The legacy of ECW is still strong, with many fans of the era never taking for granted how special it was. Paul Heyman gave wrestlers a chance to showcase their skills with creative freedom and an innovative form of storytelling. The ECW Championship was the top prize in the promotion with only top names getting the chance to have a title reign with the prestigious belt.
We will look at the final few years of the promotion to find the final ten men to hold the title. WWE’s version of ECW will not be represented here, so names like Christian, Rob Van Dam and Ezekiel Jackson will not be on the list. Find out just which of the final champs had the best reigns. These are the last ten ECW World Champions ranked from worst to best.
10 Tommy Dreamer
Tommy Dreamer often said he wanted to be the one top ECW star to never hold the ECW Championship. This dream would end when Dreamer won the title in 2000, but he only held it for a few minutes making it the shortest reign in company history.
Dreamer ended Taz’s title run when the WWE performer defended it against him. Unfortunately for fans of Dreamer, Justin Credible challenged him right after. The match would see Francine turn on Dreamer giving Credible a new manager and the title win.
9 The Sandman
The Sandman was always involved in the ECW Championship picture for most of his run in the company. Despite not having the strongest level of athleticism, Sandman had a connection with the fans that Paul Heyman trusted to always deliver.
The fifth and final title reign of Sandman came in 2001 when he defeated Justin Credible and Steve Corino in a triple threat match. Much like Tommy Dreamer’s story, Sandman lost the title minutes later when defending it against Rhino.
8 Masato Tanaka
Japanese wrestling star Masato Tanaka started working for ECW after making a name in FMW. Tanaka won over the ECW audience with his violent style. Despite being known for taking vicious chair shots to the head, Tanaka also would have impressive technical wrestling matches.
The ECW Championship reign of Tanaka lasted a few days when he defeated Mike Awesome before losing it back to the big man. Awesome and Tanaka had an outstanding rivalry that featured violent must-see matches which made it more enjoyable when they switched the title.
7 Justin Credible
The title win of Justin Credible over Tommy Dreamer validated his run as a top star in ECW. Credible had a lackluster WWE run as Aldo Montoya that almost doomed his career. The ECW run allowed him to show his true self and rise up the card.
Paul Heyman trusted Credible since he continued progressing as other performers left for WWE and WCW. The pairing of Credible and his new manager Francine worked perfectly to make him arguably the best heel in the company during his nearly six-month title reign.
6 Mike Awesome
The rise of Mike Awesome in ECW gave Paul Heyman another main eventer. Awesome was among the biggest men in ECW and that made it even more impressive when he delivered wild aerial moves off the top rope.
The first ECW Championship win of Awesome came in memorable fashion ending Taz’s long run. Awesome won it a second time after Masato Tanaka ended his streak as a new champion for a few days. The end of Awesome’s title reign came due to him signing with WCW in controversial fashion.
Taz had two title reigns during this time frame with one major reign. The huge moment saw Taz defeat Shane Douglas to win the ECW Championship for the first time as fans loved every second of it. Taz had a dominant reign before ending it when making the move to WWE.
To the shock of everyone in wrestling, WWE allowed Taz to appear for ECW while under contract to defeat Mike Awesome when Awesome signed with WCW and Paul Heyman needed a quick title change. The attraction of a WWE talent beating a WCW talent for the ECW Championship makes this reign a special one as well even if it was short.
4 Jerry Lynn
The hard work of Jerry Lynn was never appreciated during his stints in WCW and WWE. Fans of ECW, however, got the honor of seeing Lynn become one of the best wrestlers in the world. A series of matches with Rob Van Dam put Lynn on the map.
Paul Heyman decided to ride the hot hand by having Lynn win the ECW Championship from Justin Credible. Lynn’s title reign only lasted a little over a month, but it was a special one to see him reach the top of the mountain.
3 Steve Corino
One of the most surprising choices to win the ECW Championship at the time was Steve Corino in 2000. The heel work of Corino won over Paul Heyman, as Corino knew how to get the ECW fans to truly hate him. Corino even had a great feud with the legendary Dusty Rhodes during his limited time in ECW.
The ECW Championship reign of Corino came when he ended Jerry Lynn’s run. Corino had an impressive title run proving he was one of the top heels in the business. The Sandman eventually ended his run, but Corino had enough time to prove his worth in the industry before ECW went out of business.
Rhino had the honor of being the final ECW Champion in company history before they went out of business. The fans bought into Rhino as one of the most intimidating wrestlers in the sport. Rhino became a relevant top name in the final few months of ECW.
Paul Heyman didn’t waste any time as Rhino defeated The Sandman just minutes after Sandman’s title win at Guilty as Charged 2001. The moment cemented him as a top star in the promotion even though it ended weeks later. WWE signed Rhino as one of their first hires due to his run as the last ECW Champion.
1 Shane Douglas
Shane Douglas’ fourth and final ECW Championship reign was by far the longest in company history. The title win came in 1997 when Douglas defeated Bam Bam Bigelow and lasted 406 days. It was extremely rare for a championship reign to go over a year, but Douglas was on fire as a heel.
The act of The Franchise and Francine as his manager was a huge hit. Douglas dominated the ECW main event scene from late 1997 into early 1999. The long and outstanding title run made it even more important of a moment when Taz defeated Douglas to win his first ECW World Championship.