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ECW began operating in 1992 as Eastern Championship Wrestling. On 08/27/1994, the name was changed from Eastern to Extreme. It operates in Philadelphia, with spot shows in the surrounding Pennsylvania area. The wrestling operations are currently handled by Paul Heyman (also known as manager Paul E. Dangerously) who bought the promotion from former owner Todd Gordon in 1996. ECW ran it's first Pay-Per-View show (Barely Legal) in 1997 and currently runs four a year.

Now, the simple name change was when Extreme Championship Wrestling was officially born, but the effective incident that started the federation was as follows: Jim Crockett was still officially a NWA promoter even though he had not paid any dues since he sold his promotion. Crockett's non-compete agreement with Turner was about to run out and he had plans to return to promoting wrestling under the NWA name. He went to Todd Gordon (who had also stopped paying dues), who at the time had the biggest and most well known NWA promotion (NWA Eastern Championship Wrestling or ECW), and asked him to hold a tournament for the NWA World Heavyweight title. Coralluzzo, however, felt that Gordon and Crockett were going to try to monopolize the title and, claiming (correctly) the tournament did not have NWA Board approval, worked his way into the tournament planning. Upset by Coralluzzo's power play Gordon arranged for Shane Douglas, the ECW Champion, to win the tournament and then rejected the title--Douglas literally threw down the NWA title in the middle of the ring after he won it, saying it was far inferior to the ECW title. Gordon then withdrew from the NWA, changing his promotion's name to Extreme Championship Wrestling.

It instantly put ECW on the map and cost the NWA buckets of credibility (not that the NWA had that much credibility left to begin with).

Since then, ECW has made a name for itself by being, as its name would suggest, "extreme"--there are no disqualifications or countouts in any matches, and practically nothing is banned. Tables, chairs, ladders, barbed wire, it's all good. This worked for a while, but as the World Wrestling Federation saw a winning formula and adapted (read: stole) it in the late '90s, a lot of the novelty ECW offered wore off. It's still used as a stepping stone for many performers to hone their skills before heading to the "big time" (WWF or WCW), and many greats have had stays there on their way to fame--Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Chris Benoit, and Chris Jericho to name just a few.

ECW was televised nationally on TNN in 1999, but the station dropped the show shortly thereafter due to disappointing ratings.

Some information gleaned from http://www.rantsylvania.com/home/rspwfaq/part2/ecw.asp

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