Extreme Champion Wrestling under Paul Heyman’s ownership closed up shop in early 2001. The brief WWE/ECW (WWECW) run ended in 2010, but unlike WCW, there are not a lot of fans who could say the company deserved to end. ECW was always peaking, always getting better and always giving fans what they wanted. Under WWE’s rule, that wasn't the case, but until the original ECW closed, the fans would always get more than they paid for.
Many fans still have a special place in their heart for ECW because a lot of their worst moments came from the WWE, but there were other instances where the original ECW simply went too far. ECW always bordered on dangerous (after all the “E” stands for Extreme) and that’s where you get some of the most careless incidents in wrestling history. Some of the worst ECW moments come from backstage antics as opposed to what happened in the ring.
Unlike the one and done attempt at putting WCW on Monday Night Raw, WWE had tried to catch lightning in a bottle for a second time with their version of ECW. Which makes this list is unique, in that there are moments from both the original and the WWECW runs. Whether it was poor taste, poor booking or just plain piss poor, here are the worst moments in ECW history.
15 Extreme Elimination Chamber
According to a lot of fans, this is one of the darkest days in the history of the sport. The match itself wasn't terrible; it’s the backstage drama that makes this one of the ECW’s worst. The entire 2006 December to Dismember PPV was a debacle and it almost led to the permanent departure of Paul Heyman from the industry due to his constant arguing with Vince McMahon. The show only had two advertised matches and the rest was just plain filler. While the company had a few more dark days ahead, the in-fighting between Heyman and McMahon showcased why the WWECW revival would never work.
14 Fire Incident
13 Mike Awesome Leaves
Just about every ECW legend was gone and in attempting to build, grow, and foster new stars, the strap was put on Mike Awesome, who at one point was the most athletic big man in the business. To showcase his strength, he decimated Spike Dudley by powerbombing through every table at ringside. To highlight his toughness, he fought with Masato Tanaka, but then he left. He tried to leave with the belt, but that’s a different story. Awesome in theory had all the makings of a long term champion you could build your company around and instead, while still the ECW Heavyweight Champion, Awesome quit the company.
12 Everybody Leaves
In ECW, Eddie Guererro and Dean Malenko had some of their greatest matches. Rey Mysterio showed the world Lucha Libre. Raven became the greatest character ECW produced and Taz was their greatest wrestler. The Dudleys became the greatest tag team ever. Mick Foley delivered his best promos ever. Chris Jericho came back to the states as one of ECW's biggest babyfaces and Steve Austin crafted the Stone Cold character in ECW. The entire Monday Night War was shaped by men who first made their mark in ECW. Then they all left for either WWE or WCW. And each of their departures left a gaping hole in ECW and each felt like another shotgun blast to future of the company.
11 Getting a Network Slot
As Taz and The Dudley Boyz signed deals with the WWE, ECW was getting set to debut on TNN. Now the entire world would get to see what only a few outlets and tape traders knew about. But the company of renegades owned by the rebellious Paul Heyman now had network restrictions being placed on them and a minute budget given to them by TNN, though the company still expected the same kind of top–notch production values of WWE and WCW. According to Heyman, TNN didn’t even want the iconic ECW theme song, feeling it was too demonic. On the ECW DVD, Heyman admitted that instead of saving and helping the company, TNN became the albatross around the neck of ECW.
10 Heyman Touching Money
According to the Paul Heyman DVD, Joey Styles explains ECW worked well in the beginning because Tod Gordon still owned the company and therefore the money. But once costs became too great for Gordon, he sold the company to Heyman and with each grandiose vision the mad scientist had, the more money was being spent. Styles went on to explain that while Heyman’s ideas were genius, they also would go onto bankrupt the company as well, due to the cost of realizing those ideas.
9 ECW Ends
While this seems like an obvious choice for a "worst of" list, the reasons and emotions surrounding the company folding are what puts this moment on this list. WCW folded and rightfully so, as the company was going terribly by this point and there was no way back from the brink. But ECW was still putting on great matches and still had a monster, Rhyno, as their world champion. The company was at its hottest point, video game sales, merchandising, and ticket sales were through the roof, but without TV there was simply no way ECW would be able to live on and it died while experiencing some of the best moments of the company.
8 The Danbury Fall
By the time New Jack took on Vic Grimes at Living Dangerously 2000, any wrestler or fan knew that if you worked in ECW, you might be liable to break a bone or two just wrestling a normal match. However, when you wrestle the notoriously dangerous worker, New Jack, you might want to say a prayer or three. During the match, the pair was supposed to simultaneously fall off a scaffold through a bunch of tables. But Jack yanked Grimes too soon and the pair hit the concrete hard. For his folly, Jack lost sight in his right eye and had brain fluid dripping out of his nose.
7 Monster Mash Battle Royal
In one of the biggest examples of how Vince McMahon had no clue what the original ECW meant to fans was the Monster Mash Battle Royal. What better way to showcase any promotion than having four of the biggest and slowest wrestlers do battle. Big Daddy V, Kane, the Great Khali, and Mark Henry. This match wasn’t just one of the worst in ECW’s history, but the history of the profession as well.
6 Batista vs. Big Show
When the Big Show decides to work, he’s one of the best big men and that is what he did under the tutelage of Paul Heyman as the ECW Champion. For most fans, Big Show was a welcome addition to the WWECW roster, but in New York’s Manhattan Center, where many of the old ECW’s best moments took place, the fans would not accept the big man as one of their own. On August 1st, 2006, the old ECW faithful made their feelings known during a live taping and booed the two out of the Manhattan Center, loudly trying to let Vince McMahon know that this wasn’t ECW.
5 RVD and Sabu Get Arrested
In one of greatest moments of the early aughts, RVD cashed in his Money in the Bank at ECW’s One Night Stand 2006, which also served as the official relaunch of ECW. RVD would become the first man ever to be the ECW and WWE Champion and, early on, it seemed that he was going to defend both titles for a little while. Then on July 3rd, 2006, RVD, along with Sabu, would get arrested for possession of marijuana and other drugs. Since he was suspended for 30 days, RVD would drop both titles on Raw and ECW respectively, leading to the abrupt end of a true ECW relaunch.
4 Vince Wins the ECW Title
Only five men in history can say they were both the WWE Heavyweight Champion and ECW Heavyweight Champion, but it’s really hard to believe that Vince McMahon happens to be one of them. After arguing with Paul Heyman to the point that the former owner of ECW left, Vince minted Bobby Lashley at the December to Dismember PPV. Clearly Vince knows how to make a guy and decided to feud with Lashley throughout early 2007. He also thought beating him would help escalate their feud. Unfortunately, as decent as Lashley is as an MMA fighter, he has the charisma of milquetoast and was never able to hang in the WWE. Even worse, McMahon actually held the ECW title as long as Jerry Lynn and longer than Rob Van Dam.
3 Sandman Crucified
When The Undertaker tied up of Stone Cold to his symbol and hoisted him up for the entire fan base to see, some thought it was in poor taste. Those fans clearly never saw this moment, when Raven would tie his bitter nemesis, The Sandman, to a cross and hoist him up. The ECW fans, usually louder than loud, were stunned and didn’t know what to think. Paul Heyman even made Raven break character and apologize for the incident. The worst part of this moment is that ECW was trying to sign Kurt Angle, who was in attendance, and he was completely disgusted by this.
2 The Mole
The reason that many of ECW’s up and coming stars defected to WCW in the mid–nineties was due to a supposed mole in the ECW locker room, helping to facilitate deals for guys like Guerrero, Malenko, Benoit, and Jericho. At the forefront of the whole scandal was former owner Tod Gordon, who had ties to WCW’s Terry Taylor. On TV, Heyman would claim Gordon was leaving to spend more time with hks family but Gordon was never seen or heard from again, leaving many to believe that he was fired as on air commissioner for helping many ECW alum head to WCW.
1 Mass Transit
If anyone ever wants to shut down a wrestling company, google ECW Mass Transit and follow suit. This story begins with an underage boy, Eric Kulas, claiming he knew how to wrestle. He would find his way onto an ECW show as D-Von Dudley’s partner against The Gangstas. Wanting to get some color, Kulas would ask New Jack to gig him, but Jack sliced him too hard and the little kid bled out all over the ring and had to be stretchered out of the arena. The kid and his dad would try to sue ECW and their first PPV, Barely Legal, was almost shut down. Luckily, Paul Heyman, the son of a lawyer put his litigious mind to work and convinced the courts of no wrong doing on ECW’s part. Still, the Mass Transit incident remains one of the worst moments in wrestling history.