Wrestling had just become so awful in the early to mid-1990s that I didn't even bother to keep up with the product. In the dark period of professional wrestling that was that time, I have the internet to thank for renewing my fandom when it had grown stagnant in the years prior.
Well, the internet and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW).
When wrestling didn't seem cool, when it seemed outdated and out of touch, Paul Heyman and his motley gang of rapscallions and ruffians were the exact opposite. They were gritty, real, and most of all damn interesting.
Not saddled with the corporate pitfalls that accompanied WWF and WCW, the Philly promotion was able to use "Enter Sandman" by Metallica every time The Sandman made his way to the ring. Raven wore comic book t-shirts, Rob Van Dam used Pantera for his entrance music, and Sabu was the homicidal, suicidal, genocidal maniac.
Hell, Tommy Dreamer seemed to be the most normal one and he loved getting caned!
One of my favorite moments from ECW -- which just about captures everything that was fantastic about the promotion -- was when Spike Dudley -- little brother of The Dudley Boys and runt of the big-boned family -- took on Bam Bam Bigelow.
Take a look.
ECW was about as pitch perfect as a promotion can get for a couple of years in 1995 and 1996. Everything just clicked and even the couple of years after were pretty good.
It wasn't until its dying days that its limitations finally became more apparent. I was lucky enough to see the original ECW as it came through its first, last, and only tour in Texas on July 28, 2000. I still have the ticket stub in all of its faded and nearly illegible glory.
I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for ECW. It made me a wrestling fan again.
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