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Template:Portalpar Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) was a professional wrestling promotion that was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1992 by Tod Gordon, and closed when his successor, Paul Heyman, declared bankruptcy in April 2001.

The company became known for its loyal fan base as well as its tendency to push the envelope with storylines. The group has showcased many different styles of professional wrestling, ranging from lucha libre to hardcore wrestling.

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) bought the rights to ECW and its library after its 2001 closure and revived the promotion in a full-time fashion on June 13, 2006 with a weekly television series on Sci Fi Channel in the United States, FOX8 in Australia, SIC Radical in Portugal and Sky Sports 3 in the United Kingdom. In 2005 and 2006, WWE promoted an ECW-brand event called ECW One Night Stand, and in June 2006, it became a separate brand of WWE programming, along with Raw and SmackDown!

HistoryEdit

Tri-State Wrestling Alliance and Eastern Championship WrestlingEdit

Technically, ECW had its origins in 1991 under the banner Tri-State Wrestling Alliance.[1] Joel Goodhart was the owner of Tri-State Wrestling Alliance. In 1992, Goodhart sold his share of the company to his partner, Tod Gordon, who in return renamed the promotion Eastern Championship Wrestling. When Eastern Championship Wrestling was founded, it was a member of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA).

After Tod Gordon had a falling out with head booker Eddie Gilbert, Gordon chose Gilbert's friend and WCW alumnus Paul Heyman to replace him. Eddie exhibited unstable behavior and drug abuse before he was replaced. Heyman's first show with the promotion was NWA Ultra Clash '93 on September 18 1993 at Viking Hall (which was eventually dubbed The ECW Arena) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

ECW contrasted contemporary professional wrestling, which contained many cartoonish gimmicks and was marketed more towards children. ECW, aiming at males between 18 to 35, broke a few taboos such as blading and women getting regularly beaten up by the male wrestlers. Heyman saw ECW as the professional wrestling equivalent to the grunge movement, and focused on taking the company in a new direction as well.[2]

Withdrawing from the NWAEdit

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In 1994, Jim Crockett's non-compete agreement with Ted Turner, who purchased World Championship Wrestling (WCW) from Crockett in 1988, was up and he decided to start promoting with the NWA again. Crockett went to Tod Gordon and asked him to hold a tournament for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship at the ECW Arena on August 27, 1994. NWA President Dennis Coralluzzo thought that Crockett and Gordon were going to try to monopolize the title[3] (much like Crockett did in the 1980s) and told them they didn't have the NWA board's approval so he took control over the tournament. Gordon was upset at Coralluzzo for his power plays so Gordon and Shane Douglas, who was booked to win the title against 2 Cold Scorpio, planned to have Douglas throw the title down after he won it and break ECW from the NWA. [4] [5]

In accord with this speech, Paul Heyman later stated that "the National Wrestling Alliance was old-school when old-school wasn't hip anymore. We wanted to set our mark, we wanted to breakaway from the pack, we wanted to let the world know that we weren't just some independent promotion."[1]

Shortly afterwards, ECW withdrew from the NWA and officially changed its name to Extreme Championship Wrestling. The incident gave ECW huge promotion and cost NWA a lot of credibility.

PopularityEdit

After ECW withdrew from the NWA and officially changed its name from Eastern Championship Wrestling to Extreme Championship Wrestling, it became an underground sensation. The unorthodox style of moves, controversial story lines, and intense blood thirst of ECW made it intensely popular among many wrestling fans in the 18- to 25-year-old demographic. Its intense fan base, albeit a small constituency, reached near-cultism in the late 1990s and inspired the "hardcore style" in other wrestling promotions, namely WWF and WCW.

The group showcased many different styles of professional wrestling, popularizing bloody hardcore wrestling matches and the 3-Way Dance. ECW was always intended to be counter-culture and a grittier alternative to multi-million dollar organizations such as World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and WCW. In addition to their hardcore match types, they provided an alternative to North American wrestling with technical wrestling that was common overseas. International stars such as Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko anchored a solid technical wrestling core in ECW. Rey Mysterio, Jr., Psicosis, Konnan and Juventud Guerrera brought a lucha libre style rarely seen in American wrestling promotions.

Wrestlers such as Shane Douglas, Tommy Dreamer, Raven, The Sandman, Cactus Jack, Terry Funk, Sabu, Mikey Whipwreck and Tazz were seen as being too dangerous for the multi-million dollar companies and were given a chance in ECW. They also helped launch the new ECW at this time. One of the promotion's marquee feuds was the long-standing feud between Tommy Dreamer and Raven, which involved many ECW wrestlers over a period of two and a half years. Another was between Raven and the Sandman, which included the crucifixion angle, one of the most controversial angles in wrestling history.

Shows at the ECW Arena and television syndicationEdit

Template:See also The bulk of ECW's shows remained at the ECW Arena, a rundown bingo hall secluded under a section of Interstate 95. Seating comprised simple folding chairs and four sets of portable bleachers, and the whole sort of unconventional set up reflected the gritty style of the wrestling itself. Shows were actually broadcast on a Philadelphia local cable sports station (SportsChannel America's local affiliate, Sports Channel Philadelphia) on Tuesday evenings. After Sports Channel Philadelphia went off the air in 1997, the show moved to WPPX-TV 61. It later moved to a former independent broadcast station (WGTW 48) in Philadelphia on either Friday or Saturday night at 1 or 2 a.m. Shows were also aired on the (MSG Network in NYC on Friday nights (Early Saturday morning) at 2 a.m. Due to the obscurity of the stations and ECW itself, as well as the lack of FCC oversight at that late hour, many times expletives and violence were not edited out of these showings, helping to get ECW noticed.

In relation to the "Big Two"Edit

Paul Heyman believes that after noticing ECW's growing popularity, the "Big Two" (World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation) started adopting their ideas and hiring away their talent. ECW, according to Heyman, was the first victim of the "Monday Night Wars" between WCW Monday Nitro and Monday Night RAW. While the WWF had somewhat of a working relationship with ECW (going as far as allowing cross-promotional angles, and providing financial aid to Heyman for a considerable period of time), WCW refused to even mention ECW by name (with a few notable exceptions; including a passing remark by Raven in late 1996 and Kevin Nash and Scott Hall mentioning it as a viable second option in American wrestling in a slight on their main competition, the World Wrestling Federation), referring to it as "barbed wire city" and "a major independent promotion" that wrestled in bingo halls during a segment directed at Diamond Dallas Page.

Vince McMahon claimed that he put Paul Heyman on the WWF's payroll as compensation for the talent (namely Tazz, Steve Austin, Mick Foley, 2 Cold Scorpio, and The Dudley Boyz) leaving ECW for the WWF. On the other hand, Heyman believed that Eric Bischoff never compensated him for ECW bred talent such as Mikey Whipwreck, Raven, The Sandman, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn, Stevie Richards, Kid Kash, Sid Vicious, Mike Awesome, Shane Douglas, Lance Storm, and Chris Jericho leaving to go to WCW.

The crucifixion angleEdit

From January 1995 through January 1996, Tommy Dreamer engaged in a bloody war with Raven. However, the feud took ended for a while, and Raven began a new feud with The Sandman after he defeated him and won the ECW Heavyweight Title on January 27, 1996.[6] Raven "brainwashed" Sandman's son to join his cult-like following and turned him against his father. Raven got at Sandman by having his son deny his relationship with his father and perform Raven's taunt to slowly eat away at his father. This led to many bloody matches, in which Sandman's son interfered to help his father. After the match, the two embraced, but Raven came from behind with a Kendo Stick, and smacked his enemy. Stevie Richards and the Blue Meanie came out, got a wooden cross out from under the ring, then tied Sandman down to it, and then lifted it up and "crucified" him.[7] At the time, Kurt Angle was backstage and the offensive angle caused him to leave and threaten a lawsuit if his name appeared on the same episode as the "crucifixion".[7] Raven came out and gave a questionable apology for his actions. To this day, Raven claims that the angle wasn't an insult to Jesus Christ, but an insult to The Sandman, by using religious iconography to convey an artistic standpoint. The footage of the "crucifixion" was never used by ECW and was not publicly seen until it appeared on the WWE DVD The Rise and Fall of ECW.

The Mass Transit IncidentEdit

Another major blow to ECW, which Paul Heyman noted lead to the cancellation of the Barely Legal pay-per-view on The Rise and Fall of ECW was the "Mass Transit Incident". Paul Heyman was looking to expand the company through pay-per-view. However, ECW would experience more criticism after Paul Heyman allowed a teenager, Eric Kulas who lied about his age to enter ECW, to substitute for Axl Rotten in a tag team match with D-Von Dudley against The Gangstas (New Jack and Mustapha Saed). Kulas, who wrestled in a bus driver's outfit under the name Mass Transit, was allowed to substitute for Rotten who, according to New Jack in the Forever Hardcore DVD, had a family emergency involving his grandmother. New Jack bladed Kulas and then attacked him with more weapons and pinned him. After the match, Kulas continuously bled, with the deep forehead wound gushing blood while New Jack went on microphone and said Kulas could bleed to death as far he's concerned. Despite the fact that it was scripted, Pay-per-view provider In Demand viewed this incident as too extreme for pay-per-view, and decided to cancel the Barely Legal Pay-Per-View.

The Beulah McGillicutty pregnancy/lesbian angleEdit

In 1996, Raven's valet Beulah McGillicutty claimed that she was pregnant. When Raven got angry and called her an idiot for not taking her birth-control pills, she told a shocked Raven that it was not his baby, but Tommy Dreamer's, intensifying the feud between Raven and Dreamer. Beulah then left Raven and aligned herself with Dreamer. However, at the 1996 Hostile City Showdown, show, "The Franchise" Shane Douglas informed Dreamer that Beulah was never pregnant, and had been cheating on him. When Dreamer demanded to know who with (suspecting Douglas) Shane pointed to Raven's new valet Kimona Wanalaya, who proceeded to kiss Beulah to the mat. After some hesitation, Dreamer kissed both women, proclaiming "I'll take em both, I'm hardcore!" According to Dreamer on The Rise and Fall of ECW DVD, the angle was so controversial, that ECW got thrown off of virtually every television station it was on at the time.

Tod Gordon sells ECW to Paul HeymanEdit

In 1996, Tod Gordon sold ECW to his head booker, Paul Heyman. Afterwards, Gordon remained in ECW as a figure-head commissioner. Years after being the ECW "Commissioner", Gordon left ECW. His absence was explained on-air that he retired from wrestling due to family. However, rumors circulate that Gordon was fired by Heyman after he was suspected as a "locker room mole" for a rival wrestling promotion, helping to lure talent to World Championship Wrestling. Many years later, in an interview, Gordon claims that the "WCW mole" situation was nothing more than a work.

Cross-promotionEdit

Storyline-wise, Vince McMahon first became "aware" of ECW while at the 1995 King of the Ring event in ECW's home base of Philadelphia. During the match between Mabel and Savio Vega, the crowd suddenly started to angrily chant, "ECW ECW ECW!" On September 22, 1996, at the In Your House: Mind Games event in Philadelphia, ECW stars The Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, Paul Heyman, and Tazz were in the front row with Sandman even interfering in one match (when he threw beer on Savio Vega during his strap match with Bradshaw). McMahon acknowledged ECW's status as a local, up and coming promotion on the air.

On February 24, 1997, ECW "invaded" RAW from the Manhattan Center. They advanced a storyline, plugged their first ever pay-per-view and worked three matches in front of the WWF audience while Vince McMahon called the action with both Jerry "The King" Lawler and Paul Heyman. The Manhattan Center in New York was peppered with a large number of ECW fans, who gave the WWF wrestlers "BORING!" chants when they felt it was warranted. Likewise, when the ECW performers arrived, they popped and introduced the WWF Monday night audience to some trademark ECW group chants.

This invasion sparked an inter-promotional feud between ECW and Lawler's United States Wrestling Association. Lawler disparaged ECW on-camera, and convinced wrestlers such as Rob Van Dam and Sabu to join him in an anti-ECW crusade. Throughout 1997, ECW wrestlers appeared on USWA television programs, and vice versa.

ECW's first pay-per-view eventsEdit

After a series of struggles (such as the aforementioned "Mass Transit Incident"), on April 13, 1997, ECW finally broadcast its first pay-per-view wrestling card, Barely Legal, highlighted by Terry Funk winning the ECW World Heavyweight Title from Raven.

That June, the company's Wrestlepalooza '97 event featured Raven's final ECW match before leaving for WCW. In this match, Tommy Dreamer finally beat Raven, his long time nemesis. Dreamer's celebration was short-lived, though, as Jerry Lawler, along with Sabu and Rob Van Dam showed up to attack Dreamer. This set up a match between Tommy Dreamer and Jerry Lawler at the company's second pay-per-view, 1997 Hardcore Heaven, on August 17, which was won by Dreamer.

ECW continued through 1998 and early 1999 with a string of successful pay-per-views.

The Mike Awesome World Title controversyEdit

In April 2000, Mike Awesome made a surprise appearance on WCW Monday Nitro -- aiding the New Blood faction by attacking Kevin Nash -- while still reigning as ECW World Champion. Awesome's friend Lance Storm has said that Mike had refused to sign a new contract with ECW until Paul Heyman paid him overdue wages.[8] There were rumors that WCW Executive Vice-President Eric Bischoff wanted Awesome to drop the ECW World Championship belt in the trash can on television, as had been done previously with the WWF Women's title by Alundra Blayze when she jumped from the WWF to WCW. Due to concerns over legal issues, WCW refrained from having Awesome appear on Nitro with the ECW belt, but did acknowledge him as the ECW Champion. Eventually, a compromise was reached which resulted in one of the more bizarre moments in professional wrestling history. Awesome (a newly signed WCW employee and the reigning ECW champion) appeared at an April 13, 2000 ECW event in Indianapolis, IN, accompanied by WCW's head of security,[9] where he lost the title to Tazz (a former ECW wrestler, who was working for the World Wrestling Federation).[10]

Conflict with XPWEdit

In 2000, ECW made its West Coast debut, holding its annual summer pay-per-view Heat Wave in Los Angeles. At the time Los Angeles was home to Xtreme Pro Wrestling, and its owner Rob Black purchased six front row tickets for the show. The tickets were given to a cadre of XPW talent, and their mission was to make it clear that ECW was on enemy turf. (This was not a storyline.) At the beginning of the main event, the XPW contingent donned shirts emblazoned with the XPW logo, gaining the attention of security and ECW wrestler Tommy Dreamer. Security ejected the XPW group from the building and later, a brawl broke out in the parking lot between members of the XPW ring crew and the ECW locker room. The XPW wrestlers were not involved in the fracas, during which the ECW wrestlers brutalized the XPW ring crew with several of the ring crew members left in pools of their own blood.[11]. Initial reports claimed that XPW valet Kristi Myst had somehow touched ECW valet Francine Fournier and that this is what prompted the incident, but Fournier herself has since gone on record as saying that she was never grabbed or in any other way touched by any of the XPW crew, and other eye witnesses support the story that Fournier never had a hand laid on her. XPW was not acknowledged by ECW announcer Joey Styles during the pay-per-view telecast. The XPW contingent who had sat a ringside consisted of wrestlers The Messiah, Kid Kaos, Supreme, Kristi Myst, Homeless Jimmy and XPW announcer Kris Kloss.

Television deal with TNNEdit

In August 1999, ECW began to broadcast nationally on TNN (for what was initially a three year contract). Despite no advertising and a low budget, ECW became TNN's highest rated show.

ECW on TNN was canceled in October 2000 (with the final episode airing on October 6 2000) in favor of WWF RAW moving to the network. To this day, Paul Heyman strongly believes that the lack of a national television deal (especially after the TNN ordeal) was the main cause of ECW's demise.

BankruptcyEdit

ECW struggled for months after the cancellation, trying to secure a new national TV deal. On December 30 2000, ECW Hardcore TV aired for the last time and Guilty as Charged 2001 was the last PPV aired on January 7 2001. Living Dangerously was going to air on March 11 2001, but because of financial trouble it was canceled before March 11. Despite help from the WWF, Heyman could not get out of financial trouble and filed for bankruptcy on April 4 2001. Heyman supposedly had never told his wrestlers that the company was on its dying legs and was unable to pay them for well over a month before finally filing for bankruptcy.

The company was listed as having assets totaling $1,385,500. Included in that number was $860,000 in accounts receivable owed the company by iN DEMAND Network (PPV), Acclaim (video games), and Original San Francisco Toy Company (action figures). The balance of the assets were the video tape library ($500,000), a 1998 Ford Truck ($19,500) and the remaining inventory of merchandise ($4).

The liabilities of the company totaled $8,881,435.17. The bankruptcy filing included hundreds of claims, including production companies, buildings ECW ran in, TV stations ECW was televised on, travel agencies, phone companies, attorney's fees, wrestlers, and other talent. Wrestlers and talent were listed, with amounts owed ranging from $1 for Sabu and Steve Corino to hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of dollars. The highest amounts owed to talents were Rob Van Dam ($150,000), Tommy Dreamer ($125,000), Joey Styles ($50,000), Shane Douglas ($48,000), and Francine ($47,875).

RevivalsEdit

Alliance storylineEdit

Template:Main A few months after the promotion's 2001 demise, ECW resurfaced as a stable as part of the World Wrestling Federation Invasion storyline. As a participant in the inter-promotional feud between Shane McMahon's WCW and Vince McMahon's WWF, ECW was initially "owned" by Paul Heyman and harbored no loyalty to either promotion. Soon after (on the very same night), it was revealed Stephanie McMahon was ECW's new "owner", and she soon conspired with her brother Shane to oust their father from his leadership position in the World Wrestling Federation. Although WWE used the ECW name, the rights to the company were disputed at the time. With the creation of The Alliance, the inter-promotional feud shifted into an internal power struggle among the McMahon family. The defection of WWF superstars to The Alliance continued the shift as less focus was placed on WCW and ECW performers. The feud lasted six months and concluded with WWF defeating The Alliance at the 2001 Survivor Series. The WWF's victory also marked the end of the Invasion storyline, and WCW and ECW wrestlers were reintegrated into the WWF.

DocumentariesEdit

In the summer of 2003, WWE purchased ECW's assets in bankruptcy court, acquiring the rights to ECW's video library. They used this video library to put together a two-disc DVD entitled The Rise and Fall of ECW. The set was released in November 2004. The main feature of the DVD was a three-hour documentary on the company's history, with the other disc featuring matches from the promotion. The DVD sold well, and is currently ranked as WWE's second highest-selling DVD of all time, behind WrestleMania 21.

An unauthorized DVD called Forever Hardcore was produced by former WCW crew member Jeremy Borash in response to The Rise and Fall of ECW. The DVD had stories of wrestlers who were not employed by WWE telling their side of ECW's history. However, due to the WWE owning the ECW video library, there was no video of ECW events. But there was footage of XPW events which featured former ECW wrestlers.

Reunion showsEdit

The strong sales of The Rise and Fall of ECW prompted both World Wrestling Entertainment and Shane Douglas to run ECW reunion shows in 2005. Douglas's first Hardcore Homecoming show was held before WWE's ECW One Night Stand and subsequently went on tour.

Revival as a WWE brandEdit

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In June 2006, World Wrestling Entertainment revived ECW as a third brand to complement their existing Raw and SmackDown brands. Under the WWE banner, ECW is presented in a different style to that when it was an independent promotion. ECW now only features the occasional no rules match and these bouts are said to be fought under Extreme Rules. Also, the only championship on the brand now is the ECW Championship.

LawsuitsEdit

Mass TransitEdit

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On November 23 1996, aspiring wrestler Eric Kulas teamed with D-Von Dudley to wrestle The Gangstas. Substituting for Axl Rotten, Kulas was beaten with various weapons and suffered a deep cut as a result of a blading incident by his opponent New Jack. Kulas sued ECW and New Jack for physical and psychological damage claiming he was unaware the match was going to be a hardcore match. Furthermore, criminal charges were filed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts against New Jack. During the civil trial, it was revealed that Kulas and his father lied that Kulas was 19 years old instead of 17. Also, Kulas had misrepresented his wrestling experience by stating he was trained by retired wrestler Killer Kowalski. In the end, ECW and New Jack were acquitted of the charges, however, ECW suffered long term repercussions. The lawsuit delayed the broadcast of ECW's first pay-per-view after distributors viewed video of the incident. Eric Kulas died on May 12 2002 at the age of 22 due to complications from gastric bypass surgery.

Tod GordonEdit

In December 2005, Eastern Championship Wrestling founder Tod Gordon challenged WWE's ownership of the Eastern Championship Wrestling section of the ECW video library, claiming that the state didn't have the right to sell that section of the video library to Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Entertainment. He also claims that Eastern Championship Wrestling, Inc. was separate from Extreme Championship Wrestling. On May 8 2006 the case was thrown out and Gordon plans to appeal the decision. Tod Gordon is now one of the owners of Pro Wrestling Unplugged, running out of the New Alhambra Arena.

TraditionEdit

There were several distinctive fans that were always in the front row at ECW shows. Among them were Sign Guy, Tye Dye Guy, Superman T-shirt Guy, Hat Guy (also known in the Philadelphia area as Straw Hat), Faith No More Guy, and Kato. They gained their respective nicknames because Sign Guy always had different creative signs with him, Hat Guy always wore a straw hat and Hawaiian shirt, Faith No More Guy bore an uncanny resemblance to "Big" Jim Martin, former guitarist for rock band Faith No More and Kato resembled O.J. Simpson house guest Kato Kaelin. Regular patrons of ECW Arena events were given Club ECW status by the promotion and were able to reserve seats ahead of the general public. Many members of Club ECW were present at Shane Douglas's 2005 Hardcore Homecoming shows in Philadelphia, and at ECW One Night Stand.

Crowds at ECW events were well known for their rowdiness and distinctive chants that either supported or demeaned what was transpiring in the ring. ECW chants such as "You fucked up!" and "Holy shit!" became infamous during those shows, and are still used by fans in other promotions, as well as other chants (most originating from fans in either Philadelphia or New York City), such as "You both suck!", "You can't wrestle!", "Change the channel!" and, "Fuck 'em up, [name], fuck 'em up!", to name a few.

In ECW, there were virtually no rules. Weapons were abundant, with much blood spilled. There were referees, but their role was normally limited to counting pinfalls and acknowledging submissions, occasionally performing tag team maneuvers with a wrestler during the match, several times becoming the winner of the match themselves though not officially a part of the bout.

ECW was known for making popular several types of matches:

ECW was also infamous for regularly holding "Bring Your Own Weapon Nights" at the ECW Arena in the early days of the promotion. Fans were encouraged to bring their own weapons to give to wrestlers, as fighting in the crowd was a staple of ECW matches. A dollar store located next to the ECW Arena often supplied the bulk of the weapons, with fans purchasing them while they waited in line for each show. Memorable weapons included crutches, a large piece of cardboard with the words "Use Me!" handwritten on it but actually concealing a full-sized Stop sign, a two-man kayak, a Leonard Cohen vinyl record, a VCR (with remote), a cactus, a cast iron ladder, and a Nintendo Entertainment System. An accident actually helped put an end to Bring Your Own Weapon Night when wrestler Cactus Jack, believing the weapon he was holding to be an inexpensive aluminum pan, swung the object full force into The Sandman's head. When he heard the resulting "clang" noise, he realized the object was in fact a cast-iron skillet, and The Sandman's resulting injury put him out of action for two weeks.

Also, WWE promoted the ECW One Night Stand 2005 PPV with the "ECW Rules Match", with the same rules as a No DQ match or Street Fight but was regularly contested between former ECW wrestlers, most notably Chris Benoit and Yoshihiro Tajiri.

ChampionshipsEdit

BooksEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit

Template:World Wrestling Entertainmentda:ECW de:Extreme Championship Wrestling es:Extreme Championship Wrestling fr:Extreme Championship Wrestling ko:익스트림 챔피언십 레슬링 it:Extreme Championship Wrestling he:Extreme Championship Wrestling ja:ECW no:Extreme Championship Wrestling pt:Extreme Championship Wrestling fi:ECW sv:Extreme Championship Wrestling vi:ECW (WWE) tr:ECW


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