Extreme Championship Wrestling was once a pitiful place of hardcore chaos where professional wrestling was twisted and tweaked by an evil-minded madman named Paul Heyman. ECW was the alternative to what professional wrestling in North America had become; a Philadelphia-based sideshow whose idea of “brotherly love” included ripping each others flesh with barbed-wire and gross amounts of weaponry – a wicked scene from a wasteland of wayward wrestlers.
NXT is currently the hottest wrestling program around. The WWE minor-league system is in many ways more entertaining than the big-league program. NXT has compiled a roster of young upstarts who are hungry to succeed in the WWE – hoping for a chance to gnaw on the bones of those who have come before; making way for the next generation of superstars to emerge. NXT is where the future begins and the past is forgotten.
Joey Styles – former ECW announcer – recently concluded while responding to fans on Twitter that NXT is the new ECW sans the “mindless bloody violence.” When another fan would insist that “mindless bloody violence” was a good thing, Styles would retort: “You wouldn’t think so if you destroyed your body and bled twice a week.”
The lone-wolf voice of ECW knows first hand about the obscene violence that went down under the cracked dome sanctity that was Extreme Championship Wrestling. Styles called these blood-riddled encounters and has bared witness to some of the most brutal action in professional wrestling; actions that would be deemed a criminal offense on the streets outside of the ECW Arena.
Joey Styles has a definite point with his reasoning. The bloodbath days of professional wrestling – while enjoyed by many – are a thing of the past. Health issues, the insistence of television executives, and the new WWE image have all contributed to the loss of blood-loss within the ring. In the following article we will take a look at the old-school, carnage-fueled ECW and the product that is produced in NXT.
These are the top 10 comparisons between ECW and NXT:
10. Single Venue
Located under a stretch of Interstate 95 in South Philadelphia sits what is now known as the 2300 Arena. However, this former warehouse was once home the best kept secret in professional wrestling and was known throughout the ’90s as the ECW Arena … an exclusive club of sorts, not for high-class hacks but the low-level working-class heroes.
NXT films and produces all its programming from Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida from a venue dubbed: Full Sail Live. Aside from the occasion travel; the arena down in the Sunshine State is home to NXT … much like the run-down building in Pennsylvania which was home to ECW.
9. Underground Feel
The alternative to anything mainstream will naturally feel like an underground movement; a breakaway from what is considered normal. The original ECW was everything alternative could be in the world of professional wrestling which made watching the product feel as though you were witnessing an underground style of performance.
NXT is a full-blown part of the WWE conglomerate, we all known this, therefore calling NXT “underground” seems a little strange. However, many WWE fans (the casual viewers) do not partake in NXT viewership. Hell, they may not even know anything about the product. This in a sense, does provide NXT with a weird underground feeling.
8. Fascinating Women
Some of the most memorable women from the ECW days include: Francine, Beulah, and Kimona. While ECW never had a Women’s Championship or much of a female division, there remained a presence of women throughout the promotion.
While WCW was using its women to dance and WWE were just beginning to create its female division of the Attitude Era; the girls that were working for the two big companies did not look or act like the girls of ECW.
Over in NXT, the girls are on fire. They look and perform better than the crop of women that have been assembled as main roster “Divas.”
Everybody loves a good underdog story. The underdog has been the basis of many novels and movies; that quintessential unsung hero who despite all odds, emerges on the other side, victorious and better off than before. The underdog stories of professional wrestling play out in the exact same manner.
During the lifetime of ECW, many of its wrestlers would leave for what they would view as greener pastures, a better opportunity in a bigger promotion. Chris Jericho is a prime example of this notion. Jericho began in ECW, left for WCW and then left for WWE, where he would finally find success.
Many of the NXT superstars have come from the independent scene and while they continue to make waves, there is no guarantee that they will succeed on the main roster… the underdogs are a-coming.
6. Level Playing Field
When ECW was operational, Paul Heyman knew how to manage his talent. While opinions of Heyman vary, one thing for certain is that Heyman knows how to book wrestling as was evident with ECW and his time as a head writer in WWE.
ECW provided a level playing field for its talent while WCW was playing favorites and WWE was trying to keep up with the competition. Paul Heyman does not only recognize the main event stars but also knows how to elevate mid-card talent.
NXT has this feeling to its format. While certain superstars look better than others, there doesn’t appear to be a massive sense of favoritism.
5. International Talent
International expansion has become a big part of the professional wrestling industry; showcasing the talent of superstars from all over the world on as many different stages as possible. Paul Heyman knew this well and would often look over borders for promising new individuals.
NXT has been going down the same path. The additions of Finn Balor and Becky Lynch (both from Ireland) as well as Hideo Itami (Japan) have proven to work well within the system as the eyes of the WWE will continue to roam around the globe in search of its next international sensation.
4. Rising Stars
ECW was in many ways a gateway to the next dimension of professional wrestling; a place where future superstars would hone their craft before leaving the not-so-warming bosom of Paul Heyman and flying off towards that big, bright, beautiful WWE sky.
Stone Cold Steve Austin, the greatest WWE superstar of all time, first began his belligerent ways over in ECW. The very ways and actions that would soon transform Steve Austin into the “Texas Rattlesnake”
NXT is packed full of rising stars … but who will prevail?
3. Fan Support
The fans of the original ECW are undoubtedly the craziest core of professional wrestling fans that have ever converged on a wrestling scene. ECW fans were vocal from start to finish and would let the performers know when they didn’t like something.
In fact, the ECW faithful had become known for their vulgarity and fan participation in which they would provide weapons to the wrestlers and on one strange night in Hardcoreland, they would even flood the ring with chairs.
The fans of NXT are nowhere near this level of passionate-crazy but they do love their product. Many fans of NXT are those who love the independent scene and those old enough probably watched ECW back during its gory days.
2. More Interesting than Mainstream
What was so appealing about ECW? Why were people tuning into this violent horror show that was disguised with a wrestling ring? The answer: it was more interesting than anything else they had been watching. ECW was a far turn from the directions of WWE and WCW.
Nowadays, the mainstream consists of WWE and the broken-down-bore-promotion that is TNA. NXT is more exciting to watch as the youth of its program provides a fresh outlook on wrestling, which is something the industry is sorely lacking.
1. The Vision of One Man
Eastern Championship Wrestling was once a member of the prestigious National Wrestling Alliance before Paul Heyman convinced Shane Douglas to throw down the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and introduce the wrestling world to the ECW Championship, officially beginning the Era of Extreme.
NXT was once a joke of a program, using a pro/rookie concept which focused more on ridiculous gags rather than actual wrestling. Well, thanks to Triple H, the revamp version of NXT has proven to be a major success. A promising thing for the guy who is going to have to run the entire operation one of these days.
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