The Rise and Fall of ECW is a documentary DVD produced by World Wrestling Entertainment. It chronicles the history of Philadelphia-based independent professional wrestling promotion Extreme Championship Wrestling. The documentary features interviews with various performers who worked in the promotion including co-founder and former owner Paul Heyman as well as performers Tazz, Tommy Dreamer, Dawn Marie, Stevie Richards, Mick Foley, Rob Van Dam, Spike Dudley, Bubba Ray Dudley and D'Von Dudley.
This DVD is rated TV-MA in America and has a 15 BBFC Rating, and often does not censor profanity (unless uncensored footage was not available or found at the time). The interviews given by the ECW alumni are uncensored.
On the Region 1 edition of the DVD before the main menu of the DVD is shown, a message appears, reading "Intended For Mature Audiences."
The first disc features a documentary about Extreme Championship Wrestling.
1.Early ECW - ECW's early days are discussed.
3. Tazz- Tazz talks about how he was brought into ECW.
4. Sabu- Sabu is discussed. Paul Heyman explains how he partially built ECW around Sabu, mainly because people could turn on TV, see Sabu, and go, "that's different".
5. Terry Funk- Paul Heyman explains how ECW wouldn't have existed without Terry Funk, how the industry veterans at the time were unwilling to 'pass the torch' to the new generation. Terry Funk, however, looked at people, and went "I can make him."
6. The Night The Line Was Crossed- The famous Sabu vs. Shane Douglas vs. Terry Funk three-way dance (the first ever one-on-one-on-one match). This event marked "the return of pro wrestling to North America.
7. Paul Heyman vs. WCW- Paul Heyman's history in WCW is explained and how, after they fired him, he cultivated an anti-WCW attitude that he instilled into his roster. As Tommy Dreamer put it, "Joining WCW was like joining the Taliban" in Paul's eyes.
8. Tommy Dreamer - Tommy Dreamer's ECW debut is discussed.
9. The Sandman- The Sandman is discussed. Heyman notes how the audience loved his entrance and antics so much, "his matches became secondary."
10. Sandman & Tommy Dreamer Feud- Paul Heyman discusses how the Sandman/Dreamer feud was revolutionary at the time, mainly due to the fact that it blurred the lines of reality in wrestling. It broke kayfabe in the arena; When Tommy Dreamer & Sandman were brawling backstage babyfaces and heels were shown interacting backstage. It also, however, kept kayfabe, because after Dreamer "accidentally blinded" Sandman, Sandman stayed out of the public eye; his wife would answer their door at home and confirm that Sandman was blind for the duration of the storyline.
11. ECW Evolution- Tommy Dreamer discusses how wrestling was filled with gimmicks in ECW's early days, and how ECW was different from every other company, mainly for targeting adult males, rather that children like WWE and WCW. Paul Heyman discusses how the times were changing in pro wrestling, and that ECW was the first company to try and cater to the current generation.
12. Cactus Jack- Mick Foley recounts how he was traded to ECW from WCW in a talent exchange, and was mainly brought in to wrestle Sabu. Strangly, Foley claims he was brought to ECW to help further a working relationship between ECW and WCW. Tommy Dreamer, however, claims it was not nearly that friendly a trade. He claims he was brought as a result of a lawsuit settlement. Judging by the dislike Heyman shows towards WCW, it is probably Foley who is mistaken.
13. Mikey Whipwreck- Paul Heyman explains that he hired Mikey Whipwreck as part of his ring crew. Then, one day, he saw Whipwreck fooling around in the ring, and hired him, but "never gave him an offensive move", causing the fans to get behind him.
14. The Extreme Begins- Paul Heyman says that he knew that he had to get out of the "old school" mentality of pro wrestling. The controversial moment where Shane Douglas threw down the NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt, declared Eastern Championship Wrestling's title to be the ECW World Heavyweight title, and spurred ECW's departure from the NWA is discussed.
15. Philadelphia- Paul Heyman says that Philadelphia was the perfect place for ECW, because of its famous rowdy fans that WWE and WCW could not get, but ECW managed to attract.
16. The Technical Wrestlers - Explains how wrestlers like Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, 2 Cold Scorpio and Ron Simmons helped establish ECW as the home of better wrestlers than anywhere else, and that it was not just a place to hit people with chairs.
17. Production Value - Long time ECW Producer/Director Ron Buffone discusses how they wanted to create a reality-based product. Paul Heyman says that there was no way to compete with the WWE and WCW production value, so they hid their negatives (ECW's limited TV production budget, pyrotechnics etc.) and showed off the positives (wrestling and interviews).
18. The Fans - Paul Heyman says that fan interaction was a main draw of the product. When they went to the arena, they knew they would be a part of the show, not just spectators to it, and appreciated that.
19. Raven/Tommy Dreamer - Paul Heyman says that he has never seen somebody embrace his character the way Scott Levy embraced the Raven character, and that it inspired him to be more creative. Raven's feud with Tommy Dreamer is discussed. This feud helped Tommy Dreamer be accepted by the fans.
20. Sabu Gets Fired - Tazz explains that even though he and Sabu were Tag Team Champions, they did not get along backstage. A clip of Paul Heyman announcing that Sabu was fired for no-showing an ECW Tag Title defense in favor of touring Japan for more money is shown.
21. Tazz Breaks His Neck- Tazz talks about how he broke his neck during a match, and then walked into the hospital emergency room with Tommy Dreamer. Tazz says that Paul Heyman paid him his minimum guarantees per his contract every week when he was off TV.
22. Monday Night War - Eric Bischoff claims that despite what Paul Heyman would have you think (that ECW was the first victim of the Monday Night War by having top and irreplaceable talent leave ECW for WCW), WCW never 'raided' ECW. He claims Paul's wrestlers left because they weren't getting paid (this was a falsehood on Bischoff's part); at this point in ECW's history, they were not yet bouncing checks, and that the athletes knew WCW was a much larger place to showcase their talent. He does though make a fairly interesting point by asking if it was a "raid" on Vince McMahon's part when he took top talent from the local NWA territories in the 1980s because he was starting up a national expansion, and that it was not a "raid" in Vince McMahon's mind or in the minds of anyone currently employed at World Wrestling Entertainment. He concludes by saying that the people who left WWE and ECW to come and work for WCW were personal and moral decisions made by the wrestlers themselves, not a raid. Paul Heyman responded by saying "Eric Bischoff is full of shit and like many, never gave ECW the credit that ECW deserved." And that stealing his ideas and his innovations and pawning them off as his own ideas was what put WCW on the map. Curiously, he "praised" Eric for doing so because he was in a ratings war against a rival company and needed the talent and ideas to compete with them. Paul then shrugs and wonders aloud as to why Eric never fessed up and said, "I stole that from ECW." He then added with what appears to be a small smile that they sued WCW over blatant plagiarism "tons of times." Seconds later, Vince McMahon admits that he raided ECW, and that WCW did too. He goes on, however, to state that he compensated Paul for hiring his talent, something Eric Bishoff did not do.
23. Lucha Libre! - Paul Heyman says that after WCW stole his talent, he called Konnan, who sent over Rey Misterio Jr. and Psicosis, bringing Lucha Libre to North America. WCW eventually signed them too.
24. Austin Comes to ECW- Steve Austin was fired from WCW (over the phone) and went to ECW where he delivered several anti-WCW tirades. Paul Heyman does a very humorous imitation of Steve Austin on their conversation.
25. Promos - Ron Buffone and Paul Heyman says that the promos delivered by Steve Austin and Cactus Jack (particularly the latter's "anti-hardcore" remarks) where "the best promos in the history of the business. Bar none."
26. Cactus Jack Leaves ECW - Cactus Jack gives his thanks to the fans before leaving ECW.
27. Tazz Returns - Tazz talks about the transformation of "The Tazmaniac" to "Taz", and his return to ECW. Paul Heyman says Taz brought a "big time atmosphere" that was missing from pro wrestling. "Taz became our Ultimate Fight Style persona."
28. Sandman/Raven - The legendary Sandman vs. Raven feud is discussed, including Raven brainwashing The Sandman's son Tyler, and The Sandman breaking down and crying. Paul Heyman says it was the most emotional storyline ECW ever did.
29. The bWo - The bWo (Blue World Order) is discussed, and how it was initially just another in a string of parodies of many aspects of pro wrestling, but almost immediately stuck.
30. Beulah & Dreamer - The Beulah McGillicuty pregnancy angle is discussed, and the first ever lesbian angle in wrestling (between Beulah and Kimona Wanalaya). ECW was subsequently removed from almost every TV station they were on.
32. The Crucifixion - The infamous "crucifixion" of Sandman (by Raven) is discussed. Kurt Angle explains how he was originally supposed to go to ECW, but left after the incident, threatening legal action if his image was aired on the same broadcast as the crucifixion. Paul Heyman claimed he did not know Raven was going to go that far. Angle believed him at the time, but now wonders if he was lying.
33. The Importance of Pay-Per-View- Tazz says that the only way to expand the company was to get on pay-per-view. Paul Heyman says that the fans were "their army.", and e-mailed PPV stations to get ECW on PPV. The PPV networks almost didn't put ECW on PPV, because they thought ECW was real.
35. The PPV Is Back On! - Paul Heyman negotiates with the PPV networks, while ECW's fans bombard the same networks with e-mails and phone calls, to reinstate ECW's first PPV to the 1996 schedule.
36. WWE Co-Promotion - Vince McMahon said that an ECW co-promotion was good business for all sides. Jerry Lawler, barely hiding his contempt for ECW, even condemning them for having pride in themselves ("They actually thought that they where better than us, the WWE"), says that ECW was full of "miniature wrestlers".). He questions again why Vince allowed ECW to be on their programming. Vince later goes on to say he himself wasn't quite sure what his mindset at the time was.
38. Barely Legal: Tazz vs. Sabu - Tazz recaps his near year long feud with Sabu, saying it "made" both of them.
39. The Main Event At Barely Legal- Stevie Richards says that he admitted to Terry Funk before the main event that he "didn't know what he was doing here." (He was in the main event.) Paul Heyman says that Terry Funk's ECW World Heavyweight Championship win was the impossible dream coming true. Stevie Richards says that not ten seconds after the PPV went off the air, the transformer blew, and they barely got the whole broadcast on the air. Paul Heyman says that after the show was over, everyone in the company was crying, because they all had a hand in getting them there.
40. Raven Goes to WCW and Jerry Lawler Invades ECW - Paul Heyman feels that Raven leaving to go to WCW was mainly a creative disappointment than a business one. Jerry Lawler's "invasion" of ECW was shown. Tommy Dreamer says that the common reaction to Lawler being in the ECW Arena was "How dare Jerry Lawler show up at ECW." After the show ended, Jerry Lawler bolted out of the arena for fear of his safety. Jerry Lawler admits that he honestly thought that ECW was a trash promotion and that it was "Extremely Crappy Wrestling."
41. A Locker Room Mole? - Todd Gordon's supposed activity as a mole is discussed, where he, Bill Alfonso and Terry Taylor attempted to get several ECW wrestlers to go to WCW. It's worth noting that on the alternate documentary Forever Hardcore, this was claimed to have been a big work. However, on this documentary, the ECW alumni refer to it as a real occurrence.
42. The Superstars' Roles- Buh Buh Ray Dudley tells how he came to be in charge of hiring venues for ECW shows. Chris Jericho mentions how Taz's job was to create merchandise, and Tommy Dreamer, Little Guido and D-Von Dudley would ship the T-shirts. Dreamer would also book the shows, Tazz ran ECW's wrestling school, the "ECW House of Hardcore", Stevie Richards ran the fan line, and Dreamer would also collect the money from the concession.
43. Paul Heyman's Creativity - The ECW wrestlers talk about how much of an asset Paul Heyman was, and how accessible he was to his roster. Al Snow is also discussed, including the creation of his infamous mascot "Head."
44. WCW and WWE Imitation - The wrestler's feel that in 1998 ECW was perhaps the number two wresting organization in the world. Buh Buh Ray Dudley even felt (and to this day feels) that ECW could have perhaps taken over WCW. Eric Bischoff claims that ECW was never the number two promotion, mainly on the fact that in this time period WCW and WWE were having a back and forth struggle for number one. Vince McMahon admits that he stole several ideas from ECW, but never considered them a threat. Many ECW wrestlers feel ECW helped spawn WWE's "Attitude Era." McMahon, however, respectfully denies this, noting that the "Attitude Era" was a verbal, in your face mentality, as opposed to ECW's violence.
46. The Dudleys: "The Most Hated Tag Team" - The Dudley Boyz and Paul Heyman discuss the time period where the Dudleys would be so hated, they would insult the fans (including accusing a mother of teaching her daughter to suck dick, and calling fans epithets like "faggot" and "fat, bald motherfucker"), and start riots. D-von later said that some of the fans waited in the parking lots after the shows just to say, "No security. Now what do you got?"
47. Financial Woes - The beginning of ECW's darkest days are discussed, where checks were bouncing, (Tommy Dreamer states he wasn't paid for six months) and wrestlers were leaving. The wrestlers called Paul Heyman ECW's greatest asset, but was also its greatest enemy.
48. The TNN deal and Tazz Leaves- ECW's debut on TNN is discussed, and how excited the wrestlers were about it. Vince McMahon recalls congratulating Paul at the time, saying "now you have to change, to appeal to a mainstream audience." Tazz's ECW departure is discussed.
49. The Dudleys Leave ECW - Buh Buh Ray claims that Paul never owed either Dudley any money, but the Dudleys needed to know what they had to gain by staying in ECW. He told Paul "make us want to stay." They even asked for a one dollar raise, but Paul's mindset was "you stay here cause you want to stay here." Feeling that Paul wasn't prepared to make them even a token offer, they jumped to WWE.
50. Disappointment with TNN/RVD-"The Whole F'n Show"-(Main Article: ECW on TNN) Despite the fact that ECW was TNN's highest rated program, it had nothing to do with TNN's help. Paul Heyman relates how TNN never aired a commercial for ECW, never gave a newspaper radio ad or a press conference to promote the show. The only time that TNN aired a commercial for ECW was during the show itself. As a parody of their treatment by the network, ECW censored everything from their theme song (citing it was too "demonic") to the word "hate". (They preferred "intense dislike".) ECW's treatment by TNN was another factor in putting ECW out of business. Rob Van Dam is discussed.
51. Mike Awesome Controversy & Tommy Dreamer Wins The Title- Mike Awesome leaving ECW while still ECW champion is discussed. They than go into Tazz defeating Mike Awesome for the belt, and bringing it to WWE for a while (to help gain the belt and ECW some more exposure) before losing it to Tommy Dreamer. It's interesting to note that for whatever reason, the DVD acts as though Tommy Dreamer was the last ever ECW Champion (or at least a reigning champion). He was, in fact, neither. He lost the belt twenty minutes later to Justin Credible.
52. The Demise Of ECW - The closure of ECW is discussed. Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff suggest that ECW went under mainly because of the one-dimensional nature of the ECW product, and that it appealed to only a small segment of a national audience, and therefore it was doomed to either go under or remain a small company. Several of the wrestlers stuck with it, but suspected they could never be paid the money they were owed. Even though attendance was high, the wrestlers knew ECW was done. Rhino admits to being in denial about ECW going out of business. Several of the wrestlers felt that their whole world came crashing down. Buh Buh Ray felt that ECW went under because of the violence level, as well as Paul's mismanagement of the company, something many ECW alumni agree with. Paul, however feels that ECW went under because they had no (sympathetic) network television. "That's the only reason." He didn't stop there, saying that if anyone says otherwise is either "dead wrong" or "doesn't know what he is talking about."
53. Paul Heyman Debuts on Raw - Paul Heyman debuts on Raw as an announcer. Paul feels that he had to go to WWE in order to move on, and get on with his life. The wrestlers feel that Paul's dream was to be his own boss, but did not get that opportunity. Vince McMahon feels that Paul Heyman should be commended for everything he accomplished, and that Paul's realization that he had to move on spoke very highly of his character.
The DVD is closed with all the wrestlers giving their thoughts about what made ECW so special, and Paul Heyman closes it out by saying: "You cannot achieve success without the risk of failure. And I learned a long time ago, you cannot achieve success, if you fear failure. If you're not afraid to fail, man, you have a chance to succeed. But you're never gonna get there unless you risk it, all the way. I'll risk failure. Sometimes, half the fun is failing. Learning from your mistakes, waking up the next morning, and saying 'Okay. Watch out. Here I come again. A little bit smarter, licking my wounds, and really not looking forward to getting my ass kicked the way I just did yesterday.' So now, I'm just a little more dangerous."
- This is not a traditional ladder match where the belt is hung above the ring. The match ends in pinfall or submission.
- This match has Tommy Dreamer & Jonathan Coachman on an alternate commentary.
Steven Richards Apologizes for Leaving ECW
Tazz Seeks Paul Heyman's Blessing
Paul Heyman: Travel Agent
According to some sources, in June 2005, the 2-disc set has become the best-selling wrestling DVD of all time, even surpassing WrestleMania XX, and led to the ECW One Night Stand PPV event. Also as a result of these sales, WWE has published a new ECW DVD titled Blood Sport ECW: The Most Violent Matches, released in February 2006. Wrestling Observer newsletter gave it the award of Best Pro Wrestling DVD of 2005.
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- The Rise and Fall of ECW at the Internet Movie Database