WWF, WCW & ECW: Man, My Childhood Was Awesome

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Updated: April 10, 2014
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It was sad news for me when I heard about the passing of the Ultimate Warrior last night. The Warrior wasn’t one of my favorite wrestlers but he was a legend and I loved watching him growing up. 

ultimate Warrior

I grew up watching three amazing federations captivate the wrestling world for over a decade.

It was impossible to watch both WWF Monday Night Raw and WCW Monday Nitro at the same time, so people either drew a line in the sand and picked one to watch, or had to manually record the one and watch it right after the other.

Monday Nights Wars (the hyperlink from Wikipedia is a must read) were great. 

Wrestling was part of my friends’ lives, and mine, and we weren’t ashamed to admit it then, and I am damn sure not afraid to admit it now.  The “Big Three” Federations all had a different impact on wrestling.

WWF: 

This is where I started and this is where my heart has always been as a wrestling fan: the World Wrestling Federation. Vince McMahon built a giant that included some of the greatest wrestlers ever from the Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Pipper Era, to the Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin “Attitude Era.”

I saw so many legendary fights that I get goose bumps thinking about it. One event that always comes to mind is the 1998 Royal Rumble.

If you don’t recall, leading up to that Pay-Per-View event ,Stone Cold Steve Austin was running around stunning people for fun. He was the bane of every wrestlers existence, so when the Rumble began, every wrestler had some beef with Austin.

At the Rumble, the wrestlers were going to make sure as a unit that Austin was going to get thrown out immediately. Once Austin’s music came on as contestant number 24, he didn’t appear through the front entrance.

He came the back way through the crowd. The Texas Rattle Snake was too smart for them.

attitude-era-rock-vs-stone-cold

He immediately threw out Marco Mera and 8-Ball and the mayhem ensued.

Austin went on to win the ’98 Rumble, making him back-to-back champion. That is just one of so many events. The Montreal screw Job between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, that led to Bret Hart leaving, was a huge one also.

Brett Hart Shawn Michaels

The Casket Matches the Undertaker had, Doink vs. Crush at Wrestlemania IX outdoors in Las Vegas with the tagline “The World’s Largest Toga Party” when two Doink’s appeared…classics. 

It wasn’t only the big name stars like Austin, Shawn Michaels, the Rock and Triple H that made the WWF the best federation on the planet.

It was the entire show Vince McMahon put on every week like, including himself and his family in the plots while having fan participation and great story lines.

Even the B-list wrestlers, like Val Venus, Golddust, Farooq, The Hardy Boys, Savio Vega and so forth, made it great to be a WWF fan in the 90’s. For that experience I shall always hold them in high regards and in my thoughts. Thank you for that Mr. McMahon, thank you very much.

 

WCW

I will always be a WWF fan first, but I am not ashamed to admit that at one point in the 90’s Eric Bischoff took the battle to McMahon using one of McMahon’s own legends in Hulk Hogan and the two of them almost KO’d the WWF for good.

bischoff

WCW had the world in frenzy when they introduced three letters to the wrestling lexicon, N.W.O. 

The New World Order was so amazingly epic that if you weren’t on board, you were scoffed at as some sort of out of touch geezer.

When Hulk Hogan, Diesel and Razor Raaaaaamon left the WWF and came together as Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, and did their cool finger touch handshake, I knew we were in for something extraordinary. 

The N.W.O was everything that every kid in America wished their life was like when they became an adult; a bunch of strong and cool men doing what they want, how they want, when they want and didn’t apologize for it.

Sorry mom and dad but forget being an attorney; I wanted to be a member of the Wolf Pack.

We all did. For almost four years Monday Nitro had a choke hold on the Monday Night War ratings and it was all because of what Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan were able to conjure up in America’s youth.

eric-bischoff-wcw

Every generation in every genre has that one spark that sets their world on fire and this was no different, especially in the 90’s. Look at 90’s music as an example.

In the 80’s those big hair bands were all the rage until Kurt Cobain and Nirvana kicked down the doors and tapped into some weird teenage angst people had no idea existed. It was the same in wrestling.

People were so used to the cookie cutter captain America stuff McMahon and WWF were trotting out every night then when they saw black shirts with 3 white letters emblazoned in the front and people getting beat up and spray painted with reckless disregard, ratings went through the roof. Business 101: know your audience; and Bischoff did.

Unfortunately for WCW, the N.W.O was the biggest thing they had going and that was it. The N.W.O. started adding different factions and it got too big for it’s own good.

nWo

The N.W.O. became far too gimmicky and the WWF smartened up and brought in Edgy guys like Stone Cold, and entertainers like The Rock, and in the process the WWF took back their crown. But for a four-year stretch WCW had the WWF on the ropes, (cheap wrestling pun) and it made wrestling that much better because of the variety and the need for the two big boys to try to outdo each other. Hat’s off to you Mr. Bischoof, your N.W.O conglomerate for a long time was just “Too Sweeeeeeeeeet.” Thank you.

ECW 

Extreme. Championship. Wrestling. Oh My F’n God. The WWF was my childhood sweetheart I ended up marrying. WCW was my second wife that I eventually left to go back to my childhood sweetheart.

Paul Heyman, Sandman, Tommy Dreamer

But ECW was the mean girl in high school you wanted to date badly but knew you had no business trying, but you gave it a shot anyway.

Has there even been a more quality and insane hour of wrestling television in history than what ECW gave its cult following? NO, never. Everything about ECW screamed Anti-WWF and screamed, “We don’t need an N.W.O gimmick, that’s actually who we are.”

I loved waking up at 2am on Friday night/Saturday morning to catch the Mayhem that was going on at ECW Arena on I-95 in Pennsylvania.

The leaders of this amazing underground establishment were Paul Haymen and Thomas Laughlin AKA “Tommy Dreamer.” 

Those two men gave us underground wrestling fanatics such a change of pace in wrestling that I would watch the other big two federations and laugh because I always had it in my mind that no one could survive a Taz Plex or a splash from Rob Van Dam. Before Taz, Sabu and Van Dam found their way over to WWF, they were the staples of a movement that was ECW.

ECW Triple Threat 2

If you have never had the pleasure of watching ECW and have no idea who New Jack, Sandman or Mikey Whipwreck are, then do yourself a favor and go YouTube or Daily Motion everything you can on ECW immediately.

Rob Van Dam Sabu

The wars between the Triple Threat comprising of “Shane Douglas, Bam Bam Bigelow and Chris Candido against the “New Triple Threat” of Taz, Sabu and Rob Van Dam were some of the best matches in the history of the sport regardless of federation, period.  

taz_ecw

Bam Bam once went thorough the ring with Taz on his back while Taz was trying to choke him out during Living Dangerously 1998; it was a legendary night that I watched live.


ECW spawned guys like Saturn and Raven, introduced the world to the Dudley Boys and Al Snow, and they gave us the best wrestling chants ever like “We Want head” or whenever Francine came out they gave us…well I won’t tell you what chant we used to do for Francine out of respect to our lady readers who we love and respect, but you can look that up.

al-snow-head

ECW will always be in my heart as one of the best viewing experiences during my younger days as a wrestling fan. ECW!!!!! ECW!!!!! ECW!!!!!! 

I honestly don’t know what’s happening in wrestling right now other than they’ve changed the name from WWF to WWE, ECW went under right after I stopped watching, and Vince McMahon ended up buying WCW and taking over the wrestling world completely.

Such is life I guess, and I hope this generation is enjoying wrestling immensely.

All I can say is I grew up in an era where there were two mega confederations and one underground movement federation and all of us wrestling fans were spoiled beyond belief. And for that, I will always be grateful. 

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