The ECW World Title began life as the Eastern Championship Wrestling Title back in April 1992, when the company was a regional promotion based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania under the National Wrestling Alliance banner. The inaugural champion was WWE Hall of Famer "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka, who defeated the Belgian, Salvatore Bellomo to win the strap. He held onto the title for just one day before he was upended by Johnny Hotbody.
He regained the title three months later. Much has been written about the circumstances in which Eastern Championship Wrestling split from the NWA to become Extreme Championship Wrestling. Under the stewardship of the "Mad Scientist", Paul Heyman, ECW grew into a worldwide phenomenon. A counterculture of wrestling that moved the sport forward years and years and dragged the big two international companies, the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling into the 1990s and led to the wrestling boom period of 1997-2001.
A creative and financial peak that the world of wrestling has not seen for nearly two decades since. During that time, the ECW World Title was central to the promotion's television and pay-per-view product, with hugely intense and bloody brawls commonplace as the company's top names such as Sabu, Taz, Bam Bam Bigelow, and others vied for the gold. The title was the third most prestigious in all of wrestling during that hallowed 1994-2001 period.
During the title's full nine-year history, there were 39 reigns by 18 different wrestlers. The final ECW champion during its original incarnation was Rhino, who defeated The Sandman at ECW's final pay-per-view event, Guilty As Charged, in January 2001. The title was reactivated in 2006 when WWE reintroduced ECW as a third brand. However, for the purposes of this list, that period is not represented here, only the original World Title.
This slideshow revisits the five best ECW World Champions ever from 1992-2001.
#5 The Sandman (5 reigns, 446 days as champion)
The Sandman never looked or wrestled like a traditional world champion. Marching into the ring via the crowd, to the thunderous tones of Metallica's Enter Sandman, Sandman smoked cigarettes, poured beer over young ladies' breasts and drank it before he even made it to the squared circle!
Sandman employed very few wrestling holds or maneuvers during his bouts. Instead, preferring to brawl and use weapons to his matches. That style served him well, as he is the most honored ECW World Champion of all time, having held the title on five separate occasions.
His first win came way back in November 1992, before the Championship was even a world title. Sandman's third title reign was his most successful as he held the strap for 196 days before dropping the belt to Mikey Whipwreck in October 1995.
His final one came on ECW's final ever pay-per-view, Guilty As Charged, in January 2001, when he won the strap from Steve Corino before dropping it to Rhino moments later.
Sandman was an ECW guy through and through. His extreme style of wrestling that saw him donning a crimson mask many a time was synonymous with what the brand had on offer.
Whenever he possessed a Singapore cane, he was simply unstoppable in the ring.