Both before and after the end of Extreme Championship Wrestling, a lot of top wrestlers from the company were signed by WWE. Some, such as Mick Foley, Rob Van Dam and the Dudley Boyz, among many more, would go on to have huge and prominent careers working for Vince McMahon, however many were not so lucky.
This wasn't their fault, WWE just didn't know what to do with them, despite being so talented. There have been many over the years, but here are, in my view, the top 10.
#10 The Public Enemy
'Flyboy' Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge were paired together by Paul Heyman during the early days of ECW after he had seen how well they worked as opponents elsewhere.
As a tag team, they excelled in ECW's hardcore environment, competing in highly entertaining brawls. They had many memorable moments in ECW including being buried in the ring by every fans' chairs in 1994 (the first of many times this happened in ECW), and towards the end of their run with ECW, The Public Enemy asked the fans to come into the ring to dance with them one last time, to which so many did that the ring collapsed. When it was all said and done, they were four-time ECW Tag Team Champions.
After leaving ECW on bad terms and being verbally buried on the air, Rocco and Johnny negotiated with both WWE and WCW, with publicly choosing WCW, where they wrestled for just about 2 years and had a one week run as Tag Team Champions. They then finally arrived in WWE, for a short and horrible run. Most WWE bigwigs, particularly locker room leaders like the APA were very unhappy about the P.E choosing WCW over WWE, and were beaten up for real by the APA during a match. The APA claimed that they "ran The Public Enemy out of the WWF''.
Now to be fair, Rocco and Johnny were not exactly the best performers in the world, in fact, they weren't that good in the ring unless it involved a lot of weapons, so it's not that hard to understand why they had a poor run in WWE. However, this was at a time when hardcore matches were a must on WWE TV every week, so if the Public Enemy just stuck in those ranks, they probably would have had a little more success.
Sadly, Rocco Rock died after suffering a heart attack following a wrestling event in September 2002, and Johnny Grunge died in his home after suffering from complications from sleep apnea, in February 2006.
#9 The F.B.I
The Full Blooded Italians began in ECW as a comedy stable back in 1996. The full list of members over the years in ECW included Salvatore Bellomo, Tommy Rich, Davey Piezono Mabel, J.T. Smith, Big Guido, Ulf Herman, One Man Gang, Tracy Smothers, Sal E. Graziano and Little 'Nunzio' Guido and Tony Mamaluke, and it is Nunzio and Tony who I will be looking at here.
Easily the standout members of the group, Nunzio and Tony were the most athletic and entertaining in the ring of all members and had considerable success in ECW, which included feuding with many other top teams and capturing the ECW Tag Team Championships.
Tony signed with WWE in 2006 to be apart of the revived ECW brand. Nunzio had already been wrestling on WWE TV since 2003 and had been a two-time Cruiserweight Champion. The two were paired together naturally and were also given former TNA star Trinity as a manager.
Despite being an exciting team in the ring, Nunzio and Tony only appeared sporadically on WWE ECW in losing attempts until Tony was released in early 2007. Nunzio also remained on the losing side till his release the following year.
#8 Justin Credible
After a forgettable run in WWE in the early 90's as Aldo Montoya, the "Portuguese Man O' War", Peter Polaco joined ECW in 1997. After a few months wrestling as "PG-187" and ''PJ Walker'', he became Justin Credible towards the end of the year and a major push soon followed.
Justin had much success, including forming a very memorable tag team with Lance Storm, known as the 'Impact Players', and would transition into a major player in 1999 and 2000, winning the ECW World Championship in the latter. He would then actually be the very first former ECW star to sign a contract with WWE when ECW went out of business in early 2001.
Justin was given a push upon his debut as a member of a faction known as the 'X-Factor', with X-Pac and Albert. The team quietly broke up when the Alliance angle began and Justin became a glorified jobber to the stars, from the summer of 2001 until his release from WWE in December 2002. He returned to WWE in 2006 to be apart of the ECW revival brand but was also used as a jobber until his release that September after he no-showed at an event.
#7 Super Crazy
Super Crazy joined ECW in 1998 after being recommended to Paul Heyman by Konnan. He had much success during his 3 years with ECW which included one the most memorable feuds in company history, with Tajiri. Crazy would also hold the ECW TV Championship during his time there after it had been vacated by Rob Van Dam.
Surprisingly WWE showed no interest in him when ECW went under in 2001. After several years on the Indie scene, Crazy finally signed with WWE in 2005 after he impressed many with his performance at the ECW One Night Stand in 2005.
Two other fellow super talented Latino superstars were also signed at the same time, Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera. They were put together as a trio and it immediately took an uncomfortable turn. The three Mexicans would enter the ring on lawnmowers and wear janitor jumpsuits, taking in every Mexican/American cliche to a racial tone.
Juventud was released by the end of the year and Psicosis in 2006. Crazy was left to fend for himself. He actually did alright for a little while, considering it was on the land of giants on RAW, but he was soon thrown into a go-nowhere team with Hacksaw Jim Duggan and received his requested release in 2008, due to being frustrated with his position.
#6 2 Cold Scorpio
2 Cold Scorpio had a pretty successful two-year stint with ECW. An amazing performer, Scorpio was a four-time ECW TV Champion and feuded with top stars such as Tazz, Shane Douglas, Sabu, and Mikey Whipwreck. WWE saw this in him and as apart of ECW's business relationship with WWE, they bought Scorpio out of his ECW deal.
Scorpio debuted for WWE at the 1996 Survivor Series as Flash Funk. His gimmick involved dancing, wearing a zoot suit, and being accompanied to the ring by his "Fly Girls" or "Funkettes". The gimmick didn't take on the response WWE wanted and he later reverted to Scorpio in 1997. He didn't see much success after as he became a member of the J.O.B Squad. He was released from WWE in 1999.
He signed a new contract with WWE 7 years later in 2006 at 41 years old but was released the following year before ever making a return to TV.
Tazz, or 'Taz' as he was at the time, was to ECW in the 90's that Brock Lesnar is to WWE today, only with actual regular wrestling appearances.
Taz was almost untouchable, he ran through everybody in ECW, from Sabu to Shane Douglas to the Dudley Boyz. He was a force to be reckoned with and the original suplex machine.
During his time with ECW, Taz was the ECW World Champion, a two-time ECW TV Champion, three-time ECW Tag Team Champion and also created his own title, the FTW Championship, which he held twice.
Then he joined WWE in 2000 and was not the same man anymore. Despite a strong and memorable debut at the Royal Rumble 2000 with a win over Kurt Angle, Tazz soon fell into the hardcore ranks and struggled to shake it off.
He did receive small pushes here and there in 2000 and 2001, but nothing compared to how he was in ECW. Ultimately he would be a 3 time WWE Hardcore Champion and a Tag Team Champion with Spike Dudley.
While a WWE superstar, Tazz returned to ECW and in a bizarre piece of professional wrestling history, ECW and WWE officials agreed to have Tazz, a WWE wrestler, make a surprise appearance at an ECW show to defeat then ECW Champion Mike Awesome, a WCW wrestler, for the ECW World Heavyweight Championship.
Tazz appeared on an episode of Smackdown with the belt, where he lost to WWE Champion Triple H, in a match designed to show WWE's already known superiority over ECW.
#4 Jerry Lynn
Jerry Lynn was one of the best pure wrestlers in ECW history, never relying on ECW's typical hardcore rules to thrill the live audience.
Jerry had two of the most memorable feuds in ECW history, first with Justin Credible shortly after his arrival in 1997 and then with Rob Van Dam, which ran on and off from 1999 until the company went out of business in 2001. He also had a short one month run as ECW World Champion in 2000.
Jerry was among the first few former ECW stars to sign with WWE in 2001 following the closure of ECW. His WWE debut sounded great on paper, he was to answer an open challenge from Crash Holly for the Light Heavyweight Championship at Backlash 2001 and defeat him. And while Jerry did defeat Crash for the title, their match was demoted to Sunday Night Heat before the pay-per-view, and of course, by this point, the Light Heavyweight Championship was pretty worthless.
Jerry was noticeably absent from the Alliance angle. Although he did suffer an injury in August 2001 that would keep him off WWE TV (for good), he was not a part of the former ECW stars joining up with the WCW stars to invade the WWE.
Some say (and joke) that Jerry didn't turn on WWE and join the Alliance because WWE higher-ups forgot he was employed. He was released from WWE in early 2002, while still injured.
Jerry went on to have a successful run with TNA wrestling, which included being apart of the first ever TNA match, being a 2 time TNA X Division Champion, two-time NWA Tag Team Champion and had one of the best feuds in company history with AJ Styles in 2002. He would also become the Ring of Honor World Champion in 2009, at the age of 41.
To date, he is one of very few wrestlers to have wrestled for WWE, WCW, ECW, TNA, and ROH.
#3 Mike Awesome
Mike Awesome was another talented performer who didn't rely on ECW's typical hardcore rules to put on some excellent performances.
After some sporadic appearances in the mid 90's, Mike officially joined ECW in 1999 and was immediately given a strong push. Mike had a memorable feud with Masato Tanaka and was a two-time ECW World Champion and an ECW Tag Team Champion.
He also became the most controversial wrestler in the world in 2000 when he secretly joined WCW in 2000 and debuted on Nitro while he was still Champion and being acknowledged as such. As previously mentioned, Mike dropped the title a few days later to WWE star Tazz.
After a terrible run in WCW as 'That 70's Guy' and "The Fat Chick Thriller", Mike was picked up by WWE in 2001 when WCW went out of business. WWE apparently had big plans for him and even had him as the first Alliance member to make an impact during the angle when he, as an invader, defeated Rhyno for the Hardcore title.
Things went down from there. The story goes that The Undertaker was critical of Mike as a performer and WWE decided to stop pushing him due to Taker's scathing reviews of him. He was released in 2002 after months of inactivity.
The most memorable moment of Mike's WWE career came during a one time only return at the ECW One Night Stand in 2005 where he and old rival Masato Tanaka had one of the best matches of 2005. Sadly, Mike committed suicide by hanging himself in February 2007. He was 42.
#2 Shane Douglas
After former 'Dynamic Dude' Shane Douglas had a forgettable run with WWE in the early 90's he joined ECW too much success in 1993.
Shane was a top star in ECW from his early days, becoming ECW Champion for a few weeks before forfeiting the title due to ECW's new business relationship with the NWA. After winning the belt again in 1994, in the biggest moment in ECW history, Douglas threw down the NWA title belt and stated that he did not want to be champion of a "dead promotion".
Douglas raised the ECW Heavyweight Championship belt and declared it to be a world championship belt, renaming it the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. WWE recognizes this moment as the beginning of the ECW Championship and Douglas as the first ECW Champion.
Shane returned to WWE in 1995 in hopes of they enhancing the edgy character he created in ECW, WWE had different plans, however. He returned to WWE with a college dean character under the ring name Dean Douglas. He lectured fans and wrestlers while writing on a chalkboard, would be shown taking notes of his opponents at ringside during some matches, and frequently carried a paddle (dubbed the "Board of Education") with him to the ring, a far cry from the revolution he started in ECW.
Shane would hold the WWE Intercontinental Championship for 10 minutes and ultimately left WWE towards the end of the year, citing that he would never work for Vince McMahon again.
He returned to ECW in 1996 for another very successful run, which included more reigns as ECW Champion. He would also wrestle for WCW and TNA.
This is one of WWE's biggest crimes. Raven is without a doubt one of the best wrestlers ever to compete for ECW and the best character ever to come out of ECW. After a forgettable run in WWE in the early 90's as Johnny Polo, Scott Levy joined ECW in 1994 as Raven, a character to appeal to fans of grunge music and generation X. Paul Heyman has described Raven as being Nirvana and Pearl Jam, while many in WWE were 80's hairbands.
Raven had the biggest and best feud in ECW history with Tommy Dreamer, which ran on and off from 1994 until Raven left ECW for WCW in 1997. Raven was a two-time ECW World Champion and four-time Tag Team Champion and was always presented as a top star. The character was damaged in WCW thanks to some colorless booking, but it was nothing that he couldn't recover from.
After a brief return to ECW in 1999, Raven returned to WWE in 2000. Many fans had hoped to see him face off with The Undertaker, Kane and some kind of work with Mick Foley. It wasn't meant to be, Raven would be forever stuck in the hardcore ranks, where he would become a 27 time WWE Hardcore Champion, according to WWE records, 39 by his count.
He had memorable hardcore matches at WrestleMania 17 with Kane and Big Show, and with Rhyno at Backlash 2001, but nothing else of note. To make matters worse, Raven was forced to wrestle on just Sunday Night Heat for the majority of 2002, after losing a Loser Leaves RAW match to Tommy Dreamer. WWE didn't even care enough to move him Smackdown.
Raven was released by WWE in January 2003 and managed to revitalize his career in TNA wrestling, where he had a successful 6 or so year run. During this time Raven would be featured as a top star for several years and become the NWA World Champion.
To date, he is one of very few wrestlers to have wrestled for WWE, WCW, ECW, TNA, and ROH.