The original ECW was known for pushing boundaries with its violent wrestling, absurdly dramatic storylines, and promos that blurred the lines between fiction and reality. It was a company built on taking things too far. Just ask Kurt Angle why he swore to never return to ECW after attending a show just to watch. That being said, it was also an immensely creative space where wrestlers were given the freedom to express themselves freely. Jerry Lynn considered themselves, “a travelling freak-show,” and the fans had a cult-like devotion to the brand. Looking back, ECW was one of the most influential companies in wrestling history. The entire “Attitude Era” probably would have never happened if it wasn’t for the chaos and mayhem that ECW popularised. Counter-culture becomes the culture and all that.
While some aspects of the original ECW may not hold up to today’s tastes and standards, these promos have stood the test of time and highlight ECW as a haven for talent.
5. Steve Austin Shoots on WCW.
Between his disappointing end in WCW and disappointing start in WWF, Steve Austin appeared on ECW for a handful of now-legendary promos and skits. Looking back, you can see the seeds of his Stone Cold persona being sown. You know Vince never watched this promo or he’d never have brought Steve into the WWF as The Ringmaster.
In this promo, Steve lays bare all his gripes with WCW for not giving him the opportunities he thought he deserved. It’s unfiltered and uniquely eloquent in a way that only Steve Austin can deliver. In hindsight, letting Steve go turned out to be one of WCW’s biggest mistakes as he went on to become a global icon and a national treasure. This one makes the list for its historical value more than the impact it had on ECW.
4. Paul Heyman Hates This Stinkin’ Network.
Nobody is better at turning a loss into a win than Paul Heyman. He may not have always made the best business decisions (that was Tod Gordon’s job), but he’s always been entertaining as hell. This promo is a combination of both those things.
ECW had been cancelled by TNN and was going to be replaced by WWE in a few weeks, so they spent the remainder of their time trying to goad the network into throwing them off the air. You can see Paul is at the end of his tether here with all the stresses of running ECW piling on top of him, and with the network pulling the rug out from under him, he snapped. A ruler-breaker from the start to the very end. Shout outs to you, Paul Heyman.
3. Taz Tells Brakkus “You Didn’t Pay Your Dues”.
The Human Suplex Machine was a relatively small guy for his time who steadily earned the respect of fans over a decade of suplexing and choking out everyone in his way. While Taz addresses an upcoming title match with Bam Bam Bigelow, it’s Brakkus who he truly took umbrage with here.
Taz didn’t appreciate that Brakkus had a rocket strapped to his back by McMahon just for being a hoss. Something that has happened over, and over, and over again, with varying degrees of success. Vince McMahon just has a hard-on for big dudes. But I digress. This was part of a crossover collaboration ECW and WWE had at the time. Taz wasn’t feeling it and he let Brakkus know just what he thought of him. Brakkus was released from the WWE shortly after this so it turns out Taz was right.
2. Shane Douglas Trashes the NWA Title.
This moment is considered by most to be the true birth of ECW. No wonder they didn’t last long.
Back in the day, one of the more underhanded ways to get attention in the wrestling world is to disgrace another company’s title. While Medusa may have infamously thrown the WWF Women’s Title in the trash live on WCW in 1995, Shane Douglas had rejected the NWA title in favour of the ECW one on NWA TV nearly a year earlier.
This was a genuine double-cross cooked up by Paul Heyman and Shane Douglas. Shane had heard the management of the NWA talking shit about him, so when they offered him the belt he agreed just so he could completely piss on it. This moment established the ECW title and started a legacy.
1. Cactus Jack’s Cane Dewey Promo.
While some people may see wrestling as a steroid-fueled soap opera, this Catcus Jack promo gives it more of a Shakespearean feel. This is truly a work of art that questions the very soul of man and his will to sacrifice himself for the entertainment of others. It also holds a mirror up to the audience and admonishes their desire to see punishment and pain inflicted upon wrestlers.
A fan overstepped the line with Mick’s kid and he rightfully let them know what a piece of shit they were. He also takes massive shots at Paul Heyman, who is the guy filming the promo, for being the ringleader of the madness and violence. While Mick Foley may be known for sacrificing his body for our entertainment, it’s his mind and his way with words that was always his biggest strength. This promo is pure, unhinged passion and it’s one of the greatest promos of all time.
So that’s my Top 5 Original ECW Promos. Which ones were your favourites? Which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments below.
Looking for more great promos? Check out the Top 5 Iconic WWE Promos.