Extreme Championship Wrestling was the third biggest professional wrestling company of the 1990’s. The hardcore underdogs were extreme in the ring and in their influence, with many of the angles and ideas that took place in ECW inspiring both WWE and WCW to step up their game and create edgier content. ECW was also home to some of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the sport, and it was where some of those wrestlers did hands down their greatest work.
ECW has also famously been criticized as just being a bunch of violent crap. They specialized in a genre that has been pejoratively coined “garbage wrestling,” at times literally doing little more than throwing trash at each other and flailing around the ring in shockingly uncoordinated patterns. With the idea one can better appreciate the classics by understanding the misfires, below is our list of the 20 worst wrestlers in ECW history.
20. “Giant” Paul Lauria
To start the list on a positive note, were this a list of the greatest wrestlers in ECW history, there would definitely be a place for Mikey Whipwreck. Since this is the opposite of that, we start with “Giant” Paul Lauria. Lauria trained with Whipwreck and debuted around the same time, basically with the gimmick that he was even weaker and smaller and less trained than Mikey. While Mikey eventually overcame all of his flaws and turned into an ECW Legend, Lauria fizzled out after less than a few months like the pale imitation he was.
19. Mass Transit
Mass Transit only wrestled one match for ECW, but it is one of the most important matches in ECW history for all the wrong reasons, so naturally it deserves a mention on this list. It’s almost not fair to call Mass Transit a bad wrestler, since he wasn’t a wrestler—he was an obese, untrained teenaged conman who convinced a desperate Paul Heyman he knew how to take a bump. He didn’t. Transit couldn’t perform the simplest of moves properly, and needed to be walked through his one match by New Jack. In a spoiler alert for later in this list, New Jack isn’t that great of a wrestler, either, and he ended up cutting into Transit’s forehead with an exacto knife. The match was so violent and terrible it ruined ECW’s first Pay-Per-View deal.
18. Johnny Hotbody
Even the most diehard fans of ECW rightfully forget Johnny Hotbody, but he has a very important distinction in the company: Johnny Hotbody was the first ECW World Champion. The company liked to rewrite its history to begin in 1994, but anyone with the WWE Network knows that can’t be true, as Hotbody had already won the World and Tag Team titles years before then. Hotbody had virtually no distinct skills in the ring or on the microphone and was quickly phased out when ECW started expanding and started developing real stars. He briefly reappeared in the mid ‘90s as a member of Raven’s Nest, and wasn’t any better in the minor role.
17. Rockin’ Rebel
Rockin’ Rebel is barely even a part of history, but he played such an integral role in the earliest years of ECW it’s worth noting he couldn’t wrestle worth a lick. He actually took part in a fairly lengthy feud with The Sandman during his first ECW World title reign in 1993, and in 1994 continued playing a major role in the storylines surrounding Jason (more on that guy later). While the people Rebel involved himself with at least were strong on the microphone, Rebel was a very one-note character, who’s only real attribute was looking kind of angry and being Southern.
16. The Vampire Warrior
The Vampire Warrior, better known as Gangrel, appeared in ECW to briefly feud Tommy Dreamer in 1995. Luna Vachon, Vampire Warrior’s real life wife, was managing Dreamer at the time. ECW moved at an extremely fast pace in the mid 90s due to wrestlers coming and going, but Vampire Warrior’s tenure was extremely fast even by ECW standards, presumably due to a few truly horrible interviews followed by an extremely forgettable match. His look was his most noteworthy aspect as always, and for some bizarre reason he chose to accompany his look with an extremely high pitched screech at the end of his interviews.
15. The Bruise Brothers
The Bruiser Brothers, Ron and Don Harris, are a pretty special tag team. They wrestled in ECW, WCW, WWE, TNA, and various other promotions, and easily could find themselves in the ranks of the 20 worst wrestlers to compete in every company. Like always, the duo competed in terrible tag team brawls, mostly walking around the arena and punching their opponents unconvincingly. They had a few memorable moments assisting Raven in attacking Tommy Dreamer, but whenever they actually had to compete in a match, they were useless.
14. Brian Lee
Brian Lee is best remembered to WWE fans as the Fake Undertaker, and he also competed for that company as Chainz. Prior to that he appeared in SMW and ECW under his real name, Brian Lee. Lee usually tagged with the Bruise Brothers and was considered an unofficial family member, which should give you an idea on his general talent level, too. Despite his lack of talent, Lee was involved in a pretty major storyline in 1996, feuding with Tommy Dreamer as one of the main enforcers and allies of Raven. As was usually the case with Dreamer’s opponents, Dreamer performing dangerous and extremely questionable stunts covered Lee’s more glaring limitations.
13. Da Baldies
Da Baldies were a group of street toughs forming together primarily to battle New Jack. Similar to New Jack, none of them were exactly well-trained athletes, and mostly just brawled around the ring, poorly hitting each other with weapons. The group was essentially a combination of the Dudleyz’ toughness with the Gangstas mentality, but none of the members had the charisma those others teams possessed making them feel like a pale imitation. The main members were Angel and Tony DeVito, but fellow member Vic Grimes is noteworthy as well for having one of the worst matches ever against New Jack at Living Dangerously 2000.
Jason is one of the sillier and therefore more memorable elements of early ECW. A suave and self-absorbed manager, Jason bragged about his appearance while threatening anyone who didn’t like his suits with violence at the hands of his various clients. Of course, managerial skills rarely translate to wrestling acumen, as evidenced by Jason’s various attempts to actually step in the ring. Despite constantly being surrounded by incredibly talented people like Dean Malenko, Too Cold Scorpio, Cactus Jack, and Mikey Whipwreck, Jason couldn’t figure out the basics of ring psychology. That said, we did like his suits.
11. Hack Meyers
Hack Meyers briefly found a small amount of success as “The Shah” of ECW in the mid 1990s. He never won any titles, but fans loudly chanted along with his punches, always accompanied by him loudly screaming his namesake. Although somewhat popular, his matches were never any good, as one may be able to predict about someone whose signature move is grunting during a series of punches. Billed from “The Last House on the Left,” Meyers had a series of wins in 1995 over names like Stevie Richards and J.T. Smith, but mostly was little more than a jobber with a popular gimmick.
10. “Stone Cold” Chad Austin
Chad Austin was a longtime ECW jobber who had a few opportunities to prove himself on the microphone and in some big name matches first in the mid 90s, then again in the late 90’s when he lucked into a punny namesake. His first touch with moderate fame came in ECW after years as a jobber; he began claiming he was better than ECW due to his success in SMW. He alleged to sign a contract with WCW and gave several horrible promos declaring his brand’s supremacy. Although the angle was a joke, it still wasted everybody’s time, and this Austin wasn’t a wrestler who deserved to take anybody’s time away. That said, he still in no way deserved the treatment he received from New Jack, who intentionally broke Austin’s leg in 1996.
9. Justin Credible
Most of the wrestlers on this list are bad in more ways than one. Justin Credible in all honesty wasn’t that horrible of a wrestler. Especially as a member of the Impact Players, Credible was a decent wrestler with an abrasive enough attitude he could draw a reaction from the fans. However, he was nowhere near interesting or talented enough to be ECW World Champion for the better part of six months in the year 2000. It’s not fair to blame Credible for ECW going out of business since the problems were endless, but it was his long and uninteresting reign as champion that left fans uninspired and forced many to give up hope on the once promising underdog company.
8. Tommy Cairo
“Iron Man” Tommy Cairo is another one of the wrestlers on this list who isn’t regularly remembered by ECW fans, but he actually played a pretty integral role in the creation of more than a few ECW legends. Cairo was the first real feud of The Sandman’s after he developed his new attitude, switching from a surfer to what was essentially at first a grimy alcoholic pimp. The Sandman accused Cairo of stealing his wife, and demanded reparations for the implied sexual relationship that ensued. The whole ordeal is not only misogynistic, but the matches it produced were pretty horrible, too. The feud is still memorable, however, in that it culminated in the first ever Singapore Cane match.
7. Dusty Rhodes
No one would ever deny Dusty Rhodes is one of the preeminent legends of the sports entertainment industry. The man is a former NWA World Heavyweight Champion and booked some of the greatest matches and angles of the 80’s, in addition to giving some of the greatest promos of all time. However, he was 54 by the time he showed up in ECW, and he was never that great of an in-ring performer to begin with. He didn’t wrestle many matches for the company, and almost all of them were in one way or another against Steve Corino. The matches weren’t very good, and the fact he was repeatedly getting victories over one of the few potential stars ECW had left made his appearances all the more questionable.
6. Ian and Axl Rotten
Ian and Axl Rotten tagged together as The Bad Breed for a few years in the nascent ECW before splitting apart and feuding seemingly for the rest of their careers. They weren’t particularly great as a team, and things only got worse when they started feuding. Axl wasn’t horrible on the microphone, but in the ring all he could do was punch and kick, with the fake brothers becoming famous for their increasingly convoluted hardcore battles, with stipulations as tame as “taped first” to as crazy as both men having their hands covered in shards of shattered glass. The bloodthirsty ECW crowds went wild for the feud, but wrestling traditionalists saw it as denigrating to the sport.
5. Big Dick Dudley
Everyone in the WWE universe knows the Dudley Boyz and likely views them as the ECW legends they are. Bubba, D-Von, and Little Spike aren’t the only Dudleys, though, and in fact they weren’t even the first. Big Dick Dudley debuted alongside Dudley Dudley and Snot Dudley as the enforcer of the group. Out of action with a broken leg for the majority of his tenure in ECW, Big Dick still viewed himself as a major star and thought he could have saved ECW if used better in the promotion. We strongly disagree based on the few matches he played a role in, since he could barely walk across the ring imposingly without running out of ideas and needing to mentally regroup.
4. John Kronus
The Eliminators were one of the greatest tag teams in ECW history, but in 1997 it became abundantly clear that was entirely due to the work of Perry Saturn. Kronus is an interesting case in that he was clearly capable of pulling off innovating and captivating tag team spots with Saturn, but once left to his own devices, he was unable to piece together even the shortest and simplest matches. They attempted to fix the problem of Kronus’s incredibly short attention span by keeping him in tag teams, but they never paired him up with someone as capable a ringleader as Saturn, causing his career to fizzle out before ECW even closed its doors.
3. New Jack
New Jack has alternatively been called a hardcore legend and a dangerous, violent maniac, often due to the same ridiculous antics he pulls off in and out of the ring. He’s come up a few times on this list as the guy responsible for some of the more dangerous moments and matches in ECW, so it really should be no surprise he’s very near the top of our list. Hardcore wrestling gets flak for including chairs and trash cans, but wrestlers at least have some ways to cover their faces and make those look more dangerous than they actually are, hopefully adhering to some facsimile of safety. New Jack attacked people with staple guns and cut them open with knives while dangerously throwing them off extremely high balconies. Fans might bemoan New Jack placing so high on this list, since for the most part he was just doing a fantastic job at playing a character, but the few times he broke that character and intentionally hurt people make it obvious he should be right near the top.
2. Mustafa Saed
The sports entertainment industry has turned a negative eye towards New Jack for his more violent antics in and out of the ring, but it’s worth noting he was actually the better wrestler of the Gangstas. Mustafa Saed was bigger and in better shape, but the man is completely devoid of charisma and wrestling finesse. While New Jack at least could inspire crowds with his fiery promos, Mustafa just chuckled and groaned unconvincingly. Similar to Kronus, once the team split and Mustafa was left alone, he was even worse than when he had his partner helping put his matches together.
1. The Sandman
Die-hard ECW fans might resent us for this, but we stand firm in our decision the worst wrestler in the history of ECW was unquestionably The Sandman. It’s hard to deny his status as one of the most iconic performers in ECW history, and a good part of it was an elaborate smoke and mirrors display preceding his every match in the form of his increasingly lengthy entrances. Unfortunately, the iconic entrances were also the reason he became so terrible. He wasn’t that great to begin with, and after actually chugging four or five beers in the span of ten minutes, he was significantly worse. Many fans cite the Sabu-Sandman match from November to Remember 1997 as the nadir of ECW and possibly mainstream wrestling in general. We give Sabu a pass, though, because according to him, The Sandman was tripping on acid and bordering on blackout drunkenness during the match, and he thought Sabu was a giant lizard. Jeff Hardy, eat your heart out.