After catching wind of the news that ECW Unreleased, Volume 1 was coming out on DVD very soon (like June 5th, very soon) and saw the trailer (after the break), the first thing I did was pump my fists in the air and quietly chant to myself: “E-C-W!! E-C-W!! E-C-W!! E-C-W!! E-C-W!! E-C-W!! E-C-W!!”
Those were the chants heard at every show Extreme Championship Wrestling held, and still at times is heard in current matches today involving wrestlers who were once part of the organization. Since its founding in 1992 as Eastern Championship Wrestling, ECW became popular and revered for showcasing reality-based stories and characters and various international styles of professional wrestling, ranging from Spanish-style lucha libre to Japanese-style puroresu to hardcore wrestling, when no other promotion in America was doing it. Even after its demise in early 2001 (not including the rebirth WWE-run program from 2006 to 2010), ECW is still looked on with much respect from current wrestlers and fans.
Back in its earlier heydays, the only ways to watch ECW on television was to either live in a particular region that carried syndicated broadcasts of ECW Hardcore TV from 1993 to 2000, or by trading tapes among other fans across the country. Hardcore TV showed graphic violence (including blood), sexual content, and foul language (all key elements of ECW as a product). Due to the show’s late night timeslot, none of the content was edited from early broadcasts, and it ultimately helped to get ECW noticed. From 1999 to 2000, you could watch ECW on TNN, but the product was already heavily edited and censored by then-The Nashville Network because the network was more mainstream and needed to expand past a niche audience (as well as a due a raw deal that put ECW in a hug disadvantage).
Although many matches from ECW’s history for available on VHS and DVD collections for years (including one of my favorites documentaries, The Rise and Fall of ECW), much more material remains unedited, uncensored, and unreleased. This new 3-disc DVD (or 2-disc Blu-ray) collection, hosted by the longtime voice of ECW, Joey Styles, collects some of the most amazing and over-the-top matches and moments in ECW history, many of which –as mentioned before– have never been released on DVD. I am most ready to grab my kendo stick, wrap my fist in barbed wire* and journey back into the land of the extreme! Even though it’s called “Volume 1,” I do hope that we actually get a Volume 2; we never did get a The Best of WWE Confidential, Volume 2.
* – Kids, PLEASE don’t wrap you wrists with barbed wire….NEVER!