Sadly, many ECW stars are no longer around. Be it from drug overdoses, heart attacks or accidents, the ECW alumni section is filled with the names of those who passed away prematurely.
In 2016 a heroin overdose claimed the life of Axl Rotten, and just two months later, a heart attacked killed his former tag team partner, Balls Mahoney. Nicole Bass, who started her wrestling career as a valet for Justin Credible, also passed away earlier this year. The first-ever ECW champion, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, passed away in January as well.
Both Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge from the Public Enemy are gone, as is Anthony Durante from the Pitfbulls. Former ECW champion Mike Awesome committed suicide in 2007 at 42 years old. Chris Candido died of a blood clot that developed after surgery in 2005. Another former ECW champion, Bam Bam Bigelow died in 2005 of a suspected drug overdose.
The names you will find below have all survived, and in many cases are doing quite well. Some are even still wrestling! For the purposes of this article we have omitted old ECW stars who are still visible in wrestling today. Stars such as Rhyno, Mick Foley or Steve Austin are all seen regularly enough on TV that one doesn't need updating on how they are doing. So here they are — 20 stars from the original ECW, and how they look like today.
20 The Blue Meanie
43 year-old Brian Hefron (shown with JT Smith, Gary Wolfe, and Joel Gertner) was brought into ECW to be a part of Raven's group of flunkies. Heffron would later state that Raven wanted to bring him in because he was "a fat guy who can do a moonsault."
Currently the Blue Meanie wrestles for, and is a trainer with the Monster Factory wrestling school in New Jersey. The school has produced many notable names, including Sheamus, Bam Bam Bigelow, Big Show, Chris Candido and Raven. Meanie also wrestles frequently on the indie scene around the northeastern USA.
In 2005, Meanie was involved in an incident which is relevant today. At the One Night Stand PPV in June that year, Meanie was beaten up for real by JBL during a staged brawl between ECW and WWE stars. Meanie indicated he might press charges, but then accepted an offer to stay in WWE instead.
19 Stevie Richards
45-year-old Michael Stephen Manna wrestled with ECW as Stevie Richards from 1994 to 1997. At first, Richards was portrayed as the #1 lackey in Raven's flock, but eventually the crowd started to get behind him. In particular, it was Richards' time in the Blue World Order that boosted his popularity.
Since 2007, Manna has been the host of a successful podcast titled the T4 Show, which focuses on technology advances. Stevie was also the first person to become a certified DDP Yoga instructor and is involved full-time with the company.
Richards had a short run in Ring of Honor in 2016 as well, losing matches to Jay Lethal, Adam Cole, Roderick Strong and Silas Young. He still wrestles on the indie scene as well. He is currently the heavyweight champion in the Louisiana based indy promotion, WildKat.
18 Jerry Lynn
53-year-old Jerry Lynn's in-ring career came to an end in 2013. In April of 2017 Lynn was brought into the WWE Performance Centre as a guest trainer. A short-haired and older version of Jerry Lynn can be seen above giving directions to Johnny Gargano at the Orlando-based facility.
He had worked as a backstage agent for Ring of Honor as recently as 2016.
Lynn managed to start and end his pro wrestling career exactly 25 years apart. His first match was March 23rd 1988, and his last was on March 23rd 2013.
In ECW, Lynn was probably best known for his feud with Rob Van Dam, even though Lynn never did manage to take the TV title away from RVD. In 2000 Jerry Lynn defeated then-ECW champion Justin Credible to win his first world championship. He was inducted into the 2300 Arena's Hardcore Hall of Fame in 2010.
17 Lance Storm
Lance Storm retired from pro wrestling in 2005 at only 36 years of age. He opted to open up the Storm Wrestling Academy in Calgary in order to make a living training new stars. He had already been training students in WWE's developmental system, but opening his own school allowed him to spend more time in Calgary with his family.
Shown above with his student, Emma, Storm has trained many wrestlers active in the business today. Emma, Peyton Royce and Tyler Breeze are all currently with WWE and all graduates of the Storm Wrestling Academy. Taya Valkyrie (Lucha Underground and AAA Lucha Libre) and Australia Suicide (AAA Lucha Libre) are also graduates of Storm's wrestling school.
The 48-year-old Canadian also hosts a weekly podcast with fellow ECW alum Don Callis.
16 Justin Credible
Justin Credible officially retired from pro wrestling in 2013, but has made a few appearances since then.
43-year-old PJ Polaco got his first big break in wrestling portraying Aldo Montoya in WWE. The Portuguese Man-of-War gimmick was based on his own heritage, as his parents moved to the United States from Portugal three years before PJ was born.
Polaco travelled from his home in Connecticut as a 19-year old in 1992 to train at the Keith Hart school in Calgary. When he got there, his trainers were Chris Jericho and Lance Storm, who had graduated from the school in 1991. It's a short jump from student to teacher at the school, evidently.
A two-time ECW Champion, Credible wrestled for both WWE and TNA after ECW folded. He currently lives in Waterbury Connecticut with his wife and teenage son.
15 Mikey Whipwreck
Mikey Whipwreck looks to have put on a few pounds since his wrestling days. The 43-year-old has retired from the ring, saying in a 2015 interview that he is happy to let Mikey Whipwreck fade into the past.
It was quite the run for Whipwreck (b. John Michael Watson), who started out on the ECW ring crew. He volunteered to help set up the ring for ECW shows in 1993 in exchange for being allowed to train inside it before shows. Joey Styles told Heyman that they should take a look at him, and the rest is history. He was even given a run with the company's world title.
Whipwreck wasn't interested in toiling on the indies after ECW folded. He announced his retirement in 2001 to go into the pyrotechnics field. He has come out of retirement periodically since then, however.
14 Rob Van Dam
Arguably the most popular wrestler to ever come out of ECW, Rob Van Dam is still active on the indie scene, in fact he is currently the heavyweight champion of Pacific Coast Wrestling, a popular California based organization. RVD defeated Pentagon Jr. for the title in November. He also wrestles periodically for Tommy Dreamer's House of Hardcore promotion.
RVD returned to WWE from 2013 to 2014, but was not featured as prominently as he had been in the past.
He has been doing a lot of work in Hollywood lately as well. In 2016 he appeared on Vice TV on a special with Action Bronson, and in the movies Sniper: Special Ops and Nine Legends. In 2015, he was in the horror/comedy film Three-Headed Shark Attack.
13 Bill Alfonso
After ECW folded, Bill Alfonso never really caught on with another major wrestling organization. He continues to work for small independent promotions however.
The 59-year-old, born William Matthew Sierra, refereed his first match in 1979. He became a regular referee with Championship Wrestling from Florida, and worked for every major wrestling company (as a referee) throughout the '80s and early-'90s. Subscribers to the WWE Network will note that Alfonso refereed quite a few matches for the company over the years.
When Alfonso went to ECW in the mid-'90s he was given a heel referee role, similar to what is done in Lucha Libre. Alfonso would be the only referee who would enforce the rules, which made fans angry. He eventually moved onto being a manager, and was paired up with the likes of Sabu, Taz and Rob Van Dam.
12 Perry Saturn
Unfortunately, Perry Saturn has had a hard last few years. He is said to be suffering from the impacts of traumatic head injuries, and has had significant financial difficulty.
Recently, Saturn appeared on Chris Jericho's Talk is Jericho podcast, and detailed the hard times he has been facing. He said he became addicted to methamphetamine and lived as a homeless person for over two years. He joined in a class action lawsuit against the WWE in 2016, alleging the company hid the risks associated with head injuries to their wrestlers.
A GoFundMe page was set up last fall for Saturn, with the goal of raising $100,000 for his medical care. He is unable to work and his wife stays home to care for him. So far the page has raised just under $40,000, with the biggest donation by far coming from Jericho.
11 Steve Corino
Steve Corino recently accepted a position as a trainer at the WWE Performance Centre in Orlando. Previously, he had been working as a commentator/part-time performer with Ring of Honor.
For reasons only he can fully explain, Corino decided to be the only ECW alum to turn down both WWE's ECW One Night Stand shows and Shane Douglas' Hardcore Homecoming shows in 2005-06. According to Corino, he just wanted to be the guy to turn them both down. In later years he would appear for numerous ECW-esque companies, such as Major League Wrestling, and Extreme Rising.
The 43-year-old wrestled on the independents and Ring of Honor after ECW folded, retiring briefly in 2007. He would return to ROH in 2009, where he would stay until WWE hired him in 2017.
10 Shane Douglas
52 year-old Troy Allan Martin is better known to wrestling fans as Shane Douglas. He was arguably one of the most important performers in the history of ECW. Douglas left ECW for the last time in 1999, this time signing with WCW. When both WCW and ECW folded, Douglas was left without a place to go. He had already left WWE on bad terms when he wasn't happy with his Dean Douglas character and the politics of Shawn Michaels and the Kliq.
Douglas would wrestle and produce shows for XPW, another hardcore promotion, for a couple of years before signing with TNA in 2003. He would leave TNA for a final time in 2009.
In 2013, Douglas had a starring role in the not-terribly reviewed film Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies. Numerous other wrestlers appear in the film, including Roddy Piper and Matt Hardy.
Douglas is still on the indie scene, wrestling a few matches a month for various smaller companies.
Currently, Taz is the host of The Taz Show, a popular podcast and call in-show. While the show covers other sports, pro wrestling tends to be the main theme. The show features guests from the world of pro wrestling more often than not. Taz has made his podcast his number one priority since leaving his TNA commentating position in 2015.
Taz was arguably the most over performer in ECW during the late-'90s, winning the promotion's world title on two occasions. He would leave for WWE in late 1999, however, shortly after ECW got a national cable deal on TNN. His career in WWE never hit the heights it did in ECW, and he transitioned to commentating in 2001. He had an eight-year commentating run in WWE, before signing with TNA from 2009-2015.
8 Masato Tanaka
Masato Tanaka will keep wrestling until his body literally can't do it anymore. In fact, the 44-year-old just won the Zero1 promotion's heavyweight championship in Japan.
Tanaka had been a big star for Pro Wrestling NOAH in recent years, but left the company at the end of 2015.
He first made a name for himself in 1993 in the Frontier Martial Arts (FMW) promotion in Japan. FMW was ECW even before ECW was ECW. Barbed wire matches, exploding ring matches and similar gimmicks were already commonplace for Tanaka before he started wrestling for ECW in 1998.
Tanaka and Mike Awesome would engage in a feud that took place in both ECW and FMW. Tanaka would defeat Awesome to win the ECW world championship in 1999. Don't expect him to retire anytime soon.
7 Terry Funk
72-year old Terry Funk (shown above in a 2016 WWE segment with Dean Ambrose) first retired from wrestling in 1997. The retirement didn't take too long. As of 2017, it has been a year and a half since Funk last wrestled, so perhaps this time he really will stay retired.
His last official match was at the All-Star Tribute to Lance Russell show in Jackson, Tennessee on October 24th 2015. He lost the match to Jerry Lawler via DQ. His previous match before that had been a year earlier in the legendary Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, where he teamed with Mil Mascaras and Masakatsu Funaki and defeated Kaz Hayashi, Nosawa Rongai, and Yoshiaki Fujiwara.
In 2013, Funk wrestled what was advertised as his last match tagging with Tommy Dreamer at House of Hardcore III. Funk and Dreamer defeated Lance Storm and Sean Waltman that night.
In all likelihood, Terry Funk will never disappear completely from wrestling while he is still alive.
6 New Jack
If you can believe this, the picture above was posted by New Jack in March of 2017. The woman in the picture is believed to be his wife, Jennifer Young.
54-year-old Jerome Young, better known to wrestling fans as New Jack technically announced his retirement in 2013, but he still wrestles frequently.
After ECW folded, New Jack wasn't exactly someone WWE was interested in. He toiled on the independent scene and competed with XPW until that company folded in 2009. In 2003 and 2004, New Jack would occassionally wrestle for TNA, and aside from forming a popular tag team with Shark Boy, he did not do too much with the company.
Young has helped pay the bills over the years by taking part in numerous shoot interviews that have been sold on DVD. His unique form of storytelling tends to translate to high DVD sales.
46 year old Yoshihiro Tajiri just recently came to terms with WWE on his release. He had signed with the company to take part in the 2016 Cruiserweight Classic, and then agreed to be a part of the new cruiserweight division on 205 Live. A knee injury sidelined him for a period, but according to Tajiri, WWE opted not to put him on TV after doctors cleared him to return. He said that his age played a role. The picture above is of his last appearance in WWE in 2017.
The Japanese Buzzsaw has almost been wrestling for 25 years now. Tajiri was one of the first ECW talents signed by WWE after the company closed in 2001. He would play a big role in the company's cruiserweight division from 2001 to 2004, winning the title thrice. He also won the WWE Light Heavyweight title on one occasion.
4 Joey Styles
45-year-old Joseph Carmine Bonsignore, better known to wrestling fans as Joey Styles, appears to be taking a sabbatical from pro wrestling. He is shown above in 2017 posing for a picture with Bully Ray and Tommy Dreamer at the former's wrestling school.
It's been a weird year for Joey Styles. He had been working with WWE since 2005, first as a commentator and then later in the company's digital media department. WWE released Joey in August of 2016, not long after he made disparaging comments about the company's booking of Roman Reigns. Styles then signed on to be the announcer for several independent promotions. Unfortunately, you can't take the ECW out of Joey Styles, and he ended up getting sacked after making a joke that some found distasteful while he was doing commentary for an Evolve show.
3 Tommy Dreamer
Tommy Dreamer is still Tommy Dreamer. He's put on a little bit more weight and has a double-chin now, but he's the same guy.
Dreamer went to WWE after ECW folded in 2001, and he'd stay there until 2010. Not many are aware of this but Dreamer was actually retired by Zack Ryder on a late 2009 episode of WWE's revamped ECW brand. Ryder defeated Dreamer in a match where if Dreamer lost, he would be forced to retire.Dreamer went to TNA for a couple of years afterwards, which is pretty much the same as retiring.
Since 2012, Tommy Dreamer has been running the House of Hardcore promotion. While the shows often feature ECW alumni, it has become its own promotion, distinct from the past. The promotion has run 23 events since 2017, and is planning a tour of Australia this fall.
As of this writing it has been almost 8 months since Raven wrestled a match. The in-ring career of 52-year-old Scott Levy might be over. Currently, Raven is the host of his own podcast The Raven Effect, which is part of Chris Jericho's podcast network.
Raven left ECW shortly after the Barely Legal PPV in 1997. He went to WCW for two years, until he'd had enough of that company and returned to ECW from 1999-2000. He'd abandon ship again before the company folded however, signing with WWE in 2000.
After having been released from WWE in 2003, Raven had a 7 year run in TNA. He would win the promotion's world title on one occasion, and also won the King of the Mountain match in 2005.
1 The Sandman
Shown above at the latest House of Hardcore event, 53-year old Jim Fullington, aka the Sandman, is still going strong on the indies.
Being in his fifties doesn't stop Sandman from wrestling, however. He usually just wrestles for promotions in the northeastern area, or events featuring numerous ECW alumni. He's been a regular with Tommy Dreamer's House of Hardcore promotion since 2012. In December he teamed up with Tommy Dreamer at an HOH event and defeated the team of Mikey and Kenny from the Spirit Squad.
His son Tyler, who was featured in a mid-'90s Sandman vs. Raven feud, grew up to be a wrestler as well, although he has yet to find much success. Wrestling under the name "Twisted Sand" he has wrestled on a few indie shows over the years.