ECW will always have a special spot in the historical significance of professional wrestling, but their overall legacy could be negative. Many of the things that made ECW popular are no longer valued in today's society. The emphasis on violence and edgy content caused the diehard fans all over the East coast to love the promotion in the late 90s. Most of the ECW wrestlers actually lived the gimmick and had a lifestyle that followed their characters. The culture of partying with heavy use of alcohol, drugs and other dangerous factors made them cool to the fans of the era, but it just hurt them in the long run.
Their in-ring style also provided danger to the talent in ECW. Most matches contained dangerous weapons like barbed wire, flaming tables and just about anything you can think of hitting someone over the head with. The combination of past lifestyles, years of damage to the body in the most dangerous form and the aging process have given us a variety of stories for the extreme stars. Some of them changed for the better by getting in better shape and cleaning up their lives. Others let the demons of the past cause them to suffer a downfall. We’ll glance at both sides with eight former ECW wrestlers that still look great and eight others that don’t look as good today.
16 Looks Great: Rob Van Dam
The most popular ECW legend in their history, Rob Van Dam ended up having one of the longer wrestling careers. Everyone appreciated the amazing matches and calm demeanor of RVD from his iconic ECW career to his tremendous work in WWE. Van Dam was a unique soul and took to doing yoga before it was cool. Many made fun of him for his hobby of staying zen and working out through non-traditional meansm but he’s winning now.
15 Doesn’t Look Great: The Sandman
One wrestler that looks exactly like you would expect is The Sandman. Paul Heyman pushed Sandman to the top of ECW for years due to his real life persona making his character connect with the rowdy Philadelphia fans. Sandman would accumulate five ECW World Championship reigns as a constant in the main event picture during the company’s most popular days. The years have not been kind to Sandman and you can understand why if you followed his career.
14 Looks Great: Lance Storm
Lance Storm was vastly underrated in his time and his work in ECW stands the test of time more than the majority of his peers. Unlike the rest of the roster, Storm was straight laced and only motivated by athletics rather than the partying scene. Storm stands by never using drugs or alcohol and staying faithful to his wife over his entire wrestling career. The tag team reign of The Impact Players with Storm and Justin Credible put Lance on the map.
13 Doesn’t Look Great: Tammy Sytch
It feels weird to put Tammy Sytch on the list due to her primary profession these days being an adult worker in the adult films and webcam worlds. Sytch gets by on her reputation and many longtime fans holding on to their childhood crushes. The aging process and an addiction to substances have made the last two decades become a whirlwind for Tammy. A recent stint in rehab has led to Sytch telling fans she’s finally overcome her addiction and we can only hope she’s telling the truth.
12 Looks Great: Steve Corino
Steve Corino was never the most jacked wrestler in the business but he has remained in relatively good shape all these years. The former ECW World Champion continued wrestling after the promotion died in 2001 and added more memorable moments to his legacy as an independent wrestling legend. Corino currently works for Ring of Honor as the primary color commentator but also wrestles occasionally.
11 Doesn’t Look Great: Dean Malenko
Dean Malenko's in-ring work was ahead of its time and second to none in the pro wrestling world. Malenko earned the name of “The Man of One-Thousand Holds” to signify how many maneuvers he could execute in a wrestling match. Most of Malenko’s noteworthy success came in WCW but his short stint in ECW is what gave him his reputation as one of the best in the world. His legendary matches with Eddie Guerrero have allowed Malenko's legacy to live on after his retirement.
10 Looks Great: Tommy Dreamer
ECW fans collectively have a soft spot in their hearts for most of the popular performers, but their love for Tommy Dreamer is on another level. The fan base associated with the work ethic and determination of Dreamer to give them their money’s worth every single night. Dreamer stuck with the company into their dying days and will always be associated with the letters ECW more than anyone else.
9 Doesn’t Look Great: Tazz
The most impressive feat of Paul Heyman’s work as a creative mind in ECW was convincing the wrestling world that Tazz was the biggest badass in the business. He destroyed his opponents quickly with a variety of suplexes and ended the match with his dreaded Tazmisson submission maneuver. An injury to Tazz in the WWE caused him to retire from the ring at a young age and he transitioned into a broadcaster.
8 Looks Great: Al Snow
Al Snow’s time in ECW resurrected and saved his career after multiple failed runs in with the WWE. His character change in ECW saw him play a schizophrenic person taking to his mannequin head and he was charming enough in the role to create a fan base. ECW crowds engaged in creative chants about “Head” and his work was finally getting recognition due to figuring out the character aspect of the business in the smaller environment.
7 Doesn’t Look Great: Mikey Whipwreck
The improbable rise of Mikey Whipwreck in ECW saw him become one of the most beloved underdogs in wrestling history. Whipwreck was smaller in size but among the most consistent in-ring performers in the business. ECW fans loved him for his ability to take a beating from the bigger stars and still show enough of his skills to get his talent across. Whipwreck would win the ECW World Championship by defeating The Sandman for a huge feel good moment.
6 Looks Great: Stevie Richards
Stevie Richards looks so great these days that you would assume he never wrestled for ECW. Richards' career will always be most synonymous for his time as the leader of the hilarious Blue World Order faction. Richards always had a great deal of talent and earned himself a WWE tenure following his work in ECW. Richards' conditioning was always impressive, but he has actually found a way to reach a new high.
5 Doesn’t Look Great: Shane Douglas
No one held the ECW World Championship longer than Shane Douglas and that wasn’t a coincidence. Douglas represented what Paul Heyman wanted out of his performers. Following failed stints in the WWE and WCW, Douglas had a fire lit under him to prove his worth to the rest of the industry and talked trash to everyone that doubted him. His character change to “The Franchise” made Douglas one of the top heels in pro wrestling for years.
4 Looks Great: The Dudley Boyz
The Dudley Boyz were actually among the rare successful performers of the 90s to never be in great shape. Both men were rarely jacked and often were a bit overweight, but made it work to their advantage. Bubba Ray and D-Von dominated the ECW tag team division with incredible promos and brutal matches. It led to the WWE signing the duo and becoming the most decorated team in the history of the business with title wins everywhere.
3 Doesn’t Look Great: Sabu
No one damaged their body more for the betterment of ECW than Sabu. His unique style of original offense done was as important to ECW developing its own niche as anything else in the company. Fans appreciated Sabu leaving it all out there and showing his daredevil attitude for the sake of helping the promotion grow. The dangerous moves and array of weapons used in matches sadly caught up to him.
2 Looks Great: Rhyno
The final true ECW World Champion also happens to be the last one still in peak 2001 shape. Rhyno dominated the last year of ECW as Paul Heyman’s final successful creation before the company went out of business. WWE picked up Rhyno and helped give him the name value to continue a very long career. Rhyno still wrestles on the independent wrestling scene today and makes occasional appearances for WWE on NXT television.
1 Doesn’t Look Great: Raven
Raven could have been one of the biggest stars in wrestling but instead peaked during his time in ECW. Paul Heyman gave him the creative freedom and tremendous gimmick to appeal to the grunge society of fans at the time. Most would select Raven as having the best ECW World Championship reign due to epic feuds with Tommy Dreamer, The Sandman and others. WWE and WCW could never capture the magic of the Raven character and their visions of it didn’t deliver the same results.
Following his WWE release into the free agent market, Raven has physically declined over the past decade. The years have not been kind to Raven losing some of his hair, the rest of it turning grey and an overall weight gain. It is almost impossible to recognize him these days unless you are at a wrestling convention with his name plate besides him. Raven is definitely the worst story of an ECW wrestler’s look declining into depressing fashion.
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