Extreme Championship Wrestling wasn’t a wrestling organization. It was a cult. I say that in the most sincerest form. I lived through it. I wasn’t a cult follower, but I was around it. I saw it born. I saw it grow. And on Monday night, I saw it die.
Ever since the original organization fathered by Paul Heyman officially folded in 2001, there have been numerous attempts to resurrect it. But instead of finding Dr. Frankenstien himself to work his magic, the only thing that the ill-fated reincarnations did was dig the grave deeper.
The closest thing to closure was the WWE’s One Night Stand PPV. It was gently placed in Paul Heyman’s hands with the blessing and financing of Vince McMahon. But greed got the best of Vince, and just as he has monopolized the wrestling business and forced monthly pay per views upon us – he thought he too could reboot the organization in his own vision. A vision that was worse than the XFL. Not even Vince’s money could bring ECW back to life.
TNA tried doing something similar with Hardcore Justice last year with an event that was seen by less people than a backyard wrestling show featuring disabled midgets. Then again, I might have actually paid to see that backyard show…Back to the point, not even the ghost of ECW showed up.
A few weeks ago, ECW original Shane Douglas made a last attempt by running a reunion show in Philadelphia – the home of ECW. Although it drew 2000 fans, it ended with 2000 angry fans who raised hell about a show plagued with drugged up wrestlers, incoherent booking, false advertising and dirty laundry list of bad business decisions that burned the ECW faithful and loyalists for the last time.
With the return of Brock Lesnar, there was some speculation that Paul Heyman might make a return to the wrestling world to lend his genius creative mind. But through social networks, he denied the rumors. Perhaps it was to cover up his cameo appearance on Monday Night RAW as the official spokesman for Brock Lesnar. When the time came for Paul Heyman to walk through the curtain and surprise the world…well, there was no surprise. Not because the information had leaked, but because no one knew who he was. Paul Heyman made a grand entrance to no “pop” at all.
The landscape of the business has changed, and since Vince McMahon remodeled the business to a PG-13 tone that caters to a younger demographic, the days of pro wrestling violence are now stories of legend. Kids aren’t use to the blood and hardcore anything goes matches. And to be quite honest, they don’t need it. Kids don’t need to risk their lives and safety while emulating their heroes. But ECW fans have always held on to their hope. Hope that one day Paul Heyman would walk on water as the second coming of hardcore Christ. And when the moment happened on RAW, it proved that ECW is truly dead for good.
The new audience didn’t live it. There is nothing to help them remember it. It was never a Vince thing to begin with. So when Paul Heyman walked the aisle on Monday night, there was nothing but silence…A moment of silence to mourn the official death of ECW.
If Paul Heyman’s appearance didn’t get a reaction from the live audience, then nothing can bring ECW back to life. The young fans looked at each other as if saying, “Who is this guy?… He’s great on the mic, but who is he?” There is an article on WWE.com RIGHT NOW, reminding people who he is with e title “Who is Paul Heyman?”
If Paul E. couldn’t get a response, then his brainchild has no chance of ever making a comeback. ECW is officially dead…forever.