Extreme Championship Wrestling was one of the hottest brands in the history of the sport during the 1990’s. With its unique mix of hardcore and highflying wrestling, the brainchild of Paul Heyman had something for everyone. One of the main reasons for ECW’s success was the talented roster that it boasted, which ranged from talented veterans to young upstarts all who joined together to create a brotherhood, providing fans with something different and unique.
The roster of ECW put themselves through major physical punishment and therefore had to have a lot of trust in their dance partners each time they stepped into the ring. Whether it was an Extreme Rules match or a Barbed Wire match the stakes tended to be high inside the ECW Arena, with talent really exposing themselves and offering a large amount of trust in their opponent’s hands. When wrestlers go to war with one another the way that those who worked for ECW did, one of two things can happen. You either become real-life buddies, brothers both in and out of the ring, or you can instantly begin to despise each other. ECW had its fair share of both, with the violent nature of the program producing some of the most insane shoot moments in wrestling history, with bad blood spilling out of the ring into real life.
Let’s explore eight former ECW stars who are still real-life buddies, and seven pairs who hate each other.
15. Buddies: Raven And Sandman
The feud between two of ECW’s greatest ever stars, Raven and Sandman was one of the most personal and successful in the history of the company. So it may come as a surprise to some to read that they are actually close buddies outside of the ring. Throughout their feud, Raven would brainwash Sandman’s real-life son, who was heavily involved in their rivalry, something that always hits on a personal note. Raven turned Sandman’s child against him and even brought up Sandman’s real-life divorce. This feud was one of ECW’s greatest of all time, largely due to the personal moments between them and this certainly drew the two men closer together behind the curtains.
Nowadays, both men are often seen doing interviews together, reliving stories and moments from their epic encounters, including being involved in the hilarious ‘Last Call’ series, where both men showed just how close they were, drinking and remembering the old times.
14. Enemies: Taz And Chris Jericho
Two men who aren’t shy about sharing their opinions also happen to have a weekly platform to do so with their podcast shows, and that is where this fallout took place between the two former ECW stars. Two of the most technically gifted wrestlers of all time both brought something totally different to the table in ECW, and they do the same in the currently oversaturated podcast world, but it was a shared guest that created bad blood between these men.
That shared guest was none other than former NXT Champion, Samoa Joe, who appeared on their shows following his TNA departure. Chris Jericho promoted this as Joe’s first interview since leaving the company, yet unbeknownst to him, the Samoan Submission Specialist had actually spoken to Taz a week before. This did not go down well with Taz, who publicly blasted Y2J for it on his show and has since questioned Jericho’s claim to gaining millions of downloads on his podcast, Talk is Jericho. It would appear that the podcasting world could be even more extreme than ECW since neither men had any known issues during their shared time with the company.
13. Buddies: Chris Jericho And Rey Mysterio
Hey, look it’s Chris Jericho again! While he might not be on the best of terms with the Suplex Machine, he did make one very close friend during his stint with ECW and that was with the master of the 619 himself, Rey Mysterio. Jericho and Mysterio have spent pretty much their entire careers together, whether it was with ECW, WCW or WWE and everywhere they have gone they’ve changed the game. Both men have created magic in the ring together, but it was during their time in ECW where they really made people stand up and take notice of exactly what they could do.
Because their styles were so different to the extreme fighting that ECW was known for, they shone even brighter, bringing a totally new element to the extreme company; helping its popularity grow even further. Their friendship grew even more through a mutual connection, Eddie Guerrero, who was incredibly close to both men. The two have remained buddies despite the fact they are no longer in the same locker room together on a weekly basis, recently catching up at an independent event where Mysterio was wrestling, and Jericho was promoting his latest book.
12. Enemies: Taz And Sabu
Entry number two for Taz and, spoiler alert, it will not be the last. The Suplex Machine had quite the reputation during his time in ECW for his attitude of being tough to be around, despite his tremendous in-ring skills.
One man who did not like Taz was Sabu. Despite their matches being some of the greatest in ECW history, with both men beating the hell out of each other. Perhaps that was why the matches were so good because reality was bleeding into their work, but everything they said to each other always had a touch of reality behind it. Taz infamously broke Sabu’s neck with a Dragon Tazplex through a table, which likely didn’t help matters, but the pair just did not, and have not gotten along, with Taz going as far as to call Sabu out for a fight backstage.
11. Buddies: The Miz And John Morrison
An entry from WWE’s version of ECW, and one that certainly did more damage than good, essentially killing off all the positive memories that fans had of the hardcore company by stripping away the elements that made it stand out in the first place. However, this version of ECW did create a lot of major stars with names such as CM Punk and Kofi Kingston bursting onto the WWE scene from this platform and John Morrison and TheMiz were two other examples of that.
The popular tag team quickly made a name for themselves and even made the Tag Team Championships exclusive to WWE’s ‘extreme’ third brand for a brief moment in time. Both men bonded through their time as partners and have continued to stay close friends even after Morrison left the WWE. The current Global Force Wrestling star is often seen at The Miz’s famous parties, which he enjoys sharing on his Instagram with the likes of Dolph Ziggler, Zack Ryder, and Cody Rhodes often not too far away.
10. Enemies: Balls Mahoney And New Jack
I think it would be harder to write a list of people that are buddies with New Jack than any other topic in wrestling, largely because of the former ECW stars wild actions both in and out of the ring. New Jack is someone who took the word extreme to a whole new meaning throughout his career and some of the shoot incidents he has been involved in are quite frankly appalling to watch.
However, on this occasion, the bad blood started with New Jack looking out for an independent booker who was forced to pay for damages and vandalism that Ballz Mahoney had caused at a hotel. After a war of words between the pair, they eventually came to blows at another independent event after Mahoney had used a racial slur to describe New Jack, who then took matters into his own hands with the two men brawling backstage in a real-life fight.
9. Buddies: B.W.O
The Blue World Order was a stable put together in ECW for comedic purposes, with the company poking fun at WCW’s NWO, and it got over with audiences in a huge way, eventually leading to Stevie Richards gaining a main event push.
It was impossible not to love their infectious personalities and the hilarious way that they portrayed their versions of the famous WCW trio and that was largely based on the real-life chemistry that they had, especially Richards and Blue Meanie. It was through the pair that the group was created in the first place, mocking other WCW and WWF stars, they showed the higher ups in ECW that they had charisma to burn and it was put to good use with the BWO, a stable that is fondly remembered to this day. The group have remained incredibly close since and still take bookings in 2017 for independent shows and signings, showcasing their friendship.
8. Enemies: RVD And Taz
That’s right, it’s Taz…. again. For all purposes it appears that the former ECW Champion simply took himself a little too seriously, taking his character to the back with him and staying in ‘the zone’ throughout his life. Rob Van Dam on the other hand, is about as carefree as they come in the wrestling world and couldn’t have been any different from Taz; the pair were simply polar opposites.
Their situation escalated during a feud when RVD was teaming with real-life friend Sabu, who also had issues with Taz. The Suplex Machine believed that the pair were hitting him with stiff shots and complained about the duo to the locker room, asking them for a fight; RVD obliged his demands and slapped Taz twice. The Whole F’in Show has gone on record countless times during shoot interviews to discuss his dislike for Taz, and his buddies ‘Team Taz’ and it is fair to say you shouldn’t expect to see them hanging out anytime soon.
7. Buddies: Tommy Dreamer And Bubba Ray Dudley
Two of ECW’s most iconic wrestlers of all time just so happen to be two of the closest people from that locker room, still to this day. In fact, if you had to make a list of real-life buddies in wrestling, in general, this pair would likely crop up as they are that close. Both men have worked together in various promotions since ECW and they played a large role in the behind the scenes elements of the company, which likely drew them to be so close. Tommy Dreamer would design t-shirts to be sold at shows, whilst Bubba Ray Dudley often helped Paul Heyman book the events.
Of course, in the ring, they have also shared many classic moments, most recently in WWE when Dreamer returned to help the Dudley Boys in their feud against the Wyatt Family; something that was so believable because of the bond they share. Nowadays the two can be found poking fun at each other over social media, with Bubba displaying more of his Bully Ray character and joking about Dreamer’s weight.
6. Enemies: JBL and Blue Meanie
To start with, yes, JBL wasn’t officially an ECW superstar, but this infamous moment took place in an ECW ring and was arguably the first and most obvious time that JBL has been called out for blatant bullying in his career.
ECW’s One Night Stand event in 2005 saw a mass brawl between WWE and ECW stars in what was supposed to be a safe working environment. However, the WWE star had slightly different plans when he rocked Blue Meanie with some legitimate shots that left him a bloody mess in the middle of the ring. The moment was a shocking one to say the least and wasn’t the only time that Bradshaw bullied him, with Meanie having stated in several interviews that JBL bullied him about his weight during his tenure with WWE.
5. Buddies: RVD And Sabu
Both of these men helped put ECW on the map and their wrestling ability certainly helped it stay there for as long as it did. But they weren’t just great opponents and tag team partners, RVD and Sabu were, and still are, very close friends behind the scenes, stemming from sheer respect for each other.
Sabu and RVD were both trained by the original Shiek and Sabu has gone on record to say that he feels RVD is one of the greatest of all time and that feeling has been shared by Rob. RVD has claimed that Sabu is not only a friend but is someone he considers family and that was never more evident than when he set up a Go Fund Me for Sabu when he needed surgery despite the veteran’s protests.
4. Enemies: Paul Heyman And CW Anderson
Even though Paul Heyman wasn’t a wrestler for ECW, the owner of the company certainly got involved in his fair share of fallouts during his tenure as the boss and the biggest of them all came against CW Anderson. There have been many wrestlers who gave accounts against Heyman during his time as the owner of ECW for his inability to get talent paid on time or the way ECW went out of business but CW Anderson has shot on Heyman more than any of the ECW alumni.
CW Anderson conducted an interview where he ranted about his former boss, which gained a response on social media from Heyman. Normally, Heyman stays out of the way of abuse and lets it ride which made this incident particularly interesting and allowed it stand out more so than others. Heyman went as far as to label Anderson as a ‘lower level stooge’ and the war of words proved that time doesn’t heal all wounds.
3. Buddies: Bubba Ray Dudley And Devon Dudley
Does this one even need an explanation? They were portrayed as brothers for storyline purposes and became real-life brothers due to the bond and experiences they shared both in the ring and travelling around the world together. All great tag teams have excellent chemistry in real-life and no list of the greatest teams of all time is worth their salt if it doesn’t include the Dudley Boys. That’s how good they were and how close they are as friends.
These two men are the most decorated tag team in history and a large part of that reason is the friendship they have. Whethey they are playing serious heels who are prepared to win at all costs, loveable babyfaces or a simply on the roster to add credibility or humour, they can fill all these roles and more; because they are that damn good and you only get that way by having a true and honest friendship.
2. Enemies: New Jack And Eric Kulas
One of the most shocking shoot moments in wrestling history took place in the most extreme environment, ECW. Of course, New Jack was the culprit on this occasion and young 17-year old Eric Kulas the victim. Kulas had lied to Paul Heyman about his age and was working under the name of Mass Transit. After getting through the majority of the match with the basic skills he had, Kulas would end the night in bloody ruins after a blade job went wrong. New Jack was the man trusted and his blade job cut the youngster so deep it severed two arteries leading him to pass out with blood spraying out of his head; all while his father (at ringside) screamed to end the match. The repercussions of this incident were certainly felt by ECW, who was forced to cancel the PPV (Barely Legal) while they suffered a lawsuit at the hands of the Kulas family.
1. Buddies: Terry Funk And Mick Foley
The friendship between Terry Funk and Mick Foley is one of the most sincere in the entire wrestling industry. Two of the most hardcore, risk-taking and extreme individuals to have ever laced up a pair of boots, but also two of the kindest men in the business at the same time and it is through that they gained a mutual respect and friendship.
They have gone to war with each other in death matches and teamed together but whether they have been enemies or partners they have always been friends. The respect and love Foley has for Funk is clear if you have ever read one of his best-selling books and that feeling is certainly mutual, with Funk choosing Foley to induct him into the WWE Hall of Fame. They have been extreme wrestlers, but they were also extreme brothers too.
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