Writer's Note: This is a look back at the original ECW. Some of the videos can and will be graphic.
ECW was one of the most controversial and extreme wrestling promotions that existed. The original ECW was "real wrestling, hardcore wrestling, Philadelphia wrestling" to quote Joey Styles.
With the original ECW you either loved it and thought that it was awesome or you thought that it was insane, terrible wrestling and a disgrace to the business. Personally, I loved everything about ECW.
ECW was a place where every wrestler loved the business and went out into the arena to put on wrestling shows that were unique to ECW. The wrestlers spilled their blood for the business that they loved and cherished. The history of ECW is a story of small beginnings, to great success, to bankruptcy, to rebirth and eventually the final decline.
In this ECW series of articles, I will write about one ECW legend with each article. In this, my first article in the series, I am writing about the man who arguably made ECW what it was in its hay-day.
The man who put ECW on the main-stream map. The man who is the Lifetime ECW World Heavyweight Champion, he is Terry Funk.
ECW, known as Eastern Championship Wrestling, split from NWA. The company was re-named Extreme Championship Wrestling and was now on its own.
Around this time, Terry Funk decided to help ECW and give it some credibility. Terry Funk (along with Dory Funk) wrestled a barbed wire match with The Public Enemy. This would be the start of Terry Funk's meaningful career with ECW.
Funk would become a regular on ECW programming while also wrestling in Japan. In Japan, Funk took part in the King of the Death Match tournament.
During the tournament, Funk went through four extreme rules style matches involving tables, ladders, chairs, barbed wire and everything hardcore. He would go on to wrestle Cactus Jack in the final match of the tourney, where he lost in an Exploding Ring match.
ECW's First Pay-Per-View
On April 13, 1997, ECW held its first PPV. The event was called Barley Legal and it featured Terry Funk vs. Raven for the ECW Championship as its headline match. But to get in the main event, Funk had to defeat Steven Richards and the Sandman in a Three-Way Dance.
Terry Funk defeated Raven for his ECW World Heavyweight Championship. Some other matches on the card for the PPV included; Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm and Taz vs. Sabu.
Born To Be Wired with Sabu
At the ECW show called Born to Be Wired, Terry Funk defended his ECW World Heavyweight Championship against Sabu in a Barbed Wire match. In this match type, the regular ring ropes are replaced with barbed wire. That match lasted just over 20 minutes and featured some great hardcore wrestling.
One of the most memorable moments from the match occurred when Sabu ripped open his bicep. It was clearly visible that this was a serious injury, but Sabu just wrapped it in a towel and continued fighting. Sabu would go on to defeat Funk for the ECW World Heavyweight Championship.
"WrestleFest: 50 Years of Funk" and Retirement
After losing the ECW World Heavyweight Championship, Funk's career started to become less active. He did however, host an event to honor his father and brother, as well as himself. In the main event, Funk took on then WWF World Heavyweight Champion Bret Hart.
Funk lost the match but he was presented with a belt by Paul Heyman that declared he was the ECW Lifetime World Heavyweight Champion.
Stint with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF)
Funk did not stay retired for long. After three months of retirement he began taking independent bookings and eventually ended up in the WWF under the name Chainsaw Charlie.
In the WWF, Funk took on Mick Foley. During the match, Funk and Foley fought into a dumpster. The New Age Outlaws then came out and locked the two inside. They pushed the dumpster off the stage thus igniting their feud.
Funk and Foley took on The New Age Outlaws for the Tag Team Championships at WrestleMania XIV. The match was a dumpster match which Funk and Foley won.
However, The New Age Outlaws claimed that the wrong dumpsters were used so they got a rematch on Raw the next night, The New Age Outlaws won the match.
Funk then had a short feud with Mick Foley before retiring again.
Return to ECW, Retirement and WCW
Funk would return to ECW frequently attacking Tommy Dreamer. This was all to set up for a match between the two stars, but Funk came down ill and was forced to retire yet again.
After a few months he returned to the ring, this time under WCW. Here he won the Hardcore Championship, the United States Championship and was even the WCW Commissioner for some time.
ROH and WWE
After WCW collapsed, Funk went to Ring of Honor (ROH). He was a featured star on the program for a few years and had memorable matches with CM Punk.
In 2006, Funk returned to the WWE for ECW One Night Stand. He involved himself in a feud with Tommy Dreamer and Mick Foley. The match at One Night Stand was a six-man tag match. The teams were Edge, Foley and Lita vs. Dreamer, Funk and Beulah.
Halfway through the match, Foley injured Funk's eye. He was taken to the back to be looked at. He would return to the match with a bloody cloth wrapped over his eye and a flaming 2x4 wrapped in barbed wire. He hit Foley with the 2x4 but Edge, Foley and Lita won the match.
Funk currently wrestles for independent programs and the occasional match. Funk is now 66 years old and still finds time for the business he loves. Funk has made his mark on the wrestling business as he has been inducted into the WWE, WCW, Professional Wrestling, NWA, Hardcore Wrestling and Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame.
Funk has also been in various movies (Beyond the Mat) and various T.V. shows.
This has been the first article of my ECW series. What did you think? Leave your comments, views and ideas for future ECW articles in the comment section.
Thanks for reading.
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