Not many companies get to die four times over, but Extreme Championship Wrestling has had that honor… so far.
The incredibly influential wrestling company was the place that hardcore fans flocked to in the mid-to-late 90s. It blew everything away that the WWF and WCW were producing, with innovative wrestling, cool music and mature storylines.
Sure, you could watch Doink and The Repo Man in the WWF, or you could check out Sandman and Raven in ECW.
The company was unable to compete with the finances of the big leagues, and soon lost nearly every star they had (seriously, Raven, Tazz, Mike Awesome, Shane Douglas, The Dudley Boyz, Eddie Guerrero, Public Enemy, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio, Sandman, Psicosis, Mick Foley, Bam Bam Bigelow, Steve Austin, Lance Storm, The Blue Meanie and Stevie Richards were all signed away).
The company folded in 2001, but not without first changing the wrestling landscape forever.
So when did ECW become lame? Well, the company took its first big hit when the WWF bought them out and began the Invasion angle. The problem was that ECW talent wasn’t treated as equals, and in a hugely idiotic moment, Stephanie McMahon became the storyline owner.
After the storyline concluded, the company went away again.
A few years later in 2005, fans were craving more extreme wrestling, and the WWE gave it to them with ECW: One Night Stand. It was a fantastic show that lived up to the high expectations that were set for it.
Due to the success of that pay-per-view, and the following year’s sequel show, the company was brought back full time. Now, the resurrection took place on The SyFy network.
From 2006 to 2010, we saw the legacy of ECW tarnished. While WWE initially showed interest in the company, it eventually gave up. Wrestlers that were the exact opposite of extreme like The Big Show, Kane, The Boogeyman, Bobby Lashley and Chavo Guerrero became featured acts.
Mercifully, the company died, but another company wanted a piece of the pie (or corpse): TNA.
Tommy Dreamer joined TNA, and along with him were several other ex-ECW wrestlers. This ended up culminating in a pay-per-view at Hardcore Justice, which saw the stars of yesteryear once again gather to say goodbye.
The original ECW is and always will be cool, but ECW after 2001 was more extremely embarrassing than anything else.