"The Innovator of ImpaKt !!"

How ECW changed the landscape of Wrestling..
How ECW changed the landscape of the wrestling industry
 
Written by: Curtis Wells

Many current wrestling fans consider Extreme Championship Wrestling of 1996 Wrestling "Nirvana". The now defunct Philadelphia based professional wrestling organization that some say Revolutionized the wrestling business, was in many minds a viable third option amidst the well documented Monday Night Wars fought between the two super powers of the wrestling industry WWF, and WCW.

Now, I will be the first to admit I was a HUGE fan, and follower of the ECW Movement as it were. ECW was a major motivator towards my going into wrestling in the first place. I wanted to be a part of it all. ECW was the main thing on my list of accomplishments I wanted to achieve in this business. Not WWF, but ECW!!

That said. I was a fan on the outside looking in for the better part of ECWs, relatively short, life span. So I decide to follow my dream, I go out, get trained, and get a new understanding for the industry from a completely different perspective. Im now on the inside looking out, and somewhere in there my opinions of ECW, and the wrestling world as a whole has changed. I began seeing Pro Wrestling for what it truly is.

ECW brought a new form of entertainment into the mix. Chairs, Tables, Barbed wire, Crazy bumps, Blood, and various weaponry were commonplace. It took the wrestling we all knew to a completely different level. In seeing the cult following ECW was obtaining, the Major Players began having hardcore aspects to their shows as well. This was around the time WWF got Attitude. WCW fell in line soon thereafter with a Hardcore division. So, everyone is getting Extreme, and it was good........Or WAS IT!?

The Problem:
Where does it end? In years gone by Hardcore, or gimmick matches actually meant something. Guys would be married, or Feuding all over a territory with one man. Facing only that person in every city, forming an interest in the ongoing battles that were ensuing. Then, after literally months of a build up(years in some cases) A special addition would be added to the mix. Maybe a chain match, leather strap, Taped fist, Bull rope or possibly even the fearsome Texas Death Match, yet a match of that caliber would be reserved to end an elongated feud. The same is true for a cage match. These things used to be huge events, because the were something special, and RARELY seen. These were the days when Kayfabe was alive, and well. These were the days when a man would wear a neck brace for weeks, and be out of action due to another man heinously leveling him with a piledriver. THESE DAYS ARE GONE!

ECW introduced to America what had been very popular in Japan for many years. From the days of territories, and matches that actually made sense, a new fad seemed to be taking over. Now, there were hardcore, and Barbed wire matches that had virtually no build up, and hence no true reason. All this bloodshed, and bucking of the system garnered attention. It was only a matter of time before the common fan wanted to see these much talked about matches. So, mainstream picked up on the outcry for these most dangerous matches. This seemed, at the time, to be a colorful addition. A nice touch, that was in many minds Progress. Though, you have a 10ft. ladder, the fans want a 20ft. ladder. If you have a cageLets make a bigger cage. Bigger cage!? Great, lets put a roof on that puppy, so guys can climb on top of it, and battle it out 20ft. off the ground with nothing but a chain link to hold their nearly 300lbs. Frame. Lets top that even. Lets throw a 300lbs. Man clean off of that cage, have him climb back up, and then be thrown through the roof of the cage to the unforgiving mat below. Jump over to WCW. Lets have a man get choke slammed off of the entrance apparatus through the stage. Then, have a man thrown off a cage to the floor. THEN, lets have two guys fight all the way to the top of a 60ft. screen, have one guy light the other on fire, and throw his flaming carcass clean off of it. Stuntman or not, its the perception thats fact. Its just all gone too far. How can you continue to top these stunts without SERIOUS injury? You cant!! Eventually something will go wrong. Odds will catch up with them sooner or later. Vince McMahon is attempting to get away from this. Vince is toning down these very dangerous stunts. Slowing down the fast-paced hard-hitting action introduced by ECW. Critics are quick to say its getting boring. Vince is attempting to re-educate the masses to enjoy the more simple things once again. Attempting to introduce basic Psychology once again. Education takes time, and patience. Time, and Patience which by Vince own shock style production has been lost in the general public. Turning over storylines that could have possibly dragged out months, in just a few weeks. Though, that is another column all together. Wrestlers are now expected to take bigger, and more dangerous moves, and stunts. It has to slow down tremendously for the business as a whole for the better of the business in the long run. The fans should be made to care again.

The Point:
ECW paved the road for extreme sports entertainment, which has been a big reason for a decline in the business today.