12th Sep2019

Ten Best: ECW Pay-Per-Views of All Time

by Chris Cummings

Remember ECW? I do. Extreme Championship Wrestling was the underground wrestling phenomenon that had a cult following in the 90s and still does today. It was on the fringe. During an era of pro-wrestling that consisted of WWF booking Doink the Clown, Bastion Booger and a more cartoony product (among some great stuff, by the way) and WCW was beginning to sign former WWF talent and starting to resemble the WWF a few years earlier (until the NWO took the world by storm, anyway) ECW was the grunge-rock scene, it was punk, it was hardcore, it was edgy. Before WWF Attitude, before WCW turned Hogan heel and flew to the moon on the back of the New World Order of wrestling, brother, there was ECW doing something that influenced pro-wrestling forever.

Now, I am a lifelong WWF fan and I loved the cartoon era because I was a kid back then, and I loved the Attitude Era, because I was a teenager, and so on, and so forth. ECW, though, had this energy at a time where nobody else was really doing the stuff they were doing. If WWF and WCW were Michael Jackson and Madonna, then ECW was Kurt Cobain or Johnny Rotten. In the time ECW existed, from 1992 until 2001 (we ain’t counting the WWE reboot, folks), it did some incredible things. Some phenomenal wrestlers worked for the Philadelphia promotion. It was the spark that launched, in some ways, WWF Attitude. With Paul Heyman in his barbed-wire directors chair, ECW was something special. Sure, there were some dire things, some terrible wrestlers and some offensive stuff, but there was a lot of pure gold too. So, I’m going to delve into the WWE Network and take a trip down memory lane again, and give you a list of what I feel are the ten best pay-per-views in ECW history. Now, ECW didn’t even start on PPV until 1997, so there’s a bunch of ECW’s history that isn’t presented in PPV format and instead it aired as super-cards (such as Hostile City Showdown 1994, Return of the Bunker and Matter of Respect 96, a show I personally love) and episodes of Hardcore TV. Still, from the 21 pay-per-views they did air, here are the ten best (in my view). Here we go…

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10) Anarchy Rulz 2000

One of the later ECW PPVs, this featured eight matches, with a good few of them being very good indeed. There’s a cool spot-filled match between Kid Kash and EZ Money, Steve Corino had a nice wrestling match against CW Anderson, The F.B.I took on the Unholy Alliance of Mikey Whipwreck and Yoshihiro Tajiri in an enjoyable scrap over the ECW Tag Titles and the main event saw Jerry Lynn take on Justin Credible for the ECW belt. It’s the match for the Television Title between Rob Van Dam and Rhino, though, that is my favourite on this show. It’s a solid 12 minute brawl with some fun spots. I always liked this show. It never really had a dull moment, and while most of the folks on here had better matches on other shows, there was still a lot to like about this.

9) Hardcore Heaven 1997

This six-match card has some iconic moments in ECW history on it, especially the Bam Bam Bigelow match against the smaller Spike Dudley. Who else remembers Bigelow tossing Spike into the crowd? Great visual. Shane Douglas, Terry Funk and Sabu fight over the ECW Title in a 25 minute main event which is a blast to watch still. Funk’s ECW run was so much fun, and he brought out the best in many guys he worked with. Al Snow, who was just starting his crazy character before taking it to WWF, took on Rob Van Dam in an enjoyable singles bout. There is a heated match here too as WWF’s Jerry “The King” Lawler took on Tommy Dreamer. This Lawler invasion of ECW was crazy at the time and he got so much heat from the fans. This is a fun match to go back and watch for those reasons, even though there isn’t much wrestling going on. It’s a cool show and only the second PPV that ECW ever did.

8) Guilty as Charged 2000

This isn’t one I hear too many people talk about, but I remember tape trading for this show back in 2000 and having an absolute blast watching it. Going back to it for this column was a lot of fun, and though some of the violent moments haven’t aged too well considering all we know about head-shots in wrestling, there’s still a ton to enjoy. The main event, seeing Mike Awesome beat the hell out of Spike Dudley is tough to watch but it is entertaining and it was cool to see Spike get a shot at main eventing an ECW PPV. Tajiri and Super Crazy team up here agains the tandem of Jerry Lynn and Little Guido and it’s the best match on the card. These four guys were four of the best wrestlers from ECW’s history, and regularly had smashing matches together, in some form, on PPVs. RVD and Sabu had a pretty long match that was very good indeed. Dreamer and Raven against The Impact Players is a lot of fun and the crowd ate it up, with Raven having recently returned to ECW at that time. A really good PPV that has some underrated matches going for it. Always dug this one.

7) Hardcore Heaven 1999

Rob Van Dam. Jerry Lynn. Almost thirty minutes. If there’s one reason to love this PPV it’s that match. These two guys had some incredible matches, especially for their time, and this was easily the show-stealer here. They worked their arses off for almost half an hour and it’s a classic ECW bout. Tajiri and Little Guido had a fun scrap and there’s a good junior-heavyweight match between Taka Michinoku and Super Crazy (that I wish had gone longer) There was also a typical ECW extreme main event with Taz against Buh Buh Ray Dudley over the ECW Title. Really, this isn’t the best ECW show, there are a couple of really short and pointless matches here, but overall it’s a really fun event with one fantastic match that steals the entire show.

6) Heat Wave 2000

2000 was a weird year for ECW. It was the last full year the company existed before closing its doors. This show featured eight matches, and at least five of them are well worth a revisit. The roster wasn’t at its strongest in terms of big-names at this point, but there was a real bunch of young talent still, guys trying to establish themselves as the new breed of ECW. Kid Kash, Danny Doring and Roadkill took on Simon Diamond, Johnny Swinger and CW Anderson in a fun tag match, showing this new wave of ECW talent off well. I always dug Doring, Roadkill and Kash, and thought they really helped the later years of ECW stand up tall as something cool and fresh. Jerry Lynn’s clash with Steve Corino was a solid fifteen minute wrestling match. These two had more of a traditional approach to wrestling which I always dug. A short but exciting four-way between Yoshihiro Tajiri, Psychosis, Little Guido and Mikey Whipwreck was nice to go back and watch again. Tajiri was so freaking good. The night ended with two solid matches, the first seeing RVD against Scotty Anton and the final match seeing Justin Credible take on Tommy Dreamer in a Stairway to Hell match. Not the biggest feeling show in ECW’s PPV history, and on paper it isn’t as impressive as many, but it’s a blast to watch.

5) November to Remember 1999

There are a few matches I fondly remember from this show, but the one that came to mind immediately when I thought about it was the Mike Awesome versus Masato Tanaka clash. These two guys regularly beat the crap out of each other, and their run of matches in ECW were brutal. It’s quite rough to watch now, because of how many chair-shots to the head these guys inflicted on each other, but the match is still solid. There’s a fun match between Chris Candido and Sabu on here too. Candido was so bloody good. A wickedly enthralling three-way-dance between Yoshihiro Tajiri, Super Crazy and Jerry Lynn pushed this event further up this list. All three of these guys were excellent and often were the part of ECW shows I looked forward to the most back then. These matches have aged well, too. RVD against Taz for the TV Title is a good one, and the show ends with a compelling and enjoyable six-man tag main event with Rhino, Justin Credible and Lance Storm taking on Raven, Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman. This show had ECW Star-power, for sure. When you think about the big names from ECW, most of them are here (with the exception of a handful, like The Dudleys). Good stuff.

4) Living Dangerously 1999

Another excellent show here (obviously, otherwise it wouldn’t be on this list, duh), this is packed with talented alumni from ECW and some stellar matches. It begins with a wild high-spot showcase from Super Crazy and Yoshihiro Tajiri. These guys had wicked chemistry and they rarely had a match below very good. This, though short at only 10 minutes, was another good one. The best thing on this show, though, is the classic 22 minute clash over the Television Title between RVD and Jerry Lynn. These two blew the roof off the Asbury Park Convention Hall in an absolute classic. A fun tag match between The Impact Players (Storm and Credible) and the team of Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman and a few other fun little scraps add to this show. The main event, with Taz taking on Sabu, ended the night nicely, and while it wasn’t the best match they had together it was still a good one. A very good show that is made extra special by that Lynn-RVD match.

3) Anarchy Rulz 1999

Man, I love this show. It begins with a damn great singles match between Lance Storm and Jerry Lynn, They wrestle for over fifteen minutes and it’s a no-frills match that, at the time, sold me on both guys. I liked Lynn and was okay with Storm, but after this match I was always eager to watch their matches. It’s great. A Three-Way-Dance between Little Guido, Super Crazy and Yoshihiro Tajiri is also fantastic fun. These three fellas had real strong chemistry, especially Crazy and Tajiri obviously, and this was a lovely middle of the card scrap. Mike Awesome, Masato Tanaka and Taz hit hard in a kick-ass 13 minute match that I remembered fondly, and enjoyed when revisiting it for this column. The main event, putting Rob Van Dam against the late Balls Mahoney for the Television Title was fun too. It was rare to see Balls in a main event, but man was he over with the fans. This is a blinding show and with the three-way-dance between Crazy, Guido and Tajiri and the opening belter between Lynn and Storm, it is another classic example of how great ECW was. It wasn’t all about the chair-shots, the cheese-graters and the staple-guns, and these guys proved that. It was also about the bloody good wrestling.

2) Barely Legal 1997

This was a huge show, not just on paper but as an actual event, being that it was the first PPV in ECW history. It was make-or-break time. This was important stuff, and the ECW crew went out there are kicked arse for a couple of fun hours. Opening with an enjoyable tag battle between The Eliminators and The Dudley Boys, we then got a really nice singles match between “Mr. Monday Night” Rob Van Dam and Lance Storm. The relationship between ECW and Japan’s Michinoku Pro Wrestling gave us a belter too, as we saw The Great Sasuke, Gran Hamada and Masato Yahashiji take on the Japan contingent of the Blue World Order, consisting of eventual Kaientai members Taka Michinoku, Terry Boy and Dick Togo. This was a blast, and man did I fun going back and watching it again. Taz had an excellent match with his wrestling rival Sabu which lasted almost 20 minutes and the two put their all into it. I’ve rarely seen Sabu look as good as he did here. Finally, the show ended in a big way with a three-way match between Terry Funk, Stevie Richards and The Sandman to determine who would close the show for the ECW Title against Champion Raven. Terry Funk would win the three-way and go on to defeat Raven to close Barely Legal in a nice way, the bleeding legend holding the title belt over his head as he yelled “we did it”. Brilliant.

1) Heat Wave 1998

I mean, was there any doubt? If you’re an ECW fan then you’ll be aware that Heat Wave 1998 is pretty much always spoken of as the best pay-per-view they ever put on. There’s good reason for the love this show receives. The card is the best that ECW ever booked. Jerry Lynn opened things up with Justin Credible in a great fifteen minute match. Chris Candido and Lance Storm followed it in another top-notch encounter. Masato Tanaka and Mike Awesome beat the all-living-hell out of each other for over ten minutes in one of the many matches they had together. RVD and Sabu took on the team of Hayabusa and (former Hakushi) Jinsei Shinzaki in a tag match with some fun spots and entertaining sequences. Taz had an ECW classic against Bam Bam Bigelow for the FTW Championship and it all ended with a big ole street-fight. Tommy Dreamer, The Sandman and Spike Dudley against Buh Buh Ray Dudley, D’Von Dudley and Big Dick Dudley. It was the hardcore stuff that ECW is often known for. Brawling, weapon-shots, wild spots and blood. If you like that kinda thing, then this match should still make you smile. This show highlighted each element of what made ECW the cult hit it was. Wrestling, violence, weapons, blood, bad language, rock music and a rabid fanbase. Smashing.
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So there we have it. My list of the ten best ECW PPVs of all time. What do you think? Do you have a favourite ECW PPV that isn’t on this list? Let us know.

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