In the early 1990s, the landscape of sports-entertainment had become littered with cartoonish characters and stale programming. Longtime fans were clamoring for a change. Something more intense. Something more innovative. Something more extreme.
Enter Paul Heyman. In 1993, Tod Gordon handed operations of his small, northeastern promotion to the brash New Yorker with a brilliant mind. Rebranding Eastern Championship Wresting as Extreme Championship Wrestling, Heyman sought to redefine professional wrestling in the same way Nirvana changed rock music. The mad scientist molded the organization into his vision for what sports-entertainment needed to become, and a hardcore revolution was born.
Still, for all of Heyman’s genius, it was ECW’s hardened competitors that drew fans to dingy bingo halls and armories. A dozen years since ECW closed its doors, WWE Classics set out to rank the Top 30 ECW Stars in history with these criteria:
Eligibility began on Aug. 27, 1994, the date that Shane Douglas threw down the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and declared the company was to be known as Extreme Championship Wrestling. The early reigns of Jimmy Snuka and Johnny Hotbody were not taken into account.
Competitors were rated only on their accomplishments while in ECW, so the achievements of Bodydonna Skip in WWE or Hardcore Hak in WCW had no bearing on the placements of Chris Candido and The Sandman.
Rankings were based on everything from championship successes to cultural impact. Unfortunately, with all due respect to Francine, Bill Alfonso, Joel Gertner and the many other personalities who played integral parts in ECW’s success, managers and valets didn’t make the cut.
Now, here are the 30 greatest Superstars in ECW history as written by a team of editors, an “Innovator of Violence,” a WWE Hall of Famer and ”The Extreme Announcer” who saw it all.