The Extreme Championship Wrestling brand was home to some of the most iconic wrestlers and characters of the 90s. Its roster boasted several different grapplers, who would all have successful careers elsewhere. But what set ECW apart from other companies was its unique approach to performance art. The company's emphasis on extreme violence, villainous characters and shocking storylines often left viewers speechless—in both good and bad ways. And one of the most significant indicators of ECW's willingness to shock its audience came from its heavyweight championship belt. ECW's title is easily one of the most memorable championship belts in history. The intricate designs and individualised elements made it stand out from all other major world championships. The people who competed for this belt also have some exciting stories. Want to learn more? Keep reading!
Who was EWC's Heavyweight Champion?
The Heavyweight Championship was the top prize in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). The title was initially established in 1992, and Shane Douglas won it in the tournament finals. Douglas vacated the label in early 1993, and it remained vacant until December of that year when ECW held a second tournament to crown a new champion.
Over the next few years, the title changed hands several times, with some of ECW's top stars holding the gold. In 1997, the title was won by Bam Bam Bigelow, who had it for nearly a year. The following year, Taz defeated Bigelow to win the title and become the longest-reigning ECW Heavyweight Champion in history.
Taz would eventually lose the title to Mike Awesome, who held it for a few months before being forced to vacate it due to injury. The title was then won by Justin Credible, who had it until ECW went out of business in 2001.
So who was ECW's Heavyweight Champion? Several talented wrestlers held the title over the years, but the longest-reigning and the most successful champion was undoubtedly Taz.
Tommy Dreamer's Fear of Heights
ECW's Hardcore legend Tommy Dreamer was never afraid to put his body on the line to entertain a crowd. He was often thrown into barbed wire matches, given weapons to use on his opponents, or made to endure long and physically taxing falls. But one of his worst nightmares was also integral to his most significant title reign.
But it wasn't the titles themselves that caused Dreamer to have nightmares. It was the ladder he had to climb to get them. In October 1995, ECW held an event at Penn State University. The promotion would later be renamed the Extreme Encounter years after the company's demise, but it's still commonly referred to as the "Penn State Incident" among hardcore fans.
The Taz-Mania Runs Wild
Taz was never shy about letting his opponents and fans know he was a New Yorker through and through. But that didn't stop the WWE from playing up on-screen rivalries with ECW and putting the company down in print. At the time, Taz was one of ECW's top stars. Although he was a New Yorker like every other ECW wrestler, the WWE didn't hesitate to throw a jab his way in its publication. In the September 1998 issue of WWE Magazine, Taz was referred to as a "New York-New Jersey hybrid" that "can't wrestle his way out of a paper bag." The article also described ECW as "as far from professional wrestling as you can get" and "a glorified backyard circus."
Raven and Shane Douglas: Brothers in Wrestling and Life
Raven is one of the most legendary ECW stars, having been with the company since its earliest days. He was also a member of the infamous "The Dangerous Alliance" stable and later became the company's owner after its purchase and re-branding into "Extreme Championship Wrestling." Raven remained a part of the company until its official closure in 2001.
Raven's best friend and frequent tag team partner during his ECW career was fellow wrestler Shane Douglas. The two men were not only close behind the scenes, but they were also family in real life. Raven and Douglas were brothers-in-law, having married sisters from the same family. Douglas' wife, Lori, and Raven's wife, Beth, were sisters. The two couples even had children together, with Raven and Lori having twin sons and Douglas and Beth having twin daughters.
Mike Awesome Becomes a Real-Life Superhero
Mike Awesome is remembered by many as a WCW and ECW legend. He was capable of putting together some of the most insane and death-defying stunts in sports entertainment history. But these often came with a cost. But the one thing Awesome fans may not have realised is that he had a philanthropic side.
He was a real-life superhero named the "The Awesome One," who helped kids with cancer. Awesome had been diagnosed with cancer in his teens while playing college football. His doctor told him that if he continued playing football, he would die from the disease. So instead of continuing to play the sport he loved, he found another way to serve his community.
The ECW heavyweight championship belt was home to some of the most unique and memorable title reigns in wrestling history. The strap itself holds a lot of history and stories within its wings. And these exciting tidbits are some of the main reasons wrestling fans still talk about this belt. These wrestlers and their stories are all examples of how dangerous and extreme ECW can be. The championship belt was the perfect symbol to represent the company. And it shows that the "World's Biggest Prize" may have been the most dangerous championship belt of all time.
I was never a fan of the ECW. I was always a WWE fan. And so, the ECW title was just another belt. But all that changed when I discovered how long and hard the road was for the man who carried that belt on his back, the one and only Paul Heyman. A story of tragedy, loss, heartbreak, and one man's desire to do whatever it takes to get to the top, the Paul Heyman story is one of the greatest stories in sports entertainment.
Want a Duplicate of the ECW Heavyweight Championship Belt?
The belt is a huge part of wrestling history and is fantastic memorabilia. We just wanted to give everyone backstory on the belt and the stories of the past champions that carried it. We hope you enjoyed our blog post, and if you want to purchase a duplicate of this iconic belt, visit our website. You'll also get to see numerous other belts in our store. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us anytime.