In the 1990’s Paul Heyman revolutionized the world of professional wrestling with Extreme Championship Wrestling, and gave life to a number of great talents that went on to great careers in pro wrestling.
However, how many of these great talents would have made the jump to the main stream without Heyman and ECW?
On the podcast the “T.J. McAloon and the Sports Half Hour,” I talked about this topic with some of my latest guests. Some of them would agree that someone like Tommy Dreamer would have never made it to the WWE or TNA without ECW, while someone like Rob Van Dam didn’t need ECW to catch on with a major company.
However, what about some of these great ECW talents that used their fame to score deals with WWE, TNA and WCW?
At first look, Taz isn’t your prototypical pro wrester. He’s 5'9" and lacks an over-the-top personality that couldn’t connect with a WWE crowd. However, with Heyman and ECW, Taz was transformed into the “Human Suplex Machine.”
The transformation of him as the wrestler and formation of “Team Taz” with Bill Alfonzo, shot him into the top of the card as a must-see wrestler. His stiff style won fans over and helped him into a contract with the WWE.
His debut at Madison Square Garden at the 2000 Royal Rumble was the pinnacle of his career and may not have happened if it wasn’t for Heyman and ECW. But, because of what Heyman was able to do for Taz, it propelled him into the biggest wrestling company in the world and then into his current announcing career with TNA.
The Dudley Boys
The Dudley Boys are the most decorated tag team in professional wrestling. No matter where they have gone in the world, they have come away as champions. In their long history as a tag team, they were about to become multiple-time WWF/E Tag Team Champions, multiple-time ECW Tag Team Champions and multiple-time TNA Tag Team Champions.
However, before ECW, they were just a good tag team that had great chemistry but lacked interview skills.
With Heyman and ECW, the Dudley Boys turned into the Dudley Family. It seemed like every week on ECW Television, the family gained new members like Sign Guy Dudley, Chubby Dudley, Joel Gertner, Spike Dudley (also known as Lil Spike Dudley) and Big D Dudley.
ECW gave Buh Buh Ray and D-Von the chance to become great heels in the ring and on the microphone. Without the promotion, this tag team may have still came to the WWE, but they may have never been the dominant force in the early 2000’s.
Raven is known for having one of the smartest minds in the world of professional wrestling. Before ECW, Raven had a run in the WCW as a surfer named Scotty Flaming before jumping to the WWE as the manager, Johnny Polo.
However, after a failed stint with the company managing such wrestlers as Adam Bomb and The Quebecers, he emerged in the mid-90‘s as the dark anti-hero character in ECW named Raven.
Raven was one of the most recognizable characters in ECW, as everything about him was the exact opposite as to what both WCW and the WWE was doing at the time. His dark promos and twisted storylines got him noticed by WCW who signed him to a large deal to bring his ECW persona to their company.
After walking out on WCW, Raven was brought on by the WWE to carry their Hardcore Division.
Before ECW, Raven was a wrestler with failing gimmicks who couldn’t stick with the WWE or WCW. However, after Heyman and ECW, Raven found a gimmick that he could live on for the rest of his wrestling career.
These three wrestlers are just the tip of the large iceberg that was ECW. There are a number of other wrestlers that may have never made it to the biggest promotions in the world without the company.
However, these three wrestlers benefited the most from their time working for Heyman and ECW.
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