Extreme Championship Wrestling had a different approach to the World Championship than WWE and WCW. Let’s get into what made the champions in ECW so special.
Most ECW Champions Were Simply Relatable
WWE and WCW’s world champions were like rockstars. Sure, we all cheered for them but they were on this elevated stage.
Superheroes, horror movie monsters, behemoths, and superstar athletes made up their champions. ECW
The Environment Was Key
This isn’t to say that WWE and WCW didn’t have relatable champions. DDP was the People’s Champion in the original sense. He was like Dusty Rhodes in the 80s.
Steve Austin was the beer-drinking dude who stayed in fights and raising hell across the county. Mick Foley was the big guy who shouldn’t have made it that far and did through hard work and being likable.
However, both WWE and WCW presented themselves as being big league. As a fan, you had to wait for them to come around to see these relatable champs.
You had to wait for ECW to come around once it expanded but it was still presented as this smaller, grimy place where you could see these guys.
Plus Extreme Championship Wrestling had a definite home base, WWE and WCW were based wherever a large venue was located in that major city.
If you stayed in the tri-state area, you could see this national promotion in-person weekly and see these champions as well.
And let’s be honest, the relatable champions in the larger companies of the 90s were mainstream versions of ECW guys.
Goldberg was Taz without the gritty, in your face intensity, mic skills, or in-ring ability. But he had the size and superstar look.
Austin was a far more charismatic version of The Sandman who was cleaner in the ring. Or you could say he was The Sandman minus cult charisma.
The point is The Sandman was showing up to drink beer and raise hell two years prior to Texas Rattlesnake-stage Austin. He was presenting that tweener, antihero approach before Stone Cold.
ECW’s Storylines Boosted The Champions
You also have the situations these champions were caught up in. The storylines of Extreme Championship Wrestling were like grimy soap operas.
While the stories were exaggerated, they weren’t totally over the top, and most didn’t drag on too long.
There were competitive rivalries over the belt and bloody feuds where someone held the belt and it was an added stake.
Successfully holding on to the title in that feud made that champion particularly dangerous and dominant. Alignments didn’t matter too much if the title was involved in a rivalry.
To be honest, even if the belt was on the line in a feud a wrestler’s alignment didn’t matter in ECW. These guys took things to the extreme! Faces and heels alike used whatever means to hold on to the belt.
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