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Now, onto sadder times.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last week, you know that ECW has closed it’s doors for good.
When I first heard that ECW was all but gone, I was in denial. Was the best wrestling federation in the United States really going down the drain? Not all movies have happy endings.
To me, Extreme Championship Wrestling was more than just the third most popular fed in the country. ECW took the sport I loved and changed it forever. They were the first fed to put lucha libre over in the US. They were the fed that helped make Japanese wrestling so popular in the US. More importantly, they created a new wrestling market in the US that many other feds have tried to walk and failed miserably at. Most feds either tried too hard or didn’t try hard enough. Bottom line: if not for ECW, WWF would not be the company it is today, WCW would have never lived long enough to be bought up by WWF and our local hero’s XPW would have never started in the first place.
I will always remember the pop when Tommy Dreamer pinned Raven for the first time ever, the roar of the crowd when Sid walked into Guilty as Charged, the infamous chair throwing incident at Hardcore Heaven 1994, rewinding the footage of Chris Benoit breaking Sabu’s neck over and over again, Shane Douglas taking a mic and blowing peoples minds time after time, Too Cold Scorpio and Sabu going to a time limit draw, Chris Benoit and Al Snow coming out with little heat and putting on the best match at Double Tables, Sabu and the Sandman taking hardcore to the limit in the Stairway to Hell match, a mid-carder in Jerry Lynn taking Rob Van Dam to some of the greatest matches in ECW history, watching that same Jerry Lynn win the World Title in his hometown, so many memories, so little time. I guess there are two memories that I really want to share with you.
The first would have to be attending Heatwave 2000, ECW’s only event in California. Although the actions of both ECW and XPW during the main event left a bad taste in my mouth, being among the crowd, chanting “ECW,” running after the Sandman as he ran around the building, and seeing the Van Terminator for the first time were experiences I’ll never have again. Being in the second row at an ECW show was truly electrifying.
More importantly, I’ll remember what is, in my opinion, one of the greatest feuds of all time: Sabu vs. Taz. The most heated rivalry in ECW, those two killed each other time after time. While on and off for the first few years, Taz and Sabu heated things up and took the feud into Barely Legal. Taz took the victory, and Sabu became even more angry. Throughout 98 and 99, they wrestled each other all over the country, sometimes doing each others trademarks and stiffing each other left and right. Then, the feud hit its hottest point in late 1999, when Taz hit Sabu with one of the sickest moves I have ever seen, the Tazmission-plex. Sabu’s return at Guilty as Charged was the loudest pop of the night, as he drove Taz through the table. This set the stage for the final showdown between the two: Living Dangerously 2000. The crowd was so charged I could feel it at home watching the television. Their match was a psychologists dream. Taz his hit Tazmission-plex, folding Sabu through a table. When Sabu kicked out at two, you could hear the hearts stopping and starting again. When Sabu tried to fight out of the Tazmission, everyone thought he would be able to do it. Taz proved them wrong. After that match, the feud was over, and they shook hands in front of one of the loudest ECW crowds ever. That’s what I remember ECW for.
So, as hard as it is to say (hell, I’ll admit I’m shedding a tear as I say this), goodbye ECW. No matter what happens, the memories you’ve given me will never die. As Public Enemy said on their last night in ECW, “you can take us out of Philly, but you can’t take the Philly out of us.”