ECW Hardcore TV was the weekly professional wrestling television program of Philadelphia-based promotion Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). Even after ECW gained a nationally available television program on The Nashville Network, Hardcore TV was considered the flagship program for ECW. The rights to the show now belong to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
Hardcore TV (which began as Eastern Championship Wrestling on April 5, 1993, then became simply ECW with its August 29, 1994 broadcast and changed again to Hardcore TV following the debut of ECW on TNN on August 27, 1999) was edited from footage of ECW's events (both from the ECW Arena and house shows elsewhere) and backstage promos & vignettes, which were not shown to the live crowd or included on home video releases of the events. A segment called "Hype Central" advertised upcoming events and ECW merchandise in a tongue in cheek manner.
On occasion, music videos from major musical acts were shown, interspersed with footage detailing the history of current feuds, as well as spectacular spots. Frequently, the ending of the show would feature a montage of several different promos, with Dick Dale's cover of "Misirlou" as background music. These became known as "Pulp Fiction promos". This was used to circumvent their limited airtime to keep the fans up to speed with all of the storylines going on at that time.
In keeping with ECW's unconventional approach, episodes were not structured with a build toward a main event. Any given week's program could feature any number or type of matches. Heyman's intent was to keep things fresh by providing variety for the viewers.
Censorship and content
Hardcore TV showed graphic violence (including blood), sexual frankness (including occasional displays of lesbianism between the promotion's female talent, which was made up primarily of strippers and pornographic actresses and models), and harsh language, all of which were key elements of the ECW product itself. Due to the late night time slots, many times expletives and violence were not edited out of the early broadcasts, helping to get ECW noticed. This was a major difference between the syndicated Hardcore TV and the more "mainstream" ECW on TNN program.
TNN censored a great deal of the latter program, despite the violence and raunchiness being the signature ingredients that made ECW unique. TNN didn't want the ECW theme song ("This is Extreme!" by Harry Slash & The Slashtones) because according to Paul Heyman (owner of ECW), it sounded "too demonic." TNN also didn't want any references to "hate" (they preferred "intense dislike") and wanted no music videos on the ECW program.
TNN's restrictions angered Paul Heyman to the point that he actively tried to get ECW thrown off that network, and thus kept Hardcore TV as a backup. (See the ECW on TNN article for more info.)
In addition to being syndicated, Hardcore TV aired in permanent time slots in ECW's home territories, Philadelphia and New York City.
Shows were broadcast on a Philadelphia local cable sports station (SportsChannel America's local affiliate, SportsChannel Philadelphia) on Tuesday evenings. After SportsChannel Philadelphia went off the air in 1997, the show moved to WPPX-TV 61. It later moved to a former independent broadcast station WGTW 48 in Philadelphia on either Friday or Saturday nights at 1 or 2 a.m.
Chicago/Northwest Indiana market
In the Chicago/Northwest Indiana market, the show traded back and forth among WCIU 26 at 2 a.m. Saturdays. Then, UPN station WPWR broadcast in both Chicago and Gary on Channel 50, at 10 p.m. on Fridays, a week behind. Meanwhile, KBS Chicago (a Korean station that also carried Big Japan shows at midnight) would broadcast Hardcore TV at 11 p.m. on Fridays.
WRBW in Orlando, Florida aired Hardcore TV at 1:00 a.m. on Saturday nights (early Sunday mornings). The rest of Florida received ECW Hardcore TV on regional sports network Sunshine Network (now known as Sun Sports) which aired the program at 3:00 a.m. on Friday nights (early Saturday mornings). WRBW did invoke syndex, so ECW was blacked out in the Orlando market on Sunshine.
Other markets in the United States
Shows were also aired on the MSG Network in New York City on Friday nights (early Saturday morning) at 2 a.m., KJLA in Los Angeles on Saturday nights at 11 p.m., WUNI in Worcester-Boston on Friday nights (early Saturday morning) at 1:00 a.m, WBVC TV-61 in Traverse City, Michigan Friday Nights at 12:00 am, WUCT TV-52 in Dayton, Ohio on Saturday afternoons and late-night, and WPTT TV 22 (later WCWB, now WPMY) in Pittsburg] on Saturday nights at 12:00 a.m. It also aired on SportsSouth on Friday night/Saturday mornings in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
Episodes available online for download
Episodes were also available online for download at various points, from the websites of some affiliate stations.
- America One Network
- Bravo (UK TV channel)
- Empire Sports Network