ECW on TNN
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|ECW on TNN|
|Created by||Paul Heyman|
|Starring||See Extreme Championship Wrestling alumni|
|Opening theme||"This is Extreme!" by Harry Slash & The Slashtones|
|Country of origin||USA|
|No. of episodes||59|
|Location(s)||Burt Flickinger Center, Buffalo NY|
|Camera setup||Multicamera setup|
|Running time||60 minutes (with commercials)|
|Original network||The Nashville Network|
|Original release||August 27, 1999– October 6, 2000|
ECW on TNN was an American professional wrestling television program that aired on The Nashville Network (TNN, now Spike). Created by Paul Heyman, the owner of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), it presented original ECW matches on Friday nights and was the only national television program in ECW's history. It debuted on August 27, 1999 - five years to the date (and almost to the exact minute) that Shane Douglas threw down the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and rechristened ECW (then known as Eastern Championship Wrestling) as Extreme Championship Wrestling. The final episode aired on October 6, 2000.
In 1999, Heyman signed a three-year contract with TNN in the hopes of expanding national awareness of his company. Prior to ECW on TNN, ECW shows were only televised via syndication. For its part, TNN added ECW to its "Friday Night Thrill Zone" lineup in an attempt to help build on the increase in teenager/young male viewership that RollerJam had brought to the network. Into 2000, the network claimed a vast improvement in the young male demographic on Friday nights due to ECW's addition.
Early signs of a rocky relationship between ECW and TNN came when TNN president David Hall implied that the program would be "toned down" from the usual ECW fare – which emphasized more violent matches and explicit content than that offered by the two leading professional wrestling companies of the day, the WWF and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). On WWE's The Rise and Fall of ECW DVD, Heyman alleged that the requests from TNN to tone down ECW's content were excessive.
Another source of contention was the lack of original programming. Unsatisfied with the first TNN shoot, Heyman instead chose to air a compilation of promos and old ECW matches designed to act as an introduction to the company for those who had never before heard of it or seen it. ECW commentator Joey Styles said that "the network crapped on" this episode, and ECW wrestler Tommy Dreamer's recollection supported this assertion.
The network also had reportedly placed a great deal of importance on ECW retaining top star Taz. Initially, the company announced that he'd signed a lucrative deal to remain with the company. However, the deal fell through shortly thereafter and Taz signed a contract with the WWF just months after the show's premiere.
On Rise and Fall, former ECW producer Ron Buffone stated that TNN provided ECW with a very small budget to produce the program while simultaneously asking for high-quality production on par with WCW Monday Nitro and WWF Raw. Heyman and former ECW wrestlers also alleged a lack of promotion of the show by the network specifically and by its parent company Viacom in general.
ECW on TNN's run lasted thirteen-and-a-half months. As part of its effort to rebrand itself The National Network, TNN acquired WWF programming as part of an extensive WWF-Viacom agreement. The WWF's RAW Is WAR debuted on TNN on September 25, 2000. Despite brief rumors that the two shows might co-exist on TNN for an extended period of time, ECW on TNN was canceled only two weeks later. Paul Heyman stated on the Rise and Fall of ECW DVD that he felt that the ECW show was aired as a test run for TNN to see how wrestling would perform on the channel.
- Hoping to Put a Hold on Viewers, TNN to Air Friday Night Wrestling, Daily News (New York), July 1, 1999, p. 110
- Wrestling has choke-hold on cable fans; WWF, WCW, ECW score with young male target market, Advertising Age, April 10, 2000, p. S20
- Fighting Words From a Bantamweight, The Washington Post, July 2, 1999, p. C07
- Forever Hardcore (DVD). Franchise Promotions, LLC. 2005.
- The Rise and Fall of ECW (DVD). WWE. 2004.
- TNN PINS DOWN TAZ: Cabler secures grappler on eve of ECW debut, Daily Variety, August 13, 1999, p.4
- TV Show Was a One Shot Deal, The Toronto Sun, September 30, p. S15