Hot Topics: Should ECW be allowed to R.I.P?
By Scott Reid
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome once again to The Hot Topic, where we take a look at the big news in wrestling which is splitting the opinions of fans, and ask you, the readers, what you think.
Today, we will be looking at the recent formation of Shane Douglas’ Extreme Rising promotion, and ask whether this company is helping to extend the legacy of ECW to a new audience, or if they should simply let the, now legendary, promotion die once and for all.
While WCW and WWE were battling for ratings in the Monday Night Wars, Extreme Championship Wrestling was building a legacy in professional wrestling that still lasts to this day. With their counter-culture attitude, and their owner Paul Heyman’s innovative, forward thinking approach to the wrestling business, ECW showcased styles to a mainstream audience that, until then, had rarely been seen on national television, such as Hardcore and Lucha Libre. Thanks to this approach, and a roster of world class talent including Terry Funk, Sabu and Rob Van Dam, ECW garnered a cult following throughout the wrestling world. Unfortunately, after losing their TV deal on TNN, financial issues forced ECW to close its doors in 2001. Its assets were then purchased by WWE, who attempted to revive the fallen promotion, but this proved futile, as there was no replicating the magic of ECW. However now, ECW alumni Shane Douglas has formed his own promotion, Extreme Rising, that hopes to re-capture the spirit of ECW and introduce it to a whole new generation of fans, but should Douglas fight to keep the memory of ECW alive, or should it be laid to rest once and for all?
Let’s take a look.
Upon the announcement of its formation, some fans have been extremely welcoming to the idea of an extreme promotion that pays homage to the legacy of ECW. Throughout its time as a working promotion, ECW gained
a huge fan-base who were very passionate about the product, and so, with the arrival of Extreme Rising, these fans are given a chance to experience the type of violent, unpredictable wrestling that they love once again, and even have the opportunity to introduce the wrestling that they loved to a new generation who may have been too young to experience it first time around. Also, with many of the former ECW talent now performing at Extreme Rising shows, an entire list of legendary stars, such as The Sandman, Raven and The Gangstas, have a chance to gain a whole new legion of fans that may not be familiar with
their in-ring careers.
Extreme Rising could also be a great opportunity for young, up-and-coming talent to earn some valuable experience working with some of wrestling’s most hardened and brutal competitors. In a business where everyone is looking to make a name for themselves, exciting new talent could have an opportunity to stand out in more intense matches than they would normally compete in, with wrestlers who are well respected in the business to help them along the way. Current WWE Champion CM Punk had a highly popular rivalry with Raven in Ring of Honor that forced fans to take notice of his talents in the ring, so the same opportunity could be handed to another future star in Extreme Rising, who could have their chance to step up and show their talents against a legend of professional wrestling, which will, hopefully, help them on the way to stardom.
On the other hand, some fans feel that Extreme Rising is simply a way for former stars to re-live their glory days, and by doing so, they are helping to destroy the memory of ECW as many fans wish to remember it. During its peak, the ECW roster sported some truly exciting, highly athletic young stars, like Perry Saturn, Rhino and Jerry Lynn, who fans travelled from all over the America to see, however many of these talents are now well into their 40’s, or even 50’s, and cannot perform at the same highly demanding level that they once did. Many fans are arguing that they would rather remember these wrestlers for the brilliant performers they once were, than see them compete in mediocre, quick matches that serve as simple nostalgia acts. Extreme Risings debut show, Extreme Reunion, was highly criticised for its underwhelming, low quality matches involving some of the biggest names in the history of ECW, due to most of the talent involved being well past their wrestling prime. This is not how fans want to remember ECW. Fans want to remember the trail-blazing, alternative monster that was Extreme Championship Wrestling, where anything could, and often would, happen. What they don’t want is a carbon-copy that is merely being used as stage for former stars to re-live their past triumphs.
So what do you think? Is Extreme Rising helping to introduce a whole new generation of fans to the phenomenon that was started by ECW? Or is it merely a desperate attempt to re-live one of the high points in Professional Wrestlings history?