Steve Williams vs Johnny Smith
Johnny Smith may not be a name so well-known across the pond. That said, the British wrestler was known enough to get short ECW runs out of his name value.
A kayfabe relative of The British Bulldog, Smith most famously spent time in Stampede Wrestling, becoming a four-time British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight titleholder. So not exactly the man you would expect in “The Land Of Extreme”.
“Dr Death” Steve Williams had a detour in ECW for some big matches too, having rarely wrestled outside of All Japan in the preceding years.
The encounter on October 26th 1996 saw Williams walk away victorious, continuing his push to get over the Colorado-born powerhouse. Yes, the Gaijin face of All Japan who rarely stepped outside the nation to wrestle and a Brit most famous for his work in Canada – neither of whom had particularly memorable ECW runs – faced off in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania in front of 432 people.
Fun fact: When Williams lost to Raven at Crossing The Line Again 1997 for the ECW title, it was Williams’s last loss in the US in nearly a decade. As for Smith, he was set to headline Anarchy Rulz 1999 against TV champion RVD but was replaced by Balls Mahoney – do with that information what you will.
Kevin Sullivan vs Abdullah The Butcher
If you were ever to cast two people perfect for ECW who were never there, it would not be these two because they have been in ECW.
In a refreshing twist, this match actually seems to have some sort of story.
At ECW Ultra Clash 1993, Kevin Sullivan and Abdullah The Butcher, both debuting in ECW, lost to the team of Terry Funk and Stan Hansen. The match was a Bunkhouse match in which they got DQ’ed because of interference from Eddie Gilbert. Stupid finish aside, Sullivan and Abby started brawling, presumably both frustrated about the awful match that had just taken place that looked more like four drunk dads searching for dropped house keys.
The next month at NWA Bloodfest on the opening night, the team of Abdullah, JT Smith, and Terry Funk beat Don Muraco, Jimmy Snuka, and Kevin Sullivan. Later that night “The Prince Of Darkness” fought the future WWE Hall Of Famer to a double DQ singles outing. The next night, we finally got something conclusive in this feud as Sullivan beat The Butcher in a steel cage match in front of 400 people in the ECW Arena.
Abby left, only competing in matches featuring Sullivan whilst Kevin won the ECW World Tag Team titles twice. It is a shame, at least I think, that neither man stayed in the promotion for too long, so we never got to see what either man could really do in the company. That said, at least ECW had a butcher’s hook at their skills and did not (Dungeon of) doom their characters in the process!
ECW: More Than Just Hardcore
As it figures, ECW is a lot more than tables, taboo, and tits.
Indeed, ECW was a breeding ground for all aspects of characters covered in this list from hard-hitting hosses to high-flying acrobats to the Japanese style to those in the twilight of their career to the extreme wrestlers. With this, many passed through their doors, even for as brief a period as mentioned above.
It is surprising these matches took place in ECW, illustrating just how diverse and welcoming the company was. If there is one thing you can say about Eastern (as many examples here were from) or Extreme Championship Wrestling, it is that it was always the home of true unpredictability.
Long live the legacy of ECW!