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it took 3+ years, but i finished my quest to watch every televised ECW show. It was quite a ride. Almost all of this was new to me- a caught a handful of episodes of ECW on TNN back in the day, and i remember watching Anarchy Rulz '99 live on PPV. Other than that, my only exposure was via DVDs: i own all of the Pioneer "Best of ECW" discs, plus WWE's "Rise & Fall of ECW". And One Night Stand 2005 is one of my top three events ever. So i'm familiar with the characters and all of the biggest moments ("i'm pregnant. it's tommy's".) But seeing all of this play out, chronologically, was amazing. 

I started by watching all of the Tri-State Wrestling Alliance footage i could get my hands on. After all, ECW kinda picked up the pieces of what TWA was doing. They're not really connected. Most of it's not worth watching. The Cactus Jack/Eddie Gilbert stuff is fun tho. Actually, ECW in '93 doesn't really have much to hang its hat on either. Eddie Gilbert is usually the most entertaining aspect of the show, for better or for worse. It's neat seeing people you don't expect pop up in ECW: Jimmy Snuka. Kevin Sullivan. Arn Anderson. Road Warrior Hawk. and seeing early surfer Sandman, suspenders Tommy Dreamer, and the Tazmaniac. But past that, you're not missing much.

It starts to turn the corner in early '94, hits like a tidal wave in '95, and arguably crests in '96. But '97 and '98 still have some monster moments. '99 begins the National era and takes us right through to the bitter end. The last few months are especially painful to watch.

Some Highlights/Lowlights/Random Thoughts:

Sandman's "Life's a bitch. Then you marry one" promo from early '94. This was his heel turn promo and i guess is pretty well known. It was new to me and opened my eyes to what was coming.

Hack Myers got super over by the end of his run, but it never gets recognized. He never came back for any of the reunion shows, nobody ever talks about him, etc. Ridiculously distinctive look and ECW was better for having him around.

Matt Borne's "Borne Again" showed promise. Kind of a proto-Loose Cannon. But it really was only a couple of promos. It gets talked up a decent amount but never went anywhere. Possibly a shame. Guess we'll never know.

Raven IS ECW to me. His feuds with the Sandman and Tommy Dreamer are both the epitome of the company. I could talk just about Raven forever. Lucky for you, i won't.  But he got Stevie Richards on the show and over, so that alone would be all it takes for me.

Jason, the sexiest man on Earth. What a dumb gimmick that i absolutely loved. When Joey Styles would break out in hives, it never got old. Jason's only line being "How Do You Like My Suit" cracked me up. every single time. Later, when he was with Justin Credible? not so much.

Sabu is fucking nuts. Any time he's on TV, he has my full attention. The fact that he's been doing what he does for as long as he has is incredible. Born To Be Wired is a guilty pleasure for me.

i never bought Shane Douglas as "the guy". he was good in the ring, good on the mic, but it felt like he had a stranglehold on the title for YEARS. In reality he didn't, but outside of the Pitbull #1 stuff (which was AMAZING), he never screamed 'top of the food chain' to me.

New Jack's early Gangstas promos are god-tier. Once he got way far into the weapons and diving and 'natural born killaz' i stopped caring. 

Steve Corino completely carried late stage ECW for me. From the moment he debuted, he was an absolute standout. From his anti-hardcore stuff early, to managing Tajiri and Rhino, to his feud with Dusty Rhodes, and eventually his title win, i was on the Corino train. me & Jack Victory.

the one-two punch of Hardcore Homecoming/ECW One Night Stand is stunningly brilliant. Every match delivered. Every promo rocked. the emotion was real.

Hardcore Homecoming: November Reign was ok.
One Night Stand II had a great atmosphere for Cena/RVD.
Legends of the Arena was just another indy show.
Extreme Reunion/Extreme Rising- i've still yet to watch these, but being 10+ years after ECW went under, i'm not expecting much.

 

i could keep going, but i don't want to make this insanely long (too late). Feel free to share favorite moments, matches, whatever you want. 

 

P.S. i even loved the ECW Zombie from WWECW week 1. His promo is just the best.

 

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Great post, @twiztor.

My first ECW experience as a kid was watching the episode when Raven (have to stop myself adding a y in as our dog is called Rayven) faces the Sandman fighting backstage and he then wears a bWo shirt. ECW aired on Bravo, miss that channel. My bloody Sister grassed on me that there were raunchy adverts advertising adult services! Few years later Bravo showed a few ECW 2000 episodes.

I bought ECW shows on VHS. I've actually kept more of them than my WWF ones. I regret getting rid of those. I'm looking at my tapes shelf and there's Anarchy Rulz 1999 which I rate as ECW's best ever PPV, Hardcore Heaven 1999, Living Dangerously 1999, Barley Legal 1997, Born To Be Wired 1997, Cyber Slam 1996 and Massacre on Queens Boulevard. I own The Rise and Fall of ECW on DVD which is still one of the best wrestling documentaries ever, top five I'd say.

ECW's best matches? I'd say:

  • Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko, ECW Hostile City Showdown 1995.
  • Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko, ECW Hardcore TV, 26th August 1995.
  • Pitbulls vs. Raven/Stevie Richards, ECW Gangstas Paradise 1995.
  • Rey Mysterio Jr vs. Psicosis. ECW Gangstas Paradise 1995.
  • Psicosis vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. ECW Hardcore TV, 7th October 1995. ECW's greatest match.*****. Best Mysterio/Psciosis match too.
  • Terry Funk/Tommy Dreamer vs. Cactus Jack/Raven. ECW November to Remember 1995.
  • Juventud Guerrera vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. ECW Big Ass Extreme Bash 1996.
  • Chris Jericho vs. 2 Cold Scorpio vs. Shane Douglas vs. Pitbull 2. ECW Heat Wave 1996. 
  • Great Sasuke/Gran Hamada/Gran Naniwa vs. Taka Michinoku/Dick Togo/Terry Boy, ECW Barely Legal 1997.
  • Taz vs. Sabu, ECW Barely Legal 1997.
  • Tommy Dreamer vs. Raven. ECW Wrestlepalooza 1997.
  • Terry Funk vs. Sabu, ECW Born To Be Wired 1997. The most disturbing match I've ever watched.
  • Beulah McGillicutty vs. Bill Alfonso. ECW As Good As It Gets 1997.
  • The Sandman vs. Sabu. ECW House Party 1998.
  • Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn. ECW Living Dangerously 1999.
  • Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn. ECW Hardcore Heaven 1999.
  • Taz vs. Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka. ECW Anarchy Rulz 1999.
  • Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka. ECW on TNN, 24th December 1999.
  • Tajiri vs. Super Crazy. ECW on TNN, 21st January 2000. Their best match.
  • Yoshihiro Tajiri vs. Psicosis. ECW Hardcore TV, 27th August 2000.

Two of the worst matches in wrestling history:

  • Shane Douglas vs. Pitbull #2. ECW Barely Legal 1997.
  • Sabu vs. The Sandman. ECW November to Remember 1997.

ECW One Night Stand 2005 is one of the best PPVs ever. Felt like the original ECW and a fitting sendoff. WWE ECW had some good moments in One Night Stand 2006 specifically RVD beating John Cena for the WWE Championship, Mick Foley/Edge/Lita vs. Terry Funk/Tommy Dreamer/Beulah and Christian's 2009 run including as ECW Champion.

Edited by The Natural
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I've been catching the odd Hardcore TV episode when I can find them on Youtube and I was quite stunned  about Jason.  I didn't really get to see ECW until the TNN stuff and always figured Jason was just some goofy manager they hired. When you go from him as Justin Credible's smarmy manager to seeing him as a wrestler and being absolutely JACKED, it's quite a shock.

BTW, my favourite ECW adjacent story is that my brother and I would get so excited for ECW on TNN that we would tune in early and watch whatever goofball programming TNN was running and one week - and my brother will back me up on this! - they had some sort of racing or monstertruck nonsense stuff (Sorry if I'm offending any racing/monster truck nonsense fans!) and they brought out some guy named Spanky in a mini-car and the commentators are just ripping on the guy and his lil' goofy car and laughing and he does this little stunt jump and crashes (My memory says into a wall, but I might have made that up over the years...). And the announcers are still laughing "Ah ha ha, that's Spanky" and then there is no motion from the car and his crushed little vehicle is sitting there smoking and the announcers go "Oh...Spanky keeping us in suspense" or something like that, typical patter, then a little more time passes and the emergency crew rushes out there and the announcers go "Oh....Ohhhh...that's not good." and then they manage to get Spanky out of the vehicle and the announcers breathe this huge sigh of relief and go back to laughing "Oh that's Spanky!" Every time I think about it, I can hear their voices going from joking and mocking to deeply serious as they realize something went wrong and it just SLAYS me. Probably in my top 3 'TV gone wrong' moments that I revisit in my head every so often.

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The only ECW that I caught as it happened was the TNN shows since either we didn't get Hardcore TV or I just didn't know where and when they would be on.  But I did enjoy the TNN shows even though part of me realized this was practically the end for them.  And to Caley's point I have fond memories of seeing Rollerjam before ECW as it was just some dumb fun to check out.

As for years I've gone all over the place.  I started with '94 into half of '95, took a break then years later went through most of '93.  After the network went to Peacock I just said fuck it and am now going through '97 (to see how that went alongside WWF and WCW)

As for what I remember '93 was an eye opener as they hit the ground running from episode 1.  Yeah it started with some family-friendly stuff but by halfway through the year it quickly ramped up the extreme elements.  '94 was enjoyable and '95 was memorable for Raven/Dreamer's feud.

I also think it's a damn shame that they leaned so hard into licensed music that it's made a lot of it unwatchable.  I've grown to kind of like the network dub of the theme but I'll take "Thunderkiss '65" any damn day.  And Sandman without "Enter Sandman" feels incredibly wrong.  I tried to check online and it's either paying out the ass for comps off RF Video (fuck no) or find what I can off Youtube and elsewhere.  It's been very spotty to say the least but if I ever come across full years of ECW I'd rather watch it all from the beginning so I get the music to go with it.  Without that it's just not the same.

EDIT:  Somebody in this thread is an angel and a half for the message I got recently.  I love the internet sometimes.

Edited by NikoBaltimore
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How topical! I completed a complete rewatch of ECW a few months ago as well, and came to similar conclusions regarding the timeline as you, @twiztor. 1993 and early-1994 were a chore to get through, things started picking up for me after the NWA title tournament, 1995 was fantastic, 1996 was where things started to decline, 1997 was pretty good, 1998 had its moments, and 1999 onward was basically a cacophony of neverending rematches and skippable moments.

That said, I did gain a new appreciation for Dawn Marie and her interjections into Lance Storm's promos that I didn't remember having back then. She would just blurt out random little lines whenever he would pause, and they would just be absolute gold, perfect for the moment. Once Lance left, though, it felt like she was utterly lost and the magic was gone.

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Wow so many thoughts and ideas in such a short thread that will probably end up a long thread. That’s 1 thing that goes to show you how great ECW was. Paul Heyman really was a genius at wrestling, forgetting his business habits for a second. Ok now back to his business habits...he really wasn’t some terrible business man. He got fucked in the ass at every turn it seemed. There was no way he was ever going to run his railroad once all those blank checks started being thrown at all those guys. He was drove out of business like a dang farmer or something was drove out of business by a proprietor. Man by man, piece by piece he was bought out. The farmer knew what was happening, and to conclude that he didn’t aka wasn’t a good business man is wrong. You could say he was stubborn I guess but so what. 

Part of Paul’s genius wasn’t just innovation. ECW was very innovative but it was also very much an example of the things that built wrestling’s foundation. Those things were done less correctly as time went on but not in ECW and that’s 1 reason it was so good. Somebody mentioned that taking Enter Sandman out all but ruins that part of ECW. So dang true...that was 1 of the little things that most people recognize but the truth is that if you took away the even littler things it would still just not seem right. Take away Jack Victory in his wheelchair and Steve Corino just doesn’t look the same. Jack Victory was somehow a reason that Steve Corino was finally taken seriously. Take away RVD teasing SABU and they’re just another tag team instead of the entire whole other storyline within a storyline etc.

I loved ECW and I’ll probably make more posts in here.

Edited by BloodyChamp
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Quote

Raven IS ECW to me. His feuds with the Sandman and Tommy Dreamer are both the epitome of the company. I could talk just about Raven forever. Lucky for you, i won't.  But he got Stevie Richards on the show and over, so that alone would be all it takes for me.

I totally agree with this. While Raven was never the best worker, he had presence and a character and look that really resonated that felt like the main event. I would totally be happy if you talked about Raven forever. Just a chapter on the Raven-Stevie relationship would be awesome considering how their characters bounced off each other so effectively.

Quote

Jason, the sexiest man on Earth. What a dumb gimmick that i absolutely loved. When Joey Styles would break out in hives, it never got old. Jason's only line being "How Do You Like My Suit" cracked me up. every single time. Later, when he was with Justin Credible? not so much.

I love ECW's weird undercard with all the characters that were definitively, in storyline, morons.

Quote

i never bought Shane Douglas as "the guy". he was good in the ring, good on the mic, but it felt like he had a stranglehold on the title for YEARS. In reality he didn't, but outside of the Pitbull #1 stuff (which was AMAZING), he never screamed 'top of the food chain' to me.

YES.

Quote

Steve Corino completely carried late stage ECW for me. From the moment he debuted, he was an absolute standout. From his anti-hardcore stuff early, to managing Tajiri and Rhino, to his feud with Dusty Rhodes, and eventually his title win, i was on the Corino train. me & Jack Victory.

Double yes.

Can we talk more about Mikey Whipwreck?

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Yeah, man, Mikey had quite the character arc that I'll need to revisit.  He had that lovable loser thing going on yet loved the way he seemingly stumbled into championships.  I haven't see as much of him with Tajiri but early-mid ECW Mikey was fun to watch.

I also am curious to see how Jason's doing.  Last I read he wasn't in good health but he was a standout of late '93 into '94 ECW.  He was incredibly annoying but in a charming way that had my attention.

And I agree on Shane.  He had some damn good promos but I think as time went on his flaws as a headliner became more apparent to me.  But he sure made me care when he would talk up Flair though it's too bad that never happened for various reasons.

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10 posts deep and no mention of Taz? For shame! Sabu was certainly the guy that hooked me at first, but I absolutely bought into Taz(maniac) as first, a lunatic wildman and then a legit shooter badass. There's some of that Heyman booking for you. Heh.

The build up to Sabu versus Cactus was what made me shell out $20 or whatever it was for a block of TV shows on VHS. That tape also had the first Sabu/Scorpio match on it. Spent a shit ton of money at that time to stay up to date on the TV. ECW was "the" company for me at that time. Perfectly encapsulates the era that it existed as well. Thought a lot about that while watching the Woodstock '94 documentary on HBO, actually. They were absolutely of their time and place. I don't know if Heyman deserves credit for that, or if it was ultimately a disservice.

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Ooooo. Sabu/Scorpio is definitely missing on the Natural's list up there. The funny thing is they did a match as good as that, then went to Japan and had a match where they just did every single highspot they could think of until the time limit came and then kept going as a rib. 

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50 minutes ago, Goodear said:

Can we talk more about Mikey Whipwreck?

 

38 minutes ago, NikoBaltimore said:

Yeah, man, Mikey had quite the character arc that I'll need to revisit.  He had that lovable loser thing going on yet loved the way he seemingly stumbled into championships.  I haven't see as much of him with Tajiri but early-mid ECW Mikey was fun to watch.

there was so much more i wanted to say, but felt like i was rambling already. Unfortunately, Mikey Whipwreck was a victim of that.  His earliest jobber appearances made you fear for his health. He was just folded, flattened, and pounded time and again. I might rate him as the best squash jobber of all time. 

His "lucky" runs with Cactus for the tag belts was done perfectly, especially his promos, where he would talk about his mom being scared for him. pure gold. His World Title chase with the Sandman was just so excellently done. The perfect mix of squash jobber, plucky upstart, and determined challenger. He never had a chance. Except he always had a chance.

His tenure with WCW was terrible. I only remember a handful of matches, but they slotted him in with the cruiserweights, a role that he was ill-suited for at the time. They didn't devote any time whatsoever to him, and he was less than an afterthought.

His return to ECW was sad. He did absolutely nothing for his first year back. His pairing with James Mitchell really worked, and the team was Tajiri was where he started to shine again. Ironically enough, he was slotted into that same cruiserweight-style role that WCW saddled him with, yet he made it work. 

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4 minutes ago, Craig H said:

Jesus. At first when I saw this thread I thought that ECW was being brought back. Thank goodness.

Yeah, to replace NXT. Wouldn't that be a thing that happened? Full circle and all that. Well, maybe this shouldn't have been put out into the universe, but too late now.

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Just now, Shartnado said:

Yeah, to replace NXT. Wouldn't that be a thing that happened? Full circle and all that. Well, maybe this shouldn't have been put out into the universe, but too late now.

Honestly, that was my first thought.

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Public Enemy are like the greatest slight of hand Paul ever pulled off if it wasn't for The Eliminators who I think people still think were really good.

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The Eliminators at least had cool spots and a good finisher going for them.  The Public Enemy were coasting the ECW fan's natural amity towards the schlubby.

And I'd say Saturn turned out to be pretty good even though he wasn't particularly good in ECW.

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12 minutes ago, Control said:

What about the night Kimona Wanalaya danced atop the ECW arena!?

I just was reading Jericho's book (He was dating her at the time) and laughed really hard at the image of him and Terry Gordy watching her dance and Gordy with a mouth full of tobacco going "I ain't never seen nothing like that at no wrestling match."

1 hour ago, Craig H said:

Jesus. At first when I saw this thread I thought that ECW was being brought back. Thank goodness.

I STILL think this would be a really good idea from a merchandise standpoint. (Warning fantasy booking ahead!) You do a couple weeks of teasers than have someone (Not Heyman...Taz would have been my choice before he went to ECW...maybe Bubba Ray, even Raven) show up on Raw and announce a new ECW then do a story where they steal the ECW title from WWE headquarters and start a new ECW. Then you take all those guys in catering who rarely get on the show (Cedric, Benjamin, Ali, maybe the Viking Raiders), steal some NXTers who are being phased out/have been there a long time (Ciampa, Gargano). Do a couple nights of TV tapings with them, let guys who are spinning their wheels try out new gimmicks, and have your figurehead president say that back in the 90s Extreme was about breaking tables and violence, but now it's about pushing the boundaries of modern wrestling and evolving ECW (This way you can get away from women as eye-candy mentality and have them wrestle in ECW). Then you X out the WWE logo onscreen, run a cheaper-looking set-up in small arenas, make some sort of convoluted explanation about someone in the shadows signing a deal separate with Peacock and air the show on Peacock in seasons (like Lucha Underground) under the WWE mantle but as an underground renegade promotion. Make a big-deal about how extreme it is (Blood! Swearing!) by putting a parental lock on it that has to be unlocked with a code. Then after the season, take anyone who shines and bring them back up to WWE proper, and send new guys who've lost their way back down. Hell you could run an angle where Paul Heyman sends an army of Vince-type guys (Jackson Ryker) to take back ECW for McMahon (Or even send the new NWO to destroy ECW so that you could sell a new batch of ECW shirts AND NWO shirts). But you'd need to be able to run it separate from Vince and Dunn, take potshots at WWE guys etc. etc. to engender enough us against them mentality (Even while it's still owned by WWE) that the amount of money you'd spend on a couple nights taping could be offset by the sale of a new batch of ECW t-shirts. You could sell it as a Peacock-Exclusive that it's too extreme for TV(/Fantasy Booking)

+++

Btw, the ECW TV I was watching the other day had that Cactus Jack promo about him trying to save Tommy Dreamer from his own fate and delivering him to Eric Bischoff. And as much as the EXTREME content (Violence, swearing, blood, tits) sets ECW apart from modern wrestling, I'm not sure there is anything more unlike modern wrestling than this promo. It's eight (!) plus minutes of storytelling by Foley and is presented so brilliantly with Raven sitting almost completely still in the background while Cactus talks then just as Foley brings up his name, Raven slowly lifts his arms up into his Raven/Jesus pose so he knew exactly when to do it and it's almost like the difference in watching a Hitchcock film on TCM versus a Fast and the Furious, almost like a completely different language.

 

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It wouldn’t surprise me if Jason was a future world champion in Paul’s head. Steve Corino was every bit as corny and puny as Jason was and Paul saw it in him, and while it happened prematurely and unlike exactly how Paul wanted it did work with Steve at the top counting his days up too before he was actually champion. Jason was Paul’s type even more than Steve. He was that grimy 90s wrestler or something that I can’t quite put my finger on. I couldn’t believe how short his wiki page was that I just looked at tbh. 

Raven AS ECW, referring to the people who said he IS ECW would not be an understatement. Man he was just it. He kinda pisses me off personally but that’s another post. He was perhaps the only thing that Paul and Todd ever got to a climax that they’d planned, so take that for what it’s worth then imagine if all the plans they had for everybody else ever actually came all the way to pass.

Sabu was just...you know what he really was? Kind of a pioneering postprime Brett Favre gimmick. Hear me out lol! You watched him fearing that whatever happened to him next might kill him even when you hated him. You wanted to see violence in wrestling but you didn’t want to see Sabu get freaking killed, yet you couldn’t look away. Meanwhile he would slither and twitch when he sold. Some of it was obviously real pain but he wasn’t doing real pain because he looked more like a dog that had just been ran over more than he did a person who was just hurt. He would twitch and convulse in unnatural directions and it was just ugh...and this was how we felt even when we hated his guts lol which was more than once.

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I'd like to cruise back thru the ECW TV catalog.  From Late 1994/1995 Eastern to Extreme forward.  ECW was not unlike a timeless 'b movie'.  A 'b movie' that is also in the 'a movie' all time canon.  People talk about Heyman's ability to get the most out of his (less than all around great) talent like it wasn't a wonderfully entertaining gift.  The Eliminators were great!  I don't care if they weren't capable of traditionally great wrestling matches.  On highlight reels they were fantastic.  That's no more a lie than the punches are pulled.  

It's really kinda unreal how Heyman's creative talents as the bookerman have been sidelined for so long.  I suppose watching Smackdown would give one a taste.  I hope one day he finds himself back to that position.  

Does anybody know the online gentleman proprietor that has a collection of ECW TV that was re-syncs the remastered network video with the original audio and commercialsI've seen a few WWE cataloged versions of ECW stuff and it's mostly unwatchable with the 'additional' audio changes. 

Edited by HarryArchieGus
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1 hour ago, HarryArchieGus said:

I've seen a few WWE cataloged versions of ECW stuff and it's mostly unwatchable with the 'additional' audio changes. 

It's kinda funny that Vince spent so long battling Ted Turner, only to become the Ted Turner of wrestling (with how Turner was villified for colorizing the classic films on his network!)

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5 hours ago, Control said:

What about the night Kimona Wanalaya danced atop the ECW arena!?

I remember finding that video on limewire or something (amazed it wasn't a virus). I was like "ok, I've seen this damn commercial for years on every ECW show". It sucks when you found out Paul E. totally grifted her into doing it. 

OH YEAH SURE, THE CAMERA'S WON'T BE ROLLING.

 

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