Analyzing ECW's 2006 Resurgence, Part One: The Revival
During the 1990s, the world of professional wrestling changed forever thanks to the revolutionary product delivered by Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). Lead by Paul Heyman (arguably one of the greatest minds in the history of the business), ECW showcased the hardcore action and gritty determination that makes the sport of professional wrestling what it is. Although the company disbanded in 2001 due to bankruptcy, its immediate purchase by WWE brass meant that the memory of ECW would live forever.
After receiving universal praise for their 2004 documentary entitled The Rise and Fall of ECW, WWE decided to coordinate a one-time event for the ECW faithful. This event, accurately portrayed as One Night Stand, continued to build on the love and nostalgia that still existed for the promotion. Held in New York City's Hammerstein Ballroom (one of the original homes for ECW), One Night Stand was deemed a commercial success. Because of this success, ECW would soon find itself back in the pro wrestling spotlight.
By 2006, WWE was well on its way to making ECW an exciting alternative to the company's two existing brands; RAW and SmackDown. Another One Night Stand pay-per-view was meant to mark the revival of ECW, complete with a spot on cable television and a roster comprised of faces old and new.
On May 29th, Paul Heyman (now serving as the on-screen general manager for the brand) announced the first two draft picks for the new ECW. The first (selected from RAW) was then Mr. Money in the Bank, Rob Van Dam, an ECW original who was in the midst of the greatest run of his career. As for the second pick, Heyman shocked the world when he revealed that Kurt Angle had been acquired from SmackDown. Together, these two men were meant to lead the charge for the third brand alongside former ECW talents such as Sabu, Tommy Dreamer, Terry Funk, and The Sandman.
At the 2006 installment of One Night Stand, ECW 's talent was featured in matches against superstars from both RAW and SmackDown. While the wins and losses were dished out equally to all sides, it would be ECW who stood tall among the rest by the night's end. Thanks to a timely assist by Edge, Rob Van Dam (who had chosen One Night Stand to cash-in his MITB briefcase) was able to defeat WWE Champion John Cena for the gold.
As a vocal ECW crowd rained down a chorus of cheers on their new world champion, the rest of the roster came out to show their support for RVD as well. The event closed with ECW on top of the world, but unfortunately, the good times wouldn't last forever.
In his next article, Grant Mannis will examine the debut of ECW on Sify. Kurt Angle's exit from the company, Rob Van Dam's suspension, and the misuse of the brand's talent will all be addressed. Be sure to leave your comments and questions down below and we'll see you soon for part two.