Out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, an organization was born in 1992 which would change the
face of the sport, unbeknown to wrestling fans and pundits at the time. NWA Eastern
Championship Wrestling was born with such known faces and quality wresters as Jimmy
Snuka, Tito Santana and Kevin Sullivan. Also, imbedded in the system was a new breed of
wrestlers, younger athletes with everything to gain. ECW was an independent promotion and
most of the independents of the post NWA-era failed to compete with either of the big two.
Most of them could not even compare with the wrestling out of Memphis or Dallas. But ECW
was heading down a different path.
The debut of Eastern Championship Wrestling occurred on Tuesday, February 25, 1992 at
the Philadelphia Sports Bar in Philadelphia. On the card were Ivan Koloff, J.T. Smith, D.C
Drake, Larry Winters, Tony Stetson, Stevie Richards and Johnny Hot Body. Several of the
athletes had been previously employed by a northeastern group which had folded. Gordon
picked them up and offered them to the fans under a new system of wrestling. Bloody
contests, weapons and tables. The dynamics of ECW reminded fans of the brutal style in
some areas of the Alliance. A two-ring battle royal was scheduled in April to determine an
initial ECW Heavyweight Champion. The heavyweight title would be known as a regional
championship under the NWA World Title, which was vacant until August 1992 when New
Japan and WCW organized a tournament in Asia.
Between 1992 and 1993, ECW began to gain steam. Through magazines and third party
reports, fans internationally heard the goings on out of Philadelphia. Neither of the other “big
two” in the U.S. were originating anything out of the ordinary and fans were waiting for a
change. When Sabu, Shane Douglas and former NWA World Champion, Terry Funk began
warring over the ECW Heavyweight Title, interest spread like wildfire. Stories of the bloody
contests with high flying acrobatic moves and technical mat grappling, many fans wished they
were in the northeast to witness it. But by this time, a new member of ECW’s staff had begun
adding his own two sense. Paul Heyman, known as “Paul E. Dangerously” in the NWA/WCW,
had traveled to Philly and become one of Tod Gordon’s partners. Popular for his voice on
television and managerial skills, Heyman was recognized as a smart addition to ECW’s growth.
In March 1994, Douglas beat Funk in an eight-man tag match to capture the ECW
Heavyweight Title and remained the title-holder until August 27th. Let it be known that
Douglas never lost that title and additionally captured another belt at that particular show.
Gordon and Heyman hosted the NWA World Heavyweight Title Tournament. It was an eight-
man spectacular showing off ECW’s best to produce a new NWA World Champion. Prior to
the tournament, each of the eight men spoke about the history of the Alliance and how
winning the belt would change their lives. A memorable speech was made by Dean Malenko,
one of the participants, although bashed on occasion. Shane Douglas defeated 2 Cold
Scorpio in the final before several thousand at the Arena. What happened next changed the
NWA’s History and ECW’s History. Douglas took the microphone and denounced the NWA,
tossing the belt to the ground, stating that the NWA was a dead organization. He, in-turn,
declared himself the initial Extreme Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Champion.
A new promotion was born. Many thought that if Gordon’s ECW would have crowned an
NWA World Champion, Gordon himself would have been the next elected NWA President.
None of it happened. A double-cross to stamp the alteration. Gordon and Heyman built a
new organization labeled “Extreme.” Extreme it was.
|(ECW) Extreme Championship Wrestling History