In a wrestling landscape that saw several prominent companies dominate the 1990s, the gritty promotion ECW offered wrestling fans a hardcore alternative to what was taking place in the WWE and WCW. Sure, those promotions had a great deal of talent, and they were full of wrestlers that would help change the face of the business, but fans of ECW were consistently treated to some of the most brutal matches in wrestling history. There was nothing PG about what ECW was doing, and you can’t help but wonder if the promotion helped kick-start the WWE into making the changes necessary to ultimately usher in the Attitude Era. Eventually, the WWE would buy out ECW, and the number of wrestlers from the company would have a great deal of success in the WWE. Unfortunately, being great in one promotion doesn’t guarantee reaching the highest heights in the next promotion that you enter, and the 15 entries on our list all struggled to make a serious impact in the WWE.
Given their status in the lore of ECW, these wrestlers will always be remembered for their accomplishments and achievements inside the hardcore promotion. For one reason or another, their tenure in the WWE fell short of expectations, and many people will always wonder what would’ve happened had ECW been allowed to stick around. Some of the names on this list will bring back fond memories of great wrestling, while others may leave you scratching your head while wondering what caused their lack of success. Thanks to the WWE Network, we can always go back and watch these talented performers in the promotion that put them on the map.
15. Justin Credible
After being forced to portray one of the worst characters in WWE history, you have to give Justin Credible an immense amount of praise for being able to turn his career around. We imagine that very few of you out there have memories of wrestler Aldo Montoya, but a quick Google search might bring back nightmares of watching this terrible gimmick in a WWE ring. After leaving the WWE, Justin would head over to ECW where he would completely reinvent himself, and what he was able to achieve during his time with the promotion is incredible. He was a one-time ECW World Heavyweight Champion, and he was a two-time ECW World Tag Team Champions.
Eventually, he would make his way back to the WWE where he found a little more success than his initial run, though the only title he ever held was the incredibly volatile WWE Hardcore Championship. It may have seemed fitting that a number of ECW wrestlers had many Hardcore Championship reigns, but in reality, they deserved much better.
14. Jerry Lynn
Professional wrestling is for the toughest of individuals, and the fact that Jerry Lynn was able to wrestle professionally in four separate decades gives you a pretty good indication of just how tough he was. During his prime, Lynn wrestled for the top promotions in the United States, and he achieved a great deal of success, particularly in ECW. During his time with the promotion, Lynn was a one-time ECW World Heavyweight Champion, and he would eventually be inducted into the Hardcore Hall of Fame in 2010.
Expectations were high for Lynn as he made his way into the WWE, but ultimately, his run with the company would fall short of expectations. Lynn was able to win the WWE Light Heavyweight Championship one time, but this, unfortunately, would be his only title reign with the company. Outside of the WWE, Lynn would also have a successful career in Ring of Honor and in TNA.
13. The Public Enemy
As one of the true seminal acts of ECW, The Public Enemy was one of the hottest tag teams on the face of the planet in the 1990s, and it seemed that it was only a matter of time before the duo would make their way into the WWE. Comprised of wrestlers Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock, The Public Enemy was incredibly decorated during its time in ECW, and it would end its career with a total of 4 ECW World Tag Team Championships.
Unfortunately, backstage heat in the WWE led to The Public Enemy essentially being buried during their short stint with the company. The duo quickly left to seek greener pastures elsewhere, and it would eventually find some success in rival promotion WCW. The duo would end up winning the WCW World Tag Team Championship one time, but we can’t help but look back at their time in WWE as a massive failure.
Looking back at it now, it is incredibly disappointing to see how WWE totally botched Raven’s time in the company. When he was part of ECW, Raven was one of the biggest draws in the company, and his ability to cut a promo was nearly unparalleled by any wrestler in any other promotion at the time. Mic work aside, Raven’s in-ring ability was top-notch as well, and his laundry list of accomplishments is nearly unrivaled in wrestling history. In ECW, he was crowned the ECW World Heavyweight Champion on two separate occasions, and he also had four separate reigns as ECW World Tag Team Champions.
Once he made his way to the WWE, however, Raven was nothing more than a mid-carder who was used to help fuel the wildly unpredictable WWE Hardcore Championship. While noting that Raven actually held that belt 27 times seems incredible, we have to keep in mind that the belt would literally change hands multiple times in one evening. It was a true shame that he never really panned out in WWE, though he would eventually find success in WCW, winning the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship one time and even the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship one time.
11. Full Blooded Italians
Let’s be honest — does anyone out there actually remember these guys? Boasting a tongue-in-cheek name, the Full Blooded Italians initially got their start in ECW, and their original stay with the company lasted for several years. While in the promotion, they would eventually win the ECW World Tag Team Championship on two separate occasions, though their time in WWE was far less memorable. Sure, one member of the group, Nunzio, would be a two-time WWE Cruiserweight Champion, but outside of this, the group was nothing more than a set of jobbers who were used to put over other talent.
The group has seen a number of different incarnations throughout the years, and this has done very little to help them in the grand scheme of things. In an era where a number of stables such as NWO and DX were all the rage, the Full Blooded Italians, unfortunately, fell short of achieving anything resembling what those other stables had.
While you can argue that Rhyno had a mildly successful run during his tenure with the WWE, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the fact that his time with ECW was far more successful in terms of the prestige of the belt that he held. Over the course of his career with ECW, Rhyno was a one-time ECW World Heavyweight Champion, and he was also a two-time ECW World Television Champion. He was a massive free-agent acquisition for the WWE, and he ended up having a ton of success with the company, including three separate reigns as WWE Hardcore Champion.
Rhyno is currently still with the WWE, and even as recently as last year, he had achieved the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship with partner Heath Slater. He could eventually prove us wrong and make his way off of this list, but for now, we can’t help but think that he could’ve achieved bigger and better things had he been given the correct push.
When it comes to talking about true ECW Legends, very few wrestlers in the company’s history hold as much prestige and praise as Sabu does. The legend spent a great amount of his career in ECW, quickly becoming a fan favorite on the hardcore scene. Throughout his tenure with the company, he achieved an incredible number of accolades, including one reign as the ECW FTW Heavyweight Champion, two separate reigns as ECW World Heavyweight Champion, and he even had several reigns as the ECW World Tag Team Champion.
Sabu had seen and done it all inside the company, and over the course of his career, he’s wrestled for most every promotion on the planet. Because of how much he had accomplished, Sabu was a no-brainer addition to the WWE roster, but unfortunately, he accomplished next to nothing during his one year in the company. It was a completely forgettable run by a person who’s one of the most decorated professional wrestlers of all time.
8. Lance Storm
From 1997 to 2000, wrestler Lance Storm made his presence felt in a major way during his time in ECW, and he had several reigns as tag team champion with a few other wrestlers who may appear later on this list. Hailing from Canada, Lance Storm was trained by the legendary Stu Hart, and it would be Storm’s time as a trainer that gained him the most recognition in the wrestling community. He did have success in the WWE, including being a one-time Intercontinental Championship belt holder, but his best days were for sure behind him.
As a trainer, however, Storm was simply on another level than most, and he’s credited with helping harness the skills of Dolph Ziggler and Tyler Breeze. Despite his accomplishments as a trainer and steadily getting older, Storm does continue to wrestle to this day, and he even takes part in a pretty successful podcast with fellow wrestler Cyrus.
7. 2 Cold Scorpio
Whether you know him best as 2 Cold Scorpio or as Flash Funk, you’re no doubt aware of the immense talent that this man had during the prime of his professional wrestling career. Simply put, he was capable of doing things that other superstars of that time were able to do, and it’s truly a shame that he never became a huge player in the WWE. During his time in ECW, he was a one-time World Tag Team Champion, and he had four separate Reigns as ECW World Television Champion. Eventually, 2 Cold Scorpio would be inducted into the Hardcore Hall of Fame in 2014, thanks to his achievements in ECW.
Unfortunately, he accomplished very little in WWE, and most people would rather forget his time in the company, instead choosing to focus on his glory days in ECW. Nearly a decade after his initial run with the WWE, 2 Cold Scorpio had a second stint with the promotion, and this time around, he accomplished even less than he had before.
6. Tommy Dreamer
Hailing from Yonkers, New York, the immensely talented Tommy Dreamer would receive his big break in 1993 when he finally made his way to ECW. During his time with the company, Dreamer was a one-time ECW World Heavyweight Champion and a three-time ECW World Tag Team Champion. He had a number of memorable feuds with some of the company’s biggest stars, and his accolades helped propel him into the Hardcore Hall of Fame.
Dreamer would eventually spend a number of years in the WWE, though his run with the promotion wasn’t nearly as memorable as his time with ECW. In fact, during his time with the WWE, after their acquisition of ECW, he was a one-time ECW Champion for the promotion. Elsewhere, Dreamer was a 14-time WWE Hardcore Champion, but as we mentioned earlier, a number of wrestlers had tons of reigns with the belt, given its notoriety for changing hands multiple times per evening.
Had it not been for his incredible work on the microphone as a commentator, we might remember Tazz as perhaps the biggest bust of a free agent acquisition that the WWE ever had. In ECW, Tazz was an absolute monster, and his accolades during his time with the company are truly impressive. The man was a two-time ECW FTW Heavyweight Champion, a two-time ECW World Heavyweight Champion, a two-time ECW World Television Champion, and he was the fourth ever wrestler to perform the ECW Triple Crown.
Anticipation of Tazz’s arrival into the WWE was palpable, and ultimately, his run with the company fell flat. He won the WWE Hardcore Championship 3 times, and he even pulled off one reign as WWE Tag Team Champion. But, outside of this, Tazz will forever be remembered for his work behind the microphone. Due to the injuries that he sustained over the course of his career, Tazz was forced into an early retirement, giving way to his renowned work as a commentator.
4. The Blue Meanie
Wrestling skills aside, Brian Heffron, better known as his character “the Blue Meanie,” is easily one of the best character performers in recent memory. The Blue Meanie rose to prominence in the ECW, and he was the founder of the Blue World Order, which, as we know, was a comedic take on the NWO that had completely revolutionized the wrestling industry in WCW. Heffron, though he had no title reigns to speak of, had a pretty successful run in ECW, and his WWE tenure would ultimately be remembered for one match in particular.
During WWE pay-per-view ECW One Night Stand, Heffron left the ring a mangled and bloody mess after WWE wrestler JBL legitimately kick the crap out of him. The two would eventually settle their differences, but the videos and images of the Blue Meanie after the match are truly hard to stomach. Because of his immense popularity with the company, the Blue Meanie was eventually inducted into the Hardcore Hall of Fame in 2014.
Japanese wrestler Tajiri may seem like he accomplished a great deal in the WWE, but considering the true talent that this man was, we can’t help but wonder what could’ve been. After all, there was once a time when Tajiri was ranked in the top 25 best wrestlers on the planet, and it’s a true wonder that he never got to hold the big belt in the WWE. In the ECW, Tajiri was a one-time World Tag Team Champion, and he was a one-time World Television Champion.
No doubt, his accolades in the WWE are a little more impressive, but Tajiri definitely deserved more. Much like Raven and Tommy Dreamer, the WWE did very little to help most ECW wrestlers who came onto their roster. This year, Tajiri made his way back to Japan, and he even won the World Junior Heavyweight title from Hikaru Sato. He’s now 46 years old, and you have to wonder how much Tajiri has left in the tank.
2. Super Crazy
With a name like “Super Crazy,” it really makes you wonder how much Francisco Rueda could’ve accomplished over the course of his career. Of course, Super Crazy is a very decorated wrestler, but his time in the WWE and even ECW left a lot to be desired. In ECW, Super Crazy was a one-time ECW World Television Champion, and he was also the winner of the ECW World Television Championship Tournament back in 2000.
Unfortunately, Super Crazy would win no titles or achieve any sort of accolades during his tenure with WWE. This coming from a wrestler who was once ranked in the top 40 singles wrestlers in the world back in 1999. In another notable promotion, Ring of Honor, Super Crazy was a one-time IWA Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion. He seems to have found success in almost every promotion that he was in, but for whatever reason, Super Crazy wasn’t able to do much during his time with the WWE.
1. Chris Candido
Much like Marc Mero, Chris Candido was a person who found success in another promotion, but his run in the WWE would ultimately fall short because of him being outshined by his partner. For Mero, he was outshined by his wife, Sable, and she quickly became one of the biggest faces in women’s wrestling that the world has ever seen. Candido, on the other hand, was outshined by his girlfriend, Sunny, who eventually became one of the most recognizable wrestling managers of all time.
This is not to say that Candido was a bad wrestler because he was incredibly talented. In ECW, Candido was a three-time ECW World Tag Team Champion, and in the WWE, he was a one-time World Tag Team Heavyweight Champion with his partner Zip. Sadly, complications from surgery would eventually cause Chris Candido to lose his life at just 33 years of age, and we’ll always be left wondering what could’ve been for this immense talent.
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