ECW did not have a lot of traditional pay per view super cards. They came late into the pay per view market, with PPVs not starting until April 1997 and then slowly growing their market from that point until their demise in January 2001. Before that point they relied on house shows and arena shows taped for future VHS and DVD releases. While many of those shows had great matches and moments, for the purpose of this exercise here is a look at five of ECW’s biggest pay per view super shows.
– WWE/ECW One Night Stand 2
– ECW Heat Wave ‘98
– ECW Guilty As Charged 2000
– ECW Living Dangerously 2000
#5 – ECW Guilty As Charged ‘01
It only seems apropos to open the countdown with the show that closed the original ECW. Regardless of whether the talent knew this would be their last show or not, they certainly went out and put on a show fitting of a farewell. ECW’s heart and soul, Tommy Dreamer, defeated CW Anderson in an underrated and forgotten favorite of an I Quit match. Then ECW’s cruiserweight roster known for its insane three way dances all teamed together to put together entertaining train wreck as Mikey Whipwreck teamed with Tajiri to defeat the team of Kid Kash & Super Crazy and The FBI (Little Guido and Tony Mamaluke). But it was the main event scene that made the show so memorable. Long-time favorite The Sandman defeated former ECW World Champion Justin Credible and current Champion Steve Corino in a three way Tables, Ladders, Chairs and Canes Match to win the ECW World Title for a fifth time. The celebration lasted all of a minute as then reigning ECW World Television Champion Rhino showed up and pinned Sandman in short order to close out the company’s history as dual champion. Then in the main event long-time rivals renewed their fan favorite rivalry as Rob Van Dam pinned Jerry Lynn one more time to close out ECW. It was a fitting match to end the show and essentially the company.
#4 – ECW Anarchy Rulz ’99
This was the first pay per view in “ECW on TNN” era, and the company delivered in spades. It was Taz’ swan song in the company on his way to the WWF and he lost the ECW World Title to Mike Awesome in a Three Way Dance that also included Awesome’s long-time rival Masato Tanaka. The shocking part was Taz losing to Awesome in just over two minutes, effectively put him over and making room for a brand new Champion and new main event stars. Little Guido, Super Crazy and Tajiri put together one of their famous Three Way Dances that was a signature of ECW at the time and always a fan favorite. Long-time rivals Tommy Dreamer and Raven found themselves on the same side for the first time in years and unlikely Tag Team Champions. But as much as they knew about each other made them good partners and they successfully defended the Titles against Steve Corino and “The Rookie Monster” Rhino. And in the main event Rob Van Dam showed why they called him Mr. Pay Per View as he brought out probably the best match in Balls Mahoney’s career in a successful defense of the World Television Championship.
#3 – ECW Hardcore Heaven ‘99
In 1999 pro wrestling was at an all-time high as all three main companies (WWE, WCW and ECW) were still firing on all cylinders, and wrestling was the “it” thing. Therefore I remember watching this pay per view live with a group of friends, some of who had seen very little of ECW at this point. The show did not disappoint. In true ECW fashion the show was a chaotic affair, opening with the advertised main event of Taz defending the ECW World Title against Chris Candido. Taz made Candido submit in just over a minute leaving the show’s main event in jeopardy. Then in the second match Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley retaining the ECW World Tag Titles over Spike Dudley and Balls Mahoney. This led to Bubba challenging Taz for the World Title in the night’s main event. While it seems ludicrous to main event a show with a “tag guy” challenging the World Champion, the two put together a helluva Falls Count Anywhere match that saw Taz once again emerge victorious and grow his streak as a bad ass. Plus the middle of the show had fun cruiserweight action as Super Crazy beat Taka Michinoku and Tajiri beat Little Guido. Plus Sid Vicious of all people showed up and brawled with Justin Credible. But it was the World Television Title match between Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn so memorable. The two men have probably wrestled a hundred times or more, but this match became their measuring stick. It was nearly thirty minutes of non-stop, hard hitting, high flying, hardcore action that saw Van Dam retain once again, as he always did, but Jerry Lynn came out looking just as good. It is nearly a five star match is still talked about today, and worth going out of your way to find. While Van Dam was already “The Whole F’N Show,” this made Jerry Lynn “The New F’N Show.”
#2 – WWE/ECW One Night Stand ‘05
While technically not an original ECW show, this pay per view definitely deserves its place. It was promoted by WWE but completely run as an ECW show, right down the referees, ring announcer, security team and Hammerstein Ballroom location. Put together by an original ECW brain trust of Tommy Dreamer, Rob Van Dam and Paul Heyman, the show top-to-bottom was one of the best pay per views of all time. Featuring a mix of current WWE stars paying homage to their ECW roots and ECW veterans getting one more chance at glory the card delivered. Long-time friends and rivals Chris Jericho and Lance Storm opened the show in a fun homage to their debut as pro wrestlers together nearly fifteen years earlier. Masato Tanaka and Mike Awesome got one more chance on the grand stage to destroy their bodies for our entertainment. Van Dam and Heyman both got chances to go wild with a live microphone, Little Guido, Super Crazy and Tajiri got to relive Three Way Dance magic again and Rey Mysterio and Psicosis were allowed to showcase their decade plus long rivalry one more time. And the main event of Sandman and Tommy Dreamer against The Dudley Boys was the chaotic garbage brawl, complete with flaming tables that everyone came to see. It was a chance for some to say goodbye and a chance for others to get hired back to the main stage once again. The show proved to be such a success that a year later, ECW would be back on-screen as full time third brand for WWE.
#1 – ECW Barely Legal ‘97
Often times they say the first is the best. While it may not necessarily be the best from top-to-bottom in-ring action wise, there is no denying Barely Legal’s significance in the company’s history. It was their first shot at pay per view and essentially their one chance to prove critics wrong and make the right type of statement. The show got a great bit of promotion on-air from the WWF, which also helped its cause. It was built on the backs of a long-standing rivalry between Taz and Sabu and Terry Funk’s quest to win the ECW Championship. Taz beat Sabu in a great match and Funk defeated The Sandman and Stevie Richards in a Three Way Dance to earn an immediate Title shot against Raven. Funk pinned Raven and won the Title just moments before the pay per view went of the air and the arena’s generator blew, making the show a success. In addition the undercard was full of great action as a young Rob Van Dam beat a young Lance Storm in a one-on-one bout and a six man tag match featuring stars of Japan’s Michinoku Pro Wrestling blew the crowd away with innovative, high flying, whip fast action.
For more on ECW:
A brief look back at ECW
Top ECW performers
Top ECW matches
Rise & Fall of ECW DVD review
Forever Hardcore DVD review
Looking back at the InVasion in hindsight