The Rise and Fall of ECW
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|The Rise and Fall of ECW|
DVD cover of The Rise & Fall of ECW
|Directed by||Kevin Dunn|
|Produced by||Paul Heyman|
|Written by||Paul Heyman|
The Rise and Fall of ECW is a 2004 direct-to-video documentary produced by World Wrestling Entertainment. It chronicles the history of Philadelphia-based professional wrestling promotion Extreme Championship Wrestling. The documentary features interviews with various performers who worked in the promotion including co-founder and former owner Paul Heyman as well as performers Tazz, Tommy Dreamer, Dawn Marie, Stevie Richards, Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, Lance Storm, Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Rob Van Dam, Rhyno, Nunzio, Spike Dudley, Bubba Ray Dudley and D'Von Dudley. A book with the same title was published by WWE and Pocket Books in 2006 with much of the same information and interviews from the DVD transcribed and included.
Disc 1: Chapters
1. Early ECW - ECW's early days are discussed.
3. Tazz - Tazz talks about how he was brought into ECW.
4. Sabu - Sabu is discussed. Paul Heyman explains how he partly built ECW around Sabu, mainly because people could turn on TV, see Sabu, and go, "that's different", playing off Sabu's reputation in Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling in Japan.
6. The Night The Line Was Crossed - The famous Sabu vs. Shane Douglas vs. Terry Funk three-way dance (the first ever one-on-one-on-one match). This event marked "the return of professional wrestling to North America."
7. Paul Heyman vs. WCW - Paul Heyman's history in WCW is explained and how, after they fired him, he cultivated an anti-WCW attitude that he instilled into his roster. As Tommy Dreamer put it, "Joining WCW was like joining the Taliban, and Eric Bischoff is Satan," in Paul's eyes.
8. Tommy Dreamer - Tommy Dreamer's ECW debut is discussed.
9. The Sandman - The Sandman is discussed. Heyman notes how the audience loved his entrance and antics so much, "his matches became secondary."
10. Sandman and Tommy Dreamer Feud- Paul Heyman discusses how the Sandman/Dreamer feud was revolutionary at the time, mainly due to the fact that it blurred the lines of reality in wrestling. It broke kayfabe in the arena; When Tommy Dreamer and Sandman were brawling backstage babyfaces and heels were shown interacting backstage. It also, however, kept kayfabe, because after Dreamer "accidentally blinded" Sandman, Sandman stayed out of the public eye; his wife would answer their door at home and confirm that Sandman was blind for the duration of the storyline.
11. ECW Evolution - Tommy Dreamer discusses how wrestling was filled with gimmicks in ECW's early days, and how ECW was different from every other company, mainly for targeting adult males, rather than children like WWF and WCW. Paul Heyman discusses how the times were changing in professional wrestling, and that ECW was the first company to try and cater to the current generation.
12. Cactus Jack - Mick Foley recounts how he was traded to ECW from WCW in a talent exchange, and was mainly brought in to wrestle Sabu. Strangely, Foley claims he was brought to ECW to help further a working relationship between ECW and WCW. Tommy Dreamer, however, claims it was not nearly that friendly a trade. He claims he was brought as a result of a lawsuit settlement.
13. Mikey Whipwreck - Paul Heyman explains that he hired Mikey Whipwreck as part of his ring crew. Then, one day, he saw Whipwreck fooling around in the ring, and hired him, but "never gave him an offensive move", causing the fans to get behind him.
14. The Extreme Begins - Paul Heyman says that he knew that he had to get out of the "old school" mentality of pro wrestling. The controversial moment occurred on August 27, 1994, where Shane Douglas threw down the NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt, declared Eastern Championship Wrestling's title to be the ECW World Heavyweight Championship, and spurred ECW's departure from the NWA is discussed
15. Philadelphia - Paul Heyman says that Philadelphia was the perfect place for ECW, because of its famous rowdy fans that WWF and WCW could not get, but ECW managed to attract.
16. The Technical Wrestlers - Explains how wrestlers like Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, 2 Cold Scorpio and Ron Simmons helped establish ECW as the home of better wrestlers than anywhere else, and that it was not just a place to hit people with chairs.
17. Production Value - Long time ECW Producer/Director Ron Buffone discusses how they wanted to create a reality-based product. Paul Heyman says that there was no way to compete with the WWF and WCW production value, so they hid their negatives (ECW's limited TV production budget, pyrotechnics etc.) and showed off the positives (wrestling and interviews).
18. The Fans - Paul Heyman says that fan interaction was a main draw of the product. When they went to the arena, they knew they would be a part of the show, not just spectators to it, and appreciated that.
19. Raven/Tommy Dreamer - Paul Heyman says that he has never seen somebody embrace his character the way Scott Levy embraced the Raven character, and that it inspired him to be more creative. Raven's feud with Tommy Dreamer is discussed.
20. Sabu Gets Fired - Tazz explains that even though he and Sabu were Tag Team Champions, they did not get along backstage. A clip of Paul Heyman announcing that Sabu was fired for no-showing an ECW Tag Title defense in favor of touring with New Japan Pro Wrestling for more money is shown.
21. Tazz Breaks His Neck - Tazz talks about how he broke his neck in a match on July 15, 1995, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he teamed with Eddie Guerrero against Dean Malenko and 2 Cold Scorpio, and then walked into the hospital emergency room with Tommy Dreamer. Tazz says that Paul Heyman paid him his minimum guarantees per his contract every week when he was off TV.
22. Monday Night War - Eric Bischoff claims that despite what Paul Heyman would have you think (that ECW was the first victim of the Monday Night War by having top and irreplaceable talent leave ECW for WCW), WCW never 'raided' ECW. He claims Paul's wrestlers left because they weren't getting paid, and that the athletes knew WCW was a much larger place to showcase their talent. He does though make a fairly interesting point by asking if it was a "raid" on Vince McMahon's part when he took top talent from the local NWA territories in the 1980s because he was starting up a national expansion, and that it was not a "raid" in Vince McMahon's mind or in the minds of anyone employed with World Wrestling Federation at the time. He concludes by saying that the people who left WWF and ECW to come and work for WCW were personal and moral decisions made by the wrestlers themselves, not a raid. Paul Heyman responded by saying "Eric Bischoff is full of shit and like many, never gave ECW the credit that ECW deserved." And that stealing his ideas and his innovations and pawning them off as his own ideas was what put WCW on the map. Curiously, he "praised" Eric for doing so because he was in a ratings war against a rival company and needed the talent and ideas to compete with them. Paul then shrugs and wonders aloud as to why Eric never fessed up and said, "I stole that from ECW." He then added with what appears to be a small smile that they sued WCW over blatant plagiarism "tons of times." Seconds later, Vince McMahon admits that he raided ECW directly contradicting Bischoff's earlier comment, and that WCW did too. He goes on, however, to state that he compensated Paul for hiring his talent, something Eric Bishoff did not do.
23. Lucha Libre! - Paul Heyman says that after WCW stole his talent, he called Konnan, who sent over Rey Misterio Jr. and Psicosis, bringing Lucha Libre to North America. WCW eventually signed them too. Mysterio claims that's how his rising career started, as ECW talent. Heyman claims that he never would have made ECW the success it was without his father being a lawyer, as Heyman was sued "more times than Martha Stewart."
24. Austin Comes to ECW - Steve Austin was fired from WCW (over the phone) and went to ECW where he delivered several anti-WCW tirades.
25. Promos - Ron Buffone and Paul Heyman says that the promos delivered by Steve Austin and Cactus Jack (particularly the latter's "anti-hardcore" remarks) were "the best promos in the history of the business. Bar none."
26. Cactus Jack Leaves ECW - Cactus Jack gives his thanks to the fans before leaving ECW.
27. Tazz Returns - Tazz talks about the transformation of "The Tazmaniac" to "Taz", and his return to ECW. Paul Heyman says Taz brought a "big fight atmosphere" that was missing from pro wrestling. "Taz became our Ultimate Fight Style persona."
28. Sandman/Raven - The legendary Sandman vs. Raven feud is discussed, including Raven brainwashing The Sandman's son Tyler, and The Sandman breaking down and crying. Paul Heyman says it was the most emotional storyline ECW ever did.
29. The bWo - The bWo (Blue World Order) is discussed, and how it was initially just another in a string of parodies of many aspects of pro wrestling, but almost immediately stuck.
30. Beulah and Dreamer - The Beulah McGillicutty pregnancy angle is discussed, and the first ever lesbian angle in wrestling (between Beulah and Kimona Wanalaya). ECW was subsequently removed from almost every TV station they were on.
32. The Crucifixion - The infamous October 26, 1996 "crucifixion" of Sandman (by Raven) is discussed. Kurt Angle explains how he was originally supposed to go to ECW, but left after the incident, threatening legal action if his image was aired on the same broadcast as the crucifixion. Paul Heyman claimed he did not know Raven was going to go that far.
33. The Importance of Pay-Per-View - Tazz says that the only way to expand the company was to get on pay-per-view. Paul Heyman says that the fans were "their army.", and e-mailed PPV stations to get ECW on PPV. The PPV networks almost didn't put ECW on PPV, because they thought ECW was real.
35. The PPV is Back On! - Paul Heyman negotiates with the PPV networks, while ECW's fans bombard the same networks with e-mails and phone calls, to reinstate ECW's first PPV to the 1997 schedule.
36. WWE Co-Promotion - Vince McMahon said that an ECW co-promotion was good business for all sides. Jerry Lawler, barely hiding his contempt for ECW, even condemning them for having pride in themselves ("They actually thought that they were better than us, the WWF"), says that ECW was full of "miniature wrestlers". He questions again why Vince allowed ECW to be on their programming. Vince later goes on to say he himself wasn't quite sure what his mindset at the time was.
38. Barely Legal: Tazz vs. Sabu - Tazz recaps his near year long feud with Sabu, saying it "made" both of them.
39. The Main Event at Barely Legal - Stevie Richards says that he admitted to Terry Funk before the main event that he "didn't know what he was doing here". (He was in the main event.) Paul Heyman says that Terry Funk's ECW World Heavyweight Championship win was the impossible dream coming true. Stevie Richards says that not ten seconds after the PPV went off the air, the transformer blew, and they barely got the whole broadcast on the air. Paul Heyman says that after the show was over, everyone in the company was crying, because they all had a hand in getting them there.
40. Raven Goes to WCW and Jerry Lawler Invades ECW - Paul Heyman feels that Raven leaving to return to WCW (he was Scotty Flamingo in WCW between 1992 and 1993) was mainly a creative disappointment than a business one. Jerry Lawler's "invasion" of ECW was shown. Tommy Dreamer says that the common reaction to Lawler being in the ECW Arena was "How dare Jerry Lawler show up at ECW". After the show ended, Jerry Lawler bolted out of the arena for fear of his safety. Jerry Lawler admits that he honestly thought that ECW was a trash promotion and that it was "Extremely Crappy Wrestling."
41. A Locker Room Mole? - Tod Gordon's supposed activity as a mole is discussed, where he, Bill Alfonso and Terry Taylor attempted to get several ECW wrestlers to go to WCW. It's worth noting that on the alternate documentary Forever Hardcore, this was claimed to have been a big work. On this documentary, however, the ECW alumni refer to it as a real occurrence.
42. The Superstars' Roles - Buh Buh Ray Dudley tells how he came to be in charge of hiring venues for ECW shows. Chris Jericho mentions how Taz's job was to create merchandise, and Tommy Dreamer, Little Guido and D-Von Dudley would ship the T-shirts. Dreamer would also book the shows, Tazz ran ECW's wrestling school, the "ECW House of Hardcore", Stevie Richards ran the fan line, and Dreamer would also collect the money from the concession.
43. Paul Heyman's Creativity - The ECW wrestlers talk about how much of an asset Paul Heyman was, and how accessible he was to his roster. Al Snow is also discussed, including the creation of his infamous mascot "Head."
44. WCW and WWE Imitation - The wrestlers' feel that in 1998 ECW was perhaps the number two wrestling organization in the world. Buh Buh Ray Dudley even felt (and to this day feels) that ECW could have perhaps taken over WCW. Eric Bischoff claims that ECW was never the number two promotion, mainly on the fact that in this time period WCW and WWF were having a back and forth struggle for number one. Vince McMahon admits that he stole several ideas from ECW, but never considered them a threat.
46. The Dudleys: "The Most Hated Tag Team" - The Dudley Boyz and Paul Heyman discuss the time period where the Dudleys would be so hated, they would insult the fans (including accusing a mother of teaching her daughter to perform oral sex, and calling fans epithets like "faggot" and "fat, bald motherfucker"), and start riots. Buh Buh Ray considered the most dangerous moment was at Heat Wave '99. D-Von later said that some of the fans waited in the parking lots after the shows just to say, "No security. Now what do you got?"
47. Financial Woes - The beginning of ECW's darkest days are discussed, where checks were beginning to bounce, (Tommy Dreamer states he wasn't paid for six months) and wrestlers were leaving. The wrestlers called Paul Heyman ECW's greatest asset, but was also its greatest detriment.
48. The TNN deal and Tazz Leaves- ECW's debut on TNN is discussed, and how excited the wrestlers were about it. Vince McMahon recalls congratulating Paul at the time, saying "now you have to change, to appeal to a mainstream audience." Tazz's ECW departure is discussed with mixed feelings (Spike Dudley called his departure demoralizing, while Rob Van Dam considered it as a case, where the individual is growing at a different rate than the company was).
49. The Dudleys Leave ECW - Buh Buh Ray claims that Paul never owed either Dudley any money, but the Dudleys needed to know what they had to gain by staying in ECW. He told Paul "make us want to stay." They even asked for a one dollar raise, but Paul's mindset was "you stay here cause you want to stay here." Feeling that Paul wasn't prepared to make them even a token offer, they jumped to WWF in August 1999.
50. Disappointment with TNN/RVD-"The Whole F'N Show" - (Main Article: ECW on TNN) Despite the fact that ECW was TNN's highest rated program, it had nothing to do with TNN's help. Paul Heyman relates how TNN never aired a commercial for ECW, never gave a newspaper radio ad or a press conference to promote the show. The only time that TNN aired a commercial for ECW was during the show itself. As a parody of their treatment by the network, ECW censored everything from their theme song (citing it was too "demonic") to the word "hate". (They preferred "intense dislike".) ECW's treatment by TNN was another factor in putting ECW out of business. Rob Van Dam is discussed.
51. Mike Awesome Controversy and Tommy Dreamer Wins The Title - Mike Awesome leaving ECW for WCW while still champion is discussed. They then go into Tazz defeating Mike Awesome for the belt, and bringing it to WWF for a while (to help gain the belt and ECW some more exposure) before losing it to Tommy Dreamer.
52. The Demise of ECW - The closure of ECW is discussed. Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff suggest that ECW went under mainly because of the one-dimensional nature of the ECW product, and that it appealed to only a small segment of a national audience, and therefore it was doomed to either go under or remain a small company. Several of the wrestlers stuck with it, but suspected they could never be paid the money they were owed. Even though attendance was high, the wrestlers knew ECW was done. Rhino admits to being in denial about ECW going out of business. Several of the wrestlers felt that their whole world came crashing down. Buh Buh Ray felt that ECW went under because of the violence level, as well as Paul's mismanagement of the company, something many ECW alumni agree with. Paul, however feels that ECW went under because they had no (sympathetic) network television. "That's the only reason." He didn't stop there, saying that if anyone says otherwise is either "dead wrong" or "doesn't know what he is talking about."
53. Paul Heyman Debuts on Raw - Paul Heyman debuts on Raw as an announcer. Paul feels that he had to go to WWF in order to move on, and get on with his life. The wrestlers feel that Paul's dream was to be his own boss, but did not get that opportunity. Vince McMahon feels that Paul Heyman should be commended for everything he accomplished, and that Paul's realization that he had to move on spoke very highly of his character.
Disc 2: Matches and deleted scenes
- This is not a traditional ladder match where the belt is hung above the ring. The match ends in pinfall or submission.
- This match has Tommy Dreamer and Jonathan Coachman on alternate commentary.
- This match has alternate commentary from Michael Cole and Tazz.
- This match has Michael Cole and Rob Van Dam on alternate commentary.
Stevie Richards Apologizes for Leaving ECW
Tazz Seeks Paul Heymans Blessing
Paul Heyman: Travel Agent
In June 2005, the two-disc set became the second best-selling WWE wrestling DVD of all-time, behind WrestleMania 21, and led to the ECW One Night Stand PPV event. As a result of these sales, WWE released an ECW DVD titled Bloodsport - ECW's Most Violent Matches, in February 2006. The Rise and Fall of ECW can be seen on the WWE Network as part of the WWE Beyond The Ring series.
Wrestling Observer Newsletter gave it the award of Best Pro Wrestling DVD of 2005. The success of the DVD led to a One Night Stand Pay Per View event in 2005 which would continue on an annual basis for a couple of years; after One Night Stand 2006, ECW was officially reborn as its own "brand" similar to Raw and Smackdown, although later it distanced itself from the original ECW and continued to operate until 2010 when it was replaced with NXT.