The rise of WWE’s version of ECW came purely from the fans, when they came out in droves for the The Rise and Fall of ECW DVD in 2014. From there WWE put out an ECW: One Night Stand PPV that did equally as well, so, the following year they did yet another ECW PPV, again it resonated with the fans. At this point, WWE decided to look into developing a standalone ECW promotion. Running on Syfy during the summer for thirteen episodes, ECW became the highest rating show at its time slot, making it a no brainer to continue running the brand.
In 2006, ECW got going with Paul Heyman as not only the on-screen authority, but the head writer for the brand, this was when the brand was at its peak. Unfortunately a horrible (seriously, one of the worst WWE PPVs ever) December to Dismember PPV cost Heyman both of his positions at the time. Once this happened, the whole “old school” aura that this version of ECW was holding on to slowly disappeared.
The brand lasted until 2010 and along the way there were plenty of random characters that came through, some staying with the WWE, while most of them went off into the world, so here’s where many of ECW’s “Extremists” are today.
30 Kelly Kelly (then)
Working in the dance group Extreme Exposé, Kelly Kelly (for those wondering, Vince gave her the second “Kelly”) began working as Mike Knox’s girlfriend, Knox was a mean/jealous boyfriend who eventually got his later on. She worked for WWE all the way until 2012 citing Trish Stratus as her inspiration, Kelly Kelly became a one-time Divas champion.
29 Kelly Kelly (now)
After WWE, Kelly Kelly has gotten married to former hockey player Sheldon Souray, and is a cast member of E!’s show WAGS (wives and girlfriends of sportsmen) which is about to go into its second season. Even though she’s more into the Hollywood life, she still does random wrestling shows and comic cons.
28 Mike Knox (then)
In ECW, Knox was mainly known as Kelly Kelly’s jealous boyfriend who feuded (and always lost) against CM Punk. Along with a gimmick change (going with a cleaner cut look) Knox was moved to Raw, during this phase his peak was getting included in an Elimination Chamber match for the World Heavyweight title, obviously he didn't win it.
27 Mike Knox (now)
After being released in 2010, Knox continued working in indy promotions, including TNA where he was a member of the Aces & Eights and eventually starting his own called The Menagerie, which was basically a collection of carnival people. Currently, he’s semi-retired partly due to a concussion, but plans on wrestling once he’s cleared.
26 Ariel (then)
The vampire who accompanied Kevin Thorn to the ring was a popular staple of ECW during its early days; Ariel was a perfect fit for the product that was trying to be different from the usual WWE stuff. She had a number of matches, but for the most part would interfere on Kevin’s part to help him win matches.
25 Ariel (now)
Ariel was released in mid-2007 to which Ariel said it was mainly due to a backstage confrontation she had with Dave Batista. Today, she still works on the indy circuit while modeling (mostly bikinis) and podcasting during her off days from wrestling.
24 Ricky Ortiz (then)
Known as “The Latin Assassin” Ricky Ortiz came to ECW in 2008, working with the promotion for a little under a year, gaining a decent winning streak at first, but slowly falling down the card as time went by. He was drafted to SmackDown in 2009 and was nothing more than talent enhancement during his tenure there; WWE released him in April of 2009.
23 Ricky Ortiz (now)
Ricky continues to work in the indy promotions, actually performing at a hip hop/pro wrestling collaboration that was called the Urban Wrestling Federation. More impressive than all of this Ortiz met former WWE Superstar Layla during his time with the company and the two got married in late 2015, lucky son of a gun.
22 Tiffany (then)
Coming to the WWE through the Diva Search, even though Tiffany didn’t win, she was able to secure a development contract, working there for three years before coming up to ECW as their General Manager. She was moved to SmackDown and was released from her contract in 2010, from there she worked in indy circuit, in particular at TNA Wrestling where she became a force in the Knockouts division, having some great matches against Gail Kim.
21 Tiffany (now)
She decided to leave the wrestling business because she felt it had led to sin, she was instead going to be an “infant Christian” and work towards leading a better life. She’s also gotten married and worked in a number of films, not only as an actor being doing stunt work, as well.
20 Kevin Thorn (then)
As mentioned earlier with Ariel, Kevin Thorn became one of the newer faces that helped push ECW as a “different” WWE product coming out as a vampire, rocking mostly red and black attire. While never winning any titles, Thorn was mostly used in the upper mid-card until Ariel was released, he was then sent down to development for training and gimmick adjustments.
19 Kevin Thorn (now)
Interestingly enough, he was planned to feud with the Undertaker on two occasions, but neither time came to fruition due to injury and creative changes. He asked for his release in 2009 and has since worked all over the word in indy circuit, still heavily involved with wrestling to this day. He is also currently the FEW Heavyweight champion.
18 Bobby Lashley (then)
Initially, WWE put Bobby right on SmackDown once he finished up development, but that lasted about a year before they moved him to ECW. It wasn’t really demotion though as he was almost instantly made the ECW Champion and became a real force in the promotion for the next year, winning the title a total of two times.
17 Bobby Lashley (now)
After an injury kept him on the shelf for six months, he was released from WWE, and ended up working the indies and going to TNA on multiple occasions. Thanks to his amateur wrestling background Lashley also got into MMA where he has a record of 14-2. He’s also the owner of multiple gyms and started Lashley Management, a company that represents MMA fighters, which is now no longer in operation.
16 CM Punk (then)
Heyman was always a supporter of Punk and was a big reason why he was brought out of development and into ECW to become one of their biggest stars. After winning the ECW Heavyweight title, Punk was moved to Raw and eventually SmackDown where he became a cult leader over people like Luke Gallows and Serena.
15 CM Punk (now)
From there he went on to become the WWE’s most popular wrestler from 2011-2013, at times topping even John Cena in merchandise sales. Fed up with not being allowed proper time to heal up, Punk promptly left the WWE in 2014 to work on other ventures like fighting in the UFC (which he has yet to do, thanks to multiple camp injuries) and co-writing multiple Marvel Comics. It’s unlikely he’ll return to WWE anytime soon, but fans may see him in another promotion, like Ring of Honor, down the road.
14 Marcus Cor Von (then)
There was a time when Marcus (known as Monty Brown before his time in ECW) was considered a hot commodity, thanks to his popularity in TNA. He was able to parlay a deal right into the WWE, which lasted a whole seven months. At least he got to experience a match at WrestleMania!
13 Marcus Cor Von (now)
Due to family issues he was off TV for three months, this led to him being released. Marcus retired from wrestling soon after. Since then, he started a clothing line called “Scripture Clothing” (which doesn’t look to be active today) and is a personal trainer.
12 Joey Styles (then)
In the early years of ECW, Styles came in to do what he does best, commentate. For about two years, Styles did play-by-play, typically with former ECW wrestler, Tazz. In 2008, Styles was replaced with Mike Adamle (one WWE’s worst hires ever) and moved to WWE’s digital media division as their Director.
11 Joey Styles (now)
From there, Joey has been a big part of WWE’s online presence, helping develop content consistently, in particular the history of ECW in various series, DVDs, and articles. He’s been since promoted to Vice Present of Digital Media Content (where he is still today) and spends much of his time pushing the product via Twitter.
10 Yoshi Tatsu (then)
Yoshi Tatsu joined up with ECW in their later years, working the low/mid-card for much of his tenure with the brand, failing to win any titles. He was another talented Japanese wrestler the WWE had no idea how to book. He continued to work within the company until 2014 when he was released from his contract.
9 Yoshi Tatsu (now)
Since then Yoshi has continued to wrestle, spending much of his time back in New Japan Pro Wrestling where he became a “Bullet Club hunter” where his main goal was to clean out the evil stable. During a match against AJ Styles, he unfortunately took the Styles Clash improperly and ended up breaking two bones in neck, which forced him to wear a halo for three months while the bones healed. He was out for almost a year and a half before returning to wrestle in April of 2016.
8 Armando Estrada (then)
After managing Umaga, Armando was moved to ECW to become their General Manager, allowing him to book matches for part of 2007. He was then moved to being just a wrestler, losing to pretty much everyone along the way, ultimately being released due to inactivity.
7 Armando Estrada (now)
He went into the indy circuit for the next few years before WWE re-hired him in late 2011 and re-debuted in May of 2011 as Tyson Kidd’s manager. It only lasted one week as Kidd moved on to find a different manager, so for whatever reason Estrada received a two-year contract with the WWE, and did basically nothing during that run. Today, he can still be booked in wrestling events and he’s pretty active on Twitter.
6 Elijah Burke (then)
Burke had a long run in ECW working with Sylvester Terkay before joining The New Breed (Matt Striker, Marcus Cor Von, and Kevin Thorn), a stable of newcomers that were fighting against the ECW Originals (Tommy Dreamer, Rob Van Dam, Sabu, and The Sandman).
5 Elijah Burke (now)
Once that group dissolved, he went back to singles work. WWE released Burke in May of 2008, then moving to the indies, working mostly in TNA as “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero. Burke worked for TNA from 2009 until 2013 before returning in 2015 as their color commentator, while still getting physical once in awhile with other wrestlers, he remains there still today.
4 Vance Archer (then)
After nine years of wrestling elsewhere, Archer got his chance with WWE in 2009, working as a heel in ECW until the product dissolved. Arched worked for the WWE for another year before getting let go, so he headed out to Japan to work for NJPW, where he joined the stable Suzuki-gun and later teamed with Harry Smith (British Bulldog’s son) as the Killer Elite Squad winning the IWGP Tag titles twice.
3 Vance Archer (now)
In 2015, Archer (along with the rest of Suzuki-gun) invaded Pro Wrestling Noah (another Japanese wrestling promotion) and actually won their Tag titles, as well. He’s also been signed to Global Force Wrestling in 2015. Great to see someone who didn’t make much of an impact in WWE do great things after leaving!
2 Tyler Reks (then)
Reks made his main roster debut in June of 2009 with a surfer persona, although he wasn’t on TV much, he continued to work house shows and dark matches for much of 2009 and early 2010. After ECW ended, he went to SmackDown worked mostly as talent enhancement in both singles and tag competition (teaming with Curt Hawkins).
1 Tyler Reks (now)
In 2012, Reks asked for his release from the company, citing he wanted to spend more time with his family. Although in 2014, he did return to the indies for a short period of time to team with his former partner. Currently, he works at Body Spartan, a company that provides motivational coaching, apparel, and a twelve week work-out program.
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