Extreme Championship Wrestling was an innovation. It may have been the third brand throughout the 1990s behind the ever battling WWE and WCW but make no bones about it, it contributed to the pro wrestling business more than most fans will ever realize. Almost anyone who's anyone during that decade and for years after spent some time under Paul Heyman's tutelage.
Speaking of Paul Heyman, with him under contract to Vince McMahon why wouldn't the chairman have a crack at trying to recreate the phenomenon that was ECW? Well, unsurprisingly, it wasn't something you can just conjure up. WWE tried to bring back ECW while adding their own twist and it simply didn't work. They tried and tried for four years but as so many have said who were there during ECW's heyday, it was lightning in a bottle and it will never be replicated.
One major problem with ECW's rebirth was exactly what I just mentioned, WWE trying to add their own flavor rather than letting it be what made it so famous in the first place. The fans loved seeing the Superstars who had made ECW famous during the previous decade, but rather than let them do their thing and have Heyman seek out stars who could add to that Vince and WWE kept sticking their noses in. They began using ECW as a proving ground or a trial period for Superstars who they weren't sure would make it on Raw or SmackDown.
That much will be evident as you make your way through a few of the entries on this list. They also began watering it down as people hopped needlessly between shows, another aspect that features heavily in this article. Here are 15 wrestlers that you may have forgotten even competed in ECW during its unsuccessful second spell.
15 The Miz
I'm struggling to think of a Superstar less suited to the ECW lifestyle and work style than The Miz. Yet in 2007 The Awesome One spent a short spell on the show. He even earned himself a shot at the ECW championship but lost the bout to then champion CM Punk. Most of his run under the extreme banner involved him being managed by the aforementioned Extreme Exposé.
It came to a point where he began to manipulate certain members of the group as, in story line, he owned the trio's contracts. Not a very memorable time in Miz's career at all. His time in ECW actually sparked his tag team partnership with John Morrison which gathered steam and the pair became tag champions once they moved shows.
Finlay has been known by many names. The Northern Irishman has had a long and impressive career, rising up through the British scene and successfully breaking the United States. Unfortunately for Finlay what most fans will remember him for is his lackluster run in WWE towards the end of his career. As is so often the case with WWE, Finlay's wrestling personality was reduced to his nationality.
He wore green, loved to fight and was even paired with 'leprechaun' Hornswoggle. What you may not remember from his run is his time with ECW. He and 'Swoggle were drafted to the brand in 2008 where they tried and failed to win the tag team titles. Finlay also chased the ECW championship for a while but never managed to capture it.
When you think of Christian a lot of things probably spring to mind. Most will reminisce about his famous run with best friend Edge early on in his career. Some younger fans may remember him for his great rivalry with Randy Orton and world title win during his second run with WWE. You may even think of his run in TNA during the mid-2000s. What would surprise me is if you remembered Christian for his run with WWE's ECW reboot.
When Captain Charisma returned to WWE from TNA it was the newly launched ECW brand that he find himself on. Despite me claiming it's not memorable Christian actually had multiple ECW title reigns during his time on the show, one of which was the longest reign in the reboot's entire run. It pales in comparison to his other achievements though and that may be why it slips some fans' minds when recalling his career.
If you're anything like me, most of you will probably want to forget Snitsky's entire WWE run. But for the purposes of this list we have to look back at the ECW part of it. I had completely blocked out almost all of Snitsky's time in the limelight. Only shocking and head-in-hands moments like him kicking Lita's baby into the crowd remained in my wrestling memory.
There was a time in 2007 when Snitsky was drafted to ECW, and on top of that he was given a terrifying new makeover to go with it. Snitsky shaved his entire head, and I mean his entire head, eyebrows and all. Throw in some severely discolored teeth and you had a very creepy looking man as it was looking twice as creepy again. His hairless head and face and poor dental hygiene were about all that was worth remembering from his short time with the ECW brand.
11 Mark Henry
Mark Henry has had one hell of a long run in WWE. The World's Strongest Man signed with WWE in 1996 and has been with the company ever since. Although he's never really had a significant run at the very top of the company Henry has done an awful lot of memorable things. He deservedly spent some time as world champion, was a key member of the Nation of Domination and who can forget the Sexual Chocolate moniker? If you've seen it trust me you can't, I've tried.
Henry was also a part of the ECW reboot at a time where the brand started to become even more watered down than it already was. After a landmark feud with The Undertaker the veteran found himself plonked onto ECW, so many fans may have thought he had in fact disappeared after going from the center of attention to obscurity.
10 Al Snow
Al Snow may have had the most forgettable ECW reboot run on this entire list. Snow had some success in the original ECW and of course his most memorable work came when he and his Head ran riot in WWE, mostly in the now defunct hardcore division. With a background like that Snow was an absolute shoo-in for a return of the hardcore brand on Sci-Fi.
Al had stepped away from wrestling and his debut on ECW actually marked his return to the ring. It was a shame that he was used sparingly and poorly, which is why you may not remember him even being back. What's even worse is following his return, Head disappeared. That's what made Al Snow Al Snow and without Head the run was forgettable and short lived.
9 Matt Hardy
Yes that's right, The Broken One himself once spent some time under WWE's ECW banner. Before he was broken, but after he was extreme (ironically) he was drafted to ECW. Matt actually brought some much needed prestige to the brand when he joined in June 2008. When he was drafted Hardy was United States champion which meant that said US title became exclusive to ECW upon his arrival.
Clearly that wasn't something WWE ever planned on being long term as a month later Matt lost the title to Shelton Benjamin and it returned to SmackDown. Despite his ECW run mostly being lost in the annuls of time Hardy was actually an ECW champion during his time on the brand, winning a championship scramble for the title at Unforgiven 2008.
8 The Great Khali
You probably remember The Great Khali's arrival on the WWE scene and his pursuit of The Undertaker. You also probably reluctantly remember his evolution into The Punjabi Playboy a few years later. Well in between those two very different chapters in his career Khali had a brief stay on the ECW brand. In fact if you really pick it apart you could probably pin point his move to ECW as when his WWE career really began to decline.
His feud with The Undertaker pretty much petered out after their SummerSlam last man standing match was moved to an episode of SmackDown and handed Khali his first loss in the company. Immediately after that on ECW Khali didn't do anything of significance, going from battling The Deadman to matches with Shannon Moore.
Natalya is currently one of the only women on the WWE roster who has survived the change over from women in the company being seen as eye candy to the female roster being rightfully judged on their wrestling ability. Quite right too considering how good a wrestler Nattie is. It was not all plain sailing for the female Hart though.
Not only did Natalya once have to sell a gimmick based around her having bad flatulence, but she also spent a short time on WWE's failed ECW reboot. The former Diva's champion was drafted to the brand along with her real life husband Tyson Kidd. There the two teamed up with fellow Hart David Hart Smith to form The Hart Dynasty.
6 The Bella Twins
I take it back! The Miz was not the last person you would expect to see performing on ECW. Brie and Nikki Bella are. But they did, numerous times. They first appeared on ECW while they were still technically SmackDown Superstars. The pair were effectively valets to Carlito and Primo, then caused a feud between the Puerto Ricans and Miz and Morrison after the twins went on a date with the latter on Valentine's Day.
The feud actually culminated in Nikki and Brie facing off against each other on ECW, the first time that match had ever happened. The two were later officially drafted to the ECW brand in 2009 but only spent four months there before being traded to Raw.
5 Brooke Adams
You may never have heard of Brooke Adams, or if you have chances are that you will have forgotten her. That's because unfortunately for Adams her entire WWE run existed within the relaunched ECW brand bubble. On top of that the main thing she was a part of within ECW is actually remembered for an entirely different reason.
Adams made it to WWE via the Diva Search and when she debuted on ECW was a part of a segment known as Extreme Exposé. Those of you recalling that as you read this will probably remember it for being something Kelly Kelly did, you'd be right and that's exactly why Adams run is so forgettable. She remained a part of the Exposé with Kelly Kelly until her release in 2007.
While Mark Henry was slightly to blame for the watering down of WWE's ECW reboot, the jumping back and forth of Kane before him was very much to blame. It's also why you may not remember The Big Red Machine being a part of the extreme brand as there was only a short time that he actually was officially a part of it.
To begin with Kane was brought in as a surprise partner for then ECW champion CM Punk though at that point he was still officially a SmackDown Superstar. When Kane finally did get drafted to ECW he won the show's championship and shortly after was moved to Raw, thus taking the ECW title with him. All very confusing with all the switching and not good for Kane or ECW.
3 Hardcore Holly
I don't know about you, but the last thing I remember Hardcore Holly doing as a WWE Superstar is pursuing the WWE championship in 2004. It sticks out in my mind because it wasn't a level I thought Holly was at, but he earned the shot after champion Brock Lesnar broke his neck and Holly came looking for revenge.
Well, as a matter of fact Holly was actually around for a few years after that and spent some time on the ECW reboot. The only thing of note that happened to Hardcore during his time there was when he sustained an injury in a match with Rob Van Dam that led to him needing 24 stitches. The injury looked so severe that the fans gave Holly a standing ovation as he left the arena and was turned baby face in the process.
2 Tye Dillinger
I can almost guarantee that this is the one that'll leave you scratching your heads and racking your brains the most. Tye Dillinger didn't make his debut until the 2017 Royal Rumble, right? Well, sort of. Back in 2008 Tye was actually on his first run in WWE, but he was performing under the name Gavin Spears. He mainly wrestled in WWE's developmental territory at the time, FCW, but actually wrestled a few matches on ECW throughout the second half of 2008.
His call up was a part of something that ECW General Manager Teddy Long labelled the New Superstar Initiative. It was an initiative that didn't really work out for Tye, or Spears at the time. He wrestled three matches for ECW in total and lost them all before being released.
1 William Regal
Much like Finlay earlier on in this list, Blackpool native William Regal is a very respected professional wrestler who made his way up through the famed British system. Regal may have an even more detailed and colorful background though and has wrestled just about everywhere and for everyone you could possibly wrestle for. He toiled in WCW during the 1990s and then made his way to WWE, becoming the commissioner in 2001.
He has been with the company ever since and is now of course the NXT general manager. A forgotten chapter of Regal's career is his drafting to ECW during the tail end of the reboot. Again much like Finlay, Regal attempted and failed to win the ECW championship on a number of occasions.