HOLY CRAP!! That happened TWENTY YEARS AGO, YESTERDAY!!!!
In 1994, after World Championship Wrestling (WCW) withdrew from the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), their Eastern Championship Wrestling (ECW) territory became the most televised wrestling show within the entire NWA. Due to this, the tournament for the vacant NWA World Heavyweight Championship was held in ECW’s home territory in Philadelphia, PA on August 27, 1994. After feeling like they were under the thumb of the power plays and unfair politics from the NWA board and officials, ECW began contemplating a plan to secede from the NWA in a controversial and public manner that would attract wide attention to ECW and insult the NWA organization as a final act of defiance. Check out the rest of the story and the video of the “Birth of Extreme” incident below.
The backstory involved then-NWA promoter Jim Crockett asking then-ECW promoter Tod Gordon to hold a tournament for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship at the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, PA. However, then-NWA President Dennis Coralluzzo believed that Crockett and Gordon were conspiring to monopolize the NWA Championship title and publicly stated that Crockett did not have the NWA board’s approval, resulting in Coralluzzo overseeing the tournament, personally. Ultimately, the then-ECW Heavyweight Champion Shane Douglas was victorious in the tournament, defeating 2 Cold Scorpio (at the time, the ECW title was considered a regional title). Douglas initially appeared to be proud to become NWA World Heavyweight Champion, until he pulled a complete 180 and threw the belt down while and began slandering the NWA in the process. He later picked up the ECW Heavyweight title. proclaimed himself ECW World Heavyweight Champion, and almost immediately, ECW withdrew from the NWA and became Extreme Championship Wrestling.
When interviewed after the event, Coralluzzo stated that Douglas would be the NWA world champion “whether he likes it or not”, called Douglas’ actions a “disgrace” and stated that would have Douglas stripped of both the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and the Eastern Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Championship, saying that he was “undeserving” of either championship title.
Tod Gordon made the following announcement on the next edition of NWA-ECW programming after the tournament and the fallout:
I listened with great interest as the representative of the NWA board of directors took it upon himself to inform you that they have the power to force NWA-Eastern Championship Wrestling not to recognize The Franchise, Shane Douglas, as a world heavyweight champion. Well, as of noon today, I have folded NWA-Eastern Championship Wrestling. In its place will be ECW- Extreme Championship Wrestling- and we recognize The Franchise, Shane Douglas, as our World Heavyweight Champion. And we encourage any wrestler in the world today to come to the ECW to challenge for that belt. This is the ECW, Extreme Championship Wrestling, changing the face of professional wrestling.
When recalling this event years later, ECW personality Paul Heyman stated the following in an 1998 interview with ECWA:
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.