Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

ECW and Death of the Cool

Anyone who has been to a high school reunion has seen ‘That Guy’.  The person you used to look up to and wanted to be like, all grown up.  No longer a star athlete, or Mr. Popularity, or the cool kid.  Now they have a mortgage, maybe some kids of their own.  They’ve put on 50 pounds and added more than a few inches to their waist.  They work a dead end job to make ends meet.  Normally there wouldn’t be anything wrong with that.  People grow up and become different from what they once were.  The problem is they still think that they’re the epitome of cool, and it just comes off as sad and annoying.

Extreme Championship Wrestling is that guy.

Now before you start sending off angry tweets to me @AdamContant, coming to the defense of ECW like ‘that guy’s’ old football team mates, let me say that I am a big fan of what ECW used to be.  I love watching their old events and television episodes on WWE Network and still pop in their home video releases to relive the best of their glory days.  However, if you’re still holding on to the ECW brand with some sort of hope that it will one day return, better than ever, or believe in your heart that if it were still around today it would be the number one wrestling company in the world, you need to do yourself a favor and just let those feelings go.  ECW just isn’t cool anymore.

Nowhere was this better demonstrated than the WWE Network special ‘ECW Exposed’, which kicked off ‘ECW Week’ on the WWE Network.  It promised to be a live special where the former voice of ECW Joey Styles would interview former ECW head honcho Paul Heyman in an uncensored, nothing held back format, the way they used to do it on ECW back in the day.  What we got instead was WWE with an ECW sticker on it.  The questions were soft balls asked for the sole purpose of throwing to old ECW video packages that we’ve seen over and over again.  Joey Styles was made to look like a foolish tool offering up insincere criticism of WWE’s attempts at humour and lamenting about the good old days of ECW’s rebellious attitude, only to turn around and shamelessly plug the WWE Network, spouting off the same rhetoric he was using as fodder to verbally attack WWE.  Paul Heyman looked annoyed to even be there, and who could blame him?  He moved on from Extreme Championship Wrestling in 2006, when ECW attempted the metaphorical equivalent of that guy from your high school reunion trying out for the NFL and crippling himself in the process.

If there was a physical embodiment of ECW’s fallen status, it’s Rob Van Dam.  Once thought to be cool personified, ECW’s athlete supreme was the man of the hour for years.  His offense was innovative, his persona was entertaining, and his popularity was undeniable.  RVD hasn’t changed much since those days, and because of that his offense is now passé, his persona bland, and his popularity is practically nonexistent.  Sure, like any nostalgia act he receives a hero’s welcome when he returns, but fans are just as quick to realize that ‘Mr. Monday Night’ isn’t what he used to be.

In fact, most ECW stars from its heyday aren’t what they used to be.  The only proof of that you need is the abysmal track record of various ECW reunion shows and companies that have tried desperately in vain to latch onto whatever remaining credibility the company once had. Legends of the Arena, Hardcore RoadTrip, the litany of ECW offshoot promotions and events put together by Shane Douglas; all have crumbled to pieces shortly after their nostalgia factor quickly wore off. It isn’t hard to see why.  Watching some of those out of shape ECW mainstays do their best to recapture their glory days was sad, and even with the injection of some young talent and the few remaining ECW stars that could still go, the majority of these shows still came off as failed attempt at time travel with disastrous results.

The only exception to this has been Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore promotion, which set itself apart by doing something none of those other companies thought to do: Evolve.  Sure, there are still some former ECW talents on the show, and the events still try to capture the spirit of the old ECW, but it isn’t trying to simply be a promotion that rehashes the greatest hits of ECW.  It is trying to write its own history and not be something that it isn’t.  Ironically enough, in trying to distance itself from ECW, Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore has become the most like ECW.  Fiercely independent, thriving on a rabid, savvy fan base, and understanding that to move into the future, you have to know when to change with the times.  House of Hardcore is holding its 7th event and first ever iPPV this Saturday, November 14.  If you happen to be one of those people still hanging around listening to ‘that guy’ talk about the glory days, why not try hanging out with the guy that learned long ago that he’s better off coaching pee wee football than trying to make the big leagues past his prime?  You can find that guy over at

ECW was great.  It provided some of the most memorable moments and matches in professional wrestling history and influenced the business in ways that are still being felt today.  It has its place in history and should be remembered as such, but remembered is the key word in that statement, not resurrected.  ECW is dead.  It died in 2001.  We tried bringing it back to life in 2006 like some sort of reanimated corpse, but much like Dr. Frankenstein, we learned all too well that some things are best left dead and buried.  WWE Network tried to bring the corpse back and make it dance on ECW Exposed and it just wasted our time. It’s time to let ECW rest in peace and start enjoy the present and future of pro wrestling, which is awfully hard to do if you’re still living in the past.

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