ECW's successes often centered around wrestlers that were overlooked by WWE and WCW. Most wrestlers wanted to work for the major promotions in the 90s, with the big contracts offered, but not every talent would be used well there. Paul Heyman found under-utilized talents and pushed them to the best of his ability. However, many great WWE performers throughout the years would have been good fits for ECW too.
The modern talent has been inspired by the smaller promotion, and quite a few stars would have thrived if they wrestled for them back then. We will look at some of the names from the late 90s to the present day that would have done great things in ECW. Let's find out which performers would have thrived under Heyman.
10 Daniel Bryan
The technical wrestling element of ECW is often overlooked. Performers like Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko and Lance Storm would see their first major break in North America come from ECW, before moving on to bigger promotions.
Daniel Bryan is among the greatest technical wrestlers of all time and would have fitted in perfectly in ECW. The success of Bryan in the independent promotion Ring of Honor showed he could adapt to the wilder crowds. Bryan would have been a main-event player in ECW.
9 Kurt Angle
The legendary Kurt Angle almost started his career in ECW, shortly after winning his gold medal in the Olympics. Taz invited Angle to the show, but a controversial angle of Raven attempting to crucify The Sandman angered him, leading him to leave the show.
WWE signed Angle and he became one of the top stars in wrestling history. Angle could have been a massive star for ECW if they were able to win him over. The in-ring intensity of Angle would have created magic in ECW.
8 Luke Harper
Paul Heyman always loved some of the more physically-impressive wrestlers that could surprise fans with their other skills. Bam Bam Bigelow, Mike Awesome and many others found success in ECW. Luke Harper is another bigger wrestler who could mix it up with opponents of any style.
Harper's talent makes him one of the more graceful taller wrestlers in the industry today. WWE is not doing much with him, though, and he may join another promotion when his contract eventually expires. Harper would have been an upper-level star in ECW, given his skill-set and size.
7 Samoa Joe
The dominant style of Samoa Joe would have made him a massive star in ECW. Joe made his name in Ring Of Honor, with a character similar to Taz’s in ECW.
The talent of Joe makes him stand out more than Taz, and his ECW run would have been quite successful. An undefeated streak for Joe would have made him arguably the hottest star in ECW. What a shame we didn't get to see that play out.
Cesaro remains one of the most underrated wrestlers in WWE today. The company never pushes him to the top, despite his flashes of brilliance. Cesaro would have been a perfect fit in ECW, with his rugged style, impressive strength and ability to adapt to any style of opponent.
Paul Heyman tried to help him as a manager in 2014, but the booking did them no favors. Cesaro’s recent appearance in NXT UK impressed, with a classic match that shows he still does great things in front of the kinds of smaller and wilder crowds ECW was known for.
5 The Rock
The Rock's early heel run in WWE showcased just how easy it was for him to get heat. Rock delivered unbelievable promos that tapped into his heel persona, utilizing all of his natural charisma. Starting his career in an environment like ECW could have been even more fun.
Imagine the reaction from the ECW crowds, with a heel character like The Rock running them down! The freedom of a promotion like ECW would have allowed him to go even further. If Shane Douglas could find such success as a top heel in ECW, Rock would have been an icon in the promotion.
4 Jeff Hardy
The extreme wrestling style of Jeff Hardy would have fitted in perfectly in ECW. Jeff is never one to shy away from a dangerous spot and seems to have more fun in the wild matches. ECW would have been an ideal place for him to start his career, since it took him a few years to get going in WWE.
The catalog of matches involving weapons like tables, ladders, chairs and everything in between would see Hardy become associated with extreme bouts. ECW fans would have enjoyed Jeff just as they championed Rob Van Dam, given the similarity in their approaches.
Lana is currently off WWE television, with her future up in the air. Her look, personality and managing have been her strongest suits on WWE television. Most prior eras would have featured her as a bigger star, but WWE now wants better in-ring workers for the women’s division.
ECW would have pushed Lana to the moon if she was in the promotion. The women in ECW were primarily spotlighted as managers, with their personality and looks being utilized in storylines. Lana checks all the boxes for what would have been a huge ECW run.
2 CM Punk
The relationship between CM Punk and Paul Heyman showcase just how much Heyman loved Punk’s independent spirit. Punk started making his name on the indie circuit shortly after ECW went out of business. WWE did hire him for their version of ECW, but Punk would have done better in the real ECW.
The promos, unique in-ring style and innovative character would have allowed Punk to dominate the ECW landscape. Punk’s character and style could have made him the top heel in the promotion, given how much it clashed with the ECW lifestyle back in the late 90s.
1 Dean Ambrose
Dean Ambrose’s background as a hardcore wrestler gave him a taste of the style that he enjoyed. The first and only AEW match of his run so far came in a gruesome battle against Joey Janela. Ambrose clearly loved the option of getting dangerous with weapons in his matches, something ECW was known for in the 90s.
Ambrose's character work and promo skills add another dynamic that could give him success in any promotion. ECW stands out as the one most suited for him in the 90s, since he could cut superb promos and have highly entertaining matches with weapons. Ambrose would have been world champion material in the smaller promotion.