff goes onto say that it wasn’t really a big surprise to him that WWE & ECW Co -promoted. Jerry Lawler says that he never knew why Vince McMahon would use valuable TV time to promote ECW, but Vince goes onto say that he did it because it would be good for the wrestling business.

Jerry Lawler also goes onto say that when the ECW talent came into the WWE, they were so cocky and arrogant, and he thought that they should be very grateful that they were getting the national TV exposure. Tommy Dreamer mentions that the fans were chanting the for ECW the whole show, and the show had ECW style matches throughout. Tazz talks about his match with Mikey Whipwreak, and the fact that Sabu interfered in the match, he climbed the top of the old RAW set and instead of diving off, he actually accidentally fell of and landed on “Team Tazz”. Jerry Lawler mentions how small the ECW stars looked when they first came into the WWE.

Barely Legal: RVD vs. Lance Storm – D-Von talks about how important the PPV was to ECW, basically saying if it didn’t do well it would of been the end of ECW. RVD talks about peoples attitude to ECW, and their attitude to ECW not getting to PPV. Ron Buffone says that the PPV Company wanted their own directors and production crew to take over from the ECW staff at the PPV events, but Paul Heyman didn’t want this, and Paul talks about how he told the PPV Company that he would cancel the show unless he could use his own staff. Rob Van Dam then talks about how he went into the PPV feeling a little different than the rest of the guys because he wasn’t booked on the PPV, RVD mentions that he got thrown on to a match at the last minute with Lance Storm. Lance Storm talks about how this was his first match in ECW, and it was strange for him because his opponent had “a little extra energy”. We see RVD cutting a promo at the end of the match venting his frustrations.

Barely Legal: Tazz vs. Sabu – Tazz talks about how big the match was, and we see a short Tazz promo building up to the match. Tazz talks about how he had been calling out Sabu for a whole year in the build up to the match, until the pair had a confrontation at the November to Remember, which lead to the match on PPV. Tazz talks about how Sabu and Tazz “made each other” during the match, and talks about it being a great moment for himself and ECW.

The Main Event at Barely Legal – A look now at the main event at the PPV, which first featured a Triple Threat match with The Sandman vs. Terry Funk vs. Stevie Richards with the winner going onto wrestle Raven later for the ECW World Championship. Richards talks about being honoured to be in a match with a Hardcore Legend like The Sandman and a wresting icon like Terry Funk. We then see footage of Funk’s victory, and ECW Championship win. Paul Heyman says that Funk deserved the belt after all his hard work for ECW, Paul goes onto talk about the PPV being very emotional for all those involved.

Raven goes to WCW & Jerry Lawler Invades ECW – Tommy Dreamer talks about Raven’s departure from ECW, saying that Raven telephoned him and asked him to go over to WCW with him, Dreamer says he didn’t want to go. Dreamer then explains that he got into a fight with Raven, as Raven accused him of telling Paul Heyman about his move to WCW. Paul Heyman talks about the departure being both a creative and business disappointment for him, because there was so much more he could have done with the Raven character had he stayed with ECW. Tommy Dreamer explain that he was Raven’s last opponent in ECW, and he finally got to get a victory over him, then Dreamer explains that after that match, the lights when out and when they came back on Jerry “The King” Lawler was in the ring, and proceeded to attack Dreamer. Tommy says that the feud worked so well because Lawler stood for everything that ECW was against, and Lawler mentions that he really did think that ECW was “Extremely Crappy Wrestling”. Both men also mention that Lawler had tremendous “heat” on him from the ECW fans after the attack, so much so that he had to leave the ECW Arena immediately after the attack.

A Locker Room Mole? – Tommy Dreamer talks about how Heyman bought ECW from Todd Gordon, but still kept him as a figure head of the company. Tazz talks about how it was felt that Todd Gordon was putting ECW talent in contact with WCW agents to pull off a possible “ECW Invasion”. Tommy Dreamer talks about how Paul Heyman broke into Todd Gordon’s cell phone and he played various messages to Tazz and Tommy Dreamer that indicated a deal was being made with Gordon, Terry Taylor and Bill Alfonso to bring ECW talent into WCW. This lead to Heyman firing Todd Gordon , and he was about to do the same to Alfonso, but the locker room didn’t want him to go, plus the fact that he was involved in a inter gender match with Beulah, which as Tommy Dreamer said saved Alfonso’s job. Heyman says that the match was probably “5 of the most intense minutes in ECW history”.

Superstars Roles – After the departure of Todd Gordon, it became clear that the day to day roles of the company needed to be filled, Bubba Dudley talks about how he put himself forward to help and was given the job to book the venues for the ECW shows. Tazz would have the role of designing all the merchandise and logo’s, Stevie Richard would man the “Hardcore Hotline” which was ECW’s fan information line. Tommy Dreamer would organise the distribution of ECW merchandise along with D-Von Dudley and Nunzio. Tazz also talks about running the ECW training school.

Paul Heyman’s Creativity – A selection of former ECW superstars talks about Heyman’s creativity, Tazz talks about how accessible Heyman was, saying he would have his desk in the middle of the locker room where ever they went. Tazz also describes the ECW locker room as a bunch of misfits wrestlers who nobody wanted, either they were too small, too big, had personal problems, or for whatever reasons WWE & WCW didn’t want them, so they went to ECW. Al Snow talks about his “Head” gimmick and how successful it became.

WCW & WWE Imitation – Ron Buffone talks about how successful ECW was, and Dreamer mentions the Cyberslam shows that ECW ran over the Internet. Bubba Dudley says during this period (around about 1998) ECW could have claimed the number 2 spot in the war of the companies, but Eric Bischoff soon dismisses this by claiming when WCW was in the top spot, the WWE was always number 2, and when the WWE was number 1, WCW was always number 2, he says in every aspect, from ratings, to revenue, to ticket sales, ECW never came close to the number 2 spot.

Heyman says that even to this day, Eric Bischoff believes that he came up with a lot of the ideas ECW created. Bischoff says from a business point of view, he questioned the fact that Heyman created this totally “Hardcore” brand. Vince McMahon says he did take some of the ECW aspect and put them into WWE TV, but he never saw ECW as a threat. Heyman says that “Attitude” era most certainly came about because of ECW, and Mick Foley backs this up by saying when he first joined the WWE, and done a move that was similar to something from ECW, the fans would always chant for ECW, Mick then says as the WWE style changed the chants stopped, and the style became synonymous with the WWE.

Vince says that the WWE has always had an “Attitude” but they just haven’t always said it. Heyman says he doesn’t blame anyone for stealing ECW’s ideas, because it was smart business.

Tazz & The FTW Title – Tazz talks about feuding with Bam Bam Bigelow during early 1998, then we see footage of the classic ECW match between Bam Bam and Tazz in Asbury Park Convention Hall, when Tazz and Bam Bam go through the ring, Bam Bam beats Tazz and scores a huge victory in ECW. We then see footage of Tazz’s FTW belt, Tazz says he didn’t get the opportunity to get the ECW Championship belt, so he created the FTW belt, he says himself and Sabu were the only two title holders.

The Dudleys: “The Most Hated Tag Team” – Heyman says that the Dudleys were very important in ECW history, because people loved to see them get beat up. D-Von talks about how much the crowd hated them, and then Bubba goes onto talks about the flaming tables matches. Heyman says that The Dudleys were the greatest tag team in ECW history because they were great at antagonising crowds and they were fearless in doing so.

Financial Woes – Heyman says the wrestling business was going through a phase that was like the dot com industry, where the bubble was going to burst. Spike Dudley says guys like Bam Bam Bigelow started to leave to go elsewhere because the pay checks were bouncing all the time, so Spike started to question why he was staying. Lance Storm talks about how he was under a verbal contract and had “3 strikes and your out rule”, which meant after 3 strikes he would be able to leave, he says he had 3 bounced checks, and he told Paul that if he had another, he would leave the company, luckily for Lance he didn’t get anymore bounced checks. Nunzio talks about how he was lucky in the respect of not having children, or a family to support financially so he didn’t need the money as much as guys like Bam Bam and Shane Douglas. Various superstars talk about the amount of pressure Paul Heyman was under, and in the end, he became ECW’s biggest detriment.

The TNN Deal & Tazz Leaves – Tazz says that Paul worked very hard to get ECW on TNN and he should be commended for that. Vince McMahon goes onto talk about how he was pleased for ECW, and thought Paul could be a major player in the wrestling world, Vince recalls telephoning Paul to congratulate him, but told him he would have to change his product if he wanted to succeed. Paul says ECW would not have made it through 1999 without the TV deal, because it brought lots of extra revenue in terms of licensing

Heyman says in a matter of two weeks of getting the TNN deal, both the Dudley Boys and Tazz decided to leave to the WWE. RVD says this had a huge affect on ECW, Vince says Tazz’s departure was a huge loss to ECW, because Tazz was ECW’s main star, he also says that he enjoyed a lot of Tazz’s work in ECW. (Which is strange because Tazz wasn’t used all that well in WWE after his initial debut). Tazz talks about it being very hard leaving ECW. We see footage of Tazz’s last match in ECW, in which the locker room empty to say bye to Tazz.

The Dudleys Leave ECW – Vince McMahon talks about how well the Dudleys have done in the WWE, but also mentions that they departure from ECW must have been a huge blow because Bubba and D-Von were a synonymous with ECW, and they were the heart and soul of the ECW locker room. Bubba says that he and D-Von were never owned any money from Heyman, he says that when WWE offered them a contract, they both (Bubba & D-Von) went to speak with Heyman and asked for something to keep them with ECW, Heyman said he could never compete with WCW or the WWE, this is when Bubba realised that ECW was the minor league and the breading ground for the WWE. Dreamer says that D-Von and Bubba asked for a $1 dollar rise for them to stay in ECW, but Paul wouldn’t pay them because he said, people stay with ECW because they want to.

D-Von talks about the last match in ECW, when The Dudley Boys won the World Tag Team Championship belts. D-Von says that he thinks many of the fans thought that they weren’t going to the WWE because they won the belt, but D-Von explains that Tommy Dreamer and Raven (who had just returned from WCW) won the belts later in the night.

Disappointment with TNN/RVD: “The Whole F’n Show” – Ron Buffone says that despite ECW being the highest rated show on TNN at the time, the company felt the show was just a lead into Roller jam – which was roller- blading show that aired straight after ECW TV. Heyman says that ECW was just a guinea pig to see if wrestling would work on TNN, he says that the network would send back videos and promos which they wouldn’t air on the network, they didn’t want any references to hatred on the network, all in all Heyman says it was horrible. Heyman says that he created the Cyrus character in efforts to work around the problem, basically the character would try and enforce the networks rules on TV

RVD talks about how there was never any promotion, commercials to promote the show, and says it ended up costing the company more money to have the show. Heyman talks about how the company was spending vast amount of cash trying to meet the production values that TNN wanted, he says the only reason they stayed with TNN is because of the licensing deals they had, but says while this was happening, TNN was publicly negotiating with the WWE to have them on the network to replace ECW. We then see a fantastic shoot promo from Heyman as he rips on TNN.

Kurt Angle says the last straw for ECW was when Tazz left, and the old major attraction ECW had was Rob Van Dam. Heyman says the fans loved him because of his laid back attitude, and he didn’t need to add anything to the RVD character, people just loved him. RVD talks about how the TV title was starting to mean more than the ECW Heavyweight title, we then see footage of RVD forfeiting his TV Title because of a broken leg.

Mike Awesome Controversy, Tommy Dreamer Wins the Title – Tommy Dreamer talks about how ECW Heavyweight Champion Mike Awesome moved to WCW while under ECW contract, and that he showed up on an edition of WCW Nitro with Eric Bischoff wanting him to dump the ECW belt in the trash, but the police were called and confiscated the belt from Awesome before he could throw it in the trash. Tazz says the WWE helped ECW out by letting Tazz go to a ECW house show and beat Mike Awesome for the belt. Tazz then took part in a Champion vs. Champion match on Smackdown against WWE Champion, Triple H. Tazz ended up losing the match after some botched interference from Tommy Dreamer. Vince McMahon talks about now looking back at the WWE helping ECW and he questions whether it was the right thing to do, but says he was sure it was the right thing to do at the time.

Dreamer then goes onto talk about winning the ECW Heavyweight belt from Tazz just a week later at the ECW Arena, he says he didn’t want to win the belt because he wanted to go through his entire career not winning a World Title, but Heyman wanted him to because he knew he wasn’t going to abandon ECW. Eric Bischoff talks about how many people you have to please when working on national TV, he says you have the audience, the network, the advertisers and fringe groups, and you have to balance this. Bischoff says that due to ECW’s “Hardcore” content it advertisers didn’t want to be involved with it, which meant that the network wouldn’t support it, and thus meant ECW couldn’t cater for its audience and also develop a mainstream audience because of its content, which meant ECW was destined to always be a small, closely held promotion.

The Demise of ECW – Heyman talks about how the plan was to get ECW on a new television network, but they couldn’t negotiate with anyone because that would be a breach of their contract with TNN, so they had to wait until TNN publicly announced they were going to cancel the show. Tommy Dreamer says this was a horrible time for ECW because people weren’t’ making any money, and paychecks were bouncing. Vince McMahon says he can understand why ECW stayed with its “Hardcore” image because it had been very successful for them so why should they change? But Vince goes onto say that when on national TV they needed to change, and they didn’t, and this lead to the eventually downfall of ECW. Spike Dudley says a lot of guys stuck around with ECW till the end, and RVD goes onto say that a lot of guys didn’t really have a choice to work anywhere else apart from ECW. RVD says he knew ECW was over when the amount of money he was owned reached the point where he knew he wasn’t going to get it back. Nuzio says he didn’t know where the money was going because it wasn’t like they were performing in front of no fans at the ECW shows. Tommy Dreamer says that ECW is probably the only wrestling company that went out of business that was actually selling out events right up until its closure. (Which certainly makes me believe that ECW could be successful today)

Bubba Dudley talks about how ECW was never going to cater to the masses because of its content, several other superstars go onto say that Paul Heyman was a great wrestling promoter and a great wrestling “mind”, but a terrible business man. Paul Heyman says that ECW died because they couldn’t get onto another TV network in time, had they done so, ECW would still be around today, and ECW could have reached higher peaks than it did.

Paul Heyman Debuts on Raw – Paul Heyman talks about his move to WWE, saying he had to go because it made no sense not to, he says anyone who didn’t take the next step was in denial. Paul talks about the comments he made about Trish Stratus, he says he just heard about 30 people on his headset gasp in shock. Several superstars talk about Heyman wanting to be his own boss, and not taking orders from other people. To wrap things up, several superstars talk about how great ECW was, and what impact it had on the wrestling business.

DVD Extras

  • The Pit Bulls vs. Raven & Stevie Richards

2 out of 3 Falls Dog Collar Match for
ECW World Tag Team Championship
Gangsta’s Paradise – Philadelphia, PA – 16.09.95

  • Rey Mysterio Jr vs. Psichosis

2 out of 3 Falls
Hardcore TV – Philadelphia, PA – 17.10.95

  • Mikey Whipwreck vs. The Sandman

Ladder Match for ECW Championship
Hardcore TV – Philadelphia, PA – 28.10.95

  • 2 Cold Scorpio vs. Sabu

ECW World Television Championship Match
CyberSlam – Philadelphia, PA – 17.02.96

  • Tommy Dreamer vs. Raven

WrestlePalooza – Philadelphia, PA – 06/06.97
(Alternate Commentary)

  • Tazz vs. Bam Bam Bigelow

ECW World Television Championship Match
Living Dangerously – Asbury Park, NY – 01.03.98
(Alternate Commentary)

  • Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn

ECW World Television Championship Match
Hardcore Heaven – Poughkeepsie, NY – 16.05.99
(Alternate Commentary)

  • Steven Richards Apologises for Leaving ECW – Steven Richards talks about a neck injury he suffered at the hands of Terry Funk during 1997, he says he and Paul Heyman had a falling out so he left for WCW. Raven then signed up with WCW and Raven and Stevie were back together, but Stevie wasn’t happy about losing to Raven all the time, and Raven and Stevie got into a fight, and Raven said the only reason Stevie was hired was to be Raven’s “job” guy. Stevie says Raven was good friends with DDP, and he was Eric Bischoff’s good friend, so he pretty much knew it was time to go back to ECW. Stevie says he had a lot of “heat” on him for leaving, but it was only fair. Stevie says since then he has tried to mend the bridges he burnt, and takes the time out to make an emotional apology to the guys he let down.
  • Tazz Seeks Paul Heyman’s Blessing – Tazz recalls his WWE debut at Madison Square Garden during the Royal Rumble 2000 and say before he got to the arena, he telephoned Paul Heyman to ask for his blessing, Tazz says Paul gave him it, and Tazz gets very emotional and talks about the hard work Paul put into ECW.
  • Paul Heyman: Travel Agent – Chris Jericho talks about all the superstars different roles, and says his role was to put up with Heyman leaving everything to the last minute. Jericho explains that it was hard getting flights from Canada to Philadelphia, so Heyman would often ring up about half an hour before Jericho left with his ticket information. Jericho recalls one time when he got a ticket and a member of the airport staff gave her sympathy for his recent bereavement, at first Jericho didn’t know what she was talking about, it wasn’t until she said that she was sorry to hear about the loss of his brother in law, Mr. Chris Benoit that he realised that Heyman had gotten a cheap flight because he said it was for a bereavement. This is a very funny story not to be missed. And damn great Ron Simmons impression as well.

Overall

This DVD is by far one of the best WWE DVD’s ever produced, depending on what type of fan you are, you may think its actually the best. You can certainly tell that the WWE put every effort into making this one of the best DVD’s ever. I can’t say that I followed much of ECW, but I’m pretty sure that this DVD documents all the major matches and events that shaped ECW.

Some of the interviews with people like Tazz, Tommy Dreamer and Stevie Richards are really worth watching, and you also get to see the perspective of Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff, who really give an interesting angle into their thoughts of ECW. Bischoff comes off as an absolute slime ball at some points in the DVD, but he certainly makes sense when talking about why ECW couldn’t crack a mainstream audience. It’s a shame stars like Raven, Shane Douglas and Terry Funk couldn’t have been interviewed for the purposes of this DVD, because they had such significant roles in the success of ECW to.

This DVD certainly opened my eyes to two things, – Firstly, without any shadow of a doubt, ECW revolutionized the wrestling business. I always knew that ECW had an influence on the WWE’s “Attitude” era, but this DVD really reinforces that idea. Its plain to see that if it wasn’t for ECW, the WWE would probably have never adopted the “Attitude” style, and we would probably still be seeing wrestling garbage men and clowns. The WWE probably would have adopted a new style in the late 90’s, but I don’t think it would have been as successful as the “Attitude” era was, and we have ECW to thank for that.

The second thing that my eyes were opened up to was how loyal the ECW superstars were to Paul and ECW, and how they hold him in very high regard. You can tell by the testimonies from stars like Tommy Dreamer, Tazz, The Dudley Boys and so many others, that ECW was their life, and they had so much fun there. You can also tell that Paul Heyman put a 110% into his efforts to make ECW what is was, and what it ill is, because even though the company went bankrupt 4 years ago, people still chant “E-C-W, E-C-W, E-C-W”.

The main program of the DVD set is by far the best ever produced, it beats the Flair DVD, Chris Benoit DVD and the Mick Foley DVD, the extras are very good, but it’s the main show that makes this so good.

So finally, if you want to buy any wrestling DVD this year, whether you were never an ECW fan, or whether you were part of ECW’s cult likes fans, you have to get this!

Points: 10/10

But It:

UK: £17.99

USA: $22.46

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