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By & Friends on 2021-01-13 02:37:00

Jim Quigley Looks Back at ECW

I started watching wrestling in the early 80s. I wasn't a big fan of the sport until 1985 when I really got into the NWA. I really enjoyed their product, especially their Worldwide Show. It was unpredictable at times and I really enjoyed that aspect of the show. I watched a lot of wrestling over the next 8 years. I watched the UWF, WWF, and WCCW just to name a few. However, in the early 90s the wrestling business wasn't all that exciting. Sure, there were some hot matches from time to time, but I was bored with the sport in general. The WWF was full of cartoon characters and it was a major turnoff. I wanted some hard-hitting matches that were believable. Joel Goodhart started the Tri-State Wrestling Alliance (TWA) in the Philadelphia area in the late 80Ãs. It featured a legendary feud between Cactus Jack and Eddie Gilbert. The TWA got me excited about wrestling again. Even though the TWA was real good, it never had TV and died in early 1992.

I was still watching WCW and WWF in 1993, but if I missed a show it was no big deal. In March of 1993, I found out that Sports Channel Philly would be airing Eastern Championship Wrestling. When I checked out the show for the first time, I said to myself "This sucks."  However, I gave the company a chance. You may ask why I did. Quite simply they were building up a big feud between Terry Funk and Eddie Gilbert to see who would be the King Of Philadelphia. They moved to a building called the ECW Arena in May of 1993. That to me was a key reason that they grew. They taped TV at this building and it was wild. They brawled, bled and it was unpredictable. At this point, I still had not decided to go to a live show though.

ECW continued to run shows at the Arena. There were two Super Cards as well as TV tapings. Finally, on Friday night, October 1st 1993 I decided to go to the ECW Arena. The show was called Bloodfeast and the main event was Terry Funk taking on Jimmy Snuka in a cage match. I arrived at 7:30 for the show. I got a ticket in the 2nd Row, that is correct, the 2nd Row. No long wait to get into the building. I had a blast at the show. The one memory that stuck out from this show was the introduction of Sabu. His handlers brought him out in chains. He was one scary guy in person. Before long, Taz interrupted the segment and the two brawled all over the building. I was hooked because it was wild and unpredictable.

ECW continued to grow over the next few months. They tried a lot of things, some worked and some did not, but I always felt I got my money's worth at every show. A show that defined ECW took place on February 5th, 1994. The Night the Line was Crossed was just an awesome show and defined the company. There was a double dog collar match, an all out brawl between the Public Enemy and Bruise Brothers, an appearance by the Original Sheik, the near death of JT Smith at the hands of Mike Awesome and the legendary 60 minute draw between Terry Funk, Sabu and Shane Douglas. Dave always tells the story of the guy standing on his chair next to his girlfriend. There were 2 minutes left and guy's girlfriend collapses to the floor. This guy said, "screw her I'm not missing the finish."  That is the way ECW's fans were.

ECW continued to run at least 1 or 2 big shows a month. I traveled to Valley Forge Music Fair to see Shane Douglas win the ECW World Title in the first Ultimate Jeopardy match. ECW continued to grow and so did the fan base. People started to realize that something special was going to happen at almost every show. On April 16th, 1994, ECW ran at their home base before a hot crowd. To be honest it wasn't that good of a show up until the main event. Sabu was taking on Terry Funk. There were masked men walking ringside that evening and we knew something was up. It was a solid match between the two rivals as usual, but after the finish the most amazing thing occurred. Bobby Eaton was revealed as a masked man and the Arena went nuts, but little did we realize the biggest shock was yet to come. Who was going to save Terry Funk? was the question we all had. Well, it turned out to be Arn Anderson. If the place went nuts for Eaton, it exploded for the arrival of Arn. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in person.

By late spring of 1994 if you wanted to sit in the bleachers you had to get to the shows early to get a good spot in line. I would usually get to a show by 5PM just to get a cherished seat in the bleachers. I really can't describe what it was like to just stand outside before an ECW Arena show. If you ever stood there you will understand exactly what I mean. You got to talk wrestling and watch some of the biggest freaks ever seen. It was truly amazing and a hell of a lot of fun.

I could talk about how ECW ran bigger and better shows at each and every Arena show, so I will talk about what specific events that were the most memorable to me. On July 16th, 1994 ECW presented the first No Ropes Barbed Wire match in the United States. It featured the Public Enemy taking on Terry and Dory Funk. You would think that the match itself would stick out as the most memorable moment, but it wasn't. During the match, Terry, as only Terry can, asked some fans for a few chairs. What he got was between 50 and 100 chairs tossed into the ring on TPE. It was a surreal scene that I will never forget.

August 27th, 1994, the day that Eastern Championship Wrestling died and Extreme Championship Wrestling was born. The show seemed like it was just another night at the ECW Arena, but it just didn't quite work out that way. Shane Douglas, who was the ECW champ, won the NWA Title by defeating 2 Cold Scorpio in the finals of an eight-man tournament. Shane then grabbed the microphone and trashed the NWA and declared that the ECW Title was the only belt that meant anything. It was another truly amazing night of unpredictable action.

Many fans only see Tommy Dreamer as the "Innovator of Violence."  It is a title he truly deserves, but was not given to him very easily. The Philly fans hated his guts. They booed everything he did. In late August of 1994, he entered into a feud with the Sandman. Tommy was lashed with a cane 10 times after coming up on the short end of a match with the Sandman. Their feud continued into the fall of 1994. An "I Quit" match was announced for October 1st. It was a brutal affair until the end, when Dreamer knocked a lit cigarette into the eyes of Sandman. Many thought that Sandman was blinded and his career was over. Over the next month, Tommy dedicated his career to the Sandman. It all led up to the November to Remember 1994. There was going to be a farewell to the Sandman. It all turned out to be a setup by Sandman and Woman. It was a really amazing angle from start to finish that got both Dreamer and Sandman over huge.

ECW was starting to grow by leaps and bounds. Their TV was now being seen in Florida and New York. ECW was no longer a small Philadelphia company. On January 7th, 1995 ECW returned to their home base. It was the one time that something memorable happened that ECW would rather forget. Shane Douglas battled Tully Blanchard in an old school 60 minute draw.  It wasn't a very good match. You may ask, what is so memorable about that? Well, the Bleacher bums as well as many other fans chanted for "Bringo" during the match. Bingo used to take place at midnight after the shows and it was culture clash as wrestling fans met old ladies waiting for bingo. It was one of those times you had to be there to believe it.

ECW returned to the Arena on February 25th. Cactus Jack and Sandman had been waging war for several months. Sandman was out with a concussion, but had promised a surprise wrestler for Cactus. The surprise turned out to be DC Drake, or so we were led to believe. After the match Cactus and Sandman got into it and brawled to the floor. After a minute, Cactus and what we thought was the Sandman were back in the ring. However, it wasn't the Sandman. Terry Funk had returned to ECW. It was a truly shocking surprise.

I have so many more memories of ECW through 1998. I don't know what to include. I will just mention some of the memorable events that I will never forget. I know I will forget a ton of great moments, but here are a few more.

  • Hoser Cookouts.
  • Big Vin (212) ready to go at it with Sabu.
  • Perry Saturn missing a moonsault at the Lulu Temple and bleeding enough blood to literally fill 3 big buckets.
  • Who could ever forget the heat that Bill Alfonso got when he wanted to clean up ECW?
  • How about Brian Pillman's shocking appearance in February 1996?
  • Eddy Guerrero and Dean Malenko's emotional departure from ECW.
  • How could you forget the brutal Terry Funk/Cactus Feud?
  • The infamous fire incident.

I attended every Pay Per View beginning with Living Dangerously 98. I always enjoyed the shows, but I really enjoyed hanging out in the various cities before the shows even took place. WrestlePalooza 98 took place in Atlanta. I had a great time in that city, but I will never forget Ryan's Steakhouse and the waitress named Ruthie. We decided to play a rib on our boss, Bob Ryder. It was his "Birthday" and she led us all in a memorable rendition of Happy Birthday Bob in the restaurant. I have never seen someone turn that bright red since.

On November 21, 1998, I started a new phase in my relationship with ECW. I began taking photos for If you think experiencing an ECW show as a fan can be dangerous, imagine being ringside where there is a possibility of anything happening.

Case in point, my first night as staff photographer and the first time I was at ringside, who other than Terry Funk comes to the ring. Many stories have been told about Terry Funk going crazy at ringside. Now imagine me being there for my first time with the legend Terry Funk coming out and the possibility of him going crazy. I was nervous, to say the least. Terry Funk was wearing Tommy Dreamer out with chair shots. Terry was going crazy and the crowd was blowing the roof off of the building. It was a rush, and I was hooked.

I really enjoyed taking photos at the shows, I was at all the PPVs and ECW Arena shows. I loved this job so much that I was willing to take photos 10 days after I had an emergency appendectomy. I knew that I couldn't take photos, but I still went to Living Dangerously 1999 because I was having such a great time.

I will just talk about a couple of the funny moments that took place during the Pervert Pics Photo Shoots. There were many stories like these for sure.

  • Being asked to stop taking photos at the Marriott in LA because Elektra's thong revealed too much.
  • While taking photos with Jasmin on the beach, a park ranger warned us that these photos were only allowed to be for our personal use. I bent the truth and assured him they wouldn't leave my house! I forgot to mention that they would be posted on a website. It just slipped my mind!

As I look back over my ECW memories, I realized that my words don't even begin to describe how important ECW was to wrestling. I have seen so much that I could write a book on everything I have seen and enjoyed. When I think about all the memories, it brings a tear to my eye that it has come to an end. I guess all good things come to an end.

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