From the day Shane Douglas threw the NWA title down and declared the ECW title the only worthwhile title in wrestling, fans were salivating for anything and everything coming out of the Land Of Extreme. Watching countless ECW documentaries just doesn’t do the feeling of what it was like watching and being a part of ECW during its existence any justice. The ECW Arena was like the Roman Coliseum reborn. Its ruler was Paul Heyman. Its bloodthirsty fans longing for someone to get fed to the lions had to settle for someone to get slammed through tables.
Both WCW and WWE began to take notice of what was happening along the Northeastern seaboard during the mid-nineties and both companies started to cherry-pick talent as well as match concepts and alter them for their own audiences. Legends like Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio got exposure thanks to ECW. Terry Funk reinvented himself and became an even bigger legend than he already was in ECW. Mick Foley’s short but phenomenal run in ECW helped him to move on to the WWE and obliterate every conceivable obstacle on his way to superstardom. No matter the level of wrestling glory they achieved outside of ECW, just about everyone who came into ECW became a legend. Here are 5 ECW Wrestlers That Are Still Wrestling And 5 That Are Surprisingly Retired.
10 Wrestling - Tommy Dreamer
The very fabric of ECW was woven Tommy Dreamer’s dried up blood. Since he literally closed the doors on the promotion, Dreamer has gone on to work for WWE, TNA, both of their “extreme revivals,” as well as Ring Of Honor. The perennial babyface has also been operating his own school and promotion since 2012, the House Of Hardcore. Hopefully, Dreamer will retire one day - but for now, Tommy can still occasionally be seen in the ring.
9 Retired - Taz
In the Extreme landscape, there were none tougher on the face of the Earth than the Human Suplex Machine, Taz. His debut at MSG, ending Kurt Angle’s undefeated streak was one of the most anticipated moments in WWE history, that hype was overshadowed but the infamous WWE (represented by Taz) vs. WCW (Mike Awesome) for the ECW title, which Taz won.
He retired in 2002, citing injuries, but other than a quick match or so it’s pretty wild to think that one of the most intimidating competitors of all time actually called it quits and really stayed retired.
8 Wrestling - New Jack
Paul Heyman’s greatest strength was masking all of his stars’ weaknesses. Most fans will actually ever know if Ray Candy’s teachings helped make New Jack a good wrestler. That’s because Paul Heyman instantly made him a hardcore icon by making him a brawler who literally fights to the tune of “Natural Born Killers.” New Jack’s style and ambience of fighting while your theme plays would never have worked on the main stage of the WWE. But doesn’t mean Jack retired - he’s been working here and there indie shots ever since.
7 Retired - Lance Storm
No one will ever dispute that without the ropes, Lance Storm would probably be the best of his era, if not the next twenty years. The guy’s only 50 now, that’s not very old in wrestling years anymore.
But he chose to retire in his early thirties and train a whole new crop of superstars, up to and including Tyler Breeze and Emma. He does occasionally come out of retirement for one-offs here and there, but for the most part Calgary’s second favorite son has enjoyed his post-in ring life.
6 Wrestling - Chris Jericho
The lead singer of Fozzy didn’t spend a very long time in ECW, but it was enough to warrant him a spot on this list. Not to mention the longevity of his career has allowed him to continue to be a top star wherever he goes.
Jericho credits DDP Yoga for saving his career and allowing him to continue it. Now, he’s the headline attraction for All Elite, and after a few years away from the WWE bubble, he has been operating on all cylinders with no restrictions.
5 Retired - Spike Dudley
Every big man in all of ECW loved working with Little Spike Dudley. For a character that looked a little mangy, he knew how and when to work like a small man and work like a big man.
He made plenty of memories taking insane bumps that seldom few survive from, not to mention the ECW crowds surfing him around the arena. He also found moderate success in both WWE and TNA. In a 2015 interview with his brother Bubba, Spike said he’s basically retired.
4 Wrestling - Stevie Richards
Whether it was legit or not is still debatable, but in 1997, Stevie Richards took a nasty bump and was supposedly forced to retire - 22 years ago. But much like the person who dumped him - Terry Funk - Stevie was working again a few months later. During his years in the business, he might not have worked on the tippy top, but he’s one of the few superstars to work in every major American promotion since 1992, and he’s always had a few memorable programs in each one.
3 Retired - Francine
While WWE had Sunny and Sable, and WCW had Kimberly and the Nitro Girls. But in the land of Extreme, Francine was the Queen. The would-be “Sister Love,” opted to stay in ECW and for most of the promotions history, she was there - most notably managing the Franchise, Shane Douglas.
After the company folded, she participated in some of TNA’s weekly PPVs before she wound up rejoining ECW during the WWE relaunch. For the most part, sans a small handful of appearances, the First Lady Of ECW called it quits in 2006 to focus on her family.
2 Wrestling - The Sandman
Similar to New Jack, the Sandman also was allowed flourish in ECW with all kinds of extreme pomp and circumstance. His ring entrance alone, marching to the ring to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” smashing head with beer can after beer can. He would usually be busted open by the time he made to the ring, and the match hadn’t even started yet! The record holding five-time ECW champion, like Stevie also has had the privilege of appearing in every major American promotion since the nineties, including recent appearances in Impact.
1 Retired - Joey Styles
The voice of ECW is one of the best wrestling commentators the sport has ever seen. But the time for Extreme commentating has unfortunately passed us all by. Although he didn’t say anything wrong, Joey made a reference to an inappropriate comment and found himself out of several gigs. Rather than work his way back or wait for the dust to settle on the non-issue, Joey retired to focus full time on ad sales.