Way back when, Extreme Championship Wrestling, or ECW for short, was known for its chair-swinging hardcore freaks. The Land of Extreme. Innovative athletes and brutally hardcore matches. Pushing the envelope.
Fast-forward. ECW is killed by bankruptcy, lying dormant in the WWE vaults for five years. Then, in 2006, Vince McMahon revives the brand, bringing it to Sci-Fi every Tuesday night.
But things aren't the same. Very few "originals" are around and the tone of the product isn't the same. Disqualifications? That's not extreme. Pyro and big video screens? Hardly extreme. But it's time for us to accept the truth: ECW, the real ECW, is long dead and buried.
Oh, and this ECW is actually pretty good.
The uproar was loud and still rings to this day. ECW isn't ECW. This is disgracing the ECW name.
McMahon really didn't have a choice. If he kept the old vision and Paul Heyman, people would complain that they'd seen it. Any change would be met with "this isn't the same". He couldn't win.
So Vince did the smart thing: he made it a breeding ground for future stars. He gives them a chance to show their stuff in the ring and build up confidence on the mic. Without ECW, would CM Punk have budded into a World Champion?
Now, we have ECW to thank for not only Punk, but WWE Tag Team Champions the Miz and John Morrison, Colin "Whipwreck" Delaney, Evan Bourne, Kofi Kingston, and more. Not to mention this has been the home to under-used stars like Kane, Shelton Benjamin, and Matt Hardy.
Despite going in a different direction, ECW stayed true to its original creation in a way. The old ECW was a "minor league" of sorts—a breeding ground for stars before they bolted to the WWF or WCW.
Sandman, Mick Foley, 2 Cold Scorpio, Raven, Chris Benoit, Malenko, Jericho, Rey Mysterio, Psicosis, Dudleyz, Taz, Mike Awesome, Sabu, etc. Today, it's no different, though instead of jumping to a whole new company, they are merely switching brands.
Another thing the new ECW has very much in common with the old is that they generally put on superior matches. ECW, despite its hardcore style, could put on a clinic of a match as well.
So to all those who complain and say that this incarnation of ECW isn't as good as the original ECW, you're right. Then again, it's not trying to be. It just is what it is: the home to future stars.