ECW. Extreme Championship Wrestling. I loved ECW in its prime, much more than the “big brothers” that were WWF and WCW. I think it was just that perfect time when I was getting too old for WWF/WCW, and wanted something to bridge the gap during my confused pre-teen and teenage years. ECW made wrestling cool again. The cursing. The hardcore moves. The leaps off the balcony. The WOMEN! The tables on fire. But most of all – the crowd participation. Going to an ECW show, you felt like you were some sort of hipster wrestling fan. Like you were part of some movement that no one else knew about. And we liked it that way. The unique chants that would start up were like war cries for wrestling nerds everywhere. When you saw some dude whispering to his friend, “What are they chanting?” you wanted nothing more than to punch that fool in the face. This was OUR wrestling league…OUR little underground secret. And we really didn’t give a fuck if everyone thought we were crazy for loving it. Don’t like it? Think it’s crude or inappropriate? Fine – get the fuck out. It was our own sadistic cult. Ever wonder what it was like in The Coliseum when the ancient gladiators would go to battle? I’d imagine it was something similar to what would go down inside Burt Flickinger Center at the foot of exit 6 off the 190 every three to four months in downtown Buffalo.
When I stumbled across the news today that the company’s flagship venue, The ECW Arena in South Philly, had officially shut its doors, I thought it would be fitting to write a eulogy of some sort to the wrestling league that provided me with so many great memories and twisted experiences. Although this has nothing to do with “Exploring Buffalo”, I didn’t have any other place to put it. So here it is. You see, ECW has actually been dead since 2001, when owner Paul Heyman declared bankruptcy. The company was devoured by WWF, who took the opportunity to leech off the name by creating a spinoff ECW tv show, which had absolutely nothing to do with the original company, save for a few rare appearances by washed up old ECW stars. But meanwhile, the ECW Arena lived on, as the glorified bingo hall hosted other independent wrestling leagues. With the venue finally closing for real, it feels like the true end of the ECW era. But god damn…did it leave me with some good memories.