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The 20 Best Wrestlers That Defined ECW

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Loveleen Kaur / ONE37pm

Hey everyone! It's The Wrestling Classic here with another list for ONE37pm.

This month we are going to get extreme as we take a look back at Extreme Championship Wrestling. ECW was the rebel company that revolutionized professional wrestling in the 90s. Paul Heyman was the mastermind behind the revolution breaking all the rules and the leader of creating that us against them mentality in his locker room. ECW was the company that gave a lot of popular stars their first big break, allowed established stars a platform to reinvent themselves, introduced fans to different styles of wrestling, and influenced the other two mainstream companies (WWE & WCW) to change in many ways.

Growing up on the WWF and WCW products, I wasn’t very exposed to the ECW product. I did however become aware of the company due to the crossover stuff they did with the WWF in 1996 and 1997. I also would catch it on television those nights I stayed up past 12 AM but it was so non-family-friendly, that I felt like I was breaking the rules just watching it at my young age.

As I got older and was able to find more ECW online and through the magazines, the more fascinated I became with it. That all being said, this list is coming from someone who didn’t religiously watch ECW in his prime but someone who watched it back and grew to appreciate it. This is a list of wrestlers I immediately think of when I reminisce about ECW from my perspective.

I also wanted to share a list of honorable mentions to a handful of wrestlers that either got their first break or made an impact in ECW but I feel defined other companies more than ECW. Superstars such as Terry Funk, Mick Foley, Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Bam Bam Bigelow, Lance Storm, Tajiri, and Chris Candido. Also a huge shoutout to Paul Heyman, Tod Gordon, and Joey Styles.

Be sure to share this article and debate with your friends. Also, be sure to let me know how you feel about this list on Instagram or Twitter.

20. Justin Credible

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Justin Credible

Justin Credible was in ECW from 1997 till its final days. During that time, he became the ECW Tag Team Champion two times with Lance Storm as one half of the Impact Players and one-time ECW World Champion. Although I knew who Aldo Montoya was prior to knowing Justin Credible, I didn’t realize he was the one portraying the WWE character. That being said, my earliest memory of Justin Credible was seeing him ECW. He was truly an impact player (pun intended) for the final years of the company.

19. Super Crazy

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Solo Wrestling

A lot of you might remember Super Crazy from his short time in WWE as part of the Mexicools or the ECW One Night Stand shows, but I first remember seeing him in ECW. He was this cruiserweight superstar who had memorable feuds with Tajiri and Little Guido to name a few. He also became a one-time ECW Television Champion during his time there. When I think of Super Crazy, I definitely think of ECW and the Meixcools…but mainly ECW. 

18. Mike Awesome

Mike Awesome with Paul Heyman
WWE

Mike Awesome made his name in Japan for FMW after having brief runs in companies in North America. However, after some convincing from ECW superstar and friend Sabu, he decided to give North America a shot coming to work for ECW. He would come through for multiple stints with the company and even continued his feud from Japan with Masato Tanaka in the United States at the promotion. In 1999 he returned to ECW for its final stretch winning the ECW World Title twice with manager Judge Jeff Jones in his corner and the Tag Team Championship once with Raven

17. Jerry Lynn

Jerry Lynn
WWE

Jerry Lynn started wrestling in 1988 making appearances in WWE and having a stint in WCW under a mask as Mr. JL. However, when the name Jerry Lynn comes up I think of ECW and his great matches in that promotion. Especially his legendary matches during his feud with Rob Van Dam. Lynn would even become the ECW World Champion defeating Justin Credible. Although we would continue to see Lynn in WWE, TNA, and ROH once ECW doors closed, it never hit the same level as his run in ECW.

16. 2 Cold Scorpio

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Wrestling Observer

I’ll admit that the first time I saw 2 Cold Scorpio, he was Flash Funk. It wasn’t until I get older and discovered his work outside of the WWE that I started to appreciate 2 Cold Scorpio as a worker. If I had only ever known him as Flash Funk I would have been disappointed. Scorpio was a four-time ECW Television Champion and one-time Tag Team Champion with Sandman. He feuded with all the top talent and had some of his best matches in the promotion.

15. The Eliminators

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WWE

Perry Saturn and John Kronus were working in Japan when they caught the eye of ECW booker Paul Heyman in 1995. They had lengthy violent rivalries with the Pitbulls, The Gangstas, and The Dudleys. They would become the tag team champions on three occasions during the ECW run. The Eliminators, similar to the rest of the tag teams in ECW were innovative and had a distinct presentation but what made them really stand out was their high impact style and that Total Elimination finisher.

14. FBI (Full Blooded Italians)

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Slam Wrestling

The Full Blooded Italians had to be one of my favorite acts in ECW. The FBI started in 1996 when JT Smith started believing he was an Italian after a concussion and aligned with Val Puccio. Eventually, Little Guido joined them and the group would expand more with Tracy Smothers. Tommy Rich, Big Guido, Sal E Graziano and Tony Mamaluke. There would be a handful of other temporary members at times too.

The running gag was that most of them weren’t even Italian but they would act like stereotypical Italian Americans by doing the hand gestures, praising famous Italians, and making not-to-subtle mafia references. The group would win the Tag Team titles twice and cross over to WCW and WWE.

13. Steve Corino

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Twitter (@WrestlingIsKing)

The “King of Old School” immediately made his presence felt as soon as he hit the scene in ECW in 1998. He entered the company as a manager who would insult the hardcore wrestlers and even crashed a Limp Bizkit concert. Eventually, he would begin to wrestle and had a memorable Bullrope match against “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes at Living Dangerously. Corino captured the ECW World Championship in November of the year 2000. Although he would have a great run in ROH, it was his time in ECW that put him on the map.

12. bWo (Blue World Order)

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WWE

I grew up on WCW and we all pretended to be the nWo on the playground with our friends as children. Therefore when I first came across the Blue World Order on ECW television, I was instantly amused. Stevie Richards and Blue Meanie were members of Raven’s Nest. Along with Nova, they would parody many popular acts.

After a suggestion from Bubba Ray, they began parodying the New World Order. Nova would become “Hollywood Nova,” Meanie would become “Da Blue Guy” and Stevie would become “Big Stevie Cool.” The popular act ran from 1996 to 1998 but made sporadic appearances in the WWE, TNA, and other promotions.

11. Rhyno

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Rhyno hit the ECW scene in 1999 as this unstable, violent, aggressive, psychotic powerhouse who thrived in chaos and brutality. Rhyno immediately got into a lengthy feud with Sandman that would continue until ECW closed its doors. He would also become a two-time Television Champion and by early 2000 he won the World Championship.

Rhyno would be the final World Champion and Television Champion before the company folded. Although Rhyno’s time in ECW was short, he really made a name for himself in the final years, which allowed him to find success in both WWE and Impact in the years to follow.

10. New Jack

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Nick Nunnally

I want to start this off by saying if you haven’t watched the “Dark Side of the Ring” episode on New Jack, please do. Jack was notorious for his dangerous bumps, shooting in the ring, and his stiff hardcore style of wrestling. New Jack showed up in ECW in 1995 as one half of “The Gangstas” with Mustafa Saed. They would have an unforgettable feud with Public Enemy.

The Gangstas would win the tag team titles on two occasions and Jack had an additional reign with former rival John Kronus. New Jack was unpredictable and became a fan attraction. He also blurred the lines between reality and fiction with a handful of infamous moments such as the Mass Transit Incident.

9. Mikey Whipwreck

Mikey Whipwreck
Wrestling Examiner

Mikey Whipwreck started off on the ring crew but made his in-ring debut in 1994 as ECW’s ultimate underdog who won the hearts of all the fans and eventually every championship title in the company. Whipwreck won the World Championship once, the Television Championship twice, and the Tag Team Championship 2 times with Cactus Jack and Tajiri.

He was also voted the “Rookie of the Year” by the Wrestling Observer readers in 1994. He would work with names such as Steve Austin, RVD, and Mick Foley (who helped train him) a ton during his run with ECW. Although he had a brief stint in WCW in 1999, most people will always think of ECW when Mikey Whipreck's name is mentioned and vice versa.

8. The Dudley Brothers

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Ring The Damn Bell

The Dudley Brothers were a comedic group that claimed to all be sons of “Big Daddy” Dudley although they all had obvious differences in appearances and race.

This was explained by them all having different mothers due to their father being an unfaithful traveling salesman. The group of brothers consisted of Dudley Dudley, Bick Dick Dudley, Dances with Dudley, and Snot Dudley. Chubby Dudley. Sign Guy Dudley, Bubba Ray Dudley, D-Von Dudley, and Spike Dudley. They all had a backstory and unique qualities.

It wasn’t until D-Von joined the brothers that they would become less comedic and more serious. Eventually, the Dudley Brothers became the Dudley Boyz after many of the members left the company. Bubba and D-Von would go on to win the Tag Team Titles a record-setting eight times. They could antagonize the live crowd to the point where it almost started riots and even turned on the runt of the pack Spike Dudley.

Those damn Dudleys though...would you expect anything less?

7. Shane Douglas

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WWE

Most wrestling historians and hardcore fans will recall the famous promo where Shane Douglas dropped the NWA Championship claiming the promotion to be dead while proclaiming the ECW Championship as the real important World Championship. To many, this was the beginning of the new ECW. The Franchise reached levels of success in ECW that he didn’t reach in any other promotion.

Douglas was a four-time ECW Champion and two-time ECW Television Champion. He formed two incarnations of the “Triple Threat” faction. Shane had the most combined days as ECW Champion and the longest single reign with the championship too. He really was the Franchise of ECW.

6. Raven

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WWE

I first saw Raven in WCW and was instantly intrigued with the character. When getting the chance to go back and watch his run in ECW, it made me appreciate him so much more. Raven capitalized on the popularity of grunge culture at the time creating a persona of a depressed sociopath who was philosophical and intelligent.

They were able to tell so many great stories with the Raven character with Tommy Dreamer, Sandman, and even the members of the Raven's Nest. He won the ECW World Championship on two occasions and the ECW Tag Team Titles on four occasions with three different partners including one time with his long-time rival Tommy Dreamer.

My mind was blown when I found out that Raven and Johnny Polo were the same person but whatever. "Quote the raven…nevermore."

5. The Sandman

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Wade Keller / PWTorch

Before “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was guzzling beers on WWE television, there was the Sandman in ECW. Sandman started off as a surfer with his wife Peaches in his corner but eventually switched up to an edgier character closer to who he really was...this was the Sandman we all grew to love.

Sandman would enter through the crowd to “Metallica” playing, smoking a cigarette, drinking beer, and wielding a Singapore cane. He was involved in many unforgettable storylines and moments such as the infamous cane whipping of Tommy Dreamer. Sandman was a five-time ECW World Champion and a one-time Tag Team Champion. He embodied everything that ECW was all about.

4. Sabu

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WWE

Growing up there weren’t many wrestlers on the scene that looked like me with a middle eastern/south Asian appearance and then I saw Sabu. Sabu was this scarred-up wild man related to The Sheik that had no disregard for his own well-being. My first exposure to Sabu were the times he appeared on WCW and that time when he fell off the Monday Night Raw logo when the ECW talent invaded WWE. He had many memorable feuds with Taz, RVD, Shane Douglas, and Terry Funk.

The mad man was a two-time ECW World Champion, a one-time FTW World Champion, a one-time ECW Television Champion, and three-time ECW Tag Team Champion, twice being with RVD and once with Taz. He was notorious for table spots and lived up to his nickname of being the homicidal, genocidal, suicidal, and death-defying maniac. 

3. Taz

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Twitter (@WrestlingIsKing)

He entered ECW as the Tazmaniac in 1993. Although he had a fair share of success, everything changed after a bad neck injury. When Taz returned he slowly turned heel with an entirely different look while being more angry and aggressive. He would focus more on mat wrestling and suplexes, thus becoming the “Human Suplex Machine.”

Taz would have a dominant run moving forward staying near the top of the card the entire time. He was a two-time ECW World Champion, two-time Television Champion, three-time Tag Team Champion, and even introduced his FTW Championship. Taz would remain in the industry working in WWE, TNA and now even AEW but nothing compares to his ECW run. Beat him if you can and survive if he lets you.

2. Rob Van Dam

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WWE

Rob Van Dam was one of my favorite wrestlers growing up. I remember when RVD first started appearing on WWE television being called “Mr. Monday Night” turning on ECW to embrace the WWE. I wanted to know everything about him and it is one of the main reasons I wanted to discover more about this Extreme Championship Wrestling promotion.

RVD had a laid-back personality that you could relate to and an unorthodox high flying style that made you not want to take your eyes off of him. They didn’t call him the “Whole FN Show” for no reason. He had unforgettable matches and rivalries with the likes of Jerry Lynn and Sabu. Van Dam would win the ECW Tag Team Titles twice with Sabu and had the longest reign as the ECW Television Champion. Although Rob Van Dam has succeeded so much in his post ECW career, he always waved the ECW flag.

RVD was influential in the “ECW One Night Stand” events we got in 2005 and 2006. 

1. Tommy Dreamer

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Tommy Dreamer may just be the heart and soul of ECW. It didn’t matter what black t-shirt Tommy Dreamer wore in his matches, I always envisioned it saying ECW even if it didn’t. Originally playing a pretty boy gimmick, the fans didn’t really embrace Dreamer. It wasn’t until he endured the pain from the ten lashes he received from Sandman’s Singapore cane that the fans began to root for Dreamer. Tommy would go on to reinvent himself as the “Innovator of Violence” who was someone who reveled in violence and brutality to keep up with the extreme nature of the rest of the maniacs in the locker room.

He would have personal yet memorable rivalries with Sandman, Raven, and The Dudley Boyz. He would stay with ECW till the bitter end but not without becoming the ECW World Champion on one occasion and a three-time ECW Tag Team Champion with three different partners. He was a top guy in the company and the evolution of his character was documented in this promotion.

If any single person defines and represents ECW to me, it would be Tommy Dreamer. 

I hope you all enjoyed this list of wrestlers that defined ECW. Tell me if you disagree and let me know what you think over social media. Ya dig? Oooh Yeah!

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