Today is the 20th anniversary of the final Extreme Championship Wrestling PPV, Guilty As Charged 2001. Thinking back to that poignant moment in a game-changing year for professional wrestling reminded me that another ECW offering, Living Dangerously 2001, was on the schedule for March 11 before being scrapped as the company went under.
So, since I’ve been sporadically dropping fantasy features here on HOW for the past year about a world in which World Championship Wrestling survived beyond that very same month, I figured I’d have a quick stab at guessing a reasonable line-up for a hypothetical Living Dangerously card, based on what went down before ECW folded.
Main event, ECW World Championship: Rhino (c) vs The Sandman
So, at GAC the TV champion went on a rampage, culminating in an attack on new World champ Sandman and a threat to defend that belt against the Manbeast right there and then. The subsequent bout was swift, and Rhino finished the promotion as a double champ.
It’d make sense for Sandman to seek revenge in a rematch with actual preparation. However the two fought several times before, in 2000. What type of match would bring the revived feud to fever pitch in true Extreme fashion?
A no-rope barbed wire match.
Even if ECW continued via a rescue from a TV network that would actually support them, you could make a big deal about the weekly content being relatively toned back and this true Extreme showdown being forced behind a PPV paywall, with viewer discretion advised. It’d also give barbed wire veteran Sandman a fighting chance, and the menacing new champ unchartered territory to overcome.
Ultimately of course, Rhino would retain thanks to the cronies of his backer Cyrus, Da Baldies, creating an opening for Cyrus’ other star, Jerry Lynn, to slip in and send Sandman crashing into the wire. One barbed wire Gore later, and the champ remains dominant while Lynn – who vowed to only compete if it was a main event – has set up a big feud for the future.
ECW Television Championship, tournament final: Kid Kash vs CW Anderson
Also renewing hostilities would be frequent opponents Kash and CW, this time in the final match for the secondary belt Rhino threw down at GAC because “this poor-ass company doesn’t even have TV”.
CW at this stage was part of an effective faction alongside Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger, and the trio’s ride from the lower card could culminate in an underhanded win over former TV champ Kash to bounce the Enforcer back from his violent I Quit loss to Tommy Dreamer.
And that wouldn’t be the group’s only big win…
ECW Tag Team Championship: Doring and Roadkill vs Simon and Swinger
The feel-good title win and run of the popular offbeat duo was good, but would have surely come to an end against the heels who were the right side to take the belts. Along with new TV champ Anderson and valet Dawn Marie, they would be a force in the changing face of the company, but they’d have a huge first challenge awaiting them…
Justin Credible and Steve Corino vs Da Baldies
After forming an alliance and scuffling with Cyrus’ thugs at GAC, ‘The New Impact Players’ would put themselves in line for a tag title challenge by beating Angel and DeVito.
Tommy Dreamer, Spike Dudley and Nova vs Chris Chetti, Julio Dinero and Chris Hamrick
A combination of undercard feuds injected with the star power of company icon Dreamer could come about when Chetti is inevitably granted his wrestling licence back between GAC and here, while new manager Lou E Dangerously also takes charge of Hot Commodity. The tenured babyfaces nonetheless get the duke, with Nova finally exacting absolute revenge on Chetti.
EZ Money vs Christopher Daniels
Money, the other Hot Commodity member, would fight in singles as part of his breakout against a capable available rising talent. That name ring a bell? Of course, Money gets the win here. But the introduction of fresh blood would be an important part of ECW’s attempt to soldier on.
York and Matthews vs Tajiri and Whipwreck vs The Full Blooded Italians
The show begins with multi-man action between three established pairs looking to work into contention for the tag titles in another gradual step up in significance for Joey and Christian’s rookie duo.
I’d like to think Balls Mahoney can also be inserted into the show in a non-wrestling capacity, perhaps as someone Lynn refuses to wrestle because it was scheduled to be an undercard bout. Rob Van Dam, however, made a one-off return at GAC and would be done with ECW by this stage, bankruptcy or not.
Of course, this is all hypothetical. ECW simply wasn’t sustainable, but one thing we can probably be confident about is that a new wave of future stars would have received opportunities that they had to wait anything between 1-5 years longer for in reality.